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Turntables are relatively simple devices that consist of a platter for a record to sit on, a motor to turn it, a stylus to run down the grooves, and a tonearm to set it in place. Some record players also contain other components such as speed controls, shock resistors, and automatic centering devices. Turntable repairs can involve any of these components, though styluses and drive belts are both common wear items. Motors can also wear out, and virtually any other component can break by chance or be damaged through rough use. Many common turntable repairs are fairly simple to perform if care is taken.
The most common turntable repairs are due to items that wear out through repeated use. These are commonly referred to as wear items, as opposed to other components, which are more likely to break by chance. One of these common wear items is referred to as a stylus or needle. The stylus is attached to the end of the tone arm of a turntable and is the part that makes physical contact with the record.
Even though vinyl albums are typically softer than the material that styluses are made out of, the needles still need periodic replacement. A stylus is usually enclosed in a cartridge that is installed in the end of a tone arm. This is one type of turntable repair that is fairly simple to perform if care is taken not to damage the attachment mechanism. If the necessary cartridge is no longer available for a particular unit, more costly or complicated turntable repairs may be necessary.
The other main type of wear item associated with turntable repairs is the drive belt in the motor that turns the platter. Friction and stress associated with turning the platter eventually causes these belts to wear out and break, at which point the platter will no longer turn. Some belts can be replaced easily, though others require special tools or knowledge.
Other types of turntable repairs tend to be less common. The bearings in a platter can wear out through use, and so can various components that are sometimes used to automate a tone arm. Most record players include some type of shock absorber system that needs to be repaired if it wears out or gets stuck, and any jolts to the unit can potentially damage an album, stylus, or both. A motor can also wear out, in which case the record player will not work at all until it is repaired.
I've been scouring thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets for old turntables worth repairing. My cousin ran a stereo and TV repair shop back in the 1970s, and he still has a lot of the parts. Between the two of us, we can repair a turntable in a few hours and resell it for a decent profit.
I don't know how long this renewed interest in vinyl albums and record turntables is going to last, but I hear a lot of younger people who grew up on compact discs are discovering that vinyl albums sound better with the right equipment.
Now that vinyl records have started to become popular again, turntable repairs are become more common, too. A younger friend of mine owns a vintage vinyl record store and his customers are always looking for someone who can repair a turntable. I help out when I can, since I grew up at a time when turntables and vinyl albums were the norm.
One common repair I have been making is needle replacement. I have found some good stylus suppliers online, but they aren't always cheap. I'm hoping the price for replacement needles will fall once record player manufacturers like Technics or Crosley start producing new parts.
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