Other than making sure your records are clean, one of the most important things to maintain is your stylus (or ‘needle’). How often should you change your stylus? Well, this depends on various things, such as how often you play records (the more use, the more worn your stylus gets), how clean or scratched your records are and how often you clean your stylus. Dust and grease will build up on the stylus tip and affect it’s performance, so it’s important to clean your stylus regularly.
Signs that it’s time for a new stylus can be if records don’t sound as good as they usually do, such as being very noisy, flat or dead sounding. Another obvious indicator is if everything was fine last time you played a record and suddenly the stylus is skidding across the record. Unless the tonearm settings have been changed, it’s likely the stylus has been damaged or the diamond tip has come off the stylus (how drunk were you last night?), in which case stop playing records immediately and buy a new stylus!
We stock a large range of styli and can order in replacements for almost any turntable/cartridge within 3-4 days. There are literally 1000s of styli available and though, the make and model of your turntable can be helpful, they are not always definitive in working out which stylus is required, so it’s always best to bring your existing stylus and cartridge in for us to see. Alternatively, you can email us some photos showing different angles and any brand names and model numbers, so we can get a perfect match.
Stylus prices start at $25 and cartridges start at $60, but you can pay some seriously funky money if you want a higher quality upgrade.
The image below shows which parts are the headshell, cartridge and stylus.