NOS Grace F9E question

A friend of mine gave me a Grace F9E to try on my 1200G.  He thinks it may be a good fit.  It appears to be brand new and never used.  It has a plastic protector that covers practically the entire cartridge.  I cannot get it off as it is on there very tight.  Is there any special way to get it of and not damage the cartridge?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
I'm pretty sure it slides off and on.  It has grooves on the side that IIRC, align with something on the cartridge body.

Pull it straight off, but try not to put a lot of force on the sides, (don't squeeze it very hard).  Should slide right off.
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F9 is not a winner in the Grace line, it’s a good cartridge, but only a STARTER for those who’re looking for a magical Grace Sound. The best are F14 and LEVEL II series, only those top of the line models i can call the best MM. Grace has improved everything, for example the coil wires in LC-OFC versions, then gave us the best cantilevers (such as BR/Boron Pipe and BE/Beryllium) and the best styli (such as MicroRidge / MR). The F9 (designed in the 70’s) is a joke compared to the LEVEL II or F14 (designed in the 80s).

There is an interesting model between F9 and F14 and LEVEL II, this is F12 MM 

My prejudice is that MM styli with tension wire are special.

J. Carr ever explained the function but i forget his arguments.

Anyway those Grace , AT's , Technics 205 , some Jico ''SAS''

 and some other use tension wire which is usual by MC kinds.

Their function by MC carts is to connect moving parts with the


I have not heard anything in the Grace line other than the F8 and F9 which I find better than the two modern carts I have. I find the F9 quite detailed, a fine overall cart. I'm told that with the right phono pre my F9 can possibly sound better yet.  For those of us just starting out, this is a great place to start. For us beginners, carts like the F9 are winners. 

I'm sure the F14 and Level II series carts are fantastic, probably stellar, but extremely rare too and difficult to find in NOS condition. I'm sure they're on another level compared to the F9 but I'd like to think that the decisions I'm making so far are in the winning category, not the losing category. 

I'm a photographer in my spare time, and I've got some great, epic equipt in my opinion. The Nikon D7100 is a great camera, a real winner BUT is it as good as the D500 or the D850 with 49 megapix which I too own. Hell no! But is it a joke? I don't think so, I consider it quite good, a real winner. 

I rely on Audiogon members for most of my guidance at this point, as I haven't found anyone locally that can provide me with products and information I need. Modern retailers aren't dealing vintage carts from the 70's, 80's and 90's. God I hope my cart collection to this point isn't full of a bunch of jokes. If it is, I need to do more research before my purchases. 
Everyone can find more about rare Grace models here

F-9 is a good cartridge for sure and we have to be patient when it comes to some uber rare models which can be called ULTIMATE

Anyway F-9 is somewhere in the middle of the route for people who’re looking for ultimate MM from this brand

F-7, F-8, F-9, F-12, F-14, LEVEL II ... and Grace Signature Asakura’s Two is also MM based on F-12 design.

Some people think that F-9 is a winner, but it is only a third step in the evolution of Grace moving magnet cartridges. There are 3-4 more steps up with significant upgrades that Grace designers did with the basic F-9 series which was introduced in the 70’s. But Grace designers in Japan have been working for another 10 years to make their cartridges much better and more competitive with some other top MM cartridges from that era. Some serious cartridges were introduced in the 80’s.

Comparing F-9 to F14 or LEVEL II is like comparing F-7 to F-9, the difference is huge (also price difference) !!!

P.S. Grace also made some killer MC cartridges

Chakster, please tell us what phono stage, amplifier, and speakers you are using to make your unequivocal judgements.

i’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say again that I don’t think one can pick out all the greatest cartridges simply by noting the elements of their construction. If one could, this hobby would be less vexing and more boring. The F9 and the Ruby are two examples of cartridges that have no right to sound as good as they do, given the materials of which they are made.
Dear @knollbrent @tzh21y : """ the decisions I’m making so far are in the winning category, not the losing category. """


Btw, not the OP and certainly you are not asking for something better and yes the F9 is a winner tells other thing makes no-sense and bortding to the stupidity.

I know the Lyra Kleos is a winner ( I own it and listen it in other systems as the top Lyra’s. ) but in that Lyra cartridge series exist four other models that are better: Etna, Etna SL, Atlas and Atlas SL but this in no way means that the Kleos is not a winner because it’s ! !

