The only time I would buy a used cartridge is if I planned on replacing or retipping the stylus. Other than that forget it. As a matter of fact that would be the last thing I would buy used!
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I paid BIG money for a used Dynavector 20X low output mc cartridge. Turned out the suspension had collapsed and the body of the cartridge would drag on the record. Between what I paid used for the cartridge and sending it to Soundsmith for repair would have cost more than buying a brand new 20X.
Never again will I buy a used cartridge.
I tried buying a couple of used phono cartridges and both were defective. One had a badly worn stylus (was offered as "nearly new") and the other had a bad suspension (cantilever would drift to one side when lowered). I lost money on the first cartridge and was able to return the second cartridge.
I wouldn't buy another used cartridge unless I was VERY sure of the seller's integrity and they were selling me a cartridge that they had purchased new.
I've bought over 40 used or NOS cartridges and styli with only a handful of disappointments.
Of course some of those cartridges did not impress or appeal to me and I on-sold them at virtually no loss.
I find that many classic MMs of the '70s and 80s sound more cohesive and emotional than modern designs and even some noted LOMCs of the same era can compete with their current brethren.
I've had many more disappointments with 'new'' cartridges and it would take some serious word-of-mouth for me to outlay again for a 'new' current model.
And then there's the cost differential 👅
I've bought and sold pre-owned cartridges on Audiogon many times. Never had a bad experience. Of course, I check member feedback pretty carefully.
My current cartridge is a pre-owned Lyra Kleos, ... which I bought lightly used a while ago. Still works like a charm.
Buying preowned cartridges is a higher risk proposition, but if you buy from a reputable member with a good reputation, it may be a risk worth taking considering the potential savings.
Tried it only once. Bought a $2,000 LOMC used for $800. Advertised as < 50 hours, but it arrived with a seriously off-center cantilever. It seemed to me then and now that it would have taken much longer than 50 hours to do that.
Others have been luckier, obviously. In the end, you assess the risk vs. the reward (savings) and make your own choice.
I've sold a couple of used cartridges here on the 'Gon. The cartridges were a couple of years old. I sold them because I just never played my turntable. Sold them for 50% of the cost of new. They probably had less than 25 hrs each on them. The cartridges sold pretty quickly on the strength of my sales feedback. However, I doubt if I'd ever buy a used cartridge.
It's a good experience, you can not buy top cartridges from the 80s in NEW condition anyway. Used cartridge in very good condition can be a good find. Some of them still sounds amazing even compared to new, but for a lot better price (used normally cheaper). Anyway it's better to have NEW stuff as well to test them nose to nose with top vintage stuff. I'm totally find buyin used if they are reasonably priced (especially MM/MI/MF). It's a part of the hobby after all.
I've bought two used cartridges, a Linn Troika and a Linn Arkiv B. Both purchases were flawless. Both looked and worked great. I still have the Arkiv B
But I can see how buying a used cartridge can be very risky. Over the years I've bought much used gear. Only once did I get a dud, and that was a tuner (FM3). Seller refused to take it back.
Five or more years ago, I would have come down heavily against buying a used cartridge. About that time, I got interested in vintage MM and MI cartridges, thanks to "the thread". At that point, I started buying used and NOS vintage cartridges with alacrity, always after careful selection of sellers, as far as that can ever be done. I must be lucky, because I have never received a cartridge that did not "work", out of the box. One can never say that an aged NOS or used cartridge is working exactly as well as it otherwise could work, but I only have detected subpar performance with one of my oldies, and that is a Grado TLZ that in fact I bought new about 35 years ago.The caveat here is that I have not listened to all the cartridges I bought during that spree. One of those that I have yet to audition, and which is clearly not NOS, is an AKG; these are notorious for losing signal on one channel, and visual inspection of my sample reveals that the cantilever is deviated to one side and may be sagging as well. However, if I never listen to the AKG, I may be able to say my record is perfect. Nevertheless, this adventure has given me many hours of pleasure for relatively little cost, and I don't regret it for a minute. In fact, with less zeal than before, I am still looking for certain models. Anyone got an Astatic for sale?
I've had very good luck buying used cartridges. My current primary is the Lyra Kleos, which has performed flawlessly since I bought it. I even sent it to Lyra/Japan a year or so ago for a check up and adjustment.
The obvious advantage of buying used is that one can get into a higher grade cartridge for a much more affordable price. Of course, the downside is the risk that the cartridge condition does not meet seller reps.
Obviously, I've been careful in choosing the seller from whom I bought the cartridge (member feedback is key) and have just been plain lucky.
