Fidelity Research FR-54 Tonearm. ANTI-SKATE???

FR-54 Tonearm came on dual arm tt I bought. I moved it to the rear board, to use with Grado Mono ME+ cartridge, 1.5g tracking weight recommended.

All is well, but, I do not see any way to adjust the FR-54 amount of anti-skate.

One dangling weight, thru one groove in a wire, that's it. Bottom of weight has threaded hole. Presumably weight can be added, but, how lessened?

On scale, the weight is 2.5g. To a bimp on the bottom of the arm, just in front of the pivot. Does that mean it is transferring it's full weight, 2.5g of anti-skate?

I want cartridge to track at 1.5g, thus want 1.5g anti-skate.

I could grind the weight down to 1.5g I suppose.


Elliot, there is no direct relationship between tracking force and the weight of the anti skate bob. I do believe there was an add on weight that threaded into the bob. At any rate, set up your cartridge and tonearm. When you place the needle in the run out area between the grooves the tone arm should drift very slowly toward the spindle. If it starts drifting out ward you have too much anti skate for the tracking force and you will have to figure out a way to lighten the bob or replace it with a lighter one. The other option is the increase the tracking force to the upper limit the cartridge is specified for and see if you can get the right drift. If the tone arm drifts quickly toward the spindle you will need to add weight which you can do with 3M double sided mounting tape and any piece of heavy metal such as a nut that matches the diameter of the bob. 
This is not an exact science. As long as you get that slow drift towards the spindle you will be fine. If you want to be more exact you will need a test record with ant skate adjustment bands like the Hi Fi News test record.
The last option if the bob is too heavy is to get a cartridge that tracks at a heavier force. My guess is that the arm was tuned for the usual Japanese MC cartridge tracking at 2 to 2.5 grams. 
Elliot, thinking about it, I would not grind that weight down. I would just make a new anti skate bob with some light fishing line and lead fishing weights. Lead is very soft and easy to trim. 

You are confirming my belief, it's pulling out 2.5g.

Well, it sounds darn good 1.5g down/2.5g out, but I don't have any experience with playing Mono LP with Mono Cartridges*; This Cartridge; This Arm.

To add weight is easy. Bottom of weight is threaded. Optional weights were probably available back when ..

various length screws would add variations of extra weight. Any screw/ combo can be weighed easily enough.. I read weight has m6 threads, needs to be verified.

The purpose is to play MONO records, for now I am sticking with 1.5g down.

a. remove weight, let stylus 'ride' the inner wall with 1.5g

b. leave weight, let stylus 'ride' outer wall +1g

c. make 1.5g weight as you suggest (I'll try that first)

d. grind weight down to 1.5g. (can add to that if needed one way or another)


* No experience with Mono Cartridge, Except to instantly know using dedicated Mono Cartridge is clearly better than playing Mono LP with Stereo Cartridge as I used to do, in Stereo Mode or most often via Fisher or McIntosh Mono mode switches. I was happily surprised how much better on some, not all old LPs. Thanks to the thread here.

 The force with which the anti-skate weight is pulling outward on the tone arm is related not merely  to the weight in grams of the AS weight itself. It’s also dependent upon the distance of the connection between the weight and the arm wand from the pivot point. it’s a lever in principle. So if you can get out your old geometry text you can figure out how much AS force is actually pulling on your arm. And you don’t want so much as a 1.5g AS force for a 1.5g VTF. Much less will usually do.
To get you started, an AS device creates a class 3 lever. Where the tonearm is the lever, the pivot is the fulcrum, and the cantilever is the load.  See here:
That's if the AS force is applied to the arm wand.  In some cases, the AS force is applied to the short arm that holds the counterweight, to the rear of the pivot, and the AS force pulls the short arm inward.  In that case, we have a Class 1 lever.


Sometimes I'm glad I ain't too smart. I get the distance from pivot varies the force.

