It was my birthday on Friday. I’d already got a couple of presents early: a

wonderful tough & waterproof watch for when my grandfather’s very fragile

one isn’t suitable, and a fabulous lab-flask-to-be-used-as-a-decanter inspired

by this post. But then

on the actual day I got a wonderful surprise: a turntable!

I’ve had a few of my favourite records lying around for years now, but haven’t

been able to play them for lack of a turntable. Now I have one plugged in, I’m

rediscovering stuff which even today is unavailable on CD. And the sound is

a wonderfully refreshing change. I’m not saying it’s better, but the first record

I put on (which happened to be the first to reach: there was no real choice

involved) was this

one from Oscar Peterson and Dizzy Gillespie, and you could just sink back

into the music, like Matisse’s famous armchair, in a way that you just can’t

with a CD or an MP3. I was hooked all over again.

For I was one of the very last people to give up on vinyl and move to CD. All

through university I would seek out the increasingly small number of record

shops which still sold LPs, and would play them on a hi-fi system which was

much better than any university student really ought to have. I can’t say how

excited I am to be able to rediscover the few I have here, and maybe bring a

bunch more over from England in the coming months.

One thing, though: putting the turntable together – or, more to the point,

putting the cartridge together – was decidedly fiddly and non-trivial.

I think I managed OK, but the needle seems to have a tendency to slide around

the disc when it nears the end of a side – it’s fine for all tracks but

the last, but then the counterweight system seems to lose traction when the

needle’s close to the center of the disc. Any idea why this might be or how

I can fix it?

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2 Responses to Turntable

  1. Matt says:

    Happy birthday Felix!

    You should have 2 controls on the tonearm. The counterweight sets the tracking force (usually about 2.5gm), and then there should also be another control (the type varies) to set the anti-skating force. It’s the second one you need to increase.

    Setting these things without a gauge is a bit of an art, but worth experimenting with, as when you get it right everything you play will just pop into focus.

    Personally I use a , which eliminates all the guesswork. I would lend them to you, but, y’know, 3000 miles away and all that.

  2. Felix says:

    Aha! That makes sense. Thanks!

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