3 Restored Mid-Century Record Player Myths, Debunked in 3 Minutes

I love making things work. Even when I was young, there was little I liked more than taking things apart to see how they work. Alarm clocks, stereos, and on and on. Luckily, my passion for tinkering has led to some interesting opportunities. Most recently, I've mixed my need to make things work with my passion for mid-century furniture.

My first project was a Magnavox rebuild. You can find plenty of reasons to be skeptical about restoring vintage record players.

Clicks and Pops. When you think of record players, you probably think of that static that starts before the music. Or you think of clicks and pops. Actually, this has less to do with the quality of record (which may play a part - see below), and more to do with the quality of the receiver and speakers. If you are using the original hardware, as we did in this project, it is important to service the components, clean electrical pickups, and lubricate moving parts. Often times, poor sound quality can come from issues in the electronics, instead of from the record or needle.

Damaged Stylus. Another fear is that the stylus (needle) will not function correctly. If you are using original components, it's likely that the stylus has passed its useful life. However, if you can locate the cartridge model number, there are a number of sources online to buy replacement styli (styluses?).

Heavy Tracking Force. Another worry is the tracking force. Tracking force is the weight at which your record player's stylus (needle) sits on the record. If the weight of the stylus on the record is too light, you have a chance that the force from the grooves will throw the cartridge up and the needle will 'skate' across the record. If you’re tracking force is too heavy this means the stylus is pushing down too hard on the record. You’re likely to hear more distortion and, in some cases, it can damage the record. Luckily, most of these console units were very good quality, expensive pieces of furniture when first built. That means that the components are of fairly good quality. Most record players will have an adjustable tracking force built into the tuning arm.

In a future post, I'll go through the steps of preparing, sanding, painting, and servicing the electronics. In the next piece, we'll be replacing the components with new gear.

If you want this piece, check it out here!

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