I had SME 3009: dangling weight on line, 'inside' toward lp. hung on various notches on rod behind the pivot, progressive distances behind the pivot increase the force gradually. 

I see arms with the rod on the outside, with the notched rod forward of the pivot. same thing reversed, got it.

Fidelity Research FR-54 has an outside weight, the difference is, there is only one location to suspend the line, on a wire outside the arm, and, the line connects to only one place, a bimp on the bottom of the arm, about 1/2" in front of the center of the pivot.

No way to lighten, only threads in the bottom of the dangling weight to add sub weights.

If it weighs 2.5g, and it is connected 1/2" forward of the pivot, what amount of outward force do you estimate is produces?

What makes most sense to me is that it was designed in the days of heavy tracking weights, 2.5g start, method to add more if needed.

Exactly. Make that lighter weight and see how it tracks the run out area between grooves. It should just barely drift towards the spindle. 
I’ve never seen an FR 54, so I have no comment on its particular AS mechanism. My only point was that because the anti-skate weight itself weighs 2.5 g is not sufficient data to conclude it is putting 2.5 g of anti-skate force on your tone arm.  The net anti skating force might will be less than 1.5 g which is your VTF right now.  I suggest you examine the tonearm more closely. Maybe there is a way of changing the angle of the string, which also would change the anti-skating force. Also I would check the manual that was once provided with the tonearm. If there indeed were various anti-skating weights for different VTFs (something I’ve never heard of), it should show up in the manual. If it does not show up, I think you are just missing something . I am actually surprised that by now some other owner of an FR 54 hasn’t chimed in to explain what’s going on. Perhaps you can find the manual on vinyl engine, if you don’t already have one.
I did some research for you.  The manual IS available on Vinyl Engine but only in Japanese.  However, there are several older threads on this tonearm that are also mostly to be found on VE.  The consensus seems to be that your impression is correct; AS is not adjustable.  On the other hand, several persons agreed that the single weight provided gives approximately correct AS for a VTF = 1.5g.  So, you should be fine.  In future, you might check VE for answers to questions like this one. I found no evidence that FR ever provided a set of weights to accommodate different VTF values.  Apparently, Mr Ikeda was not obsessed with AS.


I go to Vinylengine frequently. Google will translate, I have that manual translated, it does not address Anti-Skate at all.

One photo showed two holes in the side of the pivot, where the wire goes into the pivot. I thought, ok, two choices. My arm only has one hole.

I have a hard time believing 2.5g weight is giving only 1.5g outside force, especially as it attaches 1/2" forward of the pivot.

Tomorrow, I am going to put on a Stereo Headshell, 1.5g down. Listen to 3 guitarists, (always my final AS test), and see if it seems to emphasize outer side of groove, effect balance.

After learning something, back to Mono cartridge 1.5g, leave weight alone, mess with it, or make a lighter one.

