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Why Is My Record Skipping [and how to fix a skipping record]

Close-up image of a record on a turntable, representing the question, "Why is my record skipping?"

Vinyl records have made a comeback in recent years, with their warm sound and nostalgic appeal drawing in a new generation of music lovers. However, anyone who has owned a record player knows that nothing is more frustrating than when your favorite track starts skipping. You might be immersed in a great piece of music, getting your vibe on, only to be rudely brought back to reality by the distinctive skipping sound.

Vinyl records can skip for a number of reasons, including scratches or damage to the record surface, dust or dirt on the record or the needle, a worn or damaged needle or stylus, and a poorly adjusted or placed turntable or tonearm. To prevent skipping, it’s important to handle records carefully, keep them clean, and maintain the turntable and needle properly.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons why records skip, and we’ll give you detailed advice about how to fix the problem.

What does it mean when your record skips?

While other items can skip as well, in this post we are talking about your vinyl records.

Skipping records only occur while the record is playing on the record machine. In order to play music, the tip of the stylus on the record player travels around the surface of the record in tiny grooves.

Often, a skip is caused when the needle encounters a scratch or debris on the record.

3 examples of scratched records. The scratches and debris in the record grooves are often what causes the record to skip.

When someone says that their record skips, they mean that the needle or stylus that reads the grooves on the record is skipping or jumping across the surface of the record instead of smoothly following the groove.

When a skip happens, it can cause the stylus to skip or jump out of the groove, resulting in a repetitive and often unpleasant sound each time the record spins around to that particular spot.

The sound of a record skipping is quite distinctive – you’ll know it when you hear it – and can cause the music that’s playing to be interrupted or distorted, either once or at regular intervals depending on the cause of the skip.

Why does my record skip? (Why do records skip?)

In this post, we will discuss the common reasons why your record may skip and what you can do to fix the issue.

Here are the 5 main reasons why records skip:

  1. Dirt, dust, debris, or grease on the record surface.
  2. Scratches or damage to the record.
  3. A worn or damaged needle or stylus.
  4. A poorly adjusted turntable or tonearm.
  5. Vibration or movement of the turntable.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors and what you can do to fix them.

If none of the above troubleshooting works, check out our advanced post here.

Dirt, Dust, Debris, and Grease In Your Record

How do these cause the record to skip?

One of the most common causes of record skipping is dirt, dust, debris, or grease on the surface of the record. As the record spins on the turnstile, the needle follows the groove around the record.

When the needle encounters dust or other particles, these can cause the needle to jump out of its groove and skip – either into an adjacent groove or along the surface of the record at an angle to the grooves.

What can you do to fix this?

To fix this issue, it’s important to keep your records clean.

Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Dry-clean your records before each use. Use a carbon fiber brush to remove any dust particles from the surface of the record. Here are some good carbon fiber brush options if you haven’t already purchased one.
  2. If fingerprints remain, or if the record skips after you’ve dry-cleaned it, wet-clean the record with a special record cleaning fluid and a velvet brush. Only use a proper cleaning fluid specifically designed for vinyl records – using soap-water or alcohol can damage the record. Here’s a combined pack of record cleaning fluid and a velvet brush for you to check out if you need one.

If you’re still experiencing skipping after cleaning your records, it’s possible that there is hardened dirt or debris stuck in the grooves of the record. To remove it, follow these steps:

  1. Find the exact spot on your player where the skipping occurs.
  2. Inspect the groove carefully to see if there is any hardened dirt or debris present.
  3. Use a wooden toothpick to gently remove any debris from the grooves. Be careful not to scratch the record surface or push debris further into the grooves.

  • Put the record on the turntable.
  • Start the spindle and gently move your carbon fiber brush from outward portions to inwards.
  • Clean your brush and repeat the process once more.

Also Read: Your Subwoofer Has Stopped Working? We have the solution for you!

If you see your fingerprints on your record or the problem persists, you can wet clean them immediately.

For this, you need to use a record cleaning fluid and a velvet brush.

Please note that only a proper cleaning fluid will work. If you use soap-water or alcohol, you will make things from bad to worse.

You can get them for around $50, so there is no reason to ruin your favorite player.

Now, this is rare, but if your player is still jumping records after dry and wet cleaning, you will have to put up your detective glasses and:

Find out the exact spot on your player from where tracks are getting skipped. Then, with your detective glasses (or magnifying glasses), inspect whether there is any hardened dirt at that very spot stuck in the grooves.

