How to Maintain the Right Turntable Speed

How to Maintain the Right Turntable Speed

If you’re a vinyl aficionado and certified audiophile, then you know that keeping your record collection spinning at the right speed is a must to hear music as intended.

While we take it for granted that our records will routinely rotate at the right rate whenever we plop them on the platter, sometimes players can fall out of pace. The wonky, drawn-out tone of a lagging turntable motor is a mainstay of Old Western saloon shootouts, but it’s not ideal for your home-listening experience.

So, how does one maintain turntable speed at its ideal velocity? And how can you bring a platter back up to pace once it's fallen offbeat?

Drop the needle on something mellow and read on to get the full scoop on record player speed and how to keep things turning at the right tempo.

Different Speeds For Different Needs

Not all vinyl pressings are created equal, both in their content and in their size. Some records are simply bigger than others—and we’re not talking about Adele routinely outselling Taylor Swift.

Vinyl records come in a few different diameters, and their size dictates the speed to spin them at. Manufacturers measure vinyl pressings in inches (“), and their rotation speed is calculated in Revolutions Per Minute (RPM). The three standard sizes are:

  • 12” – Generally, full albums are pressed across a dozen-inch surface. The Long Play (LP), as it is called, is the most common size for labels to record on and is spun at 33 ⅓ RPM. Generally, one side of a 12-inch can hold around 22 minutes of music, with the A and B sides combining for about 45 total.1 Bob Dylan broke ground for rock musicians when he became the first to stuff two 12” LPs in a sleeve for 1966’s double-album, Blonde on Blonde.2

  • 10” – The ten-inch record is the rarest of all sizes and spins at a head-twirling 78 RPM. This speedy saucer produces higher sound quality than its slower-turning brethren but sacrifices longevity in exchange as the rapid rotation imparts more wear and tear on the vinyl. 1Dylan again revolutionized records when, in 2022, a 10-inch rerecording of 1962’s Blowin’ in the Wind pressed on a custom acetate surface went for $1.77 million.3
  • 7” – Lucky number seven is the second most common size to press records in. 7-inch records are called EPs, or Extended Plays. They’re usually reserved for a single tune with an accompanying b-side and turn at a steady 45 RPM.1 The 45 is known for being the format of rarities, one-off singles, and oddities artists wouldn’t dare press onto more expensive, larger records.4

The most essential step to maintaining the right speed for your record is knowing exactly how fast the platter should be turning.

Most units come with a turntable speed control knob or slider to adjust the RPMs of the device. However, some require performing manual adjustment and relocating the belt that spins the platter. Either way, make sure it’s set to the right speed for the size of the record, and if you’re playing a 45, use an appropriate adapter to keep it centered in the platter.

Note: Due to the declining popularity of the 10-inch format, fewer turntables nowadays include a 78 RPM option. In response, vinyl producers have begun pressing 10-inches to spin at 33 ⅓ or 45 RPM.5

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How to Keep Your Platter Turning Like Clockwork

If you want to ensure your records revolve at the right rate, it’s essential to keep your equipment in proper working order. Maintaining your turntable and its various components is key to the longevity of your records and the player itself.

Make sure to routinely:

  • Gently brush the needle with a stylus brush.
  • Wipe everything down with a lint-free microfiber cloth.
  • Clean your records before and after each use.
  • Use the dust cover whenever possible.

While this outer-level maintenance is essential to the health of your turntable and records, the components that dictate the platter’s speed are hidden below the player’s casing. If you’re diligent about keeping things clean but still experiencing velocity issues, there could be trouble brewing below the surface.

What to do When Your Record Player is Lagging Behind or Jumping Ahead

If you’re worried that your turntable speeds aren’t spinning at their advertised pace, it’s likely because the motor beneath them is encountering issues. The motor transfers the energy to the platter that is responsible for spinning the record. There are a few telltale signs that your platter isn’t spinning at the right rate:

  • Slurred, drawn-out notes in your tunes that aren’t there normally.
  • The tone sounds either too high-pitched or lower than normal for the recording.
  • The tempo of the music slows downs or speeds up at times when it shouldn’t.

While it can be tempting to try to clean the interior of your turntable with products such as compressed air, they leave behind condensation after kicking out dust.6 Electronics and moisture are already a no-go, but the delicate instruments of a turntable are especially susceptible to wetness.

