Home Equipment 11 Common Issues With Tonearms & How To Fix Them

11 Common Issues With Tonearms & How To Fix Them

by Tracy Finke

There are few things more aggravating than bringing out your favorite album for an evening jam session, only to discover that it won’t play as expected.

Although there are multiple things that can go wrong with a record player, the majority of problems with playing may be attributed to the tonearm.

To assist you in troubleshoot and resolve the issues you’re having with your tonearm, UpbeatGeek has compiled a list of the most frequent problems that occur. We’ve also included some helpful advice on how to fix these difficulties so you can sit back and enjoy your favorite music.

What Is A Tonearm?

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The tonearm is a key element of record players since it supports the cartridge, which houses the stylus. Unfortunately, tonearms are susceptible to a variety of problems, which can have an impact on the quality of sound your record player produces. We’ll go through ten of the most prevalent issues with tonearms and explain how to fix them.

1. Tonearm won’t lower to the record

You might discover that you are unable to lower your tonearm to the record in some cases. When the cueing lever is pushed down, the tonearm bridge does not move.

Fortunately, the bridge mechanism has an adjustment screw that allows you to change the bridge’s height, allowing you to successfully lower the tonearm to the record.

2. Does it drop too quickly?

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If your tonearm drops too rapidly, there is a good chance that your bridge is faulty. Tighten the bridge screw as needed and see if this raises enough of a barrier to the tonearm so it doesn’t drop too quickly.

You might also have to lubricate the cueing lever mechanism. The fluid on the lever may dry over time, requiring you to add some extra liquid to the tool in order for it not to descend too rapidly.

3. Tonearm swings to one side

It’s typical to hear that the tonearm of a record player swings to one side. This usually happens when your record player isn’t level, so finding a flat surface for it will likely remedy the problem.

If the tonearm is swinging to one side, you might have an issue with the wiring. An imbalance can cause the tonearm to swing to one side, so check your connections. If this is the case, you may want a professional to evaluate it for you.

4. Too much crackling sound

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A crackling sound may be heard when a record player’s static builds up. It might be due to a faulty earthing or a dry joint in your system. Check the grounding of your deck, particularly around the spindle and on the underside of the platter.

If you’re unsure what’s wrong with the earthing, you might need to return the player or seek help from a sound expert.

5. Is your tonearm humming?

It’s also possible that the tonearm is simply not big enough for the record. Although a humming record isn’t always an issue with the tonearm, make sure the earthing wire is okay. A faulty cartridge can produce a buzzing noise. Confirm that the cartridge is properly connected and linked to the tonearm in this situation.

If you’re getting a constant hum from your record player but can’t locate the problem, it’s time to call the manufacturer. There may be a system-wide problem.

6. A bouncing tonearm

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A bouncing tonearm might be the result of manually raising and lowering the arm instead of utilizing the designated lever. A smooth lifting action is ensured every time by using the cueing lever, which prevents the tonearm from bouncing.

A faulty cueing mechanism may also cause the tonearm to bounce, and as we’ve already said, adding some extra fluid to the tool will assist in stabilizing the lever.

7. Tonearm returns too soon every time

When the record stops playing, some record players have a tonearm that automatically returns to its resting position. However, if there is a fault, the tonearm may return to its starting position even though a record is still meant to be played.

By rotating the platter manually for a few revolutions, providing it with a firm push in the direction of the click sound, you should be able to correct this. Alternatively, look for an auto-return adjustment screw, which might need to be tightened or loosened as needed.

8. The tonearm isn’t producing sound

Sometimes your record doesn’t make noise when it’s played back, which is most likely because the Vertical Tracking Force (VTF) isn’t correct. It won’t track the record grooves if the required weight isn’t placed on the stylus.

The correct VTF is determined by the manufacturer, and the required weight is usually between 2 and 3 grams. Read through the user guide to make sure your system has been properly set up and that the VTF is appropriate. If you’re having trouble playing back, check and tighten the bridge screw.

9. The record skips

Your tonearm may be the source of a skipping record, which is one of the most typical issues vinyl players face! Check your stylus’ pressure and make sure it’s in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Checking the anti-skate on your tonearm is also advised because its primary purpose is to counteract the natural inward movement of the tonearm. It can cause a record to skip if it’s incorrect, and it will need to be replaced.

10. Is the stylus damaged?

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The stylus is a critical element of your record player, so you must ensure that it is in excellent working order. Check the feel of your stylus and make sure it isn’t broken, overly hard, or excessively soft.

You can’t just replace a stylus if it’s damaged; doing so will not only degrade the sound quality but also damage your records, which will result in skipping.

11. Is there only sound through one channel?

This is, in all probability, the least likely problem with your tonearm. Furthermore, if you only hear sound through one channel, make sure the tonearm balance and VTF are correct.

You might also clean the contacts of the two components if they’re connected, since particles or debris within the connection may obstruct sound flow.

Care for your record player

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Record players can be difficult to maintain, but it’s crucial to take care of your equipment so it doesn’t fall into a state of disrepair! Record players that are unclean and poorly maintained are more likely to break down, so maintaining your investment is important.