Cartridge Setup?

Being a confirmed Audiogonoholic, I love the idea of getting a great deal on a cartridge for my just-acquired turntable rig.I hate the idea of going to a dealer and paying retail for a cartridge. But I'm really nervous about the prospect of setting up my own system. Any thoughts?

Thanks, David
David, once you've done it once--it's not that difficult. It takes time, patience, and a little practice to get the overhang, VTA, azimuth (not all tonearms have this adjustment), and tracking force right. Then you also need to load (impedance matching) the phono stage appropriately for the cartridge you are using. I've done this several times, and by no means consider myself and expert, but at the same time feel I can do a better job on my own rig than a dealer simply because some of the adjustments require listening--and I will take far more time than a dealer will. I was taught how to set up a table by a guy who was commonly referred to as the Analog Doctor in the NY area--can't remember his real name. It cost me $100 to have him set up the table and teach me how to do it. While there are probably some good articles--seeing how it's done first hand is what worked for me. If you have a relationship with a dealer who is into analog, ask them who sets up their turntables. Chances are, this person may do work on the side, and may for a reasonable fee set it up and teach you how it is done. Then you can read the articles (Michael Fremer has written several) about how to maximize your set-up, but until you have the basics those articles won't be much good. The other possiblity is you may live close to another a-goner that would be willing to help you. I have helped a few friends in my area set up their turntable after they got it back from the dealer (supposedly set up correctly--but it wasn't).
But please review a pretty funny recent thread on "Breaking my Blue Point Special" before you try to set up your cartridge. Many many people are all thumbs when it comes to the delicate maneuvers required to plug in the tiny leads and carefully adjust the tiny screws without bending or breaking or otherwise obliterating the tiny stylus on their brand new cartridge. It can be done, but if you fail, read the thread before you jump out a high window.
Hi David. As stated cartridge setup is not all that difficult. It can be time consuming and somewhat tedious, but it is kind of fun. If you have some basic (small)hand tools and reasonable hand dexterity you can do it yourself. A few years back M. Fremmer published an article in his "Analog Corner" section of stereophile. The article was a step by step and covered two issues. If you can't find it e-mail me and I will be happy to send it to you. Probably the most important thing is to be "of sound mind and body". I usually find that Saturday morning after a good night of rest with a good cup of coffee is the best time to do it (just don't spill the coffee). The other thing you should do is check the setup after about 25-30 hours. Good Luck, Doug
Check Galen Carol Audio ( He has a nice little article on how to set up your turntable and cartridge. You can print it off free and it will be a substantial help. The most useful "instrument" I have come accross to set your cartridge up correctly is the Wallytractor protractor. They are ARM SPECIFIC so make sure you have the right one. He also makes an instrument to set up VTA. Graham makes a great coupling box to set azmuth.
It all takes time and significant "tinkering by ear" to get the end result. Good luck and go for it.
The right equipment makes all the difference. I don't know if I would even try it w/o my MoFi Geodisc. They are still obtainable Along with that you need a scale for setting the tracking force. I use a cheap Shure gage from Lyle Cartridges. Laura Deerborn Gives excellent tips in her book "Good Sound." Along with step by step instructions. As has been pointed out already be prepared to spend some time. Don't bother if you are clumsy or can't work in confined spaces. It's not as hard as it sounds. Have fun!!!
Hi Nrchy,
I'm trying to track down a place to get the Mobile Fidelity "Geo Disk" Called Needle Doctor and they didn't know? In this area, Hi Fi shops are few and far between, and few of them know anything about "Fuzzy Woblies" I've tried to setup a Blue Point Special with a 2 point protractor on a Linn Basik arm on a Rega 2, one of the dealers here has said that protractor alignment isn't very accurate? Which becons the call "Where are the GEO Disk?" Had a table a few years ago that had a Grado aligned with the "Geo Disk" less expensive table, but I feel the footprint was acurate. Any and all responses appreciated..
Rwilli6527, I think the Geo-Disc went out of production a year or two back. Try some of the mail-order record oultets. Some suggestions are: ElusiveDisc (, Acoustic Sounds (, Music Direct (, Lyle Cartridges and there are some others. As a last resort palce a wanted ad and watch the "for sale" ads. Good Luck. Doug
Get a cheap tracking force guage and the HI FI NEWS test LP. I just set up my new system and it was really simple. Having the Graham arm made it really simple, but with these tools I was able to get an unbelievable sound. I can track on the last track on side one with NO distortion. All I did was set the tracking force to aprox 2 grams. My reccomended range is 1.8 - 2.2. I then adjusted VTA, tracking force and anti-skate using the "tracking" tracks on side one. They also have an azimuth setting track on side two. It took me about 3/4 hour to get perfect sound. The allignment on a Graham arm is great, it's not on the table.
I second the recommendation for the HI FI NEWS Test Record (although the instructions could be better). Also the dB Systems Protractor is very useful, and extremely well made. It's not that hard, but be sure you have the right tools. Handle the leads carefully (I suggest using needle nose plyers on them, but be sure to only use gentle pressure). Also make sure you have a set of jeweler's screwdrivers to intstall the tiny screws. Finally, try installing a cheap cartridge first if you are nervous. No special skill is required, just the right tools, and patience.