Koetsu Rosewood - Best/safest way to clean stylus


I have a Koetsu Rosewood Signature and have been cleaning the stylus using LAST (I think that is the brand) liquid with a brush, followed by using the cueing to drop the needle onto a Magic Eraser 4-5 times. I think this works pretty well, but I worry about the liquid... having read about liquid wicking up the cantilever, etc.

Could using liquid damage the cartridge? Could dropping the cueing down onto the Magic Eraser "grab" the needle and damage the suspension as I raise it? It seems like the only safe way to use Magic Eraser because I don't trust my hands to be steady enough to do it any other way.

Is there another cleaning method that has actually been proven (via microscope) to clean the needle safely and be safe for the cartridge?

Thanks
montaldo
IMHO, you should stop doing what you are doing. I would recommend you use Onzow Zero Dust to "dip" your needle in. All you have to do is lower the cartridge into the Onzow and straight back up. Then brush the needle from back to front (very important on the direction) three times lightly. I have always been told LAST has the possibility to travel up cantilever and do damage. Also with a Magic Eraser you are putting chemicals onto the tip (can't imagine this could be good) that may not come off with a brush. That is a really nice cartridge and I would be very careful how I treated it. 
I already own a onzow but stopped using it after I tested it against the Magic Eraser using a USB microscope and realize the onzow how did not clean the needle at all it just seemed to remove dust. The Magic Eraser however appears to clean the stylus completely so it's like one of those pictures you see on forums where the needle is perfect and clean.

I did not realize that magic eraser has chemicals embedded into it but rather thought it was just an extreme abrasive that cleans the needle through friction.

But I am worried as you are about the liquids because I read bad things.

Does anyone have first-hand knowledge of what koetsu recommends?
I’ve used LAST for something like 30 years. Twenty for sure. Benz Glider, Benz Ruby H, each of those at least 10 years. Three passes back to front per every side. Now using it without reservation on my Koetsu Black Goldline.

These LAST damage stories have been around forever. If it helps, try and remember audiophiles as a group are like Woody Allen, neurotic as hell. Only without the sense of humor.
Simply dipping the ME in/out may not be enough. Between listening sessions, I will dip (using cueing lever) into a corner of a cut piece of ME and then - with the stylus remaining dipped in the ME - carefully *rotate* back & forth around the stylus as the center of rotation. Use only 1 finger to push for the rotation, from alternating sides. Total range of rotation is around 60 to 90 degrees for each cycle. When you’re done, sometimes the ME will slightly stick as you cue up; gently push down on the ME to clear it off. Sound scary? It was to me at first, too. I’ve used this method on my Coralstone for two years now; stylus and cantilever still gleam like brand new. I’m using the same method on my new Blue Lace Diamond. It’s the best. Far better than an Onzow. I guarantee the stylus and cantilever/suspension are subjected to stronger forces during the course of playing records. 

Use a long-bristle dry brush on the stylus after every ME application, to remove any lingering fibers. I much prefer long bristle brushes (about 1cm) over the little short bristle "pads" because I can get at the stylus from many different angles (e.g. using an orthogonal brushing motion with a few bristles, the bristles have more brushing power - versus simply parting the bristles with the stylus). Carefully clean off the TOP of the cantilever with a small subset of bristles, all up and down, each session. You don’t want crap encrusting the top of your cantilever over time. In general, brush off anywhere dust/detritus kicked up from the record can accumulate. Also I use the dry brush on the stylus after *every* LP side.

You won’t need any liquid, ever, with the above regimen. The boron cantilever Koetsus do use some glue, which might potentially be susceptible to some liquids.

And you want the original flat rectangular all-white ME, no blue pad (that has the cleaning chemicals), not 2x or 4x tougher, etc.
I've used the Last stylus cleaner for decades on a variety of cartridges and never had any issue. I think the fear of it "wicking up the cantilever" is unfounded.
MillerCarbon, love the Woody Allen reference. Lot of truth there.

Mulveling, you are gutsy the way you use ME. Yes I use only the white one.

So many people use the liquid but quite a few warn against it. The warnings usually seem to be theoretical though, with very few actual stories of damage it seems. The manufacturers must have a clear position on liquid, I would think. Maybe I will email the Koetsu distributor.