If you find such debris, use a wooden toothpick gently to get rid of it. Check out this short and sweet video explainer to know how it is done correctly.

Also Read: Bestisan Soundbar 2023 Review!

😩The Tracking Force Of Your Tonearm Is Too Light!

Adjust your tonearm
Let it play your soul!

An exact match is always crucial, whether it is Tinder or in your vintage records.

Allow me to explain:

The tracking force of your turntable tonearm should match what your cartridge specified. It is usually within 1.5-2.2 grams.

It is always good to check the cartridge feature list, but keeping the force within the 2.0-gram range will work fine.

Also Read: Planning A Car Ride? Check Out Our 7 Best Car Speaker Recommendations!

The problem occurs when your tracking force is too light, which prompts your turntable to skip.

Before we get into the solution, measuring the tracking force is important. A digital turntable stylus gauge can help you with this.

Now, the solution:

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to adjust your tonearm. Follow the steps mentioned, and your turntable will work great!

👎Your Turntable Is Wrongly Placed!

If you place your turntable on the floor or unstable furniture, it will not function properly.

This is because the stylus (which tracks the tiny grooves in the record) is super sensitive to vibration. Hence, stability is the key.

Rightly Placed Turntable
Rightly Placed Turntable

The record player must be placed on a hard and flat surface. Some of the best places are a shelf mounted on a solid wall or a piece of heavy furniture.

Again, you have to insulate your player from movements that can affect it from working smoothly.

I know it’s strange, but it is a valid cause behind skipping. So here is how it goes:

If the flooring of your house isn’t thick enough, walking in and around the room can move the floor levels high and low.

Such movements may be barely noticeable to you, but it does affect your record player. Again, if you are dancing around your record player, it can lead to jumping tracks as well.

Also Read: Dance to the tunes of these amazing soundbars!

The solution to such disturbances is pretty simple.

Move the player to a different section of your room or move it to a different room altogether.

But it’s not only about your dance. Other movements, like the dryer running or the AC, can also cause your turntable to skip. Make sure such devices are not placed too close to your player.

😢Your Stylus Is Crying For Help!


I have mentioned this already. It’s the needle that rests against the record. We can never imagine a player without this needle as, you already know, it’s very sensitive.

It picks up dust fast as it glides through the grooves, making it prone to skipping. So, you need to clean this all-important needle with a stylus brush at regular intervals to help it remain neat and musical!

Again, like all good things that exist, your stylus has a limited life. It will get worn out after 800 hours of use. After the limit is reached, it will cause unwanted noises, wear and tear on your player and not to mention: jumping tracks.

But luckily, most record players come with a replaceable stylus. So if you have already clocked 800 hours of soothing music, it’s high time you replace it.

🤕 Your Record Is Damaged!

Damaged Record Player
I need help!

And, by damaged, I mean it is warped or scratched. Remember, I told you to place the record player on a solid flat surface for it to work better?

While doing that, if you notice that one of its edges or its mid-portion is up a little, it means your player is warped.

There are plenty of reasons why your player can get warped. To name a few, leaving them in direct sunlight or storing them improperly.

This means your outdoor vintage parties are to blame for this!

Luckily, there are some steps to fix your warped record. So, watch this helpful tutorial instead of saying goodbye to your old and favorite device.

Next comes scratches. There are plenty of reasons why records get scratched so easily, but one thing is for sure: Your mishandling is to blame.

If you stack bare records on your player without wiping dust on them beforehand or place them in a dusty room without any cover, they will get scratched sooner or later.

I have some resources for you to help solve this “scratching issue”, but I will issue a warning beforehand.

You can use a wooden toothpick to get the job done, but it will need immense precision to get the roughness out of super tiny record grooves.

Believe it or not, even brand-new records can jump tracks right from the record shop. Old-fashioned manufacturing techniques and less care for quality control cause such frustrating experiences.

If that’s the case for you, return the defective record and ask for a new record. You are not to blame for such product defects, isn’t it?

🙅‍♀️Your Record Player Is Getting Interfered!

Record Player with other devices
Here’s what it means

No one likes interference. No matter how good your best friend is, he or she needs to respect your private space so your friendship continues for a long time.

Same with your record players. If you are using internal or external speakers at max volume, they emit vibrations that your good old player can pick up. And this can result in skipping your favorite tracks.

