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How to Use a Phonograph

Old phonograph with vinyl record

Those who enjoyed music before the 1980s likely have fond memories of listening to vinyl on phonographs. During the 1980s, music recording took several huge steps forward and left vinyl records behind to gather dust. If you happen upon an old phonograph in an attic or at an estate sale, grab it for the sake of nostalgia, if nothing else. Place an old vinyl LP onto the turntable and do a dance down memory lane.

Old phonograph with vinyl record

Things You'll Need:

  • Phonograph
  • Vinyl Record (33 Or 45)

Place the phonograph on a flat surface and plug it into an outlet. Make sure the needle arm is resting at the side of the turntable.

Select the record you wish to play and hold it flat with the side you want to hear first facing upward. To play a 45 single record, fit the special insert around the center of the turntable so that the record will fit onto the turntable. Place the record onto the turntable, fitting it over the center knob sticking up in the center of the turntable.

Turn the phonograph on and choose the speed. Choose 33 for a large record and choose 45 for a single record. Lift the needle arm and bring it over toward the turntable. The turntable should begin to rotate as you move the needle arm.

Lower the needle arm slowly while the record rotates on the turntable. Bend over so that you can clearly see the needle as you lower it onto the record. Place the needle just inside the outer edge of the record in the wider groove that goes around the entire outside edge of the record. Release the needle arm and listen to for the beginning of the record. If you hear a scratching sound instead of the recording, adjust the needle by moving it in slightly on the record.

Listen to the record. When the record is over and the needle arm is at the center of the record, lift it carefully and place it back in its place at the side of the turntable.

Turn the phonograph off and remove the record from the turntable. Put the record away properly.


Handle records very carefully on the outside edges because they scratch easily. Always place the needle down onto a record slowly and carefully to avoid scratching the record with the needle.

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