No experience with Koetsu but here's my take. I use to read, years ago about stylus fluid wicking up the cantilever. My response to that is don't play a record after cleaning for a minute or so. I have used the ME and while I haven't attributed any problems to it, it does sometimes "catch" which is an uneasy feeling. I switched from the ME to blue tak, (like Peter Lederman). I still use a Zerodust, a brush, and LYRA STP.
I think the fear of it "wicking up the cantilever" is unfounded
The theory was some of the fluid got onto/into the end of the cantilever tube — capillary action then 'sucked' it up the tube where it reached the internals.

No such issue with a rod. I assume your Rosewood is a rod; mine is.


Montaldo. Fill up a little glass jar with 3/4 91% Isopropyl alcohol, 1/4 distilled water. Get a small soft artist's brush, dip it in your solution and brush the stylus and cantilever clean. Go no further than 1/2 way up the cantilever. You can brush the stylus in any direction without fear of hurting it. I'll do this once a week or so. Between records I use a standard stiff stylus brush wiping back to front only.
I have news for you Last folks. Last is just Freon, Freon with various labels on it. Freon is a great solvent for non polar molecules like oil. It will to some extent clean your stylus and records. It leaves absolutely nothing behind to protect anything. I took a microscope slide and started dripping one drop of Last record preservative at a time on the slide allowing it to dry between each drop. After 50 drops I looked at the slide high and dry. Nothing. Not a darn thing. Everything had evaporated. There is nothing in Last besides Freon. Brilliant rip off. 
I've used two liquid cleaners--LAST and Lyra--for many years and have never experienced any problems.  They are solvent based, so it does make sense to follow Lyra's instruction of not playing a record immediately (Lyra says wait 10 seconds) in order to allow any softened adhesive to re-harden.  

With any liquid cleaner, it makes sense to be careful with application and not slather it all over the place.  Capillary action can, at least in theory, cause a liquid to migrate up the cantilever, regardless of whether it is a hollow rod or something solid, and that is what one is trying to avoid.  This is a concern that was raised with the LAST stylus preserver more so than their cleaner because the cleaner is volatile and will evaporate before it can reach very far.  The stylus preserver does not evaporate and it is sticky in consistency.  The concern is with this sticky stuff gumming up the suspension of the cartridge if it gets that far up the cantilever.  Again careful and judicious application is in order.

I would be a bit cautious with the sticky cleaners, like the Zero Dust, that one is suppose to dip the stylus. Because the cartridge suspension was never meant to be pulled in the opposite direction of playing a record, I would take care to very slowly lift the needle out of the goo.  I know someone who pulled the cantilever out of his cartridge using one of those things.
I used LAST for many years with no problems. But then I got a very nice table top microscope. Examining the stylus tip after cleaning by various methods  reveals to me that magic eraser is much better. However , I think it would be very dangerous to use magic eraser if you attempt to move either the cartridge body or the magic eraser itself while there is contact between the two.  I place the magic eraser under the cartridge body then I use the queuing device on my tonearm to drop the cartridge down on top of the magic eraser, making sure that the magic eraser is completely steady and motionless. Then I use the queuing device to pick up the cartridge. That’s all you have to do. There should be no need to rotate the stylus while it’s in contact with the he ME. That is the evidence based on using my microscope to examine the cartridge before and after. Probably ME will never be fully accepted  by audiophiles  as a way to clean the stylus, because it is too cheap, too easy, and too effective . And has no risk if done correctly.
@mijostyn,

If LAST is nothing but Freon, why has there not been a ban on it’s use? Also, why hasn’t it’s price skyrocketed over and above it’s already high price? Why no warning labels on the product?

I’m just wondering?
My experience is the same as LewM. I used a usb microscope and the ME makes the stylus spotless, unlike liquids or Onzo. Having someone else repeat that result makes me even more confident.

I guess the remaining question is the reality that ME can probably pull a bit on the stylus as the cueing is raised. as Larry mentioned. I think a possible way to reduce the risk would be to use a smaller patch of ME -- so lightweight that it could be picked up by the stylus if it got stuck. This would reduce the maximum pulling force possible on the stylus that might occur in the worst case, and would serve as a warning that the cartridge is getting stuck. I imagine the ME would release quickly once it moves a tiny bit as the stylus pulls it up. And it may never happen anyway.

