Good cartridge for the VPI Classic 1 turntable.

Hi. I am about to pull the trigger on the VPI Classic (1) turntable. Two questions -- 1) which MC cartridge works well? As for a MM I understand that the Clearaudio Maestro (wood) performs well. Your thoughts? 2) my budget for a phono preamp is about $700.00. What would be a good match. I like to listen to Steely Dan (AJA), the Beatles, Holly Cole, Louis Armstrong, etc. I'm not into classical music. I have a Primaluna Dialogue II with NOS tubes, Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor speakers with Kimber Kable Monicle X spkr wires. My other choice is to buy the Clearaudio Concept table with their Maestro (wood) MM cartridge. Is the Project Tube Box II phono preamp a good match for either of these fine tables? Thank you for your comments and insight. Cal.
Many VPI owners recommend Dynavectors or Lyra cartridges.

For $700 you are not going to get much of a phono stage, if you're lucky you may find an old Threshold or Forte phono preamp. Personally, I feel that if you are looking to spend less than $1K on a phono stage, you're better off looking for a full function preamp. A $500 inboard phono stage will outperform most any $1000 outboard phono stage.

I see that you can add a phono board to your Primaluna for $200. That's probably your best bet until you get setup and running. Then later on when you have more money you can upgrade your phono/preamp/amp.
I would recommend the PS Audio GCPH if I was buying new in that budget range. The wonderful thing about the GCPH is its easy adjustment to match any cartridge and gain requirement, as well as its remote control gain, phase and mono. You can even use it alone, without an intermediate preamp, straight into your amp.

Used, I would get a SimAudio LP5.3. Wonderful sound and you can usually find used for around 750.
The AT OC9/IIML is an excellent performer on the Classic 1.
Be daring. Try a Shure 97. I know, I know, a low cost cartridge sounds like a 'cost' mismatch to the Classic. The beauty of first using the '97' is that you get to practice set up, in real time. If the sound disappoints, you can always use it as a backup unit. The 97 is very friendly to all phono stages so it is ideal in getting started.
Dramapyshco, I have a VPI/Dynavector 20xl cartridge as my back up. It is made for this tt/arm combo. Very good, very reasonable. For my system I went to the Soundsmith VPI cartridge which mates with my taste a bit better. If interested in my vpi/dyna, let me know.

I have been using the low output version of the Benz Micro Gullwing and have been very impressed as the hours have begun to add up. It is getting sweeter all the time and is very revealing, fast and interfaces well with my other components.
I would like to recommend the soundsmith line of cartridges. They are well worth a look. I used a soundsmith Boheme on my classic with great results. Others have been very happy with the Zephyr which was designed for the JMW uni-pivots. Give them a look.
Dynavector 20xL cart with a Dynavector P75 mkI or mkII phono pre (used?) set to phono enhancement setting.

If you can stretch get the 20x2L
I second the GCPH, excellent for the price. I just sold mine for $475 and it was in mint condition. As far as the cart goes, I am finishing the setup for a Classic 3 arm on my Scoutmaster II tonight. I will be using a Shelter 501, I will let you know how it sounds. I had a lot of problems with the Shelter on the JMW 9 Signature...
The Phonomena 2 sounds quite a bit better than the GCPH in my experience. GCPH was a bit bright & thin for me.
I have the Phonomena 2 with my VPI Classic 1 and Ortofon 2M Black cartridge. Sounds great!
Good advice, get a Jico SAS stylus and you'll have an amazing cartridge for the money. I had one on my Classic 1 and will be installing the same arm cartridge combination on my Aries 3.