How to Buy Styluses on eBay

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How to Buy Styluses on eBay

A stylus, also known as a needle, is attached to a cartridge of a turntable. The cartridge is attached to a headshell, which fits on the tip of a turntable's tonearm. The stylus reads the information on a record and is the first component in the sequence that reproduces the sounds captured on the record. These small devices can be made of a variety of materials, including hardened steel, osmium, sapphire, and diamond. They also come in a range of shapes and sizes. Ideally, the stylus should make as much contact with the record as possible and this is determined by how much of the surface of the stylus tip sits in the groove of the vinyl. Some stylus shapes tend to wear out records faster than others due to the way that they rest in the groove. While 33 and 45 revolution per minute (rpm) records can be played with a smaller stylus, 78 rpm records (78s) require a slightly larger design.

eBay sellers offer a huge variety of styluses and the number of items available keeps prices competitive. Learn how to search for the right stylus on eBay using the search field. An understanding of the stylus types available, how to choose the right stylus for a turntable, and when to change a stylus helps the buyer to make the best choice from the selection available. Finally, learn how to evaluate items and sellers on eBay as this allows buyers to shop with confidence.

Types of Stylus

Styluses are made from a variety of materials and are available in different shapes and sizes. The design required is influenced by the type of turntable, cartridge, budget, and listening requirements.

Stylus Materials

Diamond and sapphire are the most common stylus materials used. There is little difference between music reproduction for sapphire and diamond styluses, but diamond lasts up to ten times longer than sapphire. Diamond styluses are prefered for stereo playback, while sapphire is popular with those who play 78s. When choosing between the two, budget is usually the determining factor. Diamond tips are usually denoted with a D, while sapphire tips are marked with an S.

Stylus Sizes

Stylus sizes refer to the radius of the tip. They are cut according to the speed of the record that will be played. The table below lists common stylus sizes and the records that they are designed for.

Stylus Tip Radius (mm)

Playing Speed (rpm)


33 1/3 and 45 mono and stereo


16, 33 1/3, 45 mono


All mono speeds

2.5 and 3


Using a needle with the wrong tip radius can damage records, often beyond repair. It is especially important to take note of the tip radius if the buyer intends to play 78s.

Stylus Shapes

The stylus shape determines the sound reproduction quality as different shapes make varying amounts of contact with the surface of the groove of the record. The table below lists the four most common stylus types according to shape and a short description of each.

Stylus Type



Designed to copy the exact shape used to cut the groove in the record

True sound reproduction

Accurate tracking

Picks up all frequency bands

Popular with audiophiles

Can be expensive


Oval shape

Wider at front and sides with thinner section at back

Widely available

Popular with DJs



Most simple design

Does not touch entire depth of groove


Linear contact

High surface area contact

Tends to wear down groove over time

Popular with scratch DJs

As seen from the information above, some needle shapes produce better sound, while others are more stable and inclined to stay in the groove while a record is manipulated. The cost of the stylus is a deciding factor for many buyers, with some preferring the basic utility of a conical stylus at the cost of losing some sound quality.

How to Choose a Stylus

If buyers wish to replace their existing stylus with one that is exactly the same, they should check the cartridge for a model number and manufacturer name. To do this, carefully lower the cartridge from the tonearm and use a magnifying glass to read the printed numbers. If buyers are still unsure, they can search for a replacement needle according to the turntable and cartridge's make and model number. If the seller specialises in audio accessories and equipment, buyers should confirm that they are buying the right stylus before committing to a purchase. To change the type of stylus used previously, make sure that the new model is compatible with the cartridge or consider replacing the cartridge. Again, sellers who specialise in this type of product should be able to guide the buyer in their decision.

When Should the Stylus Be Changed?

There are no set timelines for changing a stylus and the speed at which it wears out depends on how often the turntable is used. Check for visible wear and changes to the shape of the stylus, then replace it as soon as it becomes worn. A worn stylus can damage records. Changes in the quality of the sound reproduction, such as music playing only through one speaker, could be an indication that the stylus no longer touches both sides of the groove and needs to be replaced.

How to Search for Styluses on eBay

Finding the right stylus on eBay is simple. Type a phrase, for example "stylus for Pioneer turntable", into the search bar, which is conveniently located on every page, to see the items listed by eBay sellers. Alternatively, choose from the suggestion generated automatically as you start typing. This displays all the listings tagged with the keywords that you entered.

Refine your search by selecting the most appropriate item characteristics. If you would like to further narrow or expand your search results, use the advanced search option.

How to Evaluate Items on eBay

Once you have found the right stylus, take a moment to evaluate the item. All of the information that you need to do this can be found on the item listing page, which is accessed by clicking on an individual listing. Included here is information about the item, such as, its condition and specifications, buying options, payment methods, the seller's returns policy, postage and packaging costs, and the seller's feedback information. To work out the total cost of an item, add the postage and packaging costs to the item's selling price. If you have any questions about a listing, use the "Ask a question" link to contact the seller.

How to Evaluate Sellers on eBay

eBay makes it easy to get to know the seller before you buy. Simply click on the number next to the seller's username to see what other buyers have to say about his or her products and customer service. Detailed seller ratings give additional information about a seller's communication, the accuracy of the item description in the listing, the reasonableness of the postage and packaging costs, and how long it took for the seller to send the item. Look here for a list of items sold and comments from individual buyers. Remember to leave feedback for the seller once you receive your stylus.

eBay Shops

Some sellers specialise in a particular type of product. If you find a seller whose products and customer service you like, then visit his or her eBay shop to see more great deals.


Using the right stylus can add a great deal to the sound quality produced by a turntable. For DJs, the right stylus means less chance of the needle skipping unexpectedly and better stability while manipulating records. With the wide variety of styluses on offer from eBay sellers at excellent prices, finding the right stylus is easy if the buyer knows how to search. Use the search field in conjunction with the item characteristic filters for the best results, or use the advanced search function.

Knowing what to look for is as important as knowing how to find it. Styluses are available in a range of materials, sizes, and shapes. Diamond is the most durable and produces excellent sound for 33 1/3 and 45 rpm stereo records, while 2.5 and 3 millimetre sapphire styluses are preferred when playing 78s. The stylus shape affects how much contact it makes with the surface of the record groove and how well it stays in the groove. Microline styluses offer the clearest sound reproduction, while linear contact and elliptical styluses are popular with DJs.

Before buying on eBay, take a moment to evaluate the item and the seller. Go to an individual listing to view the item description, and click on the number next to the seller's username to see the person's feedback score. Sellers often specialise in a particular type of product. If the buyer finds a seller who offers excellent customer service and quality products, they can visit his or her eBay shop to see more great deals. eBay sellers offer a range of styluses.

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