How to Fix a Skipping Turntable

By Scott Shpak

Vinyl just won't die. Though the compact disc was introduced in the early 1980s, the demand for vinyl LPs has never disappeared. New models of turntables continue to be introduced, and urban music has revitalized their use in inventive ways. However, the turntable remains an analog electromechanical system, and therefore its performance is tied to a number of factors. When a turntable begins to skip, one or more of those factors needs adjustment.

Things You'll Need

  • Tracking force gauge

Step 1

Isolate your turntable. Vibrations that are transmitted through the surface upon which the turntable rests will create an audible rumble, and in extreme cases will cause the tonearm and stylus to jump out of the record's grooves. Place your turntable on a heavy piece of furniture to reduce vibrations from footsteps. Changing the turntable's location to a room with a floor that flexes may also improve performance.

Step 2

Level the turntable. Tracking is not the only thing that may be affected if the base of the turntable is not level -- automatic operations like tonearm return may be as well. Check the level on the turntable's platter as well as the body. To adjust the platter, you may need to remove the rubber platter cover. It is preferable to adjust the support surface of the turntable, but shims can be used under the turntable feet if needed.

Step 3

Set the tracking force on the stylus. Stylus manufacturers will recommend ideal ranges for their products. Use a tracking force gauge to measure the downward force on the tonearm at the stylus. Set the counterbalance on the tonearm so that tracking force is between one-half to three-quarters of the range specified. Increase tracking force in increments toward maximum if skipping persists.

Step 4

Address anti-skating force only if the tonearm consistently drags to the center of the album during play. Anti-skating is a side-to-side force and does not usually factor into conventional tracking skip.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some LPs may be so warped or defective that they do not track properly. Do not make adjustments to your turntable on the basis of the way a single album tracks, particularly if it is new.