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The Official POPS blog.

Monday, July 30, 2012

NEEDLES & BELTS, BELTS & NEEDLES
We here at POPS get many calls from people asking whether we can "fix" their turntable. Though we are not technicians, we have an extensive history with record players/turntables. The problems more often than not revolve around either a platter that won't rotate (or rotates too slow) or with poor/garbled sound.

If we're going to sell records (we better, 'cause we have around 100,000 on the sales floor), we have to do whatever we can to make sure your player is operational. In order to facilitate that need, we have needles, cartridges and belts. This is kind of a 'primer' to help with some terminology and to help you 'get to know' your machine. It will, by necessity, be very basic.

THE BELT
   No pictures for this one...just a simple drawing. The belt. It's a rubber belt that looks like a rubber band. The basic function: a motor spins a small metal rod (spindle). There is a belt around the spindle which stretches from there to a rim somewhere underneath the turntable platter. As the motor turns the spindle, the spindle turns the belt, which in turn rotates the platter. There are many, many different size turntable belts, but most turntables use around 5 different sizes. We actually carry around 20 different size belts and have access to many more.

THE NEEDLE
The needle attaches to the stylus which attaches to the cartridge which attaches to the headshell which.......

The Tonearm: This is a tonearm from a Technics SL1200MKII.  Detached from the tonearm is the headshell and cartridge
   The Headshell is shown above with a cartridge attached. In this instance, it is a Shure cartridge, which attaches to the headshell via 2 screws and 4 wires. The cartridge has a stylus (the blue thing in the lower right) that slides in. The stylus has a very small 'needle' on the very end. In this instance, the needle or tip is a diamond, probably around .0007" radius.  Sooooo, the diamond attaches to the end of the stylus which fits into the cartridge which attaches to the headshell which attaches to the tonearm which is part of the turntable/record player.
   The needle is what 'reads' the record. Question: how many grooves on the average record? Hint: more than zero, less than 2. Anyways, the needle is the part that reads the groove. If that is worn out, the record will sound lousy and the needle will do excess damage to the record. PERIOD.

Needles/styli come in a HUGE (meaning several thousands) variety, most of which ARE NOT INTERCHANGEABLE.  At any given time, we here at POPS will stock around 1,000+ different needles.  Many think that needles are similar in design. While that is true of many, I thought you might like to see some of the more odd designs.



This fits a Euphonics brand cartridge. It was used in several different brands of record players. Note there are two 'stems', or cantilevers. One side was for 78rpm records, the other was for LP/45s. When this needle was inserted into the cartridge, you would flip the lever from right side to left side of the headshell to allow you to play one type of record or the other.

This was for some RCA record players. Again, note the dual cantilever system, one for 78, the other for LP/45. By the way, whereas the LP/45 tip is around .0007" (remember that?), the tip for a 78 was a HUGE (relatively speaking) chip, usually synthetic sapphire: .003". Overall length of this stylus is about .75".



This one is really cool looking and really big. It's around 1.25" across, 1.25" deep. This was another RCA stylus. Again, dual cantilevers (the stem-looking things).






This actually fit a very early Shure cartridge. And yes, we even stock these museum pieces. It is not a dual tip...LP/45 only, sapphire tip. Around a half inch long.



This gem is for Sonotone cartridges, also used in a variety of record players. With only one cantilever, it had a tip on both sides. One side is .003 sapphire, the other side (the one you see here) is a .0007 diamond. It measures around 1.25" from the tip to the curve, and it came in several different styles and lengths depending on which Sonotone cart it fit.

This is a diamond tipped needle for the Sony VC-8E cart. It measures around .5' end to end.

This one is really cool. The pic is a bit blurry, but when you see it closer up it almost resembles birds wings. It is designed to play 78s and LP/45, both using sapphire tips. From the connecting end to the tip of the cantilevers, it measures around 3/4".



Every one of the boxes you see here is filled with styli and cartridges. Lots of 'em.  We really strive to fit you with whatever you need to listen to your records, old or new. And remember, if your old player is beyond repair, we have both new and fully-functioning, gently used vintage turntables to put you back in vinyl. Oh, and lots of vinyl to boot.

Have any questions about your turntable? Need a needle/cartridge/belt? Give us a holler. Either contact us via facebook, by email at popsresale@earthlink.net or call us at 859-254-7677. Perhaps we can help.

By the way, if your vintage audio system needs work (as I say, we are not technicians here), there is a guy here in town that works wonders. Terry Layman at Layman's Vintage Radios does terrific work. 859-489-6985. Terry is a great guy and does great work.

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