Newb question regarding alignment - Should the stylus Physically touch the protractor?


Hi everyone,

Real quick question, im going to try (yet again) aligning my cartridge (Shure M97xE) on the stock head of a Denon DP-31L turntable. This go around I’m using a print out of an arc protractor, kindly emailed to me by Ken Willis who makes great stuff from reciews I’ve read.

My question is, when the instructions say to place the stylus on the arc, does it literally mean touching/resting on the arc or positioned just above?

Since the heaviest paper I have is resume paper (not much thicker than standard computer paper), I was thinking I’d glue this protractor printout onto an old vinyl I don’t need to provide a solid backbone, and with the tonearm still locked in its cradle I’d then press play so the Denon lowers the tone arm guard, and then turn off the table so the guard stays in the down position. All that, assuming the stylus should physically touching the arc line I printed. Of course I’ll have the platter taped down too so there is zero movement when I lower the stylus on it.

If someone could let me know whether or not my interpretation is correct I would really appreciate it

Thanks in advance for the help, clearly I’m new to this and I’d be lost without the advice of all the knowledgable folks on these forums :)

hockey4496
I'm not sure what you're referring to when you mention the "tone arm guard." But, yes, when aligning a phono cartridge, the stylus should rest on the protractor.
I failed to mention the arc protractor Ken Willis provided me is called the "AccuTrak". 

It seems like most quality protractors are made with smooth glass or acrylic surfaces so I was thinking I may fix a sheet of slick/glossy plastic lamination on the surface of the paper so the stylus would be more likely to slide if there's any accidental lateral movement. 

Any advice is welcome, Im about ready to give it a try now, but just want to be sure my plan is appropriate before i start 

thanks!
I'm sure it has a name that I'm not familiar with, but there is a little platform that raises up/down when pushing stop/start, respectively. But it's what keeps the tone arm raised a couple mm above the LP when in the "stop" position 
Thanks Cleeds for chiming in by the way, I appreciate it!
I have always rest the stylus on the protractors that I have used, MintLP and  Dr. Feickert. Neither of these is made of paper though.
I suppose that short of getting a real protractor, you could try taping some thin plastic over the paper drawing.
I wouldn't do that, but it's your cartridge, you can risk it if you see fit.
Be sure to disable your skating force when aligning the cantilever.
re-enable before playing a record.
I've had several of Ken Willis' AcuTrak proteractors and they have all been plastic-backed with a hole for the spindle.  I'm not sure why yours isn't like that.
He just emailed me a PDF when I inquired about the correct one to use on my TT since it wasnt listed as an option. It worked out great though, dead on alignment in less than 15ish minutes 😁
I like my Geodisc and yes I let the stylus touch-CAREFULLY.  The 97 should have a plastic guard it shipped with, you could keep that on?

Do NOT tape the platter down to keep it from moving.  If this is direct drive, not good for the motor, belt drive tough on the belt.  Unplug the table, turn the platter by hand which should lower the guard.  That will protect everything.
You would lose accuracy if the tip of the stylus is not allowed to touch the surface of the protractor.  Adding a layer of plastic over a paper protractor might have a similar, although negligible, effect on accuracy. However if stylus force (VTF) is set at or near to the recommended value, there is no danger of damage to the stylus by allowing it to rest on the protractor; the process is exactly like playing an LP.

Elevick, Why do you warn against taping the platter so it does not move around during the alignment process? No one going through the process of set-up is likely to power up the platter while it's taped in place. Pull the plug, if you're squeamish. Taping the platter is more or less required, if you want to get the alignment as accurate as possible; if it rotates during the process, by even a few mm, you've lost the ball game.

Hockey, If you've printed out a pdf sent by Ken Willis, he probably warned you to be sure your printer was set up for a 1:1 ratio of image to print-out.  If not, you are hereby so advised.

Best thing I have done when printing out a protractor is to print them on transparency film ( like for the old overhead projectors ) then I tape them to a light colored album such as the gold colored Grand Funk album.  $3.00 at any used record store.  If you are careful aligning the printed hole with the punched stylus hole, taping the print down securely and only then cutting out the spindle hole on the film larger than the album hole, you will VERY close alignment.  To answer your original question, yes put the stylus right on the grid.
Lewm, it sounds like this is a semi automatic table.  The gear will force it through a cycle if the button is pushed.  You should be able to manually turn the platter to get to the perfect point in the cycle of lowering the arm having the platter able to spin without the motor actually kicking in.  That will prevent the platter from taking off and may even keep it in place.

And yes, I'm paranoid.  Too easy to bend a stylus.
"Too easy to bend a stylus."  Which is only one good reason to tape the platter so it does not move.  Are you saying that the tonearm is constrained from moving, if the platter is immobilized in such a fashion?  If the unit is in "play" mode, this should not happen; it could happen if you stop the mechanism whilst it is performing an automated function such as lifting or cue-ing, I suppose.  It's been many a decade since I owned an automated turntable, but my guess would be that if you turn power off while the unit is in "play", you can do whatever you want with the tonearm without a problem related to the platter.
Lewm is correct, that is how I performed the alignment. With the power on and tone arm still locked off to the side I pushed play, that way the little shelf the tone arm usually rest on prior to pushing "play" would lower, and remain lowered by powering off the table while in "play mode". Only way to get the stylus to touch the protractor without the motor running (allowing me to manually move the platter into position)