Contact Line stylus - gathering dust on stylus. Help!


Hi everyone,

I recently purchased a moving iron cartridge with a "high profile contact line" stylus.  I bought it because of the reviews that I had read, not because of the stylus profile.  I've had it for over a month now, and while I like the sound there is one VERY significant problem.  The stylus gathers so much dust on it that I can't get through one side of a record without having to get up multiple times to clean the stylus.  I've tried 5 or 6 other cartridges on my set up over the last few years without any difficulties.  I always clean the stylus before every side, usually by dipping it in Moon Gel.  With the other cartridges there is seldom any dust visible in the gel.  With the contact line stylus, there are large deposits of dust every time I dip it in the gel (sometimes even two or three times during the same track).

In over a month I have yet to get through one side of an album without having to clean it.  Often, I have to clean it 4-5 times per side.  This happens on every record, even newly cleaned ones.  It happens whether I've just cleaned the apartment and dusted or whether it's been a while.  I just dropped in two of my old cartridges to compare, and they sailed though record after record without any difficulty.  I guess I could have it re-tipped with a different stylus profile, but I hate to pay to have a brand new cart re-tipped.  

Any thoughts?  (and please, no jokes about my poor housekeeping :))

Thanks, Scott
smrex13
The problem you’re having is not unusual for that type of stylus. You must keep your records super clean. Here is an explanation on stylus types. Read the part about the stylus type that you have!
http://www.sound-smith.com/articles/stylus-shape-information

Wow, I rarely bother to clean my stylus (perhaps once every 8 sides or so) and I have been using line contact styli for a long time.  I suppose it is possible that the stylus is digging up long-deposited crap in the grooves (I hope it is not chewing up vinyl and depositing that on your stylus), but, your experience seems extreme.  if you don't stop and clean the stylus, what happens?  Does it start to mistrack?  It is unclear how extreme the build up is such that it prompts you to stop play. 

My records have been cleaned using a Nitty Gritty machine.  More recently, some have been cleaned using the Audio Desk ultrasonic cleaning machine.  It would help to know something about your record cleaning practice.

Thanks for the responses.  To answer your questions, Larry:  the music suddenly becomes very distorted and muffled when dust gathers on the stylus, so it's not even listenable if I don't clean it.

I use a Record Doctor vacuum cleaner.  I put cleaning solution on the record and clean it with the brush and then vacuum it dry.  I always put it in a new MoFi static free record sleeve after cleaning.  Perhaps I'm not cleaning as well I could?  

Thanks, Scott
Try groove glide or zero stat to remove dust drawing static electricity.
I hardly ever use my NittyGritty.....I use  something called a Hunt EBA Mark6 brush right before I set the stylus down....occasionally use a MrClean block, but don't have any problem with my line contact stylus
I do use a zero stat.  To make the problem doubly frustrating, this stylus not only gathers more dust than any other I've used, but even the tiniest amount of dust makes the sound distort.  With other carts I'll sometimes get to the end of a record to find there is a lot of dust but it still sounded good.  With this one, I sometimes dip it in the gel and there is a very tiny spec of dust but the record was distorting horribly.  
Weird. I don't clean my records. Horror! I run a Decca Super Gold with a fine line paratrace stylus and never have any issues. I do clean the stylus with magic eraser every side.
smrex13:
Based upon the amount of dust or other junk you are picking up, your cleaning method must be partially to blame. I have that stylus profile on my main 3 carts and, despite others who believe that a stylus should be cleaned after every side of a record is played or at least after every record is played, I usually clean mine after playing 2 and sometimes 3 records with very little junk on my stylus ( usually with Lrya spt brush solution, other times with Onzow zerodust) 
Try a rinse with reagent grade (or at least distilled water) after each cleaning with whichever Record Doctor fluid you use and then use a Zerostat gun or, better yet, a Furutech destat which will greatly reduce static and dust arising out of the vacuum procedure. You may also want to switch cleaning fluids. I'm a fan of Audio Intelligent fluids and the 3 step process---enzyme/super cleaner/rinse. In any event, it sounds like your biggest issue is static static which constantly draws dust to the record like a magnet 
My friend once had a DECCA Reference. He had to sell it because it was a dust magnet. Well, he purchased a handfull of quality vintage MMs and after having found the best to get near or maybe equal the mighty Reference sold the rest.
Weird carts anyway, I have used Micro Ridges (and Line Contacts in lesser extent) for nearly thirty years without serious dust/dirt issues.

The stylus is glued in the cantilever at peculiar angle so you should

try different SRA or VTA adjustment. If this angle is wrong your stylus

is not tracing the groove but plough the groove. If your ''dust'' is black

this may mean particles from the record and not ''dust''.

nandric

The stylus is glued in the cantilever at peculiar angle so you should try different SRA or VTA adjustment.

Sorry, but this is completely mistaken. The VTA/SRA for a line contact stylus is the same as for any other stylus with the sole exception of conical stylii, which really have no VTA/SRA. It is true that some manufacturers use slightly different VTA/SRAs, but the differences are slight. If the VTA/SRA is truly "peculiar," you have a defective cartridge.

