Few things in this world are as satisfying as a fresh album spinning on a record player. Whether you’re listening to your favorite classic or indulging in some new tunes, there’s just something about the ritual of placing the needle on the record and watching the music come alive that can’t be beaten.
However, that magic can quickly disappear if your needle is damaged or worn down. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to easily replace a needle on a record player so you can return to enjoying your music!
How do you know when a needle needs to be replaced
Five factors will affect how often you need to replace your needle:
The type of cartridge you have
The type of cartridge influences how often you need to replace your needle. If you have a moving magnet (MM) cartridge, you will need to replace your needle more often than if you have a moving coil (MC) cartridge. It is because the MM cartridge has a stylus that is attached to a magnet, which vibrates when it comes in contact with the record.
This vibration can cause the magnet to wear down, affecting the sound quality. On the other hand, MC cartridges have a stylus attached to a coil of wire. There is no magnetic interaction between the stylus and the record, so the stylus will last longer.
The condition of your records
If you are playing well-maintained records, you will not need to replace your needle often. It is because the condition of the record will directly impact the condition of the needle. For example, if there are scratches or other damage on the record, it will cause the needle to wear down more quickly.
The weight of the tonearm
The weight of the tonearm is the third factor that will affect how often you need to replace your needle. If the tonearm is too light, it will put more pressure on the needle, which can cause it to wear down more quickly. Conversely, if the tonearm is too heavy, it can cause the needle to skip over the record’s surface, which will also cause it to wear down more quickly. The ideal weight for a tonearm is between 5 and 10 grams.
The type of phono preamp you are using
If you are using a solid-state phono preamp, you will not need to replace your needle as often as if you are using a tube phono preamp. The solid-state phono preamp does not add any distortion to the signal, which can cause the needle to wear down over time. On the other hand, Tube phono preamps add distortion to the signal, which can cause the needle to wear down more quickly.
Even if you are using a high-quality cartridge and taking good care of your records, you will still need to replace your needle eventually. The frequency with which you need to replace your needle will depend on how often you use it. For example, if you are a casual listener who only plays records a few times a month, you may only need to replace your needle once every few years. However, if you are a serious collector who plays records daily, you may need to replace your needle every year or two.
Two ways to change the needle
There are two ways to change the needle on your record player.
The first way is to manually change the needle yourself. It is a relatively simple process that only requires a few tools. The first step is to identify the type of cartridge you have. As we mentioned, there are two cartridges: moving magnet and moving coil. Once you have identified the type of cartridge you have, you can purchase a replacement stylus that is compatible with your cartridge. We recommend purchasing a stylus from the same manufacturer as your cartridge, as this will ensure it is a perfect fit.
How to manually change the needle
What you’ll need: A screwdriver, a new needle, tweezers (optional).
- Begin by removing the dust cover from your turntable. If your turntable does not have a dust cover, skip this step.
- Use the screwdriver to loosen the screws that hold the cartridge in place.
- Gently lift the cartridge out of the headshell.
- Use the tweezers to remove the old needle from the cartridge. If you do not have tweezers, you can use your fingers, but be careful not to touch the tip of the needle.
- Insert the new needle into the cartridge. Make sure that the needle is inserted all the way and that the colored dot on the needle is aligned with the colored dot on the cartridge.
- Replace the cartridge in the headshell and tighten the screws.
- Replace the dust cover (if applicable).
- Turn on your turntable and enjoy your new needle!.
If you do not feel comfortable changing the needle yourself, you can always take your turntable to a professional. A professional will be able to properly calibrate the needle and ensure that it is installed correctly. It is more expensive than changing the needle yourself, but it is worth it if you want to ensure that your turntable is in good working condition.
The second method is more difficult. In this case, you need to change the cartridge. The process is similar to the first one, but you also need to remove the old cartridge and install the new one.
First, you will need to remove the old cartridge from the headshell. To do this, you will need to unscrew the screws that hold the cartridge in place. Once the screws are removed, you can gently pull the cartridge away from the headshell.
Next, you will need to remove the stylus from the old cartridge. To remove it, you need to unscrew the stylus guard and gently pull the stylus away from the cartridge.
Now, you can install the new cartridge into the headshell. First, you must screw the screws that hold the cartridge in place.
Once the screws are tight, you can gently push the cartridge into the headshell.
Finally, you will need to install the stylus onto the new cartridge. To install a stylus guard, first, slide it into place and then gently insert the stylus into the cartridge.
What to Look for When Purchasing a Replacement Needle
When you are ready to purchase a replacement needle, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
- First, you must ensure that the needle is compatible with your cartridge.
- Second, you need to consider the condition of your records. For example, if you have any damaged records, you will need to purchase a needle that is designed for use with damaged records.
- Finally, you need to decide how much you are willing to spend on a replacement needle.
- If you take the time to find the right needle for your turntable, you can keep your turntable sounding its best for years to come.
Whether you need to replace your entire phono cartridge or just the stylus, it is important to take your time and do it carefully. Replacing a phono cartridge is a delicate process, and it is important to ensure that it is done correctly to avoid damaging your records or your player.
If you are unsure how to replace your cartridge or stylus, we recommend taking it to a qualified technician.