Crosley / Victrola Record Player Skipping? (Reasons & Fixes)

Author: Brian Campbell | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

Anyone who’s been spinning records long enough knows there’s nothing worse than trying to listen to a record that keeps on skipping. If this has happened to you, don’t worry!

It’s a very common problem among Crosley and Victrola owners, and despite having a wide array of causes, it is a relatively easy thing to fix.

In this article, I address this issue in three easy-to-follow sections.

First, I will explain how turntables work. Then I explain my troubleshooting process for skipping records. Lastly, I discuss several common problems and their solutions.

Let’s dive right in!

A Brief Overview of Turntable Magic!

In order to fully understand why records skip, it’s helpful to know how turntables operate. Before you roll your eyes or freak out, rest assured: this is a very broad overview. You won’t need a Ph.D. in electrical engineering to follow along!

First things first: you need to put your disc on the turntable – duh!! The “plate” you put it on is called the “platter” Not only does this platter spin the disc, but it also supports its weight.

Next, we need the needle to read the audio information on the disc. The needle has to bounce through every groove, taking note of every nuance, sometimes up to 10,000 times per second!

Next, we have the little red box the needle attaches to. This is the “cartridge,” and it translates the needle’s movement into an electric signal.

Lastly, there are the wires and preamp that take the signal to the speakers. The wires transport the audio signals through the tonearm, while the preamp makes them loud enough for the speakers.

CONGRATULATIONS! That’s the main gist, and now you’re a turntable expert!

But what does this have to do with skipping records? Let’s find out.

Why Skipping Happens

Whenever a record skips, or emits a funky sound, there are two main reasons why: either the vinyl disc itself is messed up, or something in the turntable is wonky.

Vinyl problems are easy to fix and understand, so I’ll address that in depth later. Turntables are much trickier. Whenever the platter, needle, and tonearm work together, other forces at work too (oooo … spooky!)

First, we have the downward pressure that the needle exerts on the disc. This is called “tracking force,” and when it’s too heavy, it distorts the sound. When it’s too light, the needle can jump out of a groove and interrupt the song – this is what causes skidding.

Second, we have “centripetal force.” Think of the last time you were on a merry-go-round; do you remember that pull that you felt inwards towards its center?

This exact thing is happening when a record spins too. As the needle reaches the center of the record, it travels faster. When the elements of a turntable aren’t calibrated correctly, this force can be excessively strong and also cause the needle to jump.

Main Causes of Skipping and Solutions for Vinyl Records

Whenever I have skipping problems, I focus on budget solutions before advancing to more invested ones, potentially saving lots of time and money.

Since vinyl records cost less than the setup used to play them, it makes sense to check them first. If your record still skips, you can move on to fixing the turntable itself.

Problem 1: Dirt and Dust are Crammed in the Grooves

This is the most common reason for skipping discs, and thankfully it’s the easiest to fix! Your needle tip is just as fine as a speck of dust.

When it smashes against dirt and dust while zooming through your record grooves, it gets worn down and dull over time. The grime also interferes with its reading, easily causing skipping and white noise.

Solution: Clean Yo Records!!

Always clean your records before playing them. Use a fine-fiber cloth (like a glasses cloth) to gently wipe their surface. It’s totally fine to use distilled water as well, as long as you use it in small amounts.

Don’t use rough towels, as they can cause scratches. Also don’t use paper towels, as the fibers can cause worse problems than dust.

You should also consider purchasing a vinyl brush, which can clean dust and get rid of static electricity, which can also cause white noise.

Problem 2: Cracked and Scratched Vinyl

Sometimes your records can actually get cracked and scratched without you realizing it.

When they are there, they create a lot of obvious problems. When there’s an extra gap connecting two concentric grooves, the needle can easily bounce between them – or even skip across several entire minutes of music!

Solution: Buy a New Record 🙁

Unfortunately, if your record is ruined, you can’t fix it. You’ll have to buy a new one. The nice thing is, with websites like Discogs and Ebay, you can get second-hand, quality ones with great prices.

While it’s no fun spending more money, there is an upside to an out-of-commission record: try a DIY project with it! With some creativity, you can turn your old record into a great decoration for your inner music aficionado!

Problem 3: Warped Vinyl

There is one type of record problem that you can potentially fix, and that’s vinyl warpage. This occurs when the disc as a whole gets slightly bent or curved, causing it to not sit flat on the platter.

When this happens, the needle can easily hop out of a crooked or lopsided groove. There is a way to address this, but here’s a disclaimer: it’s not always successful, so try it at your own risk!

Solution: Bake It!

Huh? Did you read that correctly?

Turns out, you did. Back in the days before the internet and tablets, people had to come up with creative ways to fix problems on their own. When their records warped, some people resorted to flattening them in the oven.

In order to do so, you will need two (safe!) slabs of flat glass. Heat your oven to the lowest temperature (100-225 degrees Fahrenheit), then place the first glass slab in.

Carefully sandwich the record between both glass slabs. Let it sit for about 30 minutes to warm up and flatten.

Does this work? Apparently, yes. Is it always smart or safe? Probably not. But hey, if you’ve got a cheaper record to experiment with, maybe you could try it out.