In those all times when existed a huge competition for the MM market with several manufacturers and even " hundreds " of cartridge model the F9 was the " horse warrior " for Grace over the world. Yes, exist other Grace models that are better or other vintage cartridges that could be better as Acutex but you or the OP are not asking for.
Your F9 can competes easily with the 2MBlack by Ortofon.

Now, this winner you can up grade in significant way through SoundSmith whom developed a stylus replacement for this cartridge and the options there are more than one because you can go from the F9 to the very well regarded Grace Ruby as @lewm mentioned.

Btw, against whom competed Grace in the 80’s: Audio Technica, Technics, Sony, Nagaoka, Acutex, Azden, Elac, ADC, Empire, B&O, Micro Acoustics, Stanton, Signet, Pickering, Nagatron, Pioneer, Sonus, Micro Seiki, Philips, Garrot, Goldring, Grado Astatic, Glanz, Ortofon, JVC, AKG, Sumiko, Fidelity Research, Exel, VDH, etc. etc.

So as you can imagine was a hard/fierce competition and was the F9 the one that grace choosed to be its " horse warrior " not the other Grace models.


yes the F9 is a winner tells other thing makes no-sense and bortding to the stupidity.

"Stupidity" is your comments these days, you missed the train long time ago and i have no idea when you have listened to any records with Grace cartridge last time, also you have never mentioned the models i am talking about here.

F9 the one that grace choosed to be its " horse warrior " not the other Grace models.

That’s why it was discontinued by Grace when they made a better upgraded models ?

This is a forum to contribute, not to repead your statement from 15 years ago. The "winner" is the best cartridge, mediorce cartridge can not be a winner in a competition. Maybe if you are alone in the marathon then you will be a winner, but if 10 more people will join the marathon you will be a loser. We’re talking about Grace and NO OTHER manufacturer, if you have not tried top of the line Grace models then it is not my problem, Raul. Coil wire, pins material, cantilever, stylus, overall design of F-9 is inferiour compared to improved F12, F14, Level II and Asakura’s TWO models. Only if you have nothing to compare from the Grace own line then F-9 can win, but only without its competitors.

Grace F14 and LEVEL II original styli are superior compared to SoundSmith ugly replacements.

Grace offered a bunch of different styli for F14 and LEVEL II:
Beryllium, Boron, Ceramic, Alluminum with many different diamonds.

Nodoby who own original Grace F14 or LEVEL II needs a SoundSmith.

F9 is a good cartridge, but it’s not a winner, sorry

I think i’ve tried all F9 models, the best is not the Elliptical F-9E, but the F-9F (Discrete-4) with Shibata stylus, the F-9U (Utility-4) with LineContact stylus is the next. Grace Ruby comes with elliptical stylus (same as F-9E) and can not compete with Shibata F-9F (Discrete-4). All these models are inferior compared to LEVEL II or F-14 with much better cantilevers/styli etc. I’ve collecting Grace cartridges (MM and MC) and my listening experience with them is only 2 years old, so fresh.

Your post about Grace are 15 years old and you’re still not improved your Grace Experience if you think the F-9 is a winner.

Please go and listen to your digital instead.

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Dear @tzh21y : I hope you are enjoying your F9, certainly it's not often that we receive that kind of very good gift.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Dear @mofimadness : Yes, any F9 ( in good operation condition. ) owner knows that. I think that in any internet audio forum any one posted that is nothing but a good cartridge: a winner.


Chakster, please tell us what phono stage, amplifier, and speakers you are using to make your unequivocal judgements.

i’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say again that I don’t think one can pick out all the greatest cartridges simply by noting the elements of their construction. If one could, this hobby would be less vexing and more boring. The F9 and the Ruby are two examples of cartridges that have no right to sound as good as they do, given the materials of which they are made.

You’d better buy F-14 LC-OFC with BR/MR stylus or the LEVEL II LC-OFC in the same configuration, then we can talk about Grace cartridges, seriously. Right now i see that you have never tried the best Grace cartridges yet and you only can repead that you like the Ruby or SoundSmith refurbished one. There was a RUBY version of LEVEL II cartridge and i have it too. As i said i’m collecting different Grace cartridges and styli.

