Left Channel LP Distortion

I have noticed that more than a few used LPs I have purchased have periods of distortion in the left channel only. This is on LPs that have been thoroughly cleaned.

Other LPs, and new LPs have no such distortion.

Is this a sign of groove damage from having been played on an improperly set up table?

What would cause this damage (if it is damage)?
Poorly set or calibrated anti-skate would be a reasonable cause resulting in the audible effect you describe. Tom
Could be improper anti-skate ( I like NO anti-skate)or too light VTF...or trolls.
I set anti skate using the HiFi News Test LP. If anything, the right channel was
most difficult to set-up with anti skate. The left channel would play cleanly
sooner than the right.

Tonight, I played one particularly offending LP, and I took the antiskate
completely through its cycle with no effect. IMO, the LP is damaged...perhaps by
the original owner playing it on a table with an arm that had improper antiskate?
or just a bad pressing

forget setting AS using that test record! As Doug Deacon has pointed out, those tracking grooves are way beyond anything a normal record would put a stylus through. Most likely you can get much better results with far less AS. We've traded the metal AS weights on our Triplanars with a few o-rings. I believe I have less than 1 gram of weight on the cantilever for AS. You will get much better micro-detail and timbre with less AS.

When I encounter left channel distortion I usually try to increase VTF by a few tenths of a gram (again, o-rings used for VTF find adjustment). If that doesn't improve things I write it off to damage or just a bad pressing. It does come with the territory with some used LPs.
I think you're on the right track about the previous owner and improper setup. No one(including myself) that I knew back in the day even knew setup was important. We just played our discs on whatever we could afford.
Thanks everyone. It seems unanimous that the HiFi News LP anti skate bands should not be used to set anti skate...who knew!?

Do you actually set AS to zero? What is the impact? Thanks.
Azmoon... I have tried anti=skating. The proper adjustment of a/s is impossible. The amount of a/s depends on soooo many variables (loudness, complexity of recorded signal, vtf, sylus shape, etc.) that are constantly changing, it is virtually impossible to set it correctly. VPI suggests no anti-skate. Having a VPI arm, I tried it, and then tried it on a number of arms. I found that anti-skate always (tuff word - I haven't tried ALL arms) effectily dampens once side of the stylus (outside). Also, all arms I've tried has a mechanism for anti-skate, that interferes with the purity of the signal. I don't use any anti-skate with very satisfying results. To each his /her own.
Tvad, Stringreen, et al: Isn't a bit disingenuous (in a nice way) to recommend using low or no anti-skate with the Triplanar, as a blanket statement? IME, the amount needed will vary depending on the cartridge and probably also depending upon the LP. I tried going without AS with my Triplanar/ Urushi combo, and there was mucho distortion in the R channel. I gradually increased AS from zero to the point where the recording sounded "right" (an LP I know by heart) and ended up with the normal Triplanar weight just a bit less than half way up the shaft that it mounts on. When I mentioned this finding once before, including the additional fact that my Urushi sounds best with "some" damping, someone here suggested that this was evidence that one should not use the Urushi on a Triplanar. I beg to disagree on that. The reason we pay big bucks for this tonearm is because it is so adaptable to use with a wide variety of cartridges. There's no reason to throw those features out the door and limit one's self to only perfect matches. So I would advise a newbie to listen w/ no AS and then gradually add AS as you perceive it to be needed.
What Dan_Ed said^^^

The actual A/S setting you can get away with is cartridge- and tonearm-specific, but the underlying concept is valid for any cartridge.

Every A/S device in existence is based on inherently flawed engineering. They all pretend to counteract forces pulling inward on the STYLUS by pulling outward on the TONEARM. (A correctly engineered A/S device would pull outward on the CANTILEVER - good luck building that!)

The lateral pull of A/S on the toneaarm must be absorbed somewhere, but:
- the stylus is (hopefully) locked in the groove
- the cartridge is locked to the headshell
- the tonearm is locked to the TT.
The ONLY place in this system with any flexibility is the suspension inside the cartridge. Therefore, the lateral pull on the tonearm is absorbed by your cantilever mushing into the suspension.

