NYC Electro

DJ Tip of the Week: How to Clean your Needles or Stylus (video)

DJing has taken different forms over the last few years, but if you are still rocking the wheelz of steel, then you will need to be keeping your needles clean. Recently I had some needle tracking problems, i took a look and my needles were filthy! How does this happen? Well, dust, outdoor particles, dirt, you name it, they all fly around and eventually land on you records. Your needle then scrapes the grime from the grooves of the record and makes a nice collection of dirt. The quick way to clean this is to use your finger, but this does not always do the bset job. Click through for a detailed explanation and video on how to clean you needles/stylus.

Cleaning Your Stylus

As you can see, this needle is filthy! It can lead to many issues to mess you up in your set. For instance, you might hear a "computer"ish or wobbly sound if you use Serato or Tractor. Or, if you are back-cueing/scratching, the needle might not hold the groove. And the worst is when the needle just scrapes across the record as if it just broke completely.

There are a few ways to clean the needles. The quick way is to lift your needle off the record, reach under the needle and wipe away the dirt with your finger. If you are at a club/gig, this will probably fix your problem temporarily. But because you are not really getting the needle 100% clean, you will probably have to periodically clean it throughout the night.

Another way to clean you needles is going to require a small amount of time, a steady hand and some good lighting. This is not something you can really do at a club. Take both needles off and use the stylus's tip to scrape the dirt off of each other. The video below will show you better.

The best way is to use a needle cleaning brush kit. This is something that you should have in your DJ bag at all times. The tools in the kit are pretty simple, usually you get a needle brush, and some solution. You can get a few different types of brushes and solution, here is a link to the Stanton Stylus Cleaner from It will run you about $20 bucks. If you have a brush and already own record cleaning solution, its the same stuff, so use that and save some money.

The procedure is pretty simple, and is also explained in the video below if you don't want to read. First, remove the needle from the tone-arm. Flip the needle so you can see the ribbon and stylus. Swipe the needle in an outward motion with the brush to take off the first layer of dust. Once that is clean, you can now use the needle again.

If you want a more thorough cleaning, drop a couple drops of cleaning solution on the needle while holding the needle in a downward angle (to prevent the liquid from entering the body of the needle). Again, swipe your brush a few times across the stylus until its clean. You may have to repeat this a few times to get it nice and clean. Next, clean under and around the stylus. Be very careful not to hit the stylus while you are doing this, you could break it, and that would be bad. Again, you may need to do this a few times. Then you are done. That was easy!

If you want to be extremely thorough, remove the headshell from the cartridge and clean in all the nooks and crannies of the headshell. Be careful on where you apply the solution, or apply it to the brush. Also, make sure everything is dry before putting all the pieces back together and you are clean!

Check out the video and the gallery below.

DJ TIP: How To Clean Your Needles

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