Is It Safe to Play Clean But Worn and Crackly 45s?

I have several old 45's that I would love to listen to. I'm wondering if I clean them really well, and there are no deep scratches, if they will hurt your stylus to play them. They sound crackly, but they were just played to death and have several of the swirly scratches from being stacked on top of each other for years. I am using an Ortofon 2m Bronze and I don't want to damage it. Should I use an old beater turntable to play them on, or is it okay to play them on my nice setup?

Thanks so much in advance!

-Shawn B

Clean records are key to preventing stylus damage and wear. While I wouldn't play severely scratched records, even clean ones, "worn and crackly" ones would give me less cause for concern. 45s were often pressed on noisy vinyl to begin with and obviously the diamond stylus is far harder than the vinyl itself.

So as far as I'm concerned, you're not likely to damage or prematurely wear out the stylus by playing these clean records. Surface swirlies are of no concern since the stylus will be riding in the grooves well below them.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!

Varoshiotis's picture

Dop you need a different anti-skating force when playing 45 rpm records? If the rotational speed is higher by around 35 percent shouldn't the anti-skating increase by the same percentage?

Michael Fremer's picture

Skating is causes by groove friction during playback. If there was no offset angle to the headshell there would be zero skating regardless of RPMs. Therefore I don't think RPMs affects the amount of skating but I'll sleep on it!

andrew wilson's picture

Hello Mike.Are members allowed to review LPS in their own collections even if the title is delated long ago.Many thanks Andy?.

andrew wilson's picture

Hello Mike.How can i get my hands on the above mag?.I live in the UK and my card is a mastro card.Please advise.Thanks.Andy.

Michael Fremer's picture

to subscribe and read online..

texray's picture

Hey Mikey!

I found these YouTube links with an 80's Onkyo turntable with a Pickering XUV4500Q Quad cartridge playing beautiful music.  I'm impressed.  I bought the same model Pickering cart with spare stylus off of Ebay and I just haven't gotten around to parting with the cash to get a decent table for it.  The YouTube links show me that the Onkyo/Pickering combo is a match made in heaven!  What say you?


Michael Fremer's picture

I used to own that turntable or a variant of it. Pickerings were excellent trackers and more or less tonally linear. I can let you hear heaven. This combo will certainly get you skybound! Those 'tables were designed for high compliance cartridges like the Pickering.

teenage diplomat's picture

Got the July 2014 Stereophile today. No Analog Corner. WTF???

Michael Fremer's picture
It's a long story that has to do with a defective product that I reviewed that I didn't know was defective because of bad instruction translation. The only thing to do was pull the column. First time ever! Explanation next month. But glad you noticed!
Oksana's picture

Don't know where to ask this but decided to try here. I've read about clear vinyl for a long time and just received my first LP. Rolling Stones Re-issue Beggars Banquet. The first thing I do when receiving an album is clean it, and right away I noticed the first problem with clear vinyl. You can't see any dirt or debris. It's impossible to tell how clean it is. I'm very curious about other opinions, doers anyone prefer clear vinyl? I think I'll steer clear in the future. I don't have duplicate albums in black vinyl, so I have no way of comparing. What say you?

Michael Fremer's picture
Clear vinyl is fine in terms of sound. It's just PVC without color added but it does make it difficult to see dirt and even more difficult to find particular tracks since you can simultaneously see both sides. But I wouldn't not buy a record just because it was pressed on transparent vinyl....
McDonalds or Steak's picture

What is the name for the dead wax between the bands on a record?

Moodeez1's picture

If there is a hobby where people subject themselves to more mental masturbation than audiophiles, I can't imagine what it could be. All this hoopla over the vinyl renaissance and how younger people are embracing the format will be short-lived, in my opinion. People such as Michael Fremer, Chad Kassem et al. could sell ice cubes to Eskimos and it boggles my mind as to how they can influence so many to spend so much on so little. All these pricey reissues, for the most part, are only reasonable facsimilies of the originals and the proof is in the listening. And how many copies of the same LP do you really need? When I hear of some of you brag that you have a dozen (or more) variations of the same LP, I can only think, someone needs to get a life! Many of you agonize over whether an LP is cut from analog or digital sources. Who cares? Does the sound you're hearing light you up or let you down? Again, the proof is in the listening. All these younger folks embracing vinyl? It won't last. They're buying LP's because it's cool, hip and retro but they're playing them on sub par rigs and will soon tire of the poor sound quality and inconvenience. Playing and caring for vinyl is not convenient but a labor of love (and a pain in the ass). The young turks won't stick with it. The whole vinyl renaissance thing is the byproduct of elitist manufacturers and reviewers catering to the well-heeled with money and time to burn. The youth of America is not their target market. The prices of high end hardware gets more absurd every day and the LP reissue mavens keep churning out a dozen lackluster titles for every desirable one. This madness will hit a wall as the older audiophiles start to die off because there's no target market waiting in the wings who will put up with this lunacy. It's already happening, doncha know.

Michael Fremer's picture
Please clean up the modest amount of ejaculate.
Diamond Dog's picture

Hi Michael, I am not a tech head but have been collecting music for about 35 yrs. I really enjoy your videos on YouTube & now your website. In recent times I have been delving into vintage amps & speakers & trying to pick the right combo for home use. I know it's hard to choose without listening for yourself & it's all subjective.... But I do like the idea of having a tube-like sound with possibly a set of Tannoy Chevriot speakers. What are your thoughts/recommendations on this? Currently I am using a Luxman PD-272 turntable & am quite happy with it. Is there anything in a decent budget range that comes to mind that you think kicks ass? i am open to new gear as well.

crosscatch's picture

Hey Mikey,

I just got a copy of a Kinks lp from 65 and on the lower back there are three letters that I imagine identify the printer. I would like to change the jacket with my older copy but it has three different letters. Is there a legend of printers that I could use in research?

Thanks much

diannaci's picture

Just saw that there are nearly 50 ECM titles now available on vinyl at reasonable prices. I bought two so far, "Belonging" and "Facing You" and they were excellent. I have an original 1975 pressing of "Belonging" (that was originally treated with Sound Guard - it works!) and the new one sounds virtually identical on my LP12/Troika set-up.

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The VidMate app for Android allows you to stream and download videos from a variety of sources, such as YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo, and Yodesi.