How can you tell anything about Grace if you may never owned any models that are placed much higher in the catalog of Grace (higher than F-9 of any kind) ? You never told me that you have tried any of them. Those upgraded Grace models supposed to be more expensive and much better cartridges. They are all from the 80’s (not from the 70’s). In fact they are better, no questions for me (owned all of them, included some unknown models). I don’t know anyone who would like to get back to the F-9 after trying F-14 or LEVEL II. Worth to try, really.

You asking about my gear again? OK:

-Gold Note PH-10 phono stage
-JLTi phono stage with optional load resistors of whatever value for MM
-First Watt B1 preamp
-First Watt F2J power amp (for crossover less speakers)
-Zu Audio Druid mk5* full range crossoverlesss peakers with high pass filter for super tweetrer (*in fact oficially upgraded mk4 with the latest drivers and tweeters, parts supplied by zu audio).

P.S. The situation with Grace reminds me a situation with those Glanz cartridges (long time carts of the month in MM thread), people can’t judge the potential of Glanz until they will try MFG-61 which is another level of performance compared to all lower models from the same brand. Same about Grace latest models in comparison to the lower models. This is where the true winners are! 
 Dear Chakster, my only point was that you cannot prove empirically by describing its elements that one cartridge is better than another. What I am saying is that the proof of the pudding is in the listening. We both know many examples of surprisingly good sounding cartridges that don’t look that good on paper. For all I know, you are absolutely correct that your later Grace cartridges are superior to the F9 and the ruby. I don’t have any basis to contradict your opinion on that. So we all have to listen to those rare cartridges that you seem to be able to find. By the same token, have you heard a Grace Ruby with SS OCL retip? I didn’t think so, but  I would never claim it is superior to Grace cartridges that I have never heard. Only that it is very good in its own right. 
@lewm some people on this forum believes that changind a short leadwires in the headshell makes hude difference in sound quality (certainly not me).

I believe that LC-OFC version of the coils and pins makes more different, but diamond shape and cantilever materials are even more important. Also i’m sure that Grace engineers knew how to upgrade their popular cartridges to another level. Most of my favorite MM cartridges from the 80s are better than carts from the same manufacturers made earlier in the 70s.

I have no reason to use new SoundSmith styli for Grace or to send any Grace to SoundSmith for refurbishing, because i have perfect original samples of Grace (some NOS etc) and i don't use F9 series anymore.  

Post removed 
So, at the present moment, which Grace cartridge do you think is the very best one to own?  If I am going after a rare Grace, I may as well pursue their best.  Thanks.
Dear @lewm : """  is that the proof of the pudding is in the listening. """

could be but this depends of the quality level performance of your room/audio system and your main music/sounds priorities. What for you can sounds great for me or other person can sounds " terrible ".

Dear @tzh21y @knollbrent : The F9E will perform with better quality performance levels if is loaded at 100kohm and remember that capacitance load has " something to say " with MM cartridges.

@tzh21y — The F9E is a wonderful cartridge and you’re fortunate to have it, especially if it’s NOS with years of beautiful music ahead of it.

Chakster doesn’t consider it a "winner". Maybe he means "winner" must be "the greatest", he doesn’t define the terms. If only the absolute best will do, he’s probably right. I wish I had his collection.

Even Muhammad Ali admitted he wasn’t "the greatest" — he gave that title to Sugar Ray Robinson. But Ali was pretty great, definitely a winner — and Robinsons are hard to find these days.

Dear @lewm : ""  Grace Ruby with SS OCL retip? ........ Only that it is very good in its own right. """

I never heard it but I can tell you that each one of my cartridges that send for a " refresh " or or changes in cantilever/stylus tip all of them improved  by a wide margin over the stock designs.

Today boron/jewel cantilevers and different type of stylus shapes ( line contact. ) as Micro Ridge or VDH and the like always change for the better those vintage very good cartridge " motors ".

Only to remember that mine cutex or Technics when return from VDH its performance grow-up lmost " orders of magnitud ".

I just can't imagine how good the Grace 9 " motor "  could be with the VDH chnages.