So, apart from hurting your ears, turning up the speaker volume can damage your turntable too.

This problem is more intense when cranking up your speaker’s bass to the maximum. Its strong vibrations can bounce off the stylus out of the grooves.

But how to know for sure those speakers are my culprit?

Simple. Lower your speaker volume and see if the record has stopped skipping. If yes, then put your speakers to blame 🙂

Also Read: What’s The Big Deal With Polk Audio Bookshelf Speakers?

If that’s not the solution, keep your turntable away from your speakers. That will prevent them from picking up the speaker’s vibrations.

😔Your Cartridge Isn’t Aligned the Right Way!

Antique Vinyl Record
Antique Vinyl Record

This is really serious. If your record player’s cartridge and headshell are not aligned properly, they can cause damage to your entire record, let alone skipping tracks.

But first up, the basics:

Headshell attaches the cartridge to the tonearm, and the stylus locks into it. The cartridge converts vibrations from record grooves into electronic signals so speakers can pick them up.
This produces that good old soothing music that we all love.

The record surface should be parallelly aligned with the top of the headshell. Again, balancing the tonearm is a must before you set up the record player. I have discussed this already.

Here are some additional steps:

  • Put the tonearm in a suspension state so it can float up. You can do this by twisting the counterweight.
  • At this point, the stylus pressure is zero.
  • Now, you have to find the stylus pressure settings using the user’s manual and adjust them to the proper setting of your machine.
  • Don’t forget to check that the anti-skating pressure is set to the same weight.

(Sounds overwhelming? Check out this video guide!)

😫 Your Anti-Skating Pressure Is Not Balanced!

Anti-Skating Pressure of Turntable
What’s the big deal here?

Gosh! So much pressure 🙁

We should take this pressure so that our record player can work smoothly.

Anti-skating pressure is a kind of spring, and it differs depending on the individual model specs. As the record spins, the tonearm will naturally move around it due to the turntable’s motion.

The job of this anti-skating mechanism is to counteract the turntable’s motion and keep the arm in its place.

In other words, this mechanism is super-important. And when in the right balance, it will set the record to produce some beautiful melody!

But in case it’s too tight or loose, the arm will be swayed in one of the sides, and the needle will not remain in the record groove. The result?

Your tracks get skipped.

Here is what you need to do:

Adjust the anti-skating system so that it’s in the right balance. Each player model has its steps for adjustment. So you will have to read the device manual very carefully.

🤢Your Music Record Is Faulty!

Scratched Music Records
Scratched Music Records

We all have experienced this in some way or the other:

You went to a second-hand store and got a record of your favorite album at a dirt-cheap price. You are happy, purchased ice cream from the amount you saved, and come home only to find that your record has horrible scratches or is badly warped.

You can’t get your money back, so you decide to play that scratched record. Tracks get skipped, but you continue to use them anyway.

This is what you call a sunk-cost fallacy. And believe me, it will do you more harm than good.

Playing a bad record can cause your needle to bounce out of its grooves and harm your entire player. It’s better to consider this a bad purchase and throw your scratched piece in the trash can.

Your record player will thank you for this!

🤫Some Bonus Tips To Keep Your Record Player Happy!

Bonus Tips on Skipping Tracks
Simply Amazing!

Let me sum up some useful solutions for skipping tracks which I discussed above, with some fresh hacks:

  • Regularly clean your record player, its needles, and your favorite records to free it from dirt and debris. Always use the recommended fluids and clothes for such cleaning.
  • Use a record player leveler to ensure the platter is not off even slightly and the player is on the level.
  • Always keep the cartridge and needle properly aligned.
  • Use an anti-static cloth to eliminate static from records.
  • Don’t forget to notice whether your stylus is hardening or getting worn out from excessive use.

🙂Final Words On Why Is My Record Skipping

There you have it. 9 common reasons behind skipping tracks on your turntable. You got the solutions and the bonus tips.

Now, I am heading over to you.

What advice will you follow right now? Is it cleaning your player regularly or keeping your turntable at the right level?

Let me know by leaving a comment below now.

About the Author

why is my record skipping

Rach Wellard

Rach Wellard is the driving force behind Sound & Solitude. Her mission is to help you discover the profound impact of sound in your daily life and to explore the beauty of solitude. With a deep passion for the connection between soundscapes and emotions, she brings a unique blend of expertise and personal dedication to our platform.

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