Record Static Charge Affecting Vertical Tracking Force (VTF)?


This winter, I've been experiencing a lot of static charge build up on my records after using various brushes. So much so, that I frequently hear a crackling sound when I lift the record off the platter and the record mat clings to the record. (The relative humidity in winter in my house varies between low 30's to high 40"s percent.) I live in San Francisco and it has been a very dry winter!

Several days ago prior to listening, I brushed the record and the resulting static build up was so great that it pulled the tonearm across the platter when I picked up the record to use a destat device  on it. Fortunately, the arm lift was raised so the stylus did not drag across the platter.

Afterwards, I started wondering  that if the static charge is great enough to attract a tonearm, then how much downward force is added to the VTF?  Also, how much of a charge is needed for this to occur? Using some sort of static charge eliminator device prior to playing a record should eliminate this potential.

It make me wonder how often and how much the VTF increases due to static charges when the record has not been subjected to static charge removal prior to listening?




As dover alludes, yes it can. How much depends on several factors that can not be predicted like the magnitude of the charge.

1st off make sure the phonograph chassis is connected to HOUSE ground which may or may not be phonostage ground. You have to check with a meter. 

Use anti static record sleeves like the ones supplied by MoFi or Sleeve City. Paper sleeves are handily the worst.

Make sure your records are completely discharged before, during or after play. I use a conductive sweep arm that discharges the record during play like this one


There are much more expensive ones out there but they do not do the job any better and are so long they will not fit under a dust cover.

You want as low an impedance to ground as you can get. The carbon bristled record brushes would be great except the person holding the brush is not connected to ground and even if he was his impedance is several megaohms. To make these work drill and tap a small hole or you could drill and use a self tapping  screw. and use a long wire to connect it to house ground then swipe the record before and after play. This is way more effective than the ionizing static killers which I personally do not like. The sweep arm not only kills static but it also sweeps any incidental dust away from the stylus. As long as they are clean they will track right along with the tonearm. I clean mine with brake cleaning fluid once in a blue moon. 

I’m in the desert southwest and the current humidity in my house right now is 9%.  My floors are carpet.  One turntable has an acrylic platter, no mat, the other an aluminum platter with rubber mat.  I use a dry Discwasher brush before each play.  I don’t experience any static electricity when brushing, removing a record, or lifting the stylus.  I do build a slight charge on the trip to the equipment rack which I discharge by touching the metal post on the rack before I touch the cueing lever.

It seems counterintuitive to place the blame entirely on humidity.  Perhaps you have another issue which is overlooked?

Shure Corporation published a white paper on Static Charge as it pertains to vinyl, and they actually measured increases in VTF and correlated them with the amount of charge on an LP. I wish I could recall the exact results or find the paper on line right this minute, but I can’t. Suffice to say that VTF can be dramatically influenced by static charge, enough so that in some cases it would theoretically endanger the cartridge suspension. I believe that the major enemy that causes charge build-up is us. You can clean and store your LPs with meticulous attention to avoiding static charge. Then in one fraction of a second you can transfer charge to an uncharged LP just in the handling process that must precede playing an LP. Wool carpets, type of footwear, etc, could play a role. Like someone else said, ground yourself before touching the LP. Also, I agree, avoid paper sleeves; the act of sliding an LP out of a paper sleeve can charge it up nicely.

Yup, ground yourself before handling and then sweep the mounted LP with a deStat. That's the ticket.

 Never heard of a static problem to that degree! I mean pulling a tonearm? Platter mat sticking to the LP? The one thing that might come to mind is to ask if you are using negative ion air cleaner in the room. I quit using one in my electronic shop after I noticed static was incredible compared to NO static before I used an ionizer.

Thanks all!  I have not had any air cleaners running since last year when the air quality became so bad due to the California wild fires. I just recalled that I have a Maple Shade record brush (somewhere) with a wire and plug that is supposed to go into the ground of an unused outlet. I will have to try it again as well as the other suggestions.


@rhljazz  9% that is very low! Makes my levels look humid.