I like the fishing lead sinker idea, lots of sinkers/line downstairs, but ......
"I have a hard time believing 2.5g weight is giving only 1.5g outside force, especially as it attaches 1/2" forward of the pivot."
Please consult the Wikipedia page on levers.  The 2.5g weight is going to provide much less than 2.5g of side force precisely BECAUSE it attaches to the arm wand so close to the pivot. We are concerned with the force generated at the other end of the arm wand (the lever), at the stylus tip.  Work is Force (F) acting over a distance (s).  W = F*s. According to laws of conservation of Work, the Work done by the dropping 2.5g weight must equal the Work done on the stylus tip (with minor losses due to friction).  So, notice that the length of the arc traversed by the arm wand at its attachment to the string, as the string and weight drop, is much, much shorter than the length of the arc traversed by the stylus tip as it goes across the LP surface.  Call the two distances s for the AS device and S' for the stylus tip.  Because Work or Energy is conserved, F*s = F'(the AS force on the stylus tip)*S'. Because s<<S', then F'<<F.  The force at the stylus tip must be much lower than 2.5g.
Don’t believe me. Believe Archimedes and Isaac Newton.  Oh, and you could choose to believe the guys who discussed the FR54 on one of those other forums, when they concluded the AS mechanism delivers an AS force about right in magnitude for a 1.5g VTF.
And how do you plan to "test" (the amount of AS force, presumably)?
Elliot has already proven that the anti skate is too heavy for a VTF of 1.5 gm. He put the stylus down in the run out area and it immediately drifted out.
Elliot, just for fun disable the anti skate by lifting the bob up with your finger and place the stylus down in the run out area again and watch it drift right towards the spindle.
Now just make that lighter bob with your fishing line and tell us how it works. Nothing like the power of observation. 
Mijo, Way up the thread, Elliot wrote, "Well, it sounds darn good 1.5g down/2.5g out, but I don't have any experience with playing Mono LP with Mono Cartridges*; This Cartridge; This Arm."  This was at the point where Elliot assumed the 2.5g weight was creating 2.5g of AS force, but that doesn't matter.  Where did he say that with 2.5g weight at that VTF (1.5g), the stylus drifted outward in the run-out groove?  If that's the case, it's odd that apparently excess AS sounds so good. Are you really denying the physics of the thing? (I mean to say that the 2.5g weight must deliver much less than 2.5g of AS. I can make no claims regarding how his particular set-up might react.  I can imagine that for his particular stylus shape, whatever that is, he may need even less AS than he has now.)
my anti-skate test equipment

1. use cds/digital/reel to reel, to verify system balance, prior to evaluating/refining your LP anti-skate by ear.

2. test records if you can stand it

3. extremely enjoyable music

side 2, tracks 2 and 3 (the only tracks all 3 guitarists play.

the guitars are different types, different string types, it helps to be familiar, tells you a lot about your system, and, vary your anti-skate, the imaging of the 3 guitars can be good, great, perfect.

4. extremely easy to hear/balance l/r center

Annie Lennox is not wandering a stage, she is dead center.

Dave Stewart plays with left to right, at matching levels, at long repeated sequences. Not your most enjoyable Eurythmics album, but very easy to use. You can lift the needle, adjust, drop the needle, no need to try and go back to some starting place, long repeated sequences make it easy.

5. More Enjoyable Eurythmics album, also dead center Annie, many matching sound effects

6. LOADED with Sounds by Quincy Jones

7. Live Albums, Applause can sometimes be revealing, but, like memorex, is it real?

no disrespect, but my slide rule is in the drawer, for life. there’s no point in discussing science or physics,

"What IS, IS"

prior 1.5g down/2.5g out ’sounds darn good’ was about mono cartridge, mono lp, as I said, both new to me, on an arm unfamiliar to me, with no anti-skate adjustments

no matter what, this is about getting stylus floating equally: to prevent uneven groove wear, uneven stylus wear, especially long time effect of uneven force on cantilever. I’m not sure how much it will affect the mono sound.

tested using this, got answers..

side 2, tracks 2 and 3 (the only tracks all 3 guitarists play.

1. I listened with Stereo Cartridge on Stereo Arm with adjustable anti-skate, alignment previously refined, confirmed stylus clean, got the music freshly in my brain. Magnificent Imaging! I am extremely familiar with this music.

Stereo Arm: Acos Lustre GST-801, I LOVE this arm. You can adjust both VTA and Anti-Skate while playing. Shure V15VxMR body with new Jico Stylus, SAS on Boron cantilever.

**** Brush Up for Tests **** to get and play accurate 1.5g down

2. I moved the stereo headshell into FR-54 rear arm.

Place anti-skate weight on top of flat tonearm lift to eliminate it’s force.

Balance, tracking force 1.5g

Release dangling 2.5g weight.

3. Play, left WEAK, left and center guitars both moved right, you might not even realize it was 3 guitars.

The 2.5g weight is DEFINITELY and OBVIOUSLY pulling more than 1.5g. (somewhere between 1.5g and 2.5g?)