So, if you can’t shoot canned air through the center of your record player, how are you to maintain and fix its internal components?

Dissecting Turntables: What’s Inside Your Machine?

As mentioned, when a turntable is spinning offbeat, the motor is usually the culprit. There are two popular styles of motor that power record players and thus two different avenues to troubleshoot. There are some key differences when looking at a belt vs direct drive turntable:

  • Belt-drive – These are offset from the turntable’s center and use a belt looped from a spindle on the motor to the base of the platter to turn records.
  • Direct-drive – Direct-drive turntables have their motors mounted directly below the platter and use magnets to rotate it and the record.

If you’re having issues with turntable speed, you first must establish which style of motor powers your machine. After that, you can go about deciding how to fix it.

Assessing and Fixing Belt-Drive Issues

If your belt-drive turntable is spinning off-pace, it’s almost certainly an issue with the belt itself. Over time, a record player’s belt can stretch, warp, and loosen. If you believe a bad belt is problematizing your playback, open up the turntable’s casing and:

  • Assess and clean things – Check the turntable belt for tightness and thoroughly dust it, the spindle, and the base of the platter off. If things are feeling a little loose, dirt might not be the issue.
  • Boil the belt – No, we’re not making Goats Head Soup. Heating the belt restores some of its elasticity and can render it taut enough to return to turning records at the correct playback speeds. Once the water reaches a boil, shut the stove off and soak the belt for 5-8 minutes. Allow it to dry completely before attempting to reinstall.7
  • Replace the belt altogether – If a turntable belt is particularly old or showing obvious signs of wear, it’s best to just replace it altogether. Make sure to find a matching belt for your model and install it to the manufacturer’s specifications.

If your records are playing slowly, more often than not a faulty belt is to blame. But, if you’ve tried troubleshooting the belt and it’s not the issue (or you have a direct-drive model), there are other solutions to consider.

Troubleshooting Motor and Speed Control Issues

If your troubles lay beyond the belt, it could be because your motor isn’t running at the right rate (or the other components at least think it isn’t). There are two more places you can look to identify why your platter isn’t spinning as consistently as it could be:

  • The adjustment screws – Located either under the platter or on the bottom of the device are the record player speed adjustment screws. Turning them clockwise will cause the platter to rotate faster, whereas spinning them counterclockwise will slow it down.7 Be sure to make adjustments slowly and test the speed after each turn—you don’t want to accidentally turn 33 ⅓ into 333 ⅓ RPM!
  • The speed controls – Dirty speed controls can cause the motor to run at the wrong RPM—especially on vintage players. Usually, the speed controls should be on the bottom of the turntable, hidden by a removable cover. Take it off and use an electrical contact cleaner to remove any dust or gunk that’s built up on their surface and connections.8

If you’ve made it this far and have checked, cleaned, and replaced various components on your turntable and it’s still spinning too slowly, it might be time to bring it to a professional for repairs.

Or, if repair work wouldn’t be worth the price and you’ve been thinking of upgrading anyway, perhaps it’s time to consider a new companion for your record collection.

Visit our blog for more resources and information on turntable care and maintenance, anti skating on turntable, and more.

Get a Turntable That Keeps an Unbreakable Pace From Victrola

If you’re looking for a record player that will keep turning and turning, producing breathtaking sound year after year with minimal maintenance, then look no further.

Victrola has been innovating and perfecting record player technology for well over 100 years, and because of our experience, our motors and platters turn like clockwork. Not only do they keep on spinning, but they crank out superlative sound that’s truly the envy of the industry.

If it’s time to upgrade your record player, give Victrola a spin and leave your lagging platter in the past.


  1. Vectis. A Guide to Vinyl Record Sizes and Speeds.
  2. Billboard. Bob Dylan’s ‘Blonde on Blonde’ Turns 50: The Story Behind His Vivid, Warm & Biting Album.
  3. Yahoo Finance. 10 most expensive vinyl records.
  4. Grunge. The Origin Of The 7-Inch Record.
  5. United Record Pressing. 10” Records.
  6. The Spruce. How to Clean Vinyl Records.
  7. Victrola. How to Fix a Slow Record Player: a Comprehensive Guide.
  8. Forever Analog. How To Repair a Turntable or Record Player That Sounds Slow.