I may cut a very tiny square of ME and weigh it to ensure it is a fraction of a gram or something ... Then cue the needle up and down a bunch of times to see if it picks up such a tiny patch of ME. Maybe there is an optimum weight of ME that allows the stylus to release but has little enough mass to avoid pulling too hard on the stylus.
(Who knows what "too hard" is though).

In the past I have watched to see if the cantilever is "pulled" downward as I raise the cartridge out of the ME, but have been unable to spot that movement.

Also: I asked the Koetsu distributor and he said there is no one best way that he knows of. He personally uses MoFi or Lyra SPT and worries that anything you dip the stylus into seems "too aggressive" to him, given the potential stress on the cantilever.


As I said before, while I have no evidence the "catching"/that occurs when using ME causes any negative stylus life, it doesn't seem to be a normal issue a cartridge manufacturer would account for.

I don't need to see the "catching" effect, I can feel it.
 The force between the magic eraser and the stylus and cantilever should be equal to the VTF . Unless the stylus snags the magic eraser. But I don’t think that can happen, if you don’t move either the stylus or the magic eraser in the horizontal plane while the two are in contact. And the contact can be extremely brief. One second is sufficient.Like I said, it’s really too simple for most of us.
I was worried about my stylus, thought it could just be dirty but what if its something much worse? So I went to see my doctor. Doctor told me I have a slight hearing loss in my uber-hypochondria.

Oh no wait, that was Hannah and Her Sisters. Nevermind.



Millercarbon, don't worry. Duane can take you to the airport.

Lewm: Yes there can be no more than VTF force while it's going down. It is going up we are wondering about. You would think there would be nothing to "catch", given the shape of the stylus. Unless the cantilever gets below the surface of the ME. Not sure. I feel a little like Slaw in that I do seem to sense a catch when I raise the cueing. But it may be the sound that creates that illusion for me, not something physically catching. I'm going to do the experiment with a very small square of ME and see if it catches and picks up the square, even momentarily.

Amazing and pathetic I am willing to spend time on this, but I am!

For those of you fearful of the Last stylus cleaning fluid, here's something that may keep you up at night: I occasionally use it with a Signet electronic stylus cleaner. It has worked like a charm on a variety of phono cartridges for decades. But I know the concept gives some people the willies.
The other thing I like about the Woody Allen metaphor is he's the uber anti-audiophile. All his movies are in mono. Sound quality it seems is the one thing he does not worry about.
@cleeds ,

While it doesn’t keep me up at night, I have wondered about the pos/neg effects of an US stylus cleaner?
slaw
While it doesn’t keep me up at night, I have wondered about the pos/neg effects of an US stylus cleaner?
The positive effects are that it gets your stylus super, squeaky clean. That same stylus vibrates when it's playing an LP, which I think it can't distinguish from the electronic cleaner. I'll stop using it if I ever discover any negative effects, but that hasn't happened yet after decades of periodic use.
I will ad one little tidbit to lewm’s Magic Eraser suggestion. The ME square is so light, and when lifting stylus with Q-lever it may lift the ME itself slightly because of friction. Just to give the ME square some weight to it,I cut a horizontal slit in the center, and insert a quarter. Obviously try to leave some depth between the top of the ME sponge so quarter is still a good distance (1/3 "?) from your stylus.
Fjn04... I was kinda thinking the opposite -- that it might be better to give the ME less inertia, not more. If the stylus sticks due to friction I am guessing it would be less damaging if the ME lifted slightly rather than presenting an immovable anchor while the cueing lifts up... Because then the only thing that can give is the cantilever/suspension. 

But there is a limit to my approach too. We would not want a small piece of ME to lift up and twist or turn, thereby damaging the cantilever. Maybe there is an optimum mass of ME that allows some "lift" without allowing the whole ME pad to shift around. Just hypothesizing here of course.


@cleeds,

IMO, the US seems a safer/more effective alternative to the ME.
DS Audio ST-50 get cleaner. Use it on my Dynavector 20XL2. Expensive but you can clean it an reuse it over and over.
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As recommended by Peter Ledermen (Soundsmith cartridges), I use Blue Tack.  It's safe, easy, and best of all does a great job.
Hate to be an ignaramous here but what is Magic Eraser exactly?

A quick Google search showed a product called Magic Eraser by Mr Clean but these were cleaning sponges?

Thank you
What you found uberwaltz is what it is 
So just buy a pack from wallyworld and dip the stylus down into it just like I have been doing with the onzow.

