Increasing tone arm effective mass?

If you have a cart that does not match your arm, what are the conseqences of trying to increase tone arm effective mass by using a shim or weight mounted on the headshell/cart? Is this idiotic like the old days of having a penny on the tonearm? Thanks in advance
It can work, but since energy transmission between each cartridge and tonearm is unique the only way to know how well (or badly) is to try.

The idea is not to increase VTF of course. You adjust after adding a weight so that downforce remains constant. Not really like the old penny trick at all.

- different materials sound different
- mounting above vs. in contact with the headshell sounds different
- whatever you do, make sure your mounting is still rigid
You can also add mass by using a tonearm wrap. It's neither better nor worse than adding weight at the headshell - just different. A tonearm wrap will also damp resonances in the armtube, especially if your armtube isn't internally damped.

You can use teflon plumber's tape; that what I did and it worked fine, although it wasn't pretty. You can also use a commercial product like this:

I used both methods to try to match a Denon 103R to my Well Tempered tonearm. Both helped, both sounded different, but neither really solved the problem. IMO there's just no substitute for a high mass tonearm when you're using a low compliance cartridge.


The purpose of the penny was to increase tracking force, not effective mass, so this analogy is a red herring at best. There is nothing wrong with trying to increase effective mass at the headshell. The issue becomes the rigidity and the resonant characteristics of the tonearm/cartridge system. Unfortunately, the former does not change and the latter undoubtedly will. The only way to see if you like the result it to try.
Thanks so far. I should have stated that I knew the penny trick increased VTF.
I did it by using one supplied CW instead of two. This puts the weight far fro mthe pivot point with the same VTF. It produced more defined and impactful bass. It does not work on some carts. Different effect on different carts.
Mass added at the headshell will add directly to the effective mass of the arm. Mass added further down the arm tube will have less effect on the arm mass, just like an anti-skate weight. Arm wraps do more for damping then increasing mass, unless it's heavy near the headshell.

The effect on the pivots should be taken into consideration. Some arms can't really support too much increase in mass. Same goes for rigidity and resonance. Hard to make generalizations - arms are very different.