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Stylus and Cartridge Care

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The condition of your stylus is important for two reasons. Firstly a worn or dirty stylus will seriously impair the performance of your system and secondly it will permanently damage your record collection.

Stylus tips are actually extremely durable, coping with thousands of playings before any wear is detectable but they are not indestructible and will occasionally need replacing. How often will depend on the quality of the stylus and how well you have set up your turntable. A misaligned or badly weighted stylus will wear more quickly and do far more damage to your records in the process.

Sapphire stylus tips are more vulnerable than diamond stylus tips but both should be examined regularly for signs of wear and dirt. 200x magnification is desirable to properly view stylus tips.

Tracking weight is an important factor in stylus life. Weights exceeding 5g are unacceptable but do not be tempted to set the weight to low as this will cause skipping, performance deterioration and may actually increase wear due to uneven pressure on the sides of the groove. Most modern turntables have a calibrated adjustment system for setting the tracking weight and if you do not have the manufacturer's specified settings then a weight of 2g is probably about average.

Periodic cleaning of the stylus tip is advisable, particularly if the environment is smoky. Tar and dirt can accumulate on the tip as well as in record grooves and will tend to attract more debris. If your stylus is constantly becoming "fluffed-up" you are either very careless with your record storage or the stylus may need cleaning.

Extreme care should be taken when cleaning a stylus tip. A specialist brush is the preferable option but DIY solutions that you should firmly avoid include using any kind of solvent or cleaning solution. These can leave deposits on the tip and occasionally eat-away the adhesive that holds the stylus in place. Also avoid using your fingers - as well as being a clumsy solution you may also add grease and dirt to the tip.

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