Importance of arm length?

Hi! I have just purchased a VPI HW-19 mk III online (won't arrive until next week). The plinth is cut for the VPI standard budget arm, Audioquest PT6. I don't own an AQ PT6, but I do own a Sumiko Premier MMT. The MMT is a slightly longer arm. Effective length of 239 mm for the MMT vs. 229 mm for the AQ. The mounting distance for the MMT is 221.7mm, for the AQ it is 211mm. A few questions maybe someone could answer for me...1. Is the difference in length significant enough to make a difference, or can I use the Sumiko in the AQ cut plinth? 2. How does the Sumiko compare with the AQ? I have an opportunity to purchase an AQ PT6 at a good price, and wonder what the tradeoffs would be if I went with that arm vs the Sumiko? If I stick with the Sumiko, would I have to get a new plinth and have that cut for that arm and would it be worth it? Thanks much, Ben
Dear Ben: That difference in the effective tonearm lenght makes a difference too in the quality sound reproduction of the cartridge and in its overhang set-up.
The effective tonearm lenght is directly related with the overhang.
In other words you need a new cut for the MMT tonearm. Btw, this is a good tonearm that I prefer over the Audioquest.

regards and enjoy the music.
Here's how I understand it.
Every pivoting tonearm travels in an arc as it moves from the perimeter toward the center of the record. As it arcs, it loses speed on the first half of the arc and gains on the backside. Tonearm designers create a mathematically calculated offset in the form of a bend or angle so as to minimize the effects of the arcing. In order to do this they need a constant effective length so they designate one. It is measured from the pivot point to the stylus tip and on some models can be adjusted by moving the cartridge to or fro in the headshell. This is the overhang adjustment.
Unless you have a replaceable armboard on that turntable, I would not drill a second hole in the plinth as that would be unsightly. Why not investigate available tonearm options to learn which ones can be used in your existing hole. The MMT is decent but you may be able to improve upon the performance it offers without spending a lot of money or defacing your prized new turntable.
Both Raul and Macrojack make good points. If you go to the Vinyl Engine website you can use the tonearm database to search for arma that will match your existing cutout. It will give you the effective length and overhang numbers, as well as the mounting distance. The only negative is that he database may not be entirely up to date.
Three well considered responses, I thank you all. Though I was tempted to bid on a NOS AQ 6 tonearm on ebay this morning, I opted for patience and time to educate myself further on options. As far as I can tell (by photos) the table does not have a separate armboard, and I'm with macrojack that there's no point in ruining the existing board. I have done some investigation at Vinyl Engine (thanks clio09) and the arms with the same length as the AQ appear to be either more expensive or not as nice as the MMT (Alphason, Linn - multiple models, Kuzma, Revolver, Zeta) . So I guess ideally I would keep the MMT and get a new plinth that could be drilled for it. Are used VPI HW19 III plinths ever seen on the used market? Is there anything particularly special about their company manufactured plinth that couldn't be duplicated with a clean sheet of mdf cut to the same specs in my workshop? thanks, Ben
Very important in this case:

Have a nice weekend.

VPI no longer supports the HW 19 tables but you could contact them about buying any plinth they have left over. The plinth from those tables is a laminate of several materials if I remember correctly.
You sound like you are handy and, if that's the case, you can use the parts from the VPI to make your own table out of any material you feel like messing with including Corian or granite. On the other hand you could just extend the hole in your current plinth so the it extends back about a half inch. There is about 7/16 of an inch difference in effective length that you lack. If you were to drill the arm hole so that it was a long oval, you would have enough length and the base collar of the arm might even conceal the extra opening. I have seen designs that leave room to slide the arm mount for adjustment. Should be fine.
the new aq pt9 arm is outstanding. i would certainly say it is as good as the sumiko.
I like macrojack's idea of simply extending the current hole into an oval. Even if the base collar of the arm doesn't conceal the opening, I might be able to insert a larger (perhaps lozenge shaped) thin "washer" of some sort between the base collar and plinth to cover the hole. The template for the MMT was available at VinylEngine. BTW, I have located someone who can manufacture a MDF laminate plinth similar to the Scouts or an acrylic and aluminum plinth like the Aries & HRX. Depending on how fat my wallet looks after the holidays, I may pursue this option. Thanks for your help! Ben