how do you set VTA onthe SME 309 tonearm?


The manual says this is achieved by moving the main pillar up or down by hand but I have tried this with no success.The manual makes no mention of anything that must be loosened; such as a hex bolt or screw. Help!!
audio779
VTA is adjusted while the clamp bolts (the bolts that lock the rack slider also lock the pillar) are loosened.
In order to move it, you're going to have to loosen something. Did you look underneath the TT? Whatever is used to lock the arm in place may be located on the bottom.
The users manual isn't very clear on how to raise and lower the tonearm. Below is a link to an image indicating the correct bolts to loosen using the hex wrench. The bracket holds the tonearm pillar firmly in place but there's some built in tension so the tonearm doesn't just fall when you loosen the bracket. After raising or lowering the tonearm, retighten the screws evenly, a bit at a time. Avoid overtightening. Be sure to have the tonearm firmly in the tonearm rest while you're adjusting the tonearm height.

SME 309 VTA adjustment bolts

Regards,
Tom
Here's a suggestion to make adjusting the height easier and repeatable...

Use a set of shims between the base of the tonearm bearing frame and the top of the mounting bracket to set the height. I used a small block of wood and some playing cards that I carved out to fit around the tonearm pillar. The wood block took up most of the space and then the playing cards were used to make fine adjustments in height. I check VTA and then add or subtract cards to get just the right VTA.

You could use just about anything that can be placed up against the pillar. My current method uses a set of aluminum bicycle headset spacers (1, 2, 2.5, 5, and 10mm thicknesses) and some spacers made from 0.5mm thick vinyl. I cut out an opening in each headset spacer and stack them up to fill up most of the space and then use the vinyl spacers for fine tuning.

Regards,
Tom
Tketcham,

Have a look at this picture.

http://theturntableshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/SME-V-Tonearm-Detail-2.jpg

I was looking at some pics of this arm, and if you look closely you'll see that they use tamper proof bolts. If I'm reading your post correctly, that's a bolt you need to loosen to adjust the arm. I've never seen anything like it on a tone arm before. Is that the right bolt? To be honest, I overlooked it as something that shouldn't be touched.
Do you have a nearby hi-fi dealer who knows turntables? Here in S. California we were lucky to have (until his passing a few years ago) THE turntable guy in the country, Brooks Berdan. When you bought a cartridge from him he would install it on your arm and set-up the entire table free of charge. His son, Brian Berdan, now carries on that policy at his new shop in Pasadena, Audio Element. I would give him a call.
Zd542...SME supplies a special wrench for these screws. These are the correct screws to both move the arm forward and back and up and down.

I was a SME dealer for many years and have owned quite a few different SME arms through the years.
"04-10-15: Mofimadness
Zd542...SME supplies a special wrench for these screws. These are the correct screws to both move the arm forward and back and up and down.

I was a SME dealer for many years and have owned quite a few different SME arms through the years."

I can't quite make out what kind of bolt it is from the pic. (except for the center piece that makes it "tamper proof". Most bolts like this use torx. If it that's the case, he shouldn't have any problems finding a tool. I know Lowes sells them under the kobalt name.
It's a Hexagon Wrench,the same one that is used to balance the tonearm.
I had an SME V. Included in with the arm is a kind of screw driver that fits that screw. The V works the same way as I remember.
From the two pics posted, it looks like a standard hex wrench with a center-drilled hole to let it slip over the tamper-resisting post in the center of the bolt.

If you can't find one online or from an SME dealer, worst case would be to DIY. You'd need a drill press with work clamp and a very hard bit. Any machine shop could do it in about 2 minutes, including the metal shop in the local high school/trade school. Please wear eye protection!

But really, they should be readily available...
You guys are making this way too complicated...

Not sure where audio779 disappeared to, but if he purchased the tonearm new then he already has the proper hex wrench tool. It's the one with the handle like a screwdriver. If he doesn't have the SME tool then a simple 3mm Allen/hex wrench will work. No center drilling required.

Only advantage to the SME tool is that it has rounded corners for convenience in fitting (and turning) the wrench in the bolt heads. SME (UK) or Acoustic Sounds (USA) or Flat Earth Audio (USA) would be glad to sell him a replacement.

Regards,
Tom
To add to Tom's comments above, the OP never asked about a tool. He asked how to set the VTA of the arm. I bet he already has the wrench. He justed needed to know how to raise and lower the arm post.

Tom even showed him where the screws were in the link he provided, so yeah, this got way over complicated...
But isn't it more fun to visit a machine shop and DIY a wrench you already own? ;-)
"04-13-15: Mofimadness
To add to Tom's comments above, the OP never asked about a tool. He asked how to set the VTA of the arm. I bet he already has the wrench. He justed needed to know how to raise and lower the arm post."

Yes, but if you look at the pics carefully, you'll see that they use tamper proof bolts on the vta adjustment. If you don't loosen them there's no way to set vta. You need special sockets. They sell them in Lowes, and they're not expensive.
Those really aren't meant to be "tamper proof" screws. They are just what SME uses and the tool is included with all the arms. It's not rocket science.
TKetcham answered the question in full detail early in this thread. Talk about beating a dead horse!
"04-14-15: Yogiboy
TKetcham answered the question in full detail early in this thread. Talk about beating a dead horse!"

Yes, but what good is it going to do for him if he doesn't have the tool you need to do the work?
Zd542,the op never said he did not have the tool. I have the 309 tonearm and it is the same tool used to adjust the tracking force. Why the presumption that he needed the tool? All he asked was how to raise and lower the arm. So yes we are beating a dead horse!
Zd542, you're correct, without the right tool it's impossible to adjust the VTA on a SME 309. Good thing there's a forum like this one where people like Audio779 can ask questions and get some answers. Just like the answers I (and others) provided. Are we missing something?

Regards,
Tom
"04-14-15: Yogiboy
Zd542,the op never said he did not have the tool. I have the 309 tonearm and it is the same tool used to adjust the tracking force. Why the presumption that he needed the tool? All he asked was how to raise and lower the arm. So yes we are beating a dead horse!"

I'm assuming the OP doesn't have the right tool for a couple of reasons. When I did a search looking for some pics of the arm to see what he was talking about, I noticed in the pictures where the arm in the original packaging, they show a tool in with the arm. If the OP bought the arm used, there's a really good chance that it wasn't included. He probably had no idea the special tool was needed to adjust the arm. Also, when you look at the tamper proof bolts, and compare it to the tool that comes with the arm, its use is self explanatory. You really can't mistake what its application. So, if the tool came with the kit, the OP would have never needed to start this thread.

That said, is it possible that you're right and I'm wrong? I would say yes. Maybe the OP is really bad with tools and just doesn't have the ability to do what's needed. I don't think that its a likely scenario, but its in the realm of possibility.
Zd542, the bolts are not "tamper proof" and no "special" tool is needed. SME does include a handy hex driver but a simple 3mm hex key works just fine. The OP asked the question because the instructions on how to adjust tonearm height (VTA) is not very clear in the instruction manual. He was provided the answer he was looking for. Your posts are just making things complicated and confusing, and now you're starting to insult the OP. Let it go.