Can I straighten an off-center twisted cantilever?

Time for a confession: I played exactly three (3) cuts before trying to fine tune my tonearm's alignment. I lost concentration for an instant. The arm slid across the TT's mat, de-centering and twisting --but not breaking-- the cantilever. The cantilever arm itself is still very straight.

This is a Dynavector 20X-L with low hours, for which I paid $300. What is my best path?

There is a jeweler who will loan me his fine pliers, large scale magnification and a vice. Is there any wisdom in trying to realign the cantilever? (beside this incident I'm very good with my hands) Is there anything to lose? I've emailed Soundsmith to explain the situation but had no response.

If I return the cartridge to Dynavector can they return it to original spec? Is it worthwhile? I know Soundsmith is one option, but an audio buddy said the cartridge will never be original specification after a re-tip or cantilever replacement. Is or should that be a concern?

Since my TT is just operative for the first time, I don't know what I'm missing, and wouldn't mind a couple of months without it. When autumn comes (I'm in the northeast: we're not sure Spring is coming) I would really like to be able to listen to my vinyl.

Thanks very much for your shared thoughts and experience.

IF the cantilever just rotated in the rubber surround, then yes you can rotate it back.
IF the stylus is bent in the middle, a tough job and only a 50% 50% chance it can be marginally bent near where it sould go. No way can you bend it back perfectly if it is bent in the middle.
If you are successful in unbending a kink in the middle of the stylus somewhat, then you can line up the bottom part perfectly, and not worry the cart body is off. the diamond to the groove is the thing that needs to be exact. not the cart body to the arm.
If I was trying to take a kink out if a cantilever, i would lay the cantilever over a small opening and tap the exact spot bent with a tiny hammering force to try to bend it. NOT take the cantilever and grabbing it with pliers, no matter how tiny, trying to twist it straight physically. Just my opinion.
If it is just turned in the rubber suspension, then yes you can grab it with a tweezers or tiny pliers and turn it back.
Cdk -
I've no experience with such a repair. Can the Dyanvector stylus be replaced (my only experience is w/Shure carts where you can plug in a new stylus/cantilever assembly)? Even if that ran $150 or half the price of the cart itself, maybe that's better than worrying about whether your fix ever returned things to "virgin" conditions. Not sure this wouldn't get things back to original spec. Have you been able to talk to Dynavector at all?
I destroyed a Dyna XX-2 and the distributor, Mike Pranka, was very helpful.

Here's his contact info:

ST. LOUIS, MO 63123
TEL: 314 454 9966
No you can't
I've had some luck rebending wayward cantilevers, but working under a microscope with tiny microsurgical instruments. Nonetheless, it is not easy and I agree with Elizabeth that the outcome is probably 50/50 at best. Trying to unbend the bend around the original flexure point (especially if the bend is in a tubular cantilever which has crimped on one side) may be technique most fraught with failure - you often create a new separate bend or crack the cantilever when manipulating it. Better to use a long flat plier-type instrument (suture holders/forceps) and engauge the cantilever along its long axis and gently squeeze repeatedly moving circumferentially - distributing the force more gently along the rod/tube. I've managed to salvage a Supex 900, an Acutex 320STR and an AKG P8ES this way. My failures: a Shure V-15 IV and another P8. Intermediate success with a Grace F-9 - the cantilever cracked on one side, but a tiny drop of superglue holds it in place nicely. Do these perform as new? I don't know except for the AKG - which sounds the same as an undamaged one. Also, aluminum is much more flexible and forgiving than exotics like beryllium (all those lovely Micro-Acoustics with broken styli) and boron. And no, I'm not wrecking cartridges routinely - I buy damaged ones for cheap on e-bay and then try to fix them.
In my opinion, you are better off just re-aligning the cartridge body to conform to the bend in your cantilever, assuming it's bent in the horizontal plane. I cannot imagine a good outcome from DIY straightening. That is a job for a pro, who in fact would probably advise you to replace the cantilever entirely. The good news is that cartridges can look quite out of whack and still sound fine.
I would certainly send it back to Dyna. Bending it back to its original condition is impossible. Even if it looks straight, its enry into the groove will most likly be off and will gauge out your precious recordings.
It sounds like your stylus and cantilever are straight and undamaged and the problem is that the cantilever has moved in relation to the suspension ie, it is twisted/rotated relative to the correct position at the connection to the suspension. Or even that the suspension has somehow been moved. If this is the case, perhaps it will prompt some new discussion.

