How to Wire a Turntable Cartridge

Updated February 21, 2017

A turntable cartridge fits on the end of a tonearm for tracking the grooves on vinyl records. The lower end of the cartridge is equipped with a stylus or needle that fits in the record groove to pick up the analogue signal. The signal transmits through the cartridge and four colour-coded wires to the tonearm and the circuitry inside the turntable. Cartridges, like most other electronic components, wear out over time and must be replaced. Connecting the four wires on the tonearm to the cartridge pins takes only a few minutes, but requires a delicate touch.

Remove the plastic head shell from the end of the tonearm by unscrewing the round locking nut on the tip of the tonearm to release the assembly.

Loosen the two screws on the top of the head shell with a screwdriver to release the old cartridge, then use tweezers to disconnect the four wires from the back of the old cartridge. Grip the wire at the metal clip and pull straight back to disconnect.

Attach the replacement cartridge to the tonearm head shell by tightening the two screws on the top of the head shell into the two holes on the top of the cartridge, which mounts underneath. The four pins on the rear of the cartridge must be facing toward the tonearm.

Push the metal clip at the end of each of the four colour-coded wires onto the corresponding colour-coded pin at the back edge of the cartridge, using tweezers to attach the clip. Take care not to pull hard on the wires, which are delicate


Unplug the turntable from the electrical socket while replacing and rewiring a new cartridge.

Things You'll Need

  • Replacement cartridge
  • Screwdriver
  • Turntable
  • Tweezers
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About the Author

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.