I purchased a used cartridge from grgaudio who often sells a ton of cartridges, all with less than 300 hours. Apparently nobody in California runs Their cartridges over 300 hours. Anyhow I bought a Benz reference one from him in the ad it said new retail price was 3K. Well I learned after the fact that retail is $1200. But I should've done my due diligence my bad. So then I install it and it's obvious the cartridge is just worn right out. So I sent him three emails telling him about it and never receive a response. Then six months later I have it looked at and yes it's worn right out. So I respond to four of his ads asking him if he's going to ignore these folks as well when they discover their cartridges are worn out. So he sends me a message asking me what's up the last he heard from me was when he sold me a cartridge. So I tell him I'm upset because it was totally misrepresented and it's worn out and I want my money back. And believe it or not he says I can't refund your money now if you had of notified me right after I would've done so. He says my policy is always your satisfaction or money back. I guess that works good if you totally ignore people's attempts to tell you they're dissatisfied. Complete crook stay away from this guy. And the worst thing is it was past the time to leave feedback so I couldn't tell others of my experience on his feedback.
Wow I bought a used Sumiko cartridge from graudio and was very happy with purchase. He even offered to mount it on my table for gratis. I mean he was right about this cartridge it is one of a handful of HOMC cartidges that do everything right and I bought it without knowing it's sound. He has to be doing something right,his feedback is over 98%.
I had one very positive and one very negative experience buying used. The bad one was for a cart that (sounds like the stock description) had "low hours" and "functioned perfectly". It couldn't make a clean sound to save its life. I made the mistake of going back and forth with this guy until I was past the point of return (although I'm not sure if I would have ever really gotten my money back, given the way this guy was slipping his way through the email back-n-forth). The thing is he had a perfect rating up to that point.
I wound up sending the cart to SS. The stylus was shot and it also was in need of a serious cleaning. In the long run it cost me well beyond what I was planning to spend on that go around, but it now works beautifully. The other purchase could not have been more different - that cart was received in exactly the condition advertised, but based on my bad experience I'm not sure if I'd buy used again.
Qdrone the problem is that if a certain amount of time goes by you cannot leave feedback for a transaction. I believe this is why GRGaudio ignored my first three or four emails. By the time I had it looked at and verified that it was toast I could not leave feedback. And I'm sure he's pulled this on quite a few others as well. I don't know the guy personally but I just want to warn others about him so they don't get burned. Right now he has a Linn archiv b up for sale. Supposedly has 250 hours on it. It is 25 to 30-year-old cartridge with only 250 hours on it??!! Come on give me a break, that's only 10 hours a year. And this is not an isolated example. Pretty much all of his cartridges he has ever sold have been listed as 300 hours or less. And a lot of them have been 20 to 30 years old.
I just heard from another CAM member who was sold a defective cartridge from GRG audio. He was sold a different cartridge then was pictured in the ad, it had a different serial number, and it had a totally defective suspension. He sent it back and received a few emails over a few months that Greg was going to fix it and send it to him but he never got anything back and Greg stopped responding to his emails. Thankfully CAM has moderation that review the case and booted GRG Audio off of CAM. However this a small consolation to the gentleman who is now out almost $1000 and has no cartridge. If you do not want to get ripped off do not buy from this guy he sells hundreds of cartridges and apparently none of them have over 300 hours. This stretches the logical bounds of credibility in and of itself. Then he has a track record of completely ignoring people when there is a problem. I'm sure only one out of 20 cartridges is completely defective but still do you want to support someone like this? And if you are the one out of 20 then you have been completely ripped off for thousands of dollars and have absolutely no recourse.
Well I am that Guy that bought a EPC -100 Technics cart from Greg / Victor or whatever his name is this week at GRG. Here is how this guy works. First off, if you have a problem he pulls the stall tactic until you are past the point of a pay pal refund and feedback on this site. (so if you have a problem with GRG right now, you better dispute your pay-pal ASAP) Then he does the old I did not get your emails, I sorry I was in Russia at the Olympics. Then he says, send it back and I will have it repaired. Then he never answers your emails ever again. He has your money and his defective cart back, then he then resells again to some other poor schmuck. I actually saw the cart I sent back to him advertised with the same serial number 2 weeks later. Meanwhile he answers all of my kids emails about other carts while he is supposed to be in Russia. When I finally did get him on the phone he threatened to have someone to pay me a visit to give me a beating. So I jumped on A-gone and posted questions to all of his adds saying stay away, he burnt me for $500. All he did was block me. Stay away from this guy unless your in driving distance to give him a personal refund, if you catch my drift.
I have had him banned from Canuck Audio Mart and US Audio Mart. He would not even make contact with the moderators over this dispute.
His tactics prevent users from getting their money back and leaving negative feedback.
He also goes under the handle ViraUSA
GRG Audio are thieves, run for the hills and never look back.