To ground a turntable without a ground wire, you can make your own ground by attaching a 4-5 foot length of 18-20 gauge wire to the grounding post on your turntable. Connect the other end to your preamp using a terminal or gaff tape.
My name is Donovan, and I’m an avid vinyl enthusiast. I love music in general, but I listen to my turntables as often as possible and pick up new records all the time. I know through first-hand experience how to ground a turntable without a ground wire.
This post will show you how to ground a turntable without a ground wire. I’ll provide step-by-step directions to properly ground your system so you don’t have to deal with the hum or buzz an ungrounded setup creates.
Let’s dive in.
- Key Takeaways
- How to Ground a Turntable Without Ground Wire
- Turntable Grounding Issues
- Final Thoughts
- You can create a DIY ground wire from a length of 18-20 gauge wire.
- Attach one end of the wire to the grounding terminal on your turntable and the other to the preamp. You can use gaffing tape if there are no grounding terminals.
- You don’t need a grounding wire if you have a turntable with a built-in preamp.
- If you don’t have a built-in preamp, you’ll need to ground the turntable to avoid unwanted hums and buzzes caused by grounding loops.
How to Ground a Turntable Without Ground Wire
Grounding your turntable is important because it helps you eliminate hums and buzzes that can occur when things are ungrounded. This unwanted noise is called a ground loop, and the only way to get rid of it is by properly grounding your turntable.
Before we get into specifics, it’s essential to know a few things about the different types of turntables. This will help you see if you actually need a ground wire or not because not every kind of turntable does.
If you have a turntable with a built-in preamp, you do not need a grounding wire because it’s already grounded to the built-in amp. If you have a turntable without a preamp, you need to ground it even if it doesn’t have a wire or terminal.
Grounding a turntable is super easy, and just about everyone can do it. Even though it is electrical work, it’s very basic, so don’t be intimidated. You can purchase a ground wire from most home improvement or auto parts stores.
Here’s what you need:
- 4 to 5 feet of 18 or 20 gauge copper wire (can be bare or insulated)
- Wire strippers/clippers
- Small screwdriver (if there are grounding terminals)
- Gaff tape (if there are no grounding terminals)
Follow these steps to ground a turntable without a ground wire:
1. Locate the grounding terminal on your turntable and external preamp. These are the connection points where you will attach the ground wire.
If you don’t see grounding terminals, you’ll need to attach the wire to some metal piece on your turntable. This can be the main chassis or any other component that is made of metal.
2. Cut your grounding wire to size if it’s not already at the length you want. Use the wire cutters for this. I recommend using 4 to 5 feet of wire so you have enough length, but you can use whatever length works best for your setup.
3. Strip about one inch on each end of the wire if you are using insulated grounding wire. Use the wire strippers for this matched to the appropriate gauge.
4. Make sure both your turntable and preamp are powered down and unplugged.
5. Attach one end of the wire to the grounding terminal on your turntable. This terminal might have a small screw you need to unscrew a bit to get the wire around. Tighten it back down to hold the wire in place.
If you don’t have a grounding terminal, use the gaff tape to attach one bare wire end to a metal part of your turntable. You don’t need to use a lot of tape, just enough to hold the end firmly in place.
6. Attach the other end of the wire to the grounding terminal on the preamp. If there is no terminal, use the gaff tape to attach the end to a metal part of the preamp.
7. Power on your turntable and preamp and play records as usual.
DIY Turntable Ground Wire
If your turntable doesn’t have a ground wire, you can quickly make a DIY one. You just need to get a length of copper wire. Any type or size of copper wire will work here, and you can use bare or insulated options.
I recommend using four to five feet of wire. This will work well for most applications. But you can adjust the length based on your needs or preferences to work best with your setup. Any length will work and serve as a ground.
Some electronics stores or auto parts stores might sell a turntable grounding wire. If it costs a lot, you’ll save money by using a DIY option instead.
Turntable Grounding Issues
The biggest issue you’ll experience with an ungrounded turntable is buzzing and humming. If you are getting feedback or noise in your setup and don’t think it’s related to your cartridge or stylus, it’s likely a grounding issue.
The grounding hum caused by a grounding loop will register between 60Hz to 120Hz. That’s another way to figure out if the noise you hear is a grounding issue or something else. If it’s outside of that range, it’s likely caused by something other than grounding.
If you have the ground wire installed but are still getting noise issues, you might need to change the placement of the wire or double-check that it’s secured properly. Inspect the attachment points to ensure the screws are tightened, or the gaff tape is holding the end directly on metal.
If you aren’t using a grounding terminal and just have the bare wire taped to metal, try adjusting the placement until the buzz disappears. And remember to check both ends of the ground wire (at the turntable and preamp).
Here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to how to ground a turntable without a ground wire.
How long can a turntable ground wire be?
Turntable ground wires will typically be in the four to five-foot range. There is not really a length limit to this, so you can go as long as needed to reach wherever you are grounding the turntable. You don’t want it to be short, or it might not reach the grounding point.
What if my turntable has no ground wire?
If your turntable has no ground wire, first double-check to see if it has a built-in preamp. Turntables with built-in preamps do not need a ground wire because they are already ground. You can attach a DIY ground wire on turntables without these wires if needed.
Do you need a ground wire for a turntable?
Turntables need to be grounded to avoid a ground loop issue. This can cause unwanted feedback in the form of hums and buzzes when you play records. If your record player doesn’t have a ground wire, you should make one to ensure it’s grounded.
How do you ground a turntable without a ground terminal?
To ground a turntable without a ground terminal, you can attach a grounding table to any metal part of your turntable using gaffing tape. The base or box of the turntable is typically a good location, and the gaff tape should keep it affixed in place.
Can any wire be used as a ground wire?
You can use both bare and insulated wires as a ground wire for your turntable. An 18 to 20-gauge size wire will work best, but there is also some wiggle room with this in mind. But any copper wire will work well as a ground.
Making a DIY ground cable is the easiest way to ground a turntable that doesn’t have a ground wire. You can attach one end of the wire to the grounding terminal or tape it to a metal piece of the turntable if there is no specific attachment point.
If you have a turntable with a built-in preamp, you don’t need a ground wire because it should already be grounded to the preamp. But you’ll need some sort of ground for any turntable that doesn’t have a built-in preamp.
Have you ever experienced grounding issues with your turntable setup? How did you fix them? Let me know in the comments below.