Alexa! Why does my record player skip? Please help.

My first encounter with record skipping goes back to a calm rainy evening when I was enjoying my coffee with my favourite apple pie and wanted to listen to “Here Comes the Sun” from the Beatles album Abbey Road. The moment the song reached the verse “Little darling”, there was a skip, and a thought came into my mind: “Why does my record player skip?”.

At that very moment, I knew there was a problem either with my record or the turntable. Upon checking, I found a big scratch on the surface of my record that was causing the skip.

And it completely ruined the moment, and I was like, “I hate record skipping!”. And if you have experienced it like me, I am sure you don’t like it either.

If you are experiencing a skip while playing a record. In that case, it is either due to a specific vinyl you are playing, or your record player is causing the problem. Inspect the vinyl first, then go on to check the record player.

If the problem is your vinyl record, the sudden skip can result from warp, scratch, or a dust particle stuck in the grooves. If the reason is your record player, it could be due to a dirty or faulty needle or incorrect anti-skate and tracking force.

Without wasting any more minutes, let us discuss the reasons why a vinyl player skip and ways to fix it.

why does record player skip

The issue with the Vinyl record

To unearth this mystery, you should first check if a specific record causes the problem you are playing. Whenever you experience a skip, stop the turntable from spinning and change the record. If the new record plays completely fine, it’s evident the issue is with the vinyl that was played earlier and not your record player. 

You should check what is causing that specific record to skip. Is it a warp, bent, scratches on the grooves, or dust or dirt particles stuck in the record grooves?

I have mentioned detailed information about these culprits below. While there are possible fixes for some issues, others are beyond repairable.

Warp (Bent)

Warp, in simple terms, is just a bend in the record shape that occurs due to excess heat, extensive playing, or excessive pressure due to the improper organization of vinyl records. 

If you find any warp in your vinyl shape, invest in a record clamp or record weight that will compress the record down on a turntable platter that will flatten the vinyl surface and remove the warp. As a result, it will stop the record from skipping. Remember, this only works when the warp is manageable.

Another fix that online blogs recommend is to remove the warp by heating it down in an oven. I am against it because if you cannot maintain the right temperature for the right period, it can cause irreversible damage, including distortion and melting of the record.


Another reason could be a scratch on the vinyl surface that is causing the needle to jump from one groove to another groove, and as a result, you are experiencing record skipping.

Before you make a quick inspection, I recommend to clean the record first. It will remove any stain from the record surface. Once done, hold the record from the outer surface and look for any possible scratches on the record surface. If you can find any, it could be a reason why the record skips while playing.

One more thing to remember is that sometimes lights and shadows on the record can create an optical illusion, so it’s always a good idea to check the record from different angles and lighting conditions to be double sure.

Till now, there has been no possible fix for the scratches on the record surface. So, you can keep playing the record the way it is or buy a new one. Buying a new one is not the case when it’s a vintage record. Yeah, my heart aches, too!

Dust or dirt

If you play records but forget to clean them at least once every two weeks, dust and dirt will be a problem as they will cause the record to skip. If you find any dust particles on your record groove, get a toothpick and gently remove the dust particles using it. 

I want you to be extra careful while attempting this fix, as increased pressure can cause a scratch on the record surface that would stay there forever. Once you have removed the dust particles, it’s always a good idea to give the record a quick cleaning using a cleaning kit and maintain the habit of cleaning the records once every 1-2 weeks.

If the record player causes a skip

You have tried everything I mentioned above, and the problem still needs to be solved. In that case, the problem is your record player rather than the records you are playing. The reason behind the record player skipping could be incorrect anti-skate and vertical tracking force, as well as a dirty needle/style.

Let’s dig deeper into the causes of why your record player is skipping with its possible fixes. 

Make sure your platter is leveled

Always make sure your turntable is on a flat surface, or else, as a result, the record might skip because it is off balance. Take a 3-way bubble level to check for consistency throughout the turntable platter. 

You are good to go if the bubble is in the center or close to it. If not, move it to a flatter surface or make height adjustments by rotating the turntable’s rubber feet up or down. 

It will fix the off-balance issue and skip.

Set appropriate vertical tracking force

Correct tracking force improves the playback and stops the record from skipping. You might experience skip if the stylus doesn’t have enough tracking force to stay between the walls of the groove.

I recommend using a stylus force gauge to track the right vertical tracking force. Compare it with what your manufacturer recommends. If there is any difference between the tracking force you get and the one your manufacturer recommends, use the tonearm weight or tracking weight to adjust the vertical tracking force.

It will help if you are very cautious here, as too little tracking force can cause skipping, while too much can cause damage to your needle and record.

Check if your anti-skate is properly set

Sometimes, a fix can be as small as properly setting just the record’s anti-skate setting.

 It’s okay if you forgot this part; I am not judging; it can happen to us all. Let me tell you, in short, why it is so important. 

The anti-skate setting helps the needle to stay centered in the groove, and if you don’t set it up properly, it can cause the needle to jump out of the record grooves, and we don’t want that to happen. RIGHT FELLAS!

To set it properly, all you need to do is to match the anti-skate setting with the tracking force. If your counterweight (that maintains tracking force) is set to three grams, set the anti-skate property to three grams. If you find needle skipping towards the outer portion of the record, consider decreasing the anti-skate.

Clean the needle 

If you are obsessed with your record collection like me, you will do anything to save them from a dirty stylus and constant hit. RIGHT? Well, a dirty stylus can seriously ruin your music-listening experience. When you forget to clean it every 1 or 2 weeks, it can cause record skips and reduce your record life. 

A properly cleaned and maintained stylus not only tracks the grooves well but also increases the longevity of your vinyl.

Replace the needle

Like everything on the planet, your record player needle also has a life span of 1000 hours of record playing time. If you have already cleaned your needle and adjusted the anti-skate and tracking force, but the record skipping hasn’t stopped, Now is the time to change the old stylus with the new one.

You can also go through this article for details information on signs to get a new needle.

Final Tone

You can avoid the record skipping. You just need to take good care of your vinyl collection and record player. Clean your vinyl records and record player needle once every 1-2 weeks, and make sure all the settings mentioned above are correct, and you are good to go.

If you have found fixes other than the ones I have mentioned above, don’t shy away from sharing them with me in the comment section. I would love to read them!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it normal for my record to skip?

Record skipping is a completely normal thing that you don’t have to worry about. It usually occurs when the needle loses contact with the record grooves. You can fix it by adjusting your turntable and keeping your records clean.

Q: Why is my record skipping but no scratches?

While dust, dirt, warp and scratches are some of the factors that cause a record to skip, there is also one factor to consider – your turntable. If the turntable is not properly set up or has tonearm alignment issues, it can also lead to skipping.

Russel Hawkins - About the author

About the author

Russ Hawkins is a passionate audiophile who loves to collect vinyl records. In his leisure time, you will find him either listening to his favorite music albums or playing with his dog Max. He loves writing about vinyl, turntables, record players, and everything music!

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