Record Cleaning - Cartridge Damage

I have a van den hul Black Beauty cartridge, and was told (can't remember by whom) that I should never use any stylus cleaner that contains alcohol. The reason given was that the alcohol will degrade the rubber that is part of the cartridge's suspension.

I thought this was a little odd, since I would only brush near the stylus itself, but it did cause me to wonder about the following:

I use a Nitty Nritty record cleaning machine with Nitty Gritty's "Pure 2" cleaning fluid. I am told by Nitty Gritty that this contains about 8% alcohol. I know that the machine vacuums off all the fluid, so I don"t see how this would damage the rubber in the cartridge's suspension. But then, I also would not have thought that brushing the stylus with alcohol would have done anything to the rubber in the suspension. Are "fumes" a problem? Is their any possibility of damage here? I clean my records regularly.


You will not damage the stylus suspension by using a cleaning solution on your records that has alcohol. The cleaning solution is vacuumed off, and any minute residual amounts of alcohol on the record surface will evaporate in moments. (I have been using a homebrew record cleaning solution for 30 years that has alcohol, and have never noted any damage to the cantilever suspension.)

The advice to avoid using alcohol to clean the stylus tip itself, however, is probably sound. Any fluid can migrate up the stylus cantilever to the suspension, and alcohol probably will degrade the suspension over time.

To clean the stylus on my cartridge (a Grado Reference), I use a battery-operated cleaning device that was made some years ago by Signet, and may still be available. The device looks like a thick pen, and has a small circular patch of stiff bristle at the end. When you turn the device on, the bristle pad vibrates at about 400 Hz. You place the stylus tip on the bristle pad, and slowly pull the pad across the stylus tip (from back to front). I have found this vibrating, dry cleaning method works very well, although you must obviously be careful not to damage the cantilever.
The way I heard it the stylus cleaning fluid could migrate up the cantilever to the suspension (capillary action?). Your record cleaning should have no effect on the cