How long does a stylus last?

It depends on the design, but cheap styli last as little as 300 hours, and the best premium line-contact types can last 2000 hours or more.

I’ve written extensively about this elsewhere, but the increased contact area of line contact gems leads to lower contact pressure, less friction, lower wear and better sound. Line contact styli are more expensive to manufacture though, so there is a price to pay.

Other factors must be considered, including poorly designed, low-quality turntables and older types with excessive tracking force. These can experience more rapid stylus wear, and cause accelerated record wear. Even the best cartridges, tracked at lower than recommended tracking forces, can experience accelerated record and stylus wear, so there’s a bit to know here.

It’s important to replace a stylus before it becomes worn or it will destroy your records. For moving magnet cartridges, this usually fairly straightforward, as long as a quality replacement can be sourced. I often supply quality Japanese JICO styli for older cartridges.

For moving coil cartridges, stylus replacement involves bonding a new diamond to the existing cantilever or installing a new cantilever and diamond. Several vendors provide this service.