Not all stylii are glued into place, btw.


i find that using zerostat before and after a sweep with a carbon brush helps minimize dust attraction to the LP

that and frequent use of a stylus brush/zerodust blob

of course, a recently wet cleaned record to start with is essential
I spin a lot of records and I use a Dynavector 20x2 and it has a Micro stylus, I have always washed my used  records first when they come home in a spin clean then I use groove glide once and I use regular clean paper sleeves and I brush the stylus once before each side, it really never gets dirty, proper record care is worth its time.

Matt M
Thanks for all of the suggestions!  I'll spend some time this weekend experimenting and researching cleaning methods to see if I can make some headway on the problem.  Will report back.

Cheers,
Scott
With all the posts on here that declare no issues with slylus shape creating the issue you report, I would say that it has nothing to do with your cartridge stylus.
dipping it to moon gel before each side??
this is very possibly the root cause why stylus accumulates dust before reaches the end of album.
the best way to clean stylus(besides playing clean records) is to blow the dust off. i use baby bulb syringe for that (walmart $4). blowing with mouth is OK, but you can deliver moisture with wind.
rarely i clean my stylus with liquid. have one 2g bottle of stanton stylus cleaning solution since early 90's!
after cleaning with any liquid, you need to leave some time to dry before playback.
i also rarely apply cleaning brush... in other words MINIMIZE stress on stylus

Line contact styli don't have a different VTA requirement than other styli.  But, they are quite sensitive to a wrong VTA, which could raise some concern about shaving the groove with an incorrectly mounted cartridge.  I think czarivey raised an interesting possibility that the gel might be implicated in making the stylus accumulate dust (if it deposits something tacky on the stylus).

I too, have a bottle of liquid cleaner that is essentially perpetual--I hardly ever use it to clean the stylus.  The manufacturer of the cleaner also recommends that, once the liquid is applied and the stylus is cleaned, that the user allow at least ten seconds for the stylus to completely dry.  The liquid cleaner has a solvent which will soften the glue used to hold the stylus in place and the glue should be allowed to dry before play resumes.  Again good advice from czarivey.

@larryi It's not possibility -- it's proven reality! moreover, using it consistently for LONG time can and will make your stylus UNUSABLE. 
my main advice is NOT to listen to any dumb advice especially those advised using moongel!

moongel is ADHESIVE by nature and I often wonder how and who advised to using them !

assuming that moongel is there on stylus surface, the remedy should be very careful cleaning under jeweler's portable magnifier with isopropyl alcohol 92% to be applied locally to the stylus only making sure that it does NOT reach cantilever suspension. it's already jeopardizing integrity of stylus rubber mount(nothing you can do to prevent), but that's a move OP has to make to actually safe stylus/needle life. 

suggestions to consult with Soundsmith or other cartridge repair facilities is also good approach (mentioning moongel is self-evident in this case). they possibly can provide you with professional cleaning and after that, stop being crazy audiophile and start being reasonable.
Moongel is sold as a stylus cleaner and discussed on sites like Analog Planet.  just one example. http://www.heartofwoodstock.com/product/SC1
You have a defective stylus.
Well, @smrex13 , That link actually proves my point:

tacky surface grabs any dust or dirt
not only it grabs dust pal it also leaves oily and sticky trace, but that makes product not marketable

you will most-likely need professional help. hopefully moongel not soft enough to reach rubber stylus mount.

i service analogue equipment not only for living, but also for life and pride. i am professionally immune to nonsense marketing and tend to support trivial common sense.

if soundsmith or any other cartridge repair shop will only give you option of retipping (quite possibly no snit pal), send me PM and I will share all necessary details.

As far as stylus cleaning is concerned, has this forum's collective memory about the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser been ... erased?

I doubt his gel cleaner is making his stylus sticky, but it wouldn’t hurt to verify this by cleaning the stylus with a liquid cleaner. I’m not a fan of liquid cleaners, but we’re trying to eliminate a variable from consideration (the effect of the gel cleaner).

Be very watchful of liquid cleaners most of them do more harm than good (attracting further dirt and migrating up the cantilever). One time use is not so bad.

If I had to choose a liquid cleaner, it would unquestionably be Lyra’s.

Thom @ Galibier Design
Thom,

I thought that it's quite obvious and self-evident that silicone tends to leave sticky layer after contact. For experiment, take piece of glass and apply moongel pad against glass and than remove... The concept is very similar to fabric silicon roller, but fabric cares less indeed than stylus.

Silicon isn't product to clean cartridge stylus by any means. It's either adhesive SEALANT or lubricating material or fake body parts! 

Sticky means adhesive
Lubricant means oily

That's where simple math kills all the science behind.
Well, I've used the moon gel on multiple carts with no problem at all.  Perhaps the combo of the stylus shape and any residue left from the gel is making the dust problem worse than with other stylus types..  My guess is that I need a better record cleaning fluid, brush, machine and/or routine.  The cart sounds great if I can get the dust issue under control.   