@rauliruegas  I've been told that and am going to be purchasing the proper phono pre for that reason. 
@lewm , everything is important when you send a cartridge to a re-tipper ( I mean the re-tipper task. ) and the suspension fine tunning and new suspension dampers makes a lot of differences for the better and I said it because the " refresh " in my cartridges was only that and always returned the cartridge as it was a " new " performer at least the experiences listen was it.

@knollbrent , very good move you will be happy about.


So, at the present moment, which Grace cartridge do you think is the very best one to own? If I am going after a rare Grace, I may as well pursue their best. Thanks.

in my opinion the very best (true winners and champions) are:
LEVEL II (LC-OFC) RB/MR (Boron Cantilever / Micro Ridge stylus)
F14 BE (LC-OFC) with Beryllium Cantilever / Line Contact stylus

None of my Grace cartridges have had any problems with suspension or any problem at all, there is nothing to fix and nothing to tune if you are buyin NOS sample. Those cartridges are very expensive from the start, made in the late 80’s and extremely rare today. Also i would prefer fully original condition and i don’t need anyone to touch it, those retippers go to hell with their prices. Sending a cartridge to re-tipper only make sense if it doesn’t work at all (or broken), but even in this situation i would wait for the original stylus to buy.

For those who are optimistic about Van den Hul service should check his prices first, installing a Boron Cantilever will cost 750 euro minimum (which is about $870) and you must apply via his distributor in your country. At the end It will be Boron Rod, but not the Boron Pipe which comes with the original Grace top models, beryllium is no longer available from anyone. Original cartridge is the best!  

@chakster — I’ve no doubt you have truly great cartridges, and if I heard them I’d agree enthusiastically and turn dark green with envy.
You softened your language, but you still give us "true winners", as if a mere "winner" is a "false winner".
Does denigrating my F9E make your F14BE sound better? Or you feel better?
Nothing wrong with your F-9e @bimasta, as i said it's a good cartridge, but in my opinion there could be only 3 winners like in sport (№1, №2, №3). Since the Grace stopped making cartridges more than 27 years ago we can recall the best models. 

Shinagawa Musen made so many cartridges under Grace brand that are clearly better than F9 series (and i already explained why). I hope you understand my point now. 

Someone could say "Ohh, Grace F8 is a winner" but it's not true, because after F8 they made F9, F12, F14, Asakura's and LEVEL II with many technical improvement for each new series. 

P.S. my favorite in F9 series was F-9F (Discrete-4)  

Raul, Neither you nor I can score points with Chakster.  But I am going to try to find one of his preferred Grace cartridges just to see for myself.  Have you heard either of those two that he likes so much?

Chak, Please read what Raul wrote about the possible benefits of re-tipping, if in the process one also upgrades the stylus shape or the cantilever material.  You have devalued elliptical styli per se, yourself.  So why wouldn't it be potentially beneficial to replace an elliptical with a line contact or some other more "modern" shape, in the process of re-tipping?  

So I just went on eBay to see if there were any Grace Level II or F14 cartridges for sale there.  Chak, are you selling the F14 "new needle" (only) on eBay?  Someone in Russia is. There's a Level II for sale from within the US; it looks awful, and the dude wants more than $1000 for it!


So why wouldn’t it be potentially beneficial to replace an elliptical with a line contact or some other more "modern" shape, in the process of re-tipping?

I want to hear and judge only original cartridges in perfect condition (from any manufacturer), if i need a better stylus or cantilever for my Gace MM i will do my best to find the original (NOS) with the best stylus/cantilever. I’ve had bad experience with refurbished mm cartridges, never again!

I do considering myself as a collector of genuine carts only, i will never buy any refurbished cartridge or any re-tipped cartridge when it comes to vintage carts of any type (MM or MC).

I often see how people are lying about condition of the cartridges they are selling on ebay, offering refurbished carts with aftermarket parts (completely different cantilevers or glued styli of the different shape and different mass) as the original. Someone even sold me refurbished carts as the original and never mentioned that they are refurbished. I just don’t want this experience anymore in my life. Re-tippers work or suspension repair does not looks nice under microscope compared to the original factory made genuine products. This is not for me.

In my opinion retipping/refurbishing service of some mega rare MM only make sense if there is no chance to find the original stylus replacement.

