How does tone-arm mass impact performance?

Specifically, how does increasing or decreasing the mass of the tone-arm impact the performance of the system? Please do not answer; it will improve your bass or; it will provide a wider sound stage, these are not types of answers I am looking for.

Hypothetically, could one have a 1 ton ton arm with a 1 ton counter weight and still be able to play a record?

I recently changed my catridge from Ortofon OM to 2M blue. The 2M is heavier, as a result I had to increase my anti-skate setting. Are there any other impacts?

Is a lighter tone-arm better then a heavier one or is there some optimal mass?

Thank you.
There is no answer for your question because there is more than one variable involved. For any particular cartridge there may be an optimum mass but there is no mass optimum for all cartridges. During the race toward higher and higher compliance which occurred during the 70s it was determined that one cartridge required an arm with negative mass for best performance. With the trend to lower compliance cartridges the mass of arms has tended to rise, although some of the older arms were very high mass. The arm/cartridge system is a very complex one and no single parameter will govern it's performance. The weight of the cartridge should have no bearing on the antiskate force, it is determined by the tracking force , not the weight of the cartridge. The compliance of the cartridge determines the mass of the arm, low compliance-high mass and vice versa. If you get this wrong the resonance frequency of the combination will be either too high or too low. See sites like Vinyl Engine of Audio Asylum for fuller explanations.
Excuse typo, Vinyl Engine OR Audio Asylum
The relationship between the arm and the suspension of the cartridge can be modeled like a spring. The springier, more compliant, the suspension, the less mass is desired in the arm to bring the total resonance of the system to the optimal point. Likewise, if the suspension is stiffer, more mass is required in the arm to keep the total system resonance at an appropriate frequency.

Interestingly, the weight of the arm is not of importance. What is importance is the effective mass, which takes into account the distance that the mass is from the pivot point. An extra gram at the headshell increases effective mass much more than a gram near the pivot point.

If the resonance of the system is too high it can be excited by low freqency tones within the music. If it is too low, warps will cause the resonance to be excited.

In your example, yes a one ton arm and one ton counterweight could play a record, provided that the compliance of the cartridge was suffienciently low. This is kind of theoretical though.

Commercial arms vary from somewhere around 6-7 grams effective mass all of the way up to 30 grams or so. Most medium mass arms, like the Rega, Audioquest/Jelco, Technics, etc. fall into the 9-10 gram range.
Thanks for the feedback.

I checked out Vinyl Engine and Cartridgedb websites, and it apears that the 2M blue is a good match for the technics sl-1200.

But I have made some minor changes such as, I replaced the stock headshell wires with heavier gauge silver wire, I added a shim between the cartridge and headshell to allow for an easier azimuth adjusmtent and finally, I am planning to rewire the arm, all this will certainly result in a different effective mass from the one listed in the generic DB.

So my question now is, how can you determine the actual effective tonearm mass of your customized tonearm?
You really can't. Don't worry, the range of acceptable resonant frequencies is fairly wide, you have not materially changed the effective mass unless your shim is quite heavy. You will still be in the right ballpark. Do your mods and enjoy!
This is a question specifically for Viridian -

I was checking out this guy's 1200 MOD page -

What exactly is this person trying to achieve? I was reading your post about where the mass is important and it seems this guy is doing it opposite - adding it close to the pivot point. Maybe you can critique or explain what they are doing, since they are not making it clear in their blog post.
Well, it's only been six years. My experience is that the primary resonance of the moving system rarely falls in the audio band. Sure it can cause problems but it is pretty forgiving of minor mismatches.

What colors the sound far more are the secondary, bell like, resonances that fall within the audio range. Gently tap your tonearm with a pencil with the volume control at a quiet level. Start near the pivot point and tap several times moving out to the headshell. At one point the ringing is far more pronounced, and this point is usually a third of the way from the pivot. In the past we used to damp this resonant point with a ring of Blue Tak being sure not to over damp the arm - a subjective decision.

I think that the gent is both adding mass and damping the arm tube at the same time. For that matter he's using lead tape which may also deter RFI in that part of the arm. So there's more going on here than just mass tuning. Why not give it a try if you're a tweeker as it's completely reversible. Good luck.
Unless your mods add more than a gram of mass to the system, it is unlikely that you've done much to effect the interaction of cartridge compliance with effective mass. There actually IS a way, two methods in fact, to measure tonearm effective mass, that I have seen in print. One or both are to be found on Vinyl Asylum. I've never done it and don't necessarily recommend that you should do it either. Not worth the considerable effort required. You can way your shim for azimuth as a separate item, to estimate what its effect might be on effective mass, if that makes you feel better. But listening to music works, too. By the way, "effective mass" really should include the mass of the cartridge, the screws, and any shims, etc.
As others have described, the effective mass and the compliance of the cartridge's suspensiondetermines the frequency at which the arm will resonate. But, as Viridian mentioned, there are other, much higher frequency ringing that really affects the sound more. This is most effectively mitigated by having the arm as stiff as possible and by having the arm damp such vibrations and/or transmit that energy away from the cartridge to the base to which the arm is attached. Increasing stiffness and damping means more material in the arm and therefore more mass. But, too much mass is undesirable, and therefore, there is an inherent tradeoff between optimizing stiffness and damping and keeping effective mass within acceptable limits. Why is reasonably low effective mass important?

As you noted, you could easily balance a one-ton arm with a one-ton counterweight such that there is only one gram of tracking force applied to the record. If the cartridge/arm system were a static thing, there would be no issue. But, an arm must move to account for the up and down motion of the surface of the record (minor warps) and for the groove spiraling inward on the record (and side to side movement for slightly off-center spindle holes, etc). That theoretical two-ton arm may be statically pressing on the record by only one gram, but, in motion, it will have very high inertial mass (same as "effective mass"). It will take a lot of force to get that arm moving, and once it is moving in one direction, it will tend to stay in motion unless a large force is applied in the opposite direction. With a phono cartridge/arm, it is desirable for the effective mass to be low enough so that the cartridge/arm can easily moved by tiny forces.