4. Listen with no anti-skate.

Put weight on top of flat tonearm lift.

Play, right WEAK, right and center guitarists moved left. I think a bit worse than the reverse when using the weight,

5. Conclusion: 1.5g in/no weight is worse than 1.5g down/2.5g weight dangling (which, at max would be +1g out???).

6. Solution: I have many lead sinkers, I need some very fine line, I will make a couple alternate lighter weights.

Success, first trial, tied a nut on fish line,

1.36g home made anti-skate weight (factory weight is 2.5g)

Shure V15VxMR down 1.52g (the weight my Grado ME+ Mono Cartridge wants 1.5g) 

Instant, no strained listening needed, 3 guitarist as finely imaged as I am used to.

Who knows what changes my slightly thicker fish line makes?

I will get some finer line, make a permanent dangling 1.35 weight. Perhaps I will make an intermediate 1.75 g weight while I have my tools out.

1.35; 1.75; 2.5 collection! Maybe I should get rich selling them.

It is my NON-SCIENTIFIC opinion that the weight, attached 1/2" forward of the center of the pivot, exerts a force slightly more than it’s own weight,

which is why I decided to start with 1.35g trial.


Color Me Happy!

Color my Grado’s Stylus Cantilever Still Happy years from now!
I set Shure to track it's recommended 1.25g on the main stereo arm.

I think. The Jico SAS/Boron replacement stylus has a brush, (not damped like Shure).

Shure says when used, it's brush pushes up .5g, so set 1.75 for resultant 1.25g.

Jico, using it's brush, I am using 1.6g. Just an instinctive guess for a near 1.25 result.

 I would never challenge the result of your listening tests. I am happy that you have arrived at what appears to be a satisfactory amount of anti-skate. However, please don’t deny the laws of physics. No matter how many grams you put on the end of your string, the resulting AS force at the stylus tip will be much less, in grams. What you have really demonstrated is that the amount of AS needed is much less than the VTF, in grams. A few other people besides me mentioned that at the beginning of this thread. 

thanks for all your input on this and other threads.

I've been joking about science, but hands on solved it.

my left channel on my tube amp just went silent, wish me luck.

5,510 posts01-24-2020 10:12pm


If you meant, just enjoy the music without worrying about it, which in many instances is a valid idea.

not so with LP cartridge, you gotta get it right, especially anti-skate.


level tt.

protractor 4 measurements/alignment (pivot to spindle; overhang; two null points. fairly easy to get right).

azimuth is very important, I use a mirror, and check/re-check, am I sure many times, lock that headshell very tight, final check in case tightening moved it. do it again.

Vertical Tracking Angle, a bit tedious, especially if height of arm lift gets involved, but, achievable.

tracking force (anti-skate to zero) checked with a digital scale, easy.

finally anti-skate.

Listening, balance, imaging, everything opening up as intended, all comes from proper anti-skate.

Wear and Tear is related to getting anti-skate right, get the stylus to float in the groove while playing, ready to be whipsawed and sea-sawed this way and that.

The forces are tremendous. The stylus hitting dust in a groove:: A Train, traveling 60 knots/70 mph, bashing into cattle, except the cattle are in a chute.

reduces groove wear; reduces uneven stylus wear; allows cantilever shaft to be/stay straight/balanced/moving it’s magnet or coil properly within the cartridge body

allows diamond to get deeper in the groove than if it is riding one side a bit.

Get this right, then FUGGETABOUTIT, enjoy the music.

oh yeah, double check tracking/anti-skate in a few months.

Unfortunately, the anti-skate force is never exactly right from one second to the next. So to some degree I share the notion: forget about it, unless you are hearing gross distortion in one channel or another, which you noted. And you did the right thing to correct that. NOW you can forget about it.
I never heard gross distortion. I was playing MONO. I just couldn't understand no AS adjustment on FR-45 arm.