As some have said, sounds too easy and does not cost enough.....lmao.

Will get some tomorrow and give it a whirl.

So do users cut the sponge pad up into smaller pieces or?

Looks like it was 3/4" thick.
Now at Target I see Mr Clean Magic Eraser sheets.

I assume that is the product we are referring to here and that people are using?
Magic Eraser or a blob of Blutac on a business card
I found it useful to cut a small square of Magic Eraser into a wedge shape and glue it to a silver coin. A gold coin would solve the low-cost problem.

If you decide to glue the Magic Eraser to something, make VERY sure that the something, like a coin, is not magnetic. The cartridge magnets are strong and can attract anything magnetic, and that can do damage.
So is my assumption that it is indeed Magic Eraser Sheets we are talking about before I go out to buy some to try correct?
Magic Eraser comes in rectangles...  Shaped like a sponge. Be very careful using them. I would not try to use them like sandpaper, moving the Eraser against the stylus. It is extremely porous and will grab onto the needle. I keep the Eraser fixed on the turntable plinth and lower the stylus in and out of it with the cueing. Others have raised earlier in this thread the potential risk of the Eraser grabbing onto the needle when  it is raised, which could pull on the cantilever. I personally am willing to take that risk but I don't think anyone can say for sure that this concern is unfounded. So proceed at your own risk. But many veteran audiophiles use ME and I know it works amazingly well to clean the stylus.
Thank you
I did the Target run this morning and bought a pack of the ME sheets for a whopping $2.99!


Placed one on the platter and lowered and raised the stylus into it several times moving it slightly after one action each time so it dropped onto a different spot on the ME.
As it was being raised each time I could see the stylus lifting up the ME ever so slightly ( maybe 2mm?) but I do not see any issue with that.

I think will use in conjunction with the Onzow ( for dust) and Lyra STP as a routine.
@terry9 : US coins are not magnetic! They are mostly copper/zinc with a thin silver cladding. Nickels are the same with a nickel cladding. Avoid the '43 steel pennies!
The last issue of 90% silver in US coins was in '64. And one wonders why things cost so much nowadays! 
I think you'd better turn in your audiophile credentials, Rob. Without theatre and extravagance, where would this hobby be?

The purpose of a small weight is to positively decouple the ME from the stylus when the stylus is raised by the cuing lever.

Don't forget to brush the stylus afterwards. Tiny shards of hard plastic may break off the ME and adhere to the stylus or cantilever, and play havoc with the next record. Definitely not a problem if you remember to use a brush with long, soft bristles.
I think using a gold coin is a great idea because we all know that the more it costs the better it works.

But on a serious note and getting back to my earlier point in this thread I am in the other camp on weighing  down the Magic Eraser. If on occasion the friction between the stylus and the Magic Eraser is great enough to potentially lift up the Eraser a bit I would rather have the Eraser lift then have it be completely stationary and the full force of overcoming the friction is handled by the cantilever. Now if someone were arguing that the fact that the Magic Eraser is weighed down solidly actually reduces the amount of friction needed to pull it loose that would be another matter. But I kind of doubt that's true. So I am leaning toward using a smaller piece of Magic Eraser and if it lifts up a little bit that might be a good thing to jostle it loose without putting the full force needed to release the stylus on the cantilever. My thinking is that if the Eraser tilts just a few degrees as it lifts up that may be helpful in releasing it from the stylus. This part is pure conjecture. But I think it is safe to say that anchoring the Magic Eraser down could potentially increase the forces that are put on the stylus in case the stylus catches.

As always I look forward to any other opinions!
“Friction “ is not going to happen if ME Is used correctly. The only way that ME could stick to the stylus is if the stylus tip were to penetrate below the surface of the ME such that it gets enmeshed. When I drop my stylus on ME using the cueing device it literally bounces on the surface of the ME. This suggests to me that there is no way the stylus is getting trapped in magic eraser. But obviously if you move either the stylus or the magic eraser laterally, that is, in the horizontal plane, while the two are in contact, then you could have a problem. Which is to say, don’t do it.

I also own and occasionally use an ultrasonic stylus cleaner. The thing about it, is that it is not ultra sonic. These devices vibrate at somewhere between 200 and 500 cps. That is in the audio range, and it is very unlikely to damage the stylus. I think the sonic cleaners are effective at shaking out dust that has crept up into the mechanism of the cartridge, which magic eraser cannot do.
One question for the ME users here.....