Refurbished vintage cartridge does not have any collectors value and the sound of such hybrid has nothing to do with the original sound. Some people see it as an upgrade, but i don’t see it like that. I believe that top quality vintage MM cartridges are superior to anything new and i am using only genuine carts so far. I would pay more for a NOS (sealed in the box) original than for refurbished cart from VdH or any other reputable master.

P.S. remember jp jones story about his Technics top of the line cartridge, the end of the story was pretty sad when someone tried to "refresh" the suspension of that rare cart. No one can guarantee the result of that job. This is not for me, never ever in my life i will send some rare working cartridge for some "fine tuning" or retip or whatever" to anyone.

The thing that's great about Audiogon forums or any forum, is that we don't all have to agree. Some aren't as politically polished regarding their comments, some are full of it, some just floating around like me trying to absorb knowledge.  By know means am I an expert when it comes to audio. I think I have nice stuff, anyway it sounds great and I know more than my little brother.  

Whether or not we all agree, is not why I visit Audiogon forums. I can tell you for a fact that @chakster  has some fantastic carts, as I've heard them and thanks to him, own a couple that I would call winners, a couple carts that are very good and a couple that I consider ultimate. 

It's all about perception. No losers or jokes in my collection. Only winners. 

Dear @lewm: First than all and when speak of Grace ( in this case the F9 that runs Discrete-4 too. ) we are speaking of vintage cartridges and it does not matters if it’s Grace, AT, Acutex, Technics or what ever key word is vintage.

Even if the vintage cartridge is NOS the problem belongs always ( it does not matters if you or me can be aware of it, that we can’t detect it. ) at the cartridge suspension because all those years pass-on. Cantilevers and stylus tips suffer a lot less over the time because were not deteriorate as the cartridge suspension.

In the years I started the MM thread I never wanted to change anything in the stock vintage cartridges even I was against the swift between some models in a manufacturer series ( Frankstein cartridges. ) and was precisely with the Acutec 315LPM that I learned about. The cartridge was " refreshed " by VDH, same cantilever/stylus and the imp´rovement was a huge one. When I did it the same with the Technics EPC 100CMK4 the cartridge return and its performance was improved.

Other than fine tunning cartridge suspension the change in catilever/stylus always will be makes a higher quality performance levels.

In other thread some ( I think in the MM one. I can’t remember for sure. ) of us discussed the best material for cantilevers and that was solid Boron, its characteristics are way superior to aluminum, titanium, berilyum and the like. Why solid over the pipe type? well the hollow in a cantilever produces/increment resonances against the solid material. Even when the LOMC manufacturers still can found out boron pipe always choosed solid boron .
In some of my cartridges I did it and solid boron is way less resonant.
Same pass with berilyum that even when still existed manufacturers gone for boron. Technics did it with one of its tonearm when choosed boron over berilyum but in its top cartridge was the same.
We can take any vintage MM cartridge and retip it with boron cantilever and no matter what always will performs with way higer quality levels, always.

Where belongs/resides the truw /real value with the vintage MM cartridges: to its cartridge " motors " and design quality excecution. Not to the cantilever or the Stereohedron stylus shape. If you take your 981LZ and send to retip with boron and MR or Ogura like stylus shape you will have an outstanding performer, same for any vintage MM cartridge.

I don’t know you but I’m always looking how to improve the quality performance levels of what I own and latter the option to add/change something new in my room audio system

As always in audio all depends on ignorance/knoledge level and each one priorities and mine is to stay truer to the recording no matter what. This is my main target.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Raul, I don't disagree with anything you wrote above, save for the fact that I know nothing about boron cantilevers except that many fine cartridges use them.  On boron, you say the solid is better than the tubular type.  I think Chakster took the opposite position. Quien sabe?

But most of all, I would have replied to Chakster (if I thought it was worth the effort) exactly as you did.  It's pure self delusion to think that one is hearing a 30 to 40 year old cartridge, even if it is NOS right out of the box, exactly as it may have sounded shortly after manufacture.  I am sure in fact that the differences due purely to aging in situ are different for different cartridges.  But I only judge the here and now.  I own NOS B&O MMC1, Stanton CS100, Acutex M320, Stanton 881S mk2, Stanton 981LZS (I retired my other 980LZS which was used when I bought it), Empire 4000DIII, and a few others the names of which escape me.  If I ever get to hear them, I won't think I entered a time machine.  My Acutex LPM320STRIII was NOS when I first put it into service; now it is an old friend. Thankfully I have an extra NOS stylus for it.
Dear lewm, if I remember you was in that cantilever build materiasl . Anyway, solid boron is the way to go.

