Replacement Phonograph Needles
Finding a replacement phonograph needle can be difficult. Here are some ideas on where to start looking.
When the first compact discs were introduced to consumers in the early 1980's, many audiophiles at the time were ecstatic. No longer would they have to put up with scratches, hisses and pops while listening to their favorite albums. The new sound was much 'cleaner' sonically, and the discs were not nearly as fragile as the traditional vinyl album. But for a growing number of loyalists to the vinyl medium, record players and turntables became valuable commodities. Older record players were treated with care, because most manufacturers of stereo equipment were also getting in on the compact disc movement, and not providing as much service to those who preferred the more organic sound of the vinyl album. Replacement parts, especially needles, have become nearly impossible to find, but here are some ideas on where to start looking.
1. Don't give up on your stereo's manufacturer just yet. While it's true that most of the major electronics companies have ceased production of record players and turntables, except for some high-end turntables, they may not have depleted their replacement needle supply entirely. Find a customer service number for the manufacturer of your record player, and see if they have any ideas on finding replacement needles. You may have to purchase an entire 'arm' assembly instead of just the needle, or they may not have the parts at all. At least you'll have accurate information straight from the manufacturers.
2. Thrift stores and second-hand electronics outlets may have some older stereo equipment. You may have to purchase the entire system and cannibalize it for the parts you need to replace the needle, but you'll avoid paying an inflated price for just the needle. Some older electronics stores may have some needle assemblies available, although you may have to take the time to sort through the bins yourself. Know precisely what brand of needle you need, and be patient. Buying a needle that doesn't fit can be a costly mistake- many of these electronics outlets have strict "no return" policies.
3. Dealers in collectible records may also speak your language. Chance are, someone who took the time and effort to amass a large collection of records is also someone who shares your passion for the old vinyl sound. They may own equipment similar to yours and have encountered the same problem finding a replacement needle. When there is a lull in the action, you might ask them how they solved the problem. They might also have some connections with fellow recordphiles that would have equipment for sale, or repairmen who still service older stereo equipment.
4. Place an ad in the local newspaper with the exact specifications of the parts needed, or find out if there is a column dedicated to collectible information exchanges. Some newspapers offer a regular column that allows a reader to post a request for a needed service or item. Other readers who have that item or provide that service can respond to the column themselves. These columns can get very specific, so it would not be unusual to see a request for a replacement needle for a 1965 General Electric Hi-Fi Play-o-Matic, for example. Check the column regularly for any response, and be sure to include some contact information with your regular classified ad.