At some point, every turntable will need spare parts, as use and age take their toll. Diagnosing the part that needs to be replaced is the first and most important step. The most common parts that require replacement are the phono cartridge and the belt. Buyers need to decide if they want to purchase a new spare part of the same brand as the original, a third party spare part, or a used spare part. With older turntables, it may not be possible to locate a brand new part. In this case, a buyer can only purchase a third party replacement or a used version from another older turntable. To reduce the frequency of replacing turntable parts, buyers should make sure that they care for and maintain their turntable properly.
When buying turntable spare parts, first identify the parts that are required, decide whether to purchase new or used, and learn how to maintain a turntable to prolong the life of the parts. Turntable spare parts can be bought from specialist sound and vision shops, or on eBay, which offers the full range from brand new parts to used turntables sold purely for spares.
Diagnosing Turntable Repair and Replacement Issues
Before purchasing spare parts, a buyer first needs to diagnose the problem with the turntable to make sure that they are replacing the correct part. A new phono cartridge, for example, will not repair a problem caused by a bad belt. If records are skipping frequently, then the tonearm is weighted incorrectly, but if the records will not play at the correct speed, then the belt is the most likely candidate for replacing. There are only a few basic elements to a record turntable, so finding the issue should not be a problem.
Types of Turntable Spare Parts
Buyers have a number of different options available to them when it comes to purchasing and installing spare parts for their turntable. They can choose to purchase branded parts, third party parts, used parts, or they can choose to buy a whole turntable unit for spares. The choice depends on the budget, and the current turntable that the buyer owns.
Branded Turntable Spare Parts
If a buyer has a turntable that is still in production, it is usually possible to find turntable spare parts brand new, which means that an exact replica of the piece that needs to be replaced can be found. To purchase turntable spare parts using this option, buyers at the very least need to know the manufacturer and model number of their turntable to know which parts will fit. If a buyer knows the name of the manufacturer, but does not know the model number of their turntable, they may be able to dismantle the turntable to access the part that needs replacing and this should be labelled with a part number. This number can often be used to identify the product. Branded turntable spare parts are often more expensive than third party versions, but many people prefer to use the same brand as the original, as they feel that this is more reliable.
Third Party Turntable Spare Parts
Third party turntable spare parts are less expensive alternatives to branded versions. However, note that the cost does not necessarily relate to quality: some very expensive parts are not of very high quality, but others are extremely high quality, and provide a high level of reliability and performance. Some third party spare parts can be matched by the existing part number as they have their own number conversion system. Other third party spare parts can be identified by using the measurements of the part to be replaced, where this is appropriate. Third party spare parts may also offer additional features that the traditional branded parts do not, offering buyers a wider choice of desirable features.
Used Turntable Spare Parts
Used turntable spare parts can be either branded or third party. Used turntable spare parts are an excellent choice for those on a budget. Buyers should ensure that any used spare parts that they purchase are in good working order, and fit correctly on their turntable. The drawback of purchasing used spare parts is that they may not have as much life left in them as new parts. Although, when upgrading a system or parts, many people sell their used parts that have seen very little use, so good quality used parts may be found.
Buying a Complete Turntable for Spare Parts
If a buyer has a turntable that is now out of production, it can be challenging to find authentic spare parts. A great way of finding them is to purchase a complete turntable of the same type that can then be stripped down for parts. Often, these turntables are sold specifically for parts because the current owner deems them too damaged to repair. Sometimes they are no longer aesthetically appealing, perhaps having a missing dust cover, or simply suffering from a lack of care and maintenance. They can usually be found very inexpensively, and give buyers multiple spare parts for anything else that may go wrong with their own turntable. If choosing this option, buyers need to ensure that the parts that they require are present and in working order. As the parts are most likely to be used, they will have less wear left in them than new parts, but many buyers prefer authentic parts, particularly for older turntables.
Common Turntable Parts That Need to be Replaced
There are several parts on a turntable that most commonly need to be replaced, whether the device is retro or contemporary. Replacing parts before they completely stop working reduces the damage caused to vinyl records and the other parts of the machine.
The phono cartridge fits into the head shell of the tonearm. It holds the stylus that traces the grooves in the vinyl record. The phono cartridge is responsible for interpreting the waveforms in the grooves and turning them into sound. If buyers have purchased a used turntable, even one in seemingly good condition, it is still advisable to replace the phono cartridge. A phono cartridge and stylus have weighted suspension to hold them correctly in the grooves to prevent too much force being placed on the record, or too little force, which creates skipping. The cartridge eventually loses suspension as it ages or experiences heavy use, and this can cause damage to vinyl records, as well as producing poor quality audio. A new phono cartridge is reasonably inexpensive, and new cartridges can be used on very old machines. The cartridge should also be replaced if the stylus becomes dull or damaged.
The drive belt is one of the most common elements that needs to be replaced. This is especially true for older machines, as the belts have often not been maintained, and end up dry and cracked. A new belt must be the same size as the previous one. It is relatively simple to install, slipping over the pulley mechanism. If the belt rides up and down on the pulley, an old audiophile trick is to place the belt in a bag of talcum powder, cover it, then remove it, and shake off the excess. After replacing the belt, it should no longer ride up and down as the powder provides slightly increased traction.
Maintaining a Turntable
Although most turntables will need spare parts at some point during their lifespan, buyers can perform some simple maintenance tasks to increase the longevity of their current parts. One of the most important tasks is to keep the turntable clean. The platter, which is the part that supports the vinyl record, needs to be free of dust and grime. The stylus, located at the end of the cartridge in the tonearm, should be wiped with a soft cloth to remove any dust, and the counterweight on the tonearm should be checked regularly to ensure that the stylus does not exert too much force on vinyl records, as this will wear down the stylus and ruin the records.
A buyer can also dismantle the turntable to remove the platter and access the motor underneath, cleaning out the spindle in the centre with a cotton bud and putting fresh oil inside. This helps to condition the motor, the belt, and the spinning action of the platter. Keep the turntable free of dust by always using a dust cover when not in use.
How to Buy Turntable Spare Parts on eBay
There are many different spare parts for turntables available on eBay. Buyers can do a general search for "turntable spare parts" from the eBay homepage. If the buyer knows which part of the turntable they need to purchase a spare part for, then they can search for that particular part instead, for example, "turntable cartridge". Buyers have the opportunity to narrow down their search results by using the filters that eBay offers. These filters allow the buyer to choose new or used parts, they can choose a price range, or choose a specific seller that they may have used before. If the buyer has any questions about the spare part, then they can ask the seller.
Buyers should look at the feedback of the seller before purchasing on eBay. Feedback is left for the seller once the transaction has been completed. Feedback is based on criteria including dispatch time, communication, and packaging. Choosing a seller that has a high percentage of positive feedback ensures a great transaction for everyone.
Buying turntable spare parts is something every turntable owner will be faced with from time to time. Even with proper care and maintenance, the phono cartridge and drive belt will need to be replaced. The phono cartridge should be replaced before the suspension fails or the stylus becomes too dull to ensure good sound quality, to reduce the risk of damaging the record. Drive belts are easy to replace and greater traction can be provided with a light dusting of talcum powder. Knowing how to care for a turntable reduces the need to replace parts, and increases its lifespan. Buyers need to ensure that they purchase the correct new, third party, or used parts that fits their machine exactly to avoid damaging the turntable or the vinyl records played on it. It may be possible to buy a complete older turntable and use the components for spare parts. eBay has both new and used turntable spare parts available, from the latest models to older components.