When you want to listen to music, there’s nothing worse than having to deal with a record that’s skipping. Thankfully, depending on what’s causing the issue, you may be able to find some relief. Keep reading to learn how to fix a skipping record and get back to listening to the music.
Fixing a Skipping Record
There are several reasons why records skip, but it all boils down to there being some kind of physical impediment that prevents the record player needle from making proper contact with the vinyl. While some issues can be easily resolved, others are more tricky. Here are some of the most common reasons for a skipping record and how you can fix them.
When you store your vinyl incorrectly or leave it somewhere hot, the material can easily warp. This might happen because you’ve stacked too much weight on top of your vinyl, you’ve left it in a slanted position for too long, or you’ve left your disc in direct sunlight. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take very much pressure to misshapen vinyl once the material is compromised.
However, depending on how badly your vinyl is warped, you may be able to remedy the situation enough to still enjoy your music. Among solutions for this type of damage include using a clamp, applying pressure, or using a combination of heat and pressure.
The safest way to “fix” warped vinyl is to use a record player clamp. This small device attaches to the rod of the record player after you’ve put down your vinyl. From there, you’ll turn the knob at the top of the clamp to tighten the clamp and compress the vinyl to the turntable.
Clamps can help rectify light to moderate warping, but if your vinyl is severely misshapen, a clamp won’t offer good results because it can’t straighten the record too much.
When you use a clamp on a turntable, you’re using pressure to help straighten your vinyl. However, when that option doesn’t help enough, you can try turning to greater pressure. The easiest way to create more pressure is to use weight.
To try using increased pressure to fix a warped record, you’ll need two books that are large enough to completely cover your vinyl record and additional heavy object(s) that you can place on top of the books to apply more weight.
Before weighing down your vinyl, be sure to clean it thoroughly. The last thing you want is dirt or grit gouging your vinyl while pressure is being applied. Also note that you may need to leave your vinyl in place for several days or weeks, so find a place in your home where you or others won’t disturb your vinyl during this process.
Place the first book on a flat surface, place the vinyl on top of the first book, and then place the second book on top of the vinyl. When you’re sure that the entire surface of the record is covered, place another heavy object or objects on top of the second book. Some items you might use include a large bag of rice, reams of printer paper, a bucket full of rocks, or milk jugs full of water. When adding the additional weight, make sure it’s evenly spread across the surface of the top book.
Heat and Pressure
If you find that using pressure alone isn’t enough to straighten your vinyl, you may try applying heat. One common method involves an oven, two sheets of glass, and some heavy books.
Heat your oven to 175 degrees F. Carefully place your warped vinyl between two sheets of room-temperature glass. (Don’t use glass that’s been in the refrigerator or another cold area as it may shatter when heated.)
When your oven reaches the right temperature, carefully slide the glass and vinyl inside, using gloves or oven mitts so you don’t burn your hands. Leave the stack in the oven for no more than three minutes. Watch the vinyl carefully while you wait to ensure it doesn’t melt. Once three minutes are up, don your gloves or mitts, and remove the glass stack from the oven. Carefully place the stack on a flat, protected surface. You might use a large cutting board or put the stack on a towel-covered countertop.
Place a towel over the glass, and then carefully stack your heavy books on top. Leave the books in place until the glass cools. Remove the books, carefully remove the top piece of glass, and inspect your record.
Dust or Dirt
If your record is skipping but you don’t see any warping in the vinyl, you might be dealing with dust or dirt in the grooves. Thankfully, this is one of the best problems to have when figuring out how to fix a skipping record because all you need to do is give your vinyl a good cleaning.
First, carefully inspect the vinyl to see if you can find the grime that’s causing the disruption. When you find the impacted dirt, use a wooden toothpick to gently scrape it away. Check the rest of the record as you may have multiple spots to address.
Once you’ve removed the worst of the grime, use vinyl record cleaner or a vinegar-water solution and a microfiber towel to clean the rest of the surface.
Bad Needle Contact
Record skipping can sometimes be attributed to poor contact with the record needle. This happens a lot with suitcase or all-in-one record players because there’s a tone arm rest that may not fully retract, raising the needle so that it doesn’t make proper contact with your vinyl.
In this case, all you need to do is gently press down on the tone arm rest so that it falls back into place. With the arm out of the way, your needle can now do its job and your record won’t skip.
When it comes to scratched vinyl, it’s the depth of the gouge that will determine whether or not you can fix the problem.
For light scuffs to mild scratches, you can eliminate record skipping with the help of a toothpick. The process is simple: Place your vinyl on your record player, turn it on, and then gently place the toothpick in a groove that the scratch passes over. Press down with enough force that the toothpick stays in the groove and doesn’t slide all around the vinyl. Let the vinyl rotate a few times, and then move the toothpick to another groove. This process will help clear the groove by pushing up the edges that have been slightly compressed through the scratch.
If you complete this process and the record still skips, it’s possible that the scratches are too deep to be fixed.