How to Balance a Turntable Tonearm

Updated February 21, 2017

The tonearm on a record player turntable picks up the analogue signal from the grooves in the vinyl record for playback. Tonearms are adjustable to balance the weight so the pressure of the stylus, or needle, is sufficient to track accurately in the record grooves but no so heavy as to damage the record. The adjustment knob for balancing is on the back of the tonearm. Weight settings are typically marked in grams on the knob. The anti-skate adjustment is on the record player surface, next to the tonearm.

Turn the anti-skate knob on the surface of your turntable to "0."

Release the tonearm from the locking stand, typically by flipping open the curved lock over the tonearm to the right.

Dial the weight control on the back of the tonearm until the tonearm floats as horizontally as possible to the surface of the turntable. Return the tonearm to the locking stand.

Dial the numbered section of the weight adjustment knob to "0"

Turn the weight adjustment knob to the numbered setting, in grams, recommended for your cartridge on the front of the tonearm. If you no longer have the instructions that came with the cartridge, set the weight adjustment to 2.0, which is the middle range. Check the manufacturer's recommendations online if you know who made the cartridge.

Play a record on the turntable. During playback, increase the numbered adjustment on the anti-skate control gradually to prevent the tonearm from jumping the grooves and sliding toward the centre. This adjustment varies with your turntable model. Set the anti-skate control no higher than necessary to control lateral movement of the tonearm across the record.

Raise the tonearm from the record surface and increase the weight setting on the rear tonearm knob to add pressure on the record surface if necessary to produce a clear, pleasing sound. Excessive weight settings will wear out your records and stylus faster. Minor increases in the weight setting may be required to track older records accurately.

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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.