In those old times the berilyum was the " fashion " or the boron pipe because almost all before that cartridge designs came with aluminum cantilevers and the very top/exoctic designs with ruby/diamond materials.

In those times Dynavector choosed for diamond/ruby instead berilyum but latter on switched to solid boron not pipe one and is not the only example.Satin was another that gone for solid boron and not berilyum or boron pipe.

lewm why do you think that even that the Technics EPA100MK2 tonearm were builded as main material boron they choosed to use additional damping in that tonearm? the tonearm wand is a pipe and way resonant that's why almost all tonearm manufacturers choose to damp its designs. 

But in those old times were learning times for the industry and that's why we can seen so many different stylus " new " shapes but several cantilever build materials as the ones we named but titanium, ceramic, carbon fiber and the like. Everything was a learning way to can offer to the customers something " new " due that fierce competition and if for the manufacturers was a learning time for the audiophiles that has  higher ignorance levels was a learning time too.

If we take almost any MM vintage top manufacturer almost everyone had its " very special stylus shape " that as a fact where only a variations in between tryiying to " impress " the customers.  A true/real invent on stylus shape in those times was the Shibata one followed by variations till today but in those times you can listen the manufacturers speaking of: parabolic, extended elliptical, analog 6, superelliptical and the like.

Repeat, the real/true value on those vintage cartridges resides in its motors.

Acutex used titanium cantilever in its top models.  I don't know of any other manufacturer that did that, but could be. Also, Acutex 300 series are Induced Magnet types, not Moving Magnet.  Their 400 series are MM, I believe.  As I am sure you know, Koetsu uses boron.  Do you know whether Koetsu cantilevers are hollow or solid?
Der @lewm : Between other ADC used titanium too. Btw, when I talk about MM I'm reffering to all: induced magnet, moving iron, moving flux, electrect, etc. etc. I'm refering to non MC cartridges.

Koetsu are solid boron. Even that hollow boron could lower the moving mass the trade-offs against it are to high.

Now, what makes  the greatness of any cartridge is the sum of the parts and its quality excecution. In that sum of the parts the motor is the must important issue: it's " the design ". Cantilever and stylus shapes are only variations but what live on/trhive is the cartridge motor.


Acutex used titanium cantilever in its top models.  I don't know of any other manufacturer that did that, but could be.

Victor X-1IIe has titanium pipe cantilever
Audio-Technica AT150Ti has titanium cantilever too 
One of the Grace LEVEL II variations has even Ceramic Cantilever  
And ceramic is good because...?
Ceramic tt mats suck.

For that matter, I would not claim that titanium makes a great cantilever, only that the Acutex sounds great, to me, in my system.
@lewm my grace titanium stylus replacement is still sealed, never tried.

Victor X-1IIe with titanium cantilever and elliptical stylus is superb MM cartridge, only one step behind the X-1II with beryllium/shibata

In my opinion Victor X-1IIe is much better than Grace F9e
@lewm oops, i meant Grace Ceramic cantilever in my previous post, not Titanium
anyone know the voltage output of the Grace carts? I'm having a hard time finding that info.  thanks in advance. 
@jollytinker which model ? Normally from 3 mV to 5 mV (depends on the model) 

Dear chakster, I own both; JVC-X1, mk1 as well mk2 . Both

have solid beryllium cantilever + shibata stylus. If titanium

cantilevers are available  than as separate styli. There are also

aluminum kinds available for both X-1,mk 1 and mk 2.

Dear @lewm : Ceramic is even more resonant and very bad for cantilevers. Other than in cartridges some manufacturers used in headshells and tonearms and all sounds really bad. Ceramic is not for the analog rig, at least not in the condition the manufacturers used it.

@jollytinker here you can read on all the F9 line: 

and the F8 line has 5mv.


The cartridge sounds very nice. It is not as detailed as the Lyra but it does other things that take me back to another era. It looks like it has never been used before.