I have no experience with Soundsmith. How are they usually about answering emails? And if their service costs around $300, it might not even be worth the hassle of repairing it. Same for Dynavector. Perhaps for roughly the same money you could find another cartridge here on Audiogon.

Hello All,

Thank you for your responses.

To clarify: the Dynavector's cantilever is NOT BENT, it is straight as a die. It was twisted (rotated) around its center axis so the diamond is turned about 45 degrees from vertical; it now faces in the direction of the spindle. It was also pushed to the side, but I have successfully teased it back to center position.

My concern is whether I stand a chance of ROTATING the cantilever so the diamond is vertical again. Elizabeth's suggestion of tweezers is a good one. I also have access to a jeweler's tools, and suspect I might find the precision I need there. I just need to know if it's been done.

I hope my clarification helps, and thanks again for your assistance,


Cdk84 - Yes. I understood it wasn't bent. Still, why worry? Just replace the whole front end, if possible.
Folks spin the stylus, and turn it back. it is not a biggy. I have read of successful repairs several times on thesites. If you want, some expert can do it for you for $50. or you can just do it yourself for free.
All you do is grab hold of the shaft and TURN it gently. it is just going to rotate back. it is no magic. It turned to sidways pretty easy hey. Well it will go back just as.
Getting it level is the tricky part, but that is just patience.
Don't try to straighten it!!!!!!!
It will break off !!!!!
I was in the same situation as Cdk84 just described, and with a Dynavector 20XH. I tried to straighten it afrer it was bent and the cantilever broke off in my hand. I then sent it to Soundsmith to be repaired. It took to long so I bought another one in the mean time. I like the Dynavector 20X cartridges on my VPI Classic.
NO RIP!!!!
Cdk - don't try it, chalk it up as a mistake and send er back to be fixed properly! Bummer...
To the 'nay sayers': what is the problem with attempting to turn it back? it is useless as is, and the attempt, even if it does break something (which it will not IMO) would do no worse than leave it useless. Any sensible person would at least give it a shot. is your 'advice' just humor? Trolling? Just wondering what the thinking behind "don't do it' is?
From my understandin of the issue: which is the stylus is rotated in the housing, and not bent in any way: the stylus just needs to be rotated back to the correct position. At wost is has bent the internal coils, which would leave it with distorted sound. Then is gets shipped to Soundsmith and fixed, same price.
IF the catilever were bent: attempting to straighten, it breaks off, send to Soundsmith for new retip same cost.
So the 'don't do it'? where is that coming from? Explain please.

Thanks again for all your support, from both sides of the "aisle" on this issue.

I'm in the middle of a big push on a gigantic project. When I've finished, drunk my champagne and settled back to a less stressful life, I will compose myself, use the jeweler's tools available to me, and, on a good day I will rotate the cantilever, very gently and patiently.

Many materials have a 'memory'. If that is true of the material surrounding the cantilever, I suspect that I have better than a fair chance.

For my money, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

As Elizabeth said so well: Untried, the cartridge is useless; an attempt may work, or not. The outcome will teach me something, and I've already learned my lesson about operating my TT when not completely focused.

I'm inclined to believe that the universe wanted me to get the point, not to have me suffer. I do believe I can re-align the stylus to vertical. We'll see.

More to come.

Sending Appreciation All Around for Opinions Shared,