Do you see any evidence of dirt on the ME once you have dipped the stylus down into it?

I have not as yet.
lewm
... I also own and occasionally use an ultrasonic stylus cleaner. The thing about it, is that it is not ultra sonic. These devices vibrate at somewhere between 200 and 500 cps. That is in the audio range, and it is very unlikely to damage the stylus.
Yes, that has been my experience, too. As I recall, the old Signet cleaner that I use was marketed as an "electronic" cleaner, not ultrasonic, although I notice that some of the similar modern devices claim "ultrasonic." I think that's a misnomer.
My Magic Eraser gets stuck to stylus about half the time I do my thing. I use a small cut-off piece with no appreciable mass, so to kick it off with a gentle downward nudge means no harm done. The key is to keep forces below what the stylus/cantilever would encounter during normal playback. When you ham-fist it, or your cleaning lady goes to town with a duster - those forces are orders of magnitude greater than any of these normal cleaning forces, and THAT’s what it takes to truly destroy the cartridge. The abrasion of the ME isn’t going to do jack to the diamond, or even glue/metal, except polish it. All you need to worry about is the pulling/pushing forces involved, which is small even for a careful "rough" cleaning. And the original ME is also very compliant, which means there's some absorption of the forces involved. 

The way some of you guys think, I’m surprised you even play vinyl at all for fear of damaging your stylus. You ever drop on the long lead-in groove on a 12" 45, and see what kind of forces that involves? Yikes.
To answer @uberwaltz’s question about what ME is exactly, it is melamine foam. It was originally developed as a soundproofing material and I’ve used it as such --in large sheets combined with mass loaded vinyl- this is not ’acoustic treatment’ this is’ kill the sound from emanating’ kind of stuff.
To my knowledge, it was @dougdeacon who first started employing ME as a stylus cleaner. I have used it in the past and it is very effective, far more than dry brushing or those gels, like Onzow/Oznow. I’ve also used the Blu stuff that Peter recommends. Never an issue with either, but I make sure to dry brush afterwards, particularly with the ME, which can leave abrasive residue.
If you look it up, it’s all these tiny fibers and the cleaning action is, I think it is fair to say, a type of friction on a very small level- like scraping the edges of the diamond. Perhaps my terminology is wrong but that’s how it seems to work. It is abrasive-- you can use it to scrub household stuff but I will remove finishes. Never wet it- the fibers will bind and you will be in XXXX-ville.
I’m really liking a long brush I found because it accomplishes what @mulveling was describing- not only cleaning the stylus, but the cantilever too. I have very clean records and try to keep my playing environment dust free (an endless battle even with good HVAC) but there was a lot of crud deposited on the top of the cantilever of my last cartridge, which is now out for rebuild. I’m currently using a Koetsu Jade Platinum and loving the hell out of it.
PS: I also use a pair of illuminated magnifying glasses that help me see the stylus when I’m brushing. I may look like a complete jerk but I can see exactly what I’m doing. The magnification isn’t very strong, like 3X. I have jeweler’s loupes at 10X and digital microscopes, but those get kind of tricky to work with when you are doing something other than taking a look.

Question for @montaldo- you said you spoke to the Koetsu distributor and he uses a liquid? Was that the US distributor? Just curious. I used to use liquid on the Lyras since it was meant for it, but so far on my Koetsu, which is brand new, I haven't done anything but dry brush yet....
I use high purity vodka every 5 hours or so. Tilt the Koetsu down and brush carefully.
@terry9 

"I use high purity vodka every 5 hours or so."....

That's cool. What do you do with the cartridge?

Ah - the Koetsu demands a DRC burgundy.
No liquids on my Dynavector X-1. i use the ME. 
I I agree with Lewm. 
Key word here is CAREFUL. 
I cut a very small wedge of ME. Glue it to a tooth pick, and “carefully “ lift the ME into the stylus and carefully bring it straight down. My Transrotor is eye level, so I can do this without too many contortions. 
Sometimes, I use a carbon brush as well. 
I have a small plastic cup with a lid and I place both items inside to keep them clean. 
 
I understand the reasoning behind those who choose not to use any sort of liquids, however, IMO, it defies common sense not to use some sort of fluid, every now and then for cleaning.