Your cantilever is supposed to be tracing the most delicate undulations in the groove wall, so as to mimic the precise path of the cantilever that held the cutting stylus. But with A/S squashing the cantilever sideways into a pillow guess what happens: speed, high frequency response and micro-dynamic detail all get smothered. (Excessive VTF sounds almost exactly the same, for the same reasons.)

Some A/S is probably necessary for most cartridges to track really difficult passages cleanly, but the amount is far lower than is commonly applied. I use 3 tiny O-rings, which weigh only 11% as much as the metal A/S weight that comes with the TriPlanar. IOW, I've reduced A/S by nearly 90%.

And forget test records, unless you listen to music that sounds like a test record. Use your ears.
Joe Grado said to me not to use anti-skate that is was an unnessary evil. Funny thing though when I bought one of his wonderful tonearms a couple years later it had an anti-skate adjustment. Tom
How are you going to sell tonearms if you don't have anti-skate adjustment..that's why Harry at VPI has a device for his. Thedudiotweak..Did you know Joe? Did you know that he sang with the Met? Nice guy!!
Lewn...damping - to use it or not...is not an indication that your tonearm is right for the cartridge you use. Some cartridges require some, some cartridges require none, and some require lots. I have a Benz on a VPI, and indeed some damping makes the cartridge sound better...too much is harmful to the sound, too little and it can be improved. Experiment and listen. Having more VTF is usually better than too little. It sounds as though you have too little
Stringreen, I spoke to Mr. Grado several times about his cartridges, headphones and tonearm. He always took my calls and was there on the job. He was very outspoken and dynamic in his beliefs in his work and his designs. Certainly nothing wrong in that. The midrange quality of his designs were a direct reflection of his vocal skills. Tom
Stringreen, Thanks for the reassurance. Thankfully also, I did not need it. I agree completely with your statement about how to use damping and what it does to the sound, good and bad. I was just trying to say that some of the advice given on this forum is a bit too rigid, if read and absorbed by a newbie who has no backlog of personal experience.

Doug, You made an interesting point re anti-skate. But notwithstanding the imperfect way in which it is applied, isn't the end result supposed to be the minimizing of forces that throw the stylus tip against either side of the groove (not just one side vs the other)? Thus AS per se is not an evil to be avoided; it's a tool to be used judiciously. Maybe that's what you meant.
I think Lewm has brought up a valid point that I neglected to mention. Fortunately, Doug covered it well. The method that works best is exactly as he describes. Add ONLY as much AS as is needed to stop any right channel distortion.

My XV-1s is much heavier than the Universe that Doug uses. I find that I need a bit more AS. Maybe as much as 1/2 a gram more. I've always believed that this is due to the additional weight. The XV-1s is almost 13 grams, compared to about 9 for the Universe. I believe that the Urushi is around 9 grams also, so I'm perplexed as to why Lewm finds it necessary to apply so much more force. I don't know the compliance specs for all three of these cartridges but this is probably a clue. As is how VTF is applied. Here again the approach that works best for me is to apply just enough VTF to prevent mis-tracking.

A light-handed approach to VTF and AS does help keep these parameters on our side and does not allow them to cross over the line to the evil, dark side. Pun intended.
AS per se is not an evil to be avoided; it's a tool to be used judiciously. Maybe that's what you meant.
"Judiciously" is the word. A/S isn't evil in theory. But every real-world A/S device produces unintended and evil consequences, as I described.

How "judicious"? We're down to one tiny O-ring on our A/S device. That's a 96% reduction from the metal weight supplied with the tonearm.

How does this effect tracking? Last night Swampwalker brought over a copy of the supposedly difficult-to-track new Norah Jones LP, "Austin City Limits". After warming up with a few other sides we played it, making no special adjustments. The entire side played cleanly.