I wondered if the lack of proper anti-skate would effect the Mono SOUND and wanted to solve the physics to prevent wear of: Grooves; Stylus; Cantilever; Depth of Stylus in the groove; my ears; sleep better at night.

I used STEREO cartridge on that arm:

imbalance of l/r SOUND (not distortion) to prove:

anti-skate was too strong: left and center guitars moved right; and

no anti-skate (an option, at least temporarily) proved to be worse, right and center moved left to a greater extent.

1.36 dangling nut got beautiful STEREO balance, imaging, therefore it must be better physics for the MONO cartridge.

my dead left channel was a blown 6SL7 in the amp, just happened to have 2 in stock in my random collection, whoopee. I had inadvertently mixed my 6sn7 with my 6sl7 for a short while recently, guess it was insulted, finally resigned with no prior notice.

On mono LPs the audio signal is encoded on the horizontal only. Any vertical deflection of the stylus is canceled using a mono cartridge. So it’s not a good idea to use a mono LP and cartridge to set AS if you’re then going to use the same setting for stereo. But I confess I don’t precisely know offhand what you would hear with a mono LP and a mono cartridge and aberrant anti skate. 
PRECISELY: less than ideal, that’s been the point of this.

what’s not a good idea?

Mono or Stereo Cartidge: The geometry of the stylus in the groove, sphere, ellipse, shibata, sas are all relevant to mono stylus regarding groove contact.

Anti-skate is critical, stereo or mono.

I wanted 1.5g tracking force for my MONO cartridge. That produces 1.5g inward force. So, set anti-skate at 1.5g, go to bed.

IF everything is accurate.

FR-45 has no way to adjust/lighten AS force. One 2.5g weight, 1 location, on or off. Weight has bottom threads to add more weight.

1. Down measured via digital scale.

2. Matching 1.5g Inward force measured by Newton while ice skating on a carosel.

3. Anti-skate needs to be refined by ear.

You cannot set anti-skate for a MONO stylus by ear, so:

I used a stereo cartridge, set tracking at 1.5g. Tested tonearms standard 2.5g weight, too heavy. Tried no AS, worse than too much.

Made my own smaller weight by trial,

1.36g floated the stylus in the groove, beautiful imaging of 3 guitarists.


Put the mono cartridge back on, track 1.5g, the 1.36g weight will do the same as before, float that mono stylus in the groove.

The goal, from the get-go was to float the Mono stylus in the groove, to prevent all the wear issues I mentioned.

what’s not a good idea?
Anti-Skate varies by Stylus Shape!

I went back on the FR arm, Grace ME+ 1.5g down, and with the polished acrylic disc, no grooves, while spinning: the anti-skate 1.36g was pulling out too much.

I made a new weight, and for the GRADO’s Elliptical Stylus, 1.5g, a 0.9g weight was perfect.

Previous test was with Shure with Shibata tip, also 1.5g down, anti-skate 1.36 was correct.

I was scrolling thru Turntables just for fun, and came across a Garrard. The anti-skate dial had two sides, top and bottom. The bottom was labeled ’Elliptical’, the top was labeled CO 4 or CD 4, photo was a bit fuzzy).

How much stylus contact surface, how deep in the groove, it just shows, these dials cannot be relied upon, the disc with no grooves is a great help, especially for Mono where you cannot use your ears.

Learn something every day. Happily.
Yes the skating force is due to friction between stylus and vinyl groove.It therefore stands to reason that the size of the contact patch afforded by different stylus shapes would affect friction and therefore affect the skating force and therefore affect the amount of anti-skate required.
yeah, the whole 'use my stereo cartride, listening, then good for mono' didn't prove correct, glad I figured it out.

gotta wonder why more turntables don't have different scales like that single Garrard did.

Glad I tried the grooveless smooth disc method, that is so easy.