Problem 4: Centripetal Force

The last three problems summed up troubleshooting disc problems. The remaining ones relate to your Victrola or Crosley turntable.

We’ll start with centripetal force. Remember when I mentioned your favorite childhood merry-go-round realer? Sometimes that strong pull towards the center of the disc can cause the needle to press too hard, or fly out of its current groove.

Solution: Anti-Skating Settings

Unfortunately, not every Victrola or Crosley turntable comes with anti-skating settings. However, if yours does, it’s an essential troubleshooting feature.

Anti-skating parameters work to counteract the inward pull of centripetal force. The settings and process will differ from model to model, so I can’t be specific here. However, you can easily find instructions in your turntable manual after you google it (I know, I know … who saves their paper manuals anymore?!)

Problem 5: Too Much Pressure on the Record

The other major force in turntables presents its own problem as well. You do want pressure between your needle and record, but it has to be just right.

This force is called “tracking force,” and is measured in grams. Ideally, it should be between 1 and 3 grams. Mid- and high-end turntables have ways of fixing this, while budget ones like Victrolas and Crosleys usually don’t.

Fortunately, there is a quirky little hack you can use to address this problem!

Solution: The Ol’ Pennies & Dixie Cup Trick

If your turntable has a counterweight on the back end of your tonearm, you are in luck here. The counterweight is usually a thick dial that you can twist left or right to adjust the tonearm’s overall weight.

However, if your turntable doesn’t have a counterweight, there’s another weird trick you can try.

Take a dixie cup (or some other cheap-o, miniature paper cup) and GENTLY tape it to the top of your tonearm. I wouldn’t put it on your cartridge, as that’s fragile – but you can put it on the arm towards the needle-end.

After this, collect several pennies for yourself. To adjust the tonearm’s weight, you can put one penny in at a time to subtly increase the pressure. You can’t really measure it exactly, but it works great in a pinch!

Problem 6: Your Turntable is Too Cheap

Most Victrola and Crosley turntables are not top-quality models. This isn’t a bad thing, since both companies are marketing towards casual vinyl enthusiasts. However, if you find yourself wanting a better-quality listening experience, there’s nothing wrong with buying a new one.

In fact, many people buy Victrolas and Crosleys with the intention of “testing the waters.” If they find they still enjoy records after several months, they can invest in better models.

Solution: Find a Higher Quality Turntable

If you find yourself wanting a better turntable model, here are the primary features you should look for.

First, you will want one with a tonearm counterweight and anti-skating settings. Not only do these features help prevent skipping, but they also give you more control over the sound and experience you are getting.

Second, you will want a belt-driven platter. Every platter needs a little motor to make it turn, and this motor is always noisy and disruptive.

Cheap turntables place it right underneath the platter. More expensive ones put it far away from the platter, then place a belt in between to spin the platter (just like bike chains). By separating the two, turntable manufacturers diminish the noise interference.

Lastly, you will want a quality needle and cartridge, and external speakers. The needle and cartridge will work together to get the best audio signals possible, and external speakers will decrease vibrations and noise.

All these features will work in tandem to not only prevent skipping but also provide the best audio experience possible.

Preventative Measures to Avoid Skipping

As always, the best way to fix problems is to avoid them in the first place. Of course, you can’t always avoid problems, but there are several simple things you can do to reduce the possibility of skipping.

First, you should occasionally check your turntable’s overall condition. Checking its tracking force and needle tip are great ways to protect your records in the long run.

Second, storing your records correctly is the best measure you can take to prevent ruining them.

Always store them vertically (even if they lean diagonally a bit, like in a milk crate). Invest in a collection of inner sleeves, that way their sides aren’t scraping directly against sleeve cardboard.

Store them in a room that’s not too hot or too cold. The ideal temperature for storing records is 46-50 degrees Fahrenheit – but don’t sweat it if you can’t work that out. You don’t want them in a super damp or humid environment either.

Lastly, keep them away from direct light. Believe it or not, strong lights can cause them to warp easily.

And for all that’s good in the world, ALWAYS hold them along the edges, NOT the face! Even though none of these steps deals directly with skipping, they all go a long way in preventing it.

Conclusion

With the practical advice and suggestions listed above, you should be able to fix your skipping records in no time! Admittedly, reading this article might have seemed a bit overwhelming – or even a bit overkill.

However, since physical media is more involved than digital media, it only makes sense that it requires more attention to detail. This attention and care is totally worth it though, since vinyl can truly give some of the best audio experiences out there!

Take a few minutes to investigate your vinyl collection and audio setup. You won’t regret it! A wonderful journey of relaxation and discovery awaits you! Enjoy the journey, and always, ALWAYS have fun!

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About Brian Campbell

Brian has been playing piano since elementary school and started learning guitar in 7th grade. He teaches K-8 students in Columbus, Ohio, and writes lessons covering a broad spectrum of genres. As a child, he moved back and forth between Colorado and West Africa. He credits those experiences with opening his eyes to the cultural and artistic diversity he appreciates today. Several of his favorite musicians include J.S. Bach, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Radiohead. When not doing music and teaching, you can find Brian reading, hiking, traveling, or making just one more shot of espresso.

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