Thanks, Scott
Post removed 
The sticky and oily silicon trace builds up within time of usage and the time has come... The more the thicker, the longer you used the same pad the faster trace will build up. Shape of stylus tip especially may matter. Please note ones not using it have no problems -- simple math is enough to judge complex science behind

Life is indeed function of time.
I see Magic Eraser has already been mentioned.

Should be on everyone's list of maintenance items. Superior to many of those specialty cleaners,gel pads for considerably less$
Really, I've used moon gel with out issue or problems. Do you have pictures of the damage it has done? If so, can you provide them. I would like to see the empirical data to support your claim. I understand that my use is not proof that it doesn't do damage but yours is a serious claim and I should stop using moon gel if in fact it is damaging my cartridge.

Actually I had the problem with dust from the first play of this cartridge, so the moon gel couldn't be the culprit.  
My question was directed at czarivey. A link to pictures of the damage would be good.

Nandric may be onto something. I’ve a theory that improper alignment can exacerbate static and that good alignment will minimise it. This means azimuth and even poor "averaging" of anti-skate could be influential. He may also have been referring to the fact that manufacturers/re-tippers can attach the stylus at the wrong angle leaving it looking like a "dragon tooth". In severe cases this angle is blatant e.g. 30 degrees off vertical, but there can be subtle variations that look fine at first inspection but may only be a few degrees off.

I don’t clean records at all unless they are 2nd hand and never use plush pads or brushes to pre-clean before play. I’ve always sworn by the Zerostat and anti-static sleeves and I always quickly vacuum the room with a Dyson  before a session. As a consequence there is rarely ever any lint accumulation and even 40 or 50 year old records played hundreds of times sound noise free.

I never apply sticky cleaners of any sort to a stylus (common sense) especially anything that exerts a "downward pull". (Never tempt providence ;^)


This a typical thread found here with lots of the same well meaning advice given over and over again and once in a while a dispute develops between two of the well meaning responders that takes the thread in a whole new direction. I can only agree with several who have stated that your problem is very unusual. I use a Grace Ruby re-tipped by Sound Smith with one of their OCL styli, and I have no unusual problem with dust or dirt. In fact, you’ve reminded me that I have not cleaned this stylus in ages. The sound is too gorgeous to mess with.

The scientific approach would be to stop using that gel and stop using your current record cleaner. My bet is that one of those two cleaners is doing more harm than good. You could use Magic Eraser on your stylus, which seems to be sort of a gold standard among vinylphiles. (The very idea of a "gel" seems suspect to me. You say that you see dust particles in the gel after using it on your stylus; it makes sense to me that the gel also in turn must leave a residue on your stylus.) You could try cleaning one of your LPs that tends to gunk up the stylus with crud using some mild detergent and tap water. Then rinse with plain water afterwards. See if these new approaches do not at least reduce the problem. There is no amount of static electricity in the universe that can attract that much dust during the course of playing half an LP side. Unless your listening room is in a woodworking shop. If the gel is at fault, it may be a real problem to get it off  the stylus.
@lewm Thanks for the response.  The moon gel isn't the issue here, as this cart is only a couple of months old and has had problems from the very first play.  Today I put my old cartridge in (which has been cleaned with moon gel for a couple of years) and it is sailing through record after record with no issue, even ones that I've not cleaned in a long time.  I imagine there's something wrong with the stylus that I can't see with my magnifying glass.  I might send it to be retipped or explore another cartridge.  Oh well, stuff happens.

Cheers, Scott
This last comment leads me to think that the problematic cartridge's stylus is poorly polished.  Of course, a USB microscope would reveal more.

Regards,
Thom @ Galibier Design
I too have some doubts about the moon gel being the sole cause of this dust issue.  But, if it is true that it uses silicone that can be transferred to the stylus, this is a very bad deal.  Silicone, like the stuff used in some lubricants is particularly adept at migrating.  It will spread until it is almost only a single molecular layer.  That film is somewhat tacky and will hold on to dust.  My concern with a cartridge is that this stuff will migrate up the cantilever and end up gumming the interior of the cartridge. 
Folks,
There's LOTS of things can be done with silicone and silicon gels aren't only moongel product.
Silicon properties aren't news for most. One of the similar example is roller that you can dust out your clothes than wash it with water, dry and it's ready for another suit or dress. Someone's smart arz decided to use it instead of trivial carbon fiber brush on records like in the link shown: https://www.amazon.com/In-The-Groove-Record-Cleaner/dp/B004MG9YYQ
Guess what? If you roll that thingie on your records you will DEFINITELY see trace. The marketing notes that it doesn't leave trace are full of krap, once you roll it on your precious MFSL vinyl and see for yourself that oily and sticky trace and it STAYS ON. 
Now all you have to do is realize that micro-surface area of stylus is affected affected affected weather you notice or don't that sticky oily silicon trace.
You can also stick moongel to your window and it will show the trace for a while and when it dries you won't notice it. Therefore you see the marketing notes that it doesn't leave trace...
By all common sense means using silicone to clean records or stylus is FOOLISH.