How to Troubleshoot Skipping on a Vinyl Record

By Aubrey Kerr

There are several possible reasons your vinyl record is skipping. It can range from dirt or a scratch on the record to your turntable's arm or stylus cartridge might need to be balanced. If your vinyl record has visible scratches, they're impossible to repair. In those cases, the skipping is permanent. If you don't see any scratches, there are some steps you can take.

Things You'll Need

  • Lint-free cloth (2 or more)
  • Distilled or tap water
  • Vinegar (optional)
  • Light machine oil (optional)
  • Magnifying glass
  • Wooden toothpick (optional)

Step 1

Wipe a lint-free cloth over the record and rinse with water to get rid of any surface dust. Use distilled water if you have hard water or if you're concerned about impurities drying in the grooves, otherwise tap water is fine. Avoid wetting the label and dry the record completely before attempting to play it.

Step 2

Mix up an LP-cleaning fluid recipe provided by the 78s Restoration website (See References). Combine two-parts vinegar with one-part light machine oil. Mix well and apply a small amount to the record's surface with a lint-free cloth. Let the solution sit for an hour then rinse with cool water until all the residue is gone. Dry for 24 hours as the shellac on the record will have softened slightly during cleaning.

Step 3

Play the record to see whether the skipping has stopped. If not, move on to the next level of cleaning.

Step 4

Examine the record with a magnifying class near the area where the skip occurs. You might see a tiny white piece of vinyl that was lodged in a groove during the pressing process. You might also find embedded dirt or lint.

Step 5

Use your fingernail or a wooden toothpick to dislodge the chunk of vinyl or any other impurity you find. Be careful not to push the debris deeper into the groove. Both your fingernail and wood are softer than vinyl so you shouldn't cause any damage with this method.

Step 6

Try the record again. If the skip remains, the problem could be the balance of your arm or the stylus cartridge. Contact an audio repair person who specializes in turntables and have your balance aligned.