How to Replace The Needle on a Record Player

Over time, your record player needle may cease working correctly. That’s why you need to learn how to replace turntable needles. We understand record players and the importance of properly caring for them and would like to pass some of that information on to you.

A damaged record player needle can radically change the music’s sound and ultimately spoil the entire listening experience. What you need to do to replace it is to unscrew the Headshell if you’re lucky, if there isn’t one, then you must unlock the lever that holds the tonearm where it needs to stay. After that, you can insert the new needle, and then replace the screws for the tonearm.

  1. Unplug the record player
  2. Place your new needle away for the old one
  3. Unscrew Headshell to remove the needle
  4. Unlock the Lever in the Arm
  5. Fitting the New Needle Into Place
  6. Tighten Screws Back On the Tonearm

We’ll discuss all of this in more detail below. First, there are some other things to consider.

The Role of the Needle

Before we discuss how to replace record player needles, let’s explore the needle itself and why it’s essential to a record player. The needle is a central part of the cartridge in a record player and regulates the quality of sound you hear from your speakers.

The needle is found at the end of the metal arm, otherwise called the tonearm. It is the only part of a turntable that has direct contact with the record. The needle glides along the grooves of the vinyl surface and reads the music that is engraved there.

To sum things up, the needle is the part that deciphers the music imprinted on the record and sends it to the magnetic cartridge, where it is converted into electric signals. The speakers and amplifiers then take those electrical signals and turn them into the sound we hear.

Should the needle fail to decipher the music on your records correctly, the electronic signals fed into the speakers or amplifier are incredibly inaccurate. Thus the original music is distorted.

Replacing the Needle on a Record Player

Replacing the needle on your turntable is nothing to be nervous about, although it does require care, attention to detail, and patience. If you do your research and pay attention to what you learn, you can perform this task quite easily on your own, plus it will save you quite a bit of money compared to having to call in a professional. However, you have to be sure that you know what you are doing beforehand.

To correctly replace the needle in your turntable, you must know what type of needle it requires. To find out, read the serial number on the cartridge, which you can then use in an online search to find the right needle.

If you can’t find the serial number, you must turn to your owner’s manual and look for specifications. The owner’s manual will have instructions for replacing the needle, so ideally, it’s your best source of information.

Don’t despair if you no longer have the manual, instead search for it online. There are manuals available online for most models of the record player. Look first on the manufacturer’s website. If you fail to find the manual there, your next step is to contact the manufacturer and see if they can send you a copy. Their contact information will be on their site.

Once you have all the details you need at your disposal, you should have no problem buying the proper needle to replace the old one.

Consult a Professional or DIY

If you still cannot locate the serial number to find out the model, you can try taking your record player to a professional. They might be able to help you determine the serial number by taking a look at it.

Once you have your serial number and have purchased the right needle, there are several steps you need to take to replace the needle.

  1. Unplug the record player — Although this seems obvious, it bears stating that sometimes people forget this detail in their haste to start the job. By unplugging the machine, you will avoid electric shock, and it will be entirely safe for you to touch the record player. Also, remove any records that are inside the player.
  2. Place your new needle away for the old one — This will prevent you from mixing them up.
  3. Unscrew Headshell to remove the needle — Some types of record players have removable headshells. This makes removing the needle a great deal easier because all you have to do is unscrew the shell.
  4. Unlock the Lever in the Arm — If the above is not the case, you need to unlock the lever that holds the tonearm tightly in position. There should be two screws at the tonearm’s end. You can easily find them. Use a flat-head screwdriver to turn these screws counter-clockwise, and they should loosen up quickly. Once you have unlocked the lever, the needle will be easy to take out. Don’t put any pressure on the metallic arm if you can avoid doing so because that can cause it to bend and change its shape.
  5. Fitting the New Needle Into Place — After the old needle is taken out, there will be a space for you to put the new needle. Be sure to insert it carefully with the pointed end facing down. As you surely know, this is the end that has contact with the record for it to play.
  6. Tighten Screws Back On the Tonearm — Doing this will fix the tonearm back to its regular place.

Test the New Needle

Now is the moment of truth. Plug the record player back in and turn it on to test it and see if you have done the job correctly. If your record player works without a hitch, then you are all done.

However, if you hear odd sounds, such as scratching or skipping, there is a problem. This tells you that there is an issue with the placement of the needle. Try adjusting the tonearm, and this may solve the problem.

If the odd sounds continue, then you need to take your record player to a professional. It might require a needle replacement. Should that prove to be the case, let them do it, but ask if you can watch. That way, you will get to see precisely how the task is done and be able to do it correctly in the future.