Low Hours Phono Cartridges?

I am wondering why every phono cartridge advertised for sale has low hours? Don't any of you guys actually listen to music?
Excellent!! Buying a used cartridge is a crapshoot. Look up the stylus and into the cartridge and check for schmutz
. . . and what is exactly "low hours" anyway? Less than 50?100? or? . . . and how does one measure those hours? By counting sides of LPs played? Or do you just take good guess-tamate?
Well, I have my current cartridge for a little over 3 years. It didn't get mounted until 6 months after I bought it. I was too busy with work and other priorities, and my backup cart was mounted already. So I let it sit on the sideline. After it was finally mounted, I was traveling every week Monday through Friday for over a year, so the system basically sat and collected dust.

The traveling was killing me, so I switched job about 18 months ago. Although I work from home just about every day and have cut back my traveling down to 25%. My system still does not get as much use as I would like. Most of the time, I pop in a CD so I can listen while doing other stuff.

Yeah, it's laughable when you think about it. But I think there are many people out there with decent systems but not enough time to enjoy them.

It has become a "luxury" for me to be able to actually sit down and put on an LP to listen. If I get to do that once a week, I would be happy.

So yeah, I would be surprised that my cartridge has more than 100 hours on it. And, I've been thinking about a new cartridge already. Why? Since I can't enjoy my system while traveling, I guess buying new stuff and browsing various boards has become my temporary fixes while traveling. ;-) Can't wait to get home tonight from my trip!

I bought a Koetsu Rosewood Signature several years ago from a very helpful Swiss lawyer living in the US. He said 30 hours and I believed him. Have anyone been to Switzerland, even the bus's run exactly to timetable, to the minute. Seriously, it was a great purchase, I used for 3 years and sold at about the same price, with an honest report of useage. Buying used cartridges is a lottery, that is why they are so cheap. If you feel lucky, you can make a great saving.
Buying anything used is a crapshoot, especially on the Internet where you can't examine the piece before buying. I think there is an art to buying off Ebay and Agon. Agon is safer, IMO. Bottom line is that it is a matter of doing your homework. Call the seller. Ask questions. Look at feedback.
I've also found that most sellers are honest. I've bought a few "low hours" cartridges from respected A'goners and have been very satisfied. I also bought a few "high hours" cartridges just so I could try them out at a very low price.

As for the "low hours" claim, many people try different cartridges before settling down. I've done it myself, selling carts with only 50 or 100 hours on them because they simply didn't appeal to me.

My criteria for trusting a seller is (a) positive feedback, (b) length of time on A'gon and (c) their experience with analog. If A, B and C are all met, chances are very good that the cartridge really does have low hours as claimed and the seller just got a case of upgrade-itis.
My guess is that many people selling carts advertised as "low hours" have listened to the cartridge and then decided it's not a good match in their system, so they're sellng it to fund the next purchase.
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I am completely in line with Ekobesky's comments. Over the alst 4 years, I have sold a Kontra A with about 100 hours, a Benz Ace with about 50 hours and ZYX R50 with about 20-30. In each case, I really wanted to try for example a well known combination that was recommended to me (Ace on VPI Scout) or just know the flavor of the ZYX cartridge line.

I would trust a person for a used cartridge as well if the three things are fulfilled:

(a) positive feedback, (b) length of time on A'gon and (c) their experience with analog

Also take a look at the forums here and on Asylum - several people are active in both places and I would trust most of the active members more than someone how just comes here to the classifieds section to turn over goods.
Low Hours = The amount of time after you buy a cartridge that you see someone post a thread that claims their cartridge is better than yours, and then you believe them. Usually about 2 weeks ;-)
So it appears that many of you buy & sell cartridges to hear them. This means that buying & selling components here has basically replaced auditioning at the local dealer.

Has anyone ever had a shop set up a specific cartridge in a table for you to audition? Not one shop ever did that for me(I've been buying audio since 1969....AR table). And I've asked!

I managed an audio shop in LA in the 80's. I regularly set up tables & cartridges for auditions, but was never asked for a specific combination. However, I often mounted various cartridges just to hear them myself.

One interesting thing I found was that various examples of the same cartridge can sound completely different. I auditioned 3 Audioquest 404's, & they all were unique. One sounded particularly better than the others, so I bought it!

I wonder if some of these high end cartridges that you audition are lemons, & so they get passed around until they find an owner who is happy with it!

As far as feedback, I have fb from just 2 purchases here. The last 4 sellers didn't post fb. However, I have over 10000 fb on ebay, where I make my living selling musical equipment. So I look new here, but I have 9 years of selling experience on the internet! Am I trustworthy??
Regarding measuring hours on a cartridge, I learned a trick here on Audiogon some years back: I have "click" counters for each of my (currently) four cartriges. After each side of a record, I religiously click the counter. If I ever decide to sell a cartrdige, I can honestly state how many sides the cartridge has played, and leave it to the purchaser to do the math.
Most audiophile listeners like me have more than one system. There were times I owned more than a dozen of absolute top systems like Koetsu, Benz, Lyra, Transfiguration, Zyx, Clearaudio,...
I've not much time to enjoy music so most cartridges have less than 50hrs after 2 years. Seems to be incredible but think there are many people acting in same way. So it's not always a swindle if systems with low hrs are offered.

The answer is simple.

Many sellers are DEALERS.
Most sellers are ordinary guys/girls who are true and honest audiophiles like me. They often have multiple cartridges, sell their old and buy new. I have bought a dozen vintage and a couple of NOS carts from A´gon and eBay and all have been OK, and I have sold maybe ten used and one NOS to fund my next cart/audio purchase. Therefore actual playing hours are usually low because the cartridges are in circulation. It´s just fun to buy "low hours" carts for low prices. And actually most of my best used purchases are the best I may ever have: vintage MM, MF and MC. My maximum is 300 hours, if it fits my system and I like it I keep it.
I have had bookkeeping for all the LPs I have played and know exactly how many hours my cartridge really has... since my first real high quality cartridge more than thirty years ago.
Audio life is simple : ) Enjoy your darlings 
>>I am wondering why every phono cartridge advertised for sale has low hours?<<

For the same reason that every driver stopped for suspected DUI has consumed only 2 beers. 
"lawyer living in the US. He said 30 hours and I believed him"  

I have always been leery of " very low hour Cartridges" . The reasons, no way to verify it and secondly no way of knowing it was set up properly either. The real news here is someone actually believed a Lawyer, a Lawyer selling a "low hour cart" ,..... for many that's a postman always rings twice scenario for cautious skepticism  ........... 
I have a note pad next to me while listening.  Each lp side gets a check mark to track usage.  Each side is 20 minutes or so, pretty easy really to track. 
For expensive used cartridges being sold by someone I don’t “know”, I’d ask the seller to send it to SS for a formal evaluation prior to purchase, at my expense. Both parties derive a benefit from that. 
I've bought a few used cartridges here with good results. That is reason enough for me to consider buying used again. My criteria is under 100 hours, shooting for 75 hours or less. It's pretty hard to lie about a cart with that little use. They do come around every so often. When I see a cart advertised at 200 hours or more I will always double that to get a realistic number. 
If you use this method, along with Ekobesky's comments above, I think you'll be OK.