Just when you want to relax and listen to your favorite vinyl album, it happens – the skip!
Hearing your vinyl skipping is incredibly annoying. What do you do? You ask yourself: “Why is my record player skipping?“
Chances are, your record player keeps skipping due to one of these common problems:
- The record is dirty, scratched, or otherwise damaged
- The needle is fouled with dirt and debris
- The tone arm or cartridge needs to be adjusted
- The turntable is not isolated against vibration
Why Does My Record Player Skip? The Answers You’re Looking For
Why is the vinyl skipping? What do I do? How do I fix it?
As mentioned previously, there are a couple of common reasons why your record player is skipping.
In order to solve the problem, we should first realize there are two elements to look at:
- The condition of the record player and its components
- and the condition of the vinyl record itself.
If either of these elements aren’t as good as they could be, your records and your record player are probably going to continue to skip.
What we can do is take measures against the causes of the problem, and prevent any damage to both the record player and to the records themselves.
Let’s have a look at troubleshooting why a record skips, and make sure we always have a great listening experience with maximum sound quality.
Dusty or Dirty Records
Vinyl records left out in the open for a long time, or handled a lot will eventually get dirty.
These are two of the most common reasons that cause a record to skip.
If the grooves of the record fill up with dust or dirt, the needle simply can’t make proper contact.
Letting your fingers touch the recorded surface (the grooves) of the record also leaves fingerprints which will hold on to dirt.
During play, the dust and dirt build up on the needle or stylus tip which will eventually causes the record player to skip.
The end result is poor sound quality with low output, pops and clicks. You’ve probably even heard these sounds in reference to older records.
In such cases, you’ll find all your albums will skip until the record needle is properly cleaned.
Handling a Record
If you pay attention, you’ll notice many vinyl audiophiles usually handle their albums by the edges only, or between the edge and the center hole. This a good habit to practice.
Along with cleaning the record before and after playing, careful handling helps to maintain the record surface, keeps dirt and dust to a minimum, and helps to keep your vinyl from skipping.
Physical Damage to the Record
If a record is mishandled, or left on the floor where it can be stepped on – this has happened to me more than once at a party, surface scratches and damage are bound to occur.
While some skipping issues can be fixed with a good cleaning, misuse and damage can cause severe skipping which may not be repairable.
Moreover, excessively dirty vinyl tracks can also damage your record needle.
Record Skips at the Same Spot
If a deep enough scratch occurs between two adjacent grooves, the needle will jump the track and the record will continually skip at the same spot.
can also be caused by a spec of dirt lodged in the record’s groove.
Or it may require an adjustment to the tracking force:
A good cleaning and an adjustment may do the trick, but as mentioned, sometimes a badly scratched record can’t be repaired.
Though less of an issue directly related to skipping, record warp certainly doesn’t help.
Small warps in the record can cause the tone arm to lighten up, then jump the grooves.
Luckily, a record weight stabilizer provides an easy fix for a skipping turntable, but doesn’t necessarily correct the underlying problem of record warp itself.
Vinyl Press Quality
It’s a fact that there are different qualities of vinyl pressings. Not only are there cheap record players, there are cheap records as well.
Some less expensive vinyl pressings can have dimples in the finished product that have escaped quality control. These dimples can cause even brand new vinyl to skip.
Tone Arm or Stylus Cartridge Out of Balance
A tone arm that’s set too light or is out of adjustment can cause your record player to skip with even the most minor of imperfections.
One easy fix is to adjust your record player’s anti-skate setting if it’s so equipped.
You can also try readjusting the tone arm’s vertical tracking force according to factory settings.
Additionally, a cartridge that’s not calibrated to the correct angle can aggravate the problem of skipping.
Once again, make sure the cartridge is properly adjusted according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Depending on your setup and the quality of the player itself, the tone arm and stylus may or may not be part of the problem. Less expensive turntables in particular tend to be non-adjustable.
Isolation Against Vibration
The turntable should be setup where external sources of vibration can be minimized. Things like external speakers and vibrations from the floor when walking around can cause your record player to lose tracking.
Other than turning the volume down or adjusting the bass response, your record player should be atop a good quality plinth with footings that isolate against excessive vibration.
Excessive Bass Response
Another rather obvious cause of a record player skipping is excessive volume which produces too much bass.
Excessive bass response can easily be the cause of why your brand new vinyl skips.
You’ll notice the sound of the skip occurs with the beat of the bass.
My Record Player Is Skipping – What Do I Do About It?
Make Sure you Vinyl is in Good Condition
Your first line of defence against skipping should start with keeping your records clean.
There are a ton of great record cleaning products available, many of which are very cost-effective.
In most cases, the surface dirt and dust can easily be removed. Even a quick wipe after playing helps.
For records that are in poorer shape, a deeper cleaning may be required. Again there are some fine products to help get the job done.
Afterwards, a thorough physical inspection with a magnifier can help find small particles of dirt that are still causing the record to skip.
These can be carefully removed with a toothpick or similar vinyl-friendly tool.
If the skipping continues after the record’s been thoroughly cleaned, and you’re sure it’s not your turntable or needle, the problem may be due to scratches.
As mentioned previously, deep scratches may be permanent and leave you with a record that needs to be replaced.
Lastly, if you’re confident the skipping is not due to the record itself – such as would be with a brand new album, we must assume it’s the turntable.
Clean the Record Needle
The first thing to look for is a dirty or gummed up needle. As with records, there are products – often sold as a bundle, for cleaning the record needle to make sure it’s not the source of your records skipping.
Readjust the Tone Arm and Cartridge
Again, as mentioned previously, either the tone arm or the stylus cartridge can be causing the skipping. This is even more common with heavily used or older systems.
Try balancing the tone arm according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. The same goes for realigning a sensitive cartridge.
By making sure the needle is clean, the tone arm is rebalanced properly, and the cartridge itself is properly aligned, the remaining problems should be solved.
Is There a Way to Fix a Skipping Record?
The short answer is yes. A record player skipping usually suggests the problem is with your vinyl records, but as we’ve discussed, it can be due to the turntable components themselves.
By keeping all the elements of your vinyl audio system in good shape, you’ll enjoy an excellent listening experience for years to come – without skipping a beat!