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How to play turntable: A complete beginner's guide

Jun 23,2022 | Retrolife

How to play a turntable the right way

Below, you will find basic tips to guide you through the process of setting up your turntable and playing vinyl records the right way. If you follow these tips, you will avoid damaging your player or your vinyl records.


Plastic dust cover
The first step is to lift the dust cover of the turntable (if it has one).
Most models come with a plastic dust cover that protects the platter and other components from dust, dirt and any other type of debris that can cause the turntable to skip and affect performance. If you have a model with a hinged lid, lift the lid to place the record on the platter, then lower it again as the record spins.
If you have a lid without a hinge, then put it somewhere until you are done playing vinyl records. You should not place this type of cover on the turntable when playing a record because it can damage the vinyl.


Record Pat
Some models have an extra dust cover that is designed for the platter. These covers are made of felt and fit perfectly over the Platter. Their purpose is to provide further dust protection and reduce vibration. Remove this cover and place it on a clean surface.


Keep Platter Sop
You're almost ready to start playing some music. But first, make sure the platter isn't spinning. Some models have a separate switch that you can flip to start the platter spinning, while others start spinning automatically when you lower the arm.

When you place the record on the platter, make sure it's not moving and that the arm is still up and out of the way. If you place a record on the platter while the platter is spinning, it will scratch the surface.

footage turn table records player closeup Stock Footage Video (100%  Royalty-free) 1026266540 | Shutterstock


Placing records
Carefully place the record on the platter. Make sure you only hold the vinyl along the edges.
Place the spindle through the center of the platter and continue lowering it until it rests on the platter. Avoid touching the grooves of the record as the grease from your fingers can interfere with the needle and affect the sound quality.
This is why you should always keep only the edges of the record. Try to avoid contact with the surface of the record, even if you remove it from the sleeves.


Moving the arm
Next, lift the cartridge arm. Most models have a lift function. This feature allows you to flip the switch that raises the arm and places it automatically on the vinyl record.
Make sure the lift lever is up so that the arm does not accidentally fall directly onto the vinyl when you move it.
Place the arm over the first notch. The needle on the arm must be positioned directly over the outermost groove. You will notice three to four widely spaced grooves along the outer perimeter. These grooves indicate the position before the music begins. 
Next, you will carefully lower the stylus onto the vinyl. Gently lower the arm onto the outer notch. The needle will engage the groove with a slight clicking sound. After that, the recording should begin to play.

Man Starting Retro Record Player Lay Stock Footage Video (100%  Royalty-free) 13402874 | Shutterstock


Finish Vinyl
After playing your vinyl record, return the arm to its designated rest position. You can lift the arm manually or by activating the cue switch. If you have a fully automatic turntable, then the arm will return to its rest position on its own.
Make sure the arm has returned to its rest position before stopping the platter rotation. The arm should not be placed on vinyl, as this can put pressure on the grooves, which can cause serious damage.