A Rough Guide To: Why Is My Vinyl Record Skipping?

Rough Trade Records

April 6th, 2024


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It’s a horrible feeling. You go to spin your brand new vinyl record – or even a classic from your collection – and it starts skipping. Right in the middle of your favorite song.

While vinyl beats streaming hands-down in its sound quality and authenticity, there is a risk that your favorite records can break from time to time. But luckily, most of the reasons your records are skipping are fixable. You just need to follow a few simple steps.

In this guide, Rough Trade vinyl record experts explain how to keep your discs from skipping and what to do if it happens to you.


What Can Cause Records to Skip? 

Even if they’re brand new, some vinyl records can skip during playback. 

Not only does this ruin the listening experience, but it can leave a sour taste for those who’ve just paid for a new record.

Skipping occurs when the needle of the record player jumps out of the vinyl grooves. This causes the audio to skip or repeat.

Many factors can cause a vinyl record to skip. So you need to know what to look for when trying to fix the problem. Some of the most common reasons for skipping vinyl include:

  • Dust & Debris: Dust particles, lint and other debris on the surface of the record can interfere with the smooth movement of the needle. This is especially common for vinyl (even new vinyl) that has been sitting on a shelf for a while.
  • Improper Tracking Force: Tracking force is the downward pressure applied by the tonearm on the record. When there’s not enough force, it can lead to skipping, as the tonearm can’t prevent the needle from jumping out of the record grooves.
  • Worn-Out Stylus: A worn or damaged stylus can struggle to properly track record grooves. Properly maintaining or replacing the styles can fix this issue.
  • Warped Record: Warped records are where vinyl material has been bent or distorted – often from high pressure or intense heat. This problem is often caused by improper storage or exposure.

Find out how to repair and restore warped vinyl in our helpful guide!

  • Uneven Surface or Scratches: Uneven surfaces or deep scratches on the record can disrupt the needle path and cause skipping. Proper record handling and storage can prevent this type of damage.
  • Poorly Calibrated Turntable: An uncalibrated turntable can also cause record skipping. This could be because of a misaligned cartridge, incorrect tonearm height or improper anti-skate adjustment.

If your record keeps skipping, it’s likely down to one of these problems. So, how do you fix them?…

How To Fix Skipping Records 

If you’re experiencing trouble with skipping vinyl, these steps can be taken to both troubleshoot and repair your records:

  • Remove dust and debris with a carbon fiber brush and a record cleaning kit. This gets rid of any excess material causing your record to skip, and the microfibre brush will avoid scratching the record.
  • Double-check the tracking force on your record player and adjust it to achieve optimal, safe needle pressure.
  • Examine the stylus. Does it look worn or damaged? If so, you may have to replace it to avoid skipping issues and potentially damaging future records.
  • Look at your record closely. Is it warped or damaged? If so, use a record flattener to correct the issue.
  • Vinyl records are prone to uneven surfaces and scratches that cause skipping during playback. To fix the issue, gently clean the record surface with a microfibre brush, then use a vinyl repair kit to fix the damage.
  • If your record continues to skip and you’re not sure why, it could be due to improper calibration on your record player. Check the player manual, then adjust various elements like the tonearm height and cartridge accordingly.

Why Is My New Vinyl Skipping?

If your vinyl is brand new, the problem is more likely to be with the record player than the vinyl disc itself.

So, the first port of call is to check the player – including the stylus and the calibration of the tonearm.

That being said – bad vinyl presses do exist, and if it turns out the vinyl you’ve purchased has been pressed incorrectly, you may be entitled to a refund.

How Do You Avoid Causing Your Records to Skip? 

Looking after your records and player means they’re less likely to become damaged or skip.

There are several essential ways to prevent your records from skipping during playback. These include:

  • Keep records clean and free from scratches and debris.
  • Set up the turntable properly before playing a record.
  • Avoid excessive tracking force on a record.
  • Handle records with care and always keep them in their sleeves when not in use.
  • Store records correctly. Consider moisture, temperature and any excess pressure they could be under while stored. Keep records out of the light, to avoid fading, too.

Caring For Your Vinyl Records

Proper vinyl care is essential to the longevity of any record. This includes cleaning your records and player regularly, with specialist equipment that won’t scratch or damage your collection.

Rough Trade offers a range of tools and accessories to help you properly care for your favorite records, to give you that same special feeling, listen after listen.

Check out our range of record and turntable cleaning accessories now – or for more information on caring for your Rough Trade records, chat with our helpful team today.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Why Does My Record Skip in The Same Spot?

A: If your record consistently skips in the same spot, it could be because there is a defect in that area of the record – including warping, damaged grooves, lodged debris, scratching or an uneven surface. If the problem persists, check out our guide to restoring vinyl or contact a professional record repair specialist.

Q: Does a Skipping Record Damage the Needle?

A: Yes, a skipping record can potentially damage the needle (stylus) of your record player over time. When a needle jumps out of the grooves, it undergoes excess stress and can wear down faster. Regular skipping could lead to a loss in sound quality and may require a stylus repair or replacement to give you the full listening experience.

Q: Can You Fix a Scratchy Record?

A: While it is not always possible to completely fix a scratched record, some methods can help minimize the impact of scratches. These include effective record-cleaning solutions, using vinyl repair kits or seeking the assistance of professional restoration services. Deep scratches, however, may still affect sound quality. Proper care and taking steps to prevent damage in the first place is always the best approach.

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