Now to the very important 'art' of stylus cleaning. Under no circumstances attempt to pick or grab a blob of fluff off the end of the cantilever. A proper stylus cleaner is the tool for the job and in future never let it get to this state.

To use the pictured brush first turn the volume down to zero, then bring it up under the stylus tip and gently brush the tip by pulling the brush towards the front of the turntable. Brushing backwards may bend the cantilever (the tiny aluminium tube the stylus itself is glued to) which is naturally to be avoided.

Notes -

1) Turn the volume down to zero or of course turn the amp off.

2) Clean in a motion away from the mounting point of the cantilever so that it can't accidentally be bent and thus be a throw away.

3) Never (in my opinion) use any fluid to clean a stylus and certainly never use any fluid on a carbon fibre brush of any kind.

4) Dry clean your stylus tip using the brush pictured below regularly, particularly if you are playing records that have a bit of lint/dust/crud on them. Regularly might mean anytime between every record side through to maybe every 10 sides (every 5 records).

5) A stylus cleaner is a necessary part of record playing, as important as owning a turntable itself. Sound quality can not be maintained if the stylus is riding up out of the groove because it has a hunk of mud and fluff built up around the shank of the tip.

6) Styli that are kept clean will last longer, there by saving you money, much more money than a stylus cleaner costs!

Now enjoy some music and happy cleaning!

Carbon stylus brush available from Audiofix Warana Brisbane

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As an older enthusiast of vinyl, records, albums, call them what you will I was actually around when that was the only way to play music at home. In this series of articles I intend to throw some light on some simple practices to allow you to get the best sound and life out of your vinyl collection. This 'light' comes from a lifetime of playing records for enjoyment and work. I have been working in the audio industry since I was 15 and I am now... well I don't really want to say but you could reverse those two digits and be close...

I have noticed that there is an enormous amount of misinformation out here on the web. A lot of that info is from 'new' enthusiasts and as great as it is to see a new generation take an interest in this perhaps finest of ways to play music at home there is a chance that their knowledge is based simply on others dodgy advice. So here I will attempt to pass on the simple truth as I know it, much of it taught to me by folk who lived and breathed records in their heyday from the 60s to the early 90s.


Carbon brush is the go for record cleaning.


Record cleaning - I could go on and on about all the amazing ways to clean a record. Wet cleaners, dry cleaners, metho versus distilled water, the old D4 brush versus a dirty T shirt etc etc but in fact its much simpler than any of that. DON'T GET THEM DIRTY IN THE FIRST PLACE! I mean why the heck do they need cleaning? What did you do to them? Obviously you never touch the surface of the record with anything other than a clean, fresh, carbon fiber brush or the stylus. Fingers should only touch the label and the very outer edge, ever! I hear you shout at your screen "I bought a used record and it really needs cleaning"... Ok but let me put this scenario to you. Have you ever left the dishes in the sink overnight, you know, you had a few drinks after the take away curry, everything was going smoothly with your 'guest' so you thought you might deal with the unimportant clean up in the morning.

You rinse and wash, and scrub and scour and eventually the now hardened butter chicken eventually is removed from the relatively non stick, smooth surface of the plates. So this record you purchased for a $1 that has a few unidentifiable specs of gunk on it, that have been there for a decade or two are somehow going to be easily released from the grooved surface of the vinyl? No, not a chance, they are there for good, well at least without damaging the vinyl in such a way that you have just added a different flaw to its playback performance.

Have you tried to clean a window recently. Is it just me or is it almost impossible to get rid of the smears. Just when you think its right, you check it on a different angle to the light and there it is, a smeary mess. Now imagine that smear on your record (from some kind of wet cleaning solution), imagine further what your stylus looks like after it has scraped this thin film of goop out of the grooves of your record.....

Cleaning is in my opinion to be avoided at all cost. Use a simple record brush to lift out surface dust that is unavoidably floating through the air and will land on your disc in normal use and that's it!

So what have we learned -

1) Use a simple and inexpensive carbon fibre brush to remove lint from your records.

2) Never put fluid on any carbon fibre brush for record or stylus cleaning.

3) Never touch your records on the playing surface. The only thing that should contact the playing section of a record is a clean unworn stylus/needle.

4) Never touch a carbon fibre brush with anything other than the records playing surface or the frame it came with to allow flicking off of lint collected.

5) Never touch the carbon hairs onto the label as you have had your fingers all over it.

6) Regularly clean your stylus as this is really the only thing that will scrape the dust and goop out of the grooves of your records.


A discussion on stylus cleaning is here

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