cartridge alignment?

so i have everything i need finally to get my 1st system up and running, yet, i have nothing to align my cartridge with, and i have no idea what to get. when i talked to the guy at united home audio, he mentioned a wallytractor, or something to that effect, but said it was like 300 bucks, where i was looking to spend around 50. if anybody could make a suggestion in that price range it would be greatly appreciated
The DB Systems protractor is on the money and sold at many online websites.
Also, Mobile Fidelity:
Firstly, it would help knowing what Table-Arm, and what geometry is suiatble before making any solid recommendations to you.

Most Japanese vintage Tables will more than likely be better suited with Stevenson Null Geometry. Although some do like, and use Baerwald with Table like the Technics 12XX models.

Ifm you should find your TableArm will be suitable with Baerwald, there are numerous, cheaper options, suuch as a going to, and downloading free protractors, and printing some up. Just make sure you double check proper scale size when printing to paper

Then there's Protractors like the Mobile Fidelity Geodisc (about $40), the Turntable Basics Mirror which is very good (about $24 shipped), and there are others like the Ken Willis Arc Protractor ($50 for a 3-Null, 2-Point Geometry Arc Protractor, Baerwald, Stevenson-Loefgren) The MintLP Protractor is another at $90, but is from overseas. Said to be a very good Arc Protractor as well.

With Arc protractors, versus Sight Line Type, like the Geodisc, or Turntable Basics Models, you will need to know the exact Spindle-Pivot distance specification of your Tonearm, and you should confirm this exact required distance by actual accurate measurement to be positively sure before ordering a specific Arc Protractor. I hope this helps you. Mark
Ken Willis , handle, K. Willis on Audio Asylum produces an arc protractor in your price range of $40.00 to $50.00.
I have not used it however I understand it is highly accurate.

Option 2, produce a highly accurate arc protractor for $90.00, shipping included, that is custom made for just about any particular table and arm.
I have used the Mint tractor and found it to be exceptionally accurate and easy to use.

Option 3,

The WallyTractor is another exceptional protractor. Price $150.00.
However, Wally is hard to nail down to get one.

You can read more here on Audiogon at Feikert Analogue Protactor... Owners Impressions
You could go to and print out a tool that will atleast get you going.
Visit the Vinyl Engine website and download any of several free alignment protractors.

What turntable/arm/cartridge are you using? ...and the rest of your system (just curious)?

Hope that helps.
I suggest the Hi Fi News test record, which has a paper protractor in it, complete instructions, and test tracks to help you get things dialled in. I got mine for around 30 bucks from either Acoustic Sounds or Elusive Disk, can't remember. Be patient. It takes a few weeks of adjusting and listening, readjusting and listening . . . but your ears will tell you when it's right. Also, there's lots of info. on the Web regarding cartridge alignment. Good luck, and happy listening.
Here are some links that will either help you or confuse you.

user guide
tonearm alignment

You also should invest in a scale to set your VTF.

You could also post where you live, offer lunch and beers to a experienced analog lover........many are very willing to help.
well, its an old jvc a-l31, dont know the arm length. the vta isnt adjustable on my deck, so im not worried about that. its one of the thinner straight arms though. my cartridge is a audio technica of some sort. i know its probably not a great cart, but im just getting started here, so i went cheap. and i didnt want to spend more on a cart than i did on the deck itself (i paid 40 bucks for the deck, used in great condition, very clean)
Mobile Fidelity - Geo-Disc Cartridge Alignment Disc is $49.99 and is easy to use.
cool man, ill check out the geo-disc i think
Lots of info @ the following link (see the Cartridge and Turntable Setup section).

I also suggest starting with the free "Enjoy the Music" printout, basic hand tools (usually found around the home) and a VTF gauge.

If the cartridge is new VTA may require adjustment following 50-100 hours of playing time (for suspensions that sag a bit with intital use).
its an older table, there is no vta adjustment as far as i know unfortunately
In that case if you feel the sound is either too full or too bright once you get it up and running you can adjust VTA by using thicker/thinner mats.

The mats can be DIY (all mine are) made from wool felt or other fabric, cork, paper with cork or felt rounds (research "spot mat"), et cetera.

If the sound is too bright then a thicker mat is in order (thinner mat if too dull/full).

I adjusted VTA to normal/average stock and simply add a shim mat for super thin import LP's.
ahh, i have heard that before, and sounds like a plan. all ive heard alot about is actually alligning the cart, as far as overhang goes and stuff. what about azmiuth? that i have no clue on how to go about or what its purpose is.
Correct (good/decent-:) Azimuth is when the stylus makes similar/same contact with both sides of the groove.

It's having the center vertical line of the stylus being at a right angle to that of the flat surface of the LP (a T-joint).

Suggest you read through the articles in AA's FAQ section, linked above, as they explain is much better than I can.

However, I will say that when eyeballing this adjustment it's best to key in on the stylus stem/shaft itself, rather than focusing on the cartridge body (as stems are often cockeyed to the body of the cartridge).

The better the adjustments (up to a certain point) the better the sound, but just taking the time to ballpark them will still offer up a very, very high % of the sound quality available from the given gear.

Take your time, BE GENTLE & CAUTIOUS, and have fun with the learning process.

It's a hobby.