How do you play a vinyl record using a turntable?

Simple instructions with video and images to explain how to play a vinyl album on a record player

Congratulations, you've finally decided to buy a record player and a few vinyl albums but now the embarrassing question lingers: "How do I actually play my record?" Don't be intimidated, playing a record is a bit more difficult than asking Siri to play the latest album from your favorite artist. The good news is, it's only slightly more difficult.

Keep reading for our instructions or watch the condensed video version right below.

"How do I play a record?" video

How do I use a turntable to play a record?

There are a few steps involved in using a turntable to play a record but it's actually really easy once you're all set up. The first step is to make sure that you have everything you need. We have a really good primer for newcomers so before you do anything, please read our vinyl guide for beginners to make sure you have all the tools needed to play a record.

1) Remove the record from the packaging

This is an extremely obvious point but there are a few things to keep in mind. When removing the record, always make sure you hold on the edges of the vinyl. This will ensure that you don't get any grease or debris on the record. Gently slide it out horizontally or the record might fall.

2) Place the record on the turntable

If you read our beginner's guide, then you know that the turntable is the actual platter where you place the record on and not the player itself. Vinyl is double sided so make sure that side 1 (sometimes referred to as side A) is facing you. Again, grabbing the record by its edge, gently place it on the turntable.

3) Place the tonearm over the outer edge of the record

Next to the tonearm you'll notice a small lever known as the cue lever. Raise the cue lever to raise the tonearm. Next, gently move the tonearm to the outer edge of the record. You don't need to be super precise as there is a bit of room for error.

4) Start the turntable

On your record player you will find an "On" or "Start" button. By pressing it, the record will begin to spin. You'll want to make sure that your record player is set to 33 RPMs if you're using a standard record or at 45 RPM for a 45 one.

5) Lower the stylus using the cue lever

Now that the record is spinning and the tonearm is in position, use the cue level to lower the tonearm. This will make the stylus (the needle) gradually touch the record and you should begin to hear music. 

Note: Steps 4 and 5 do not need to be in this order. You can place the stylus on the record and then turn it on if you wish. If you're not feeling confident, then do step 5 first.

How do I skip tracks on a record?

If you want to skip tracks, the process is exactly the same as above with the exception that you need to place the tonearm over the beginning of the track that you want to listen to. You'll notice that on the record, there are some segments that appear to be a different color than the rest, these are the markings of a new track. 

Troubleshooting

Our beginner's guide to vinyl is very thorough and will explain the most common issues that newcomers will experience. Here's a quick breakdown:

That's pretty much it. Once you've set this up one time, it's extremely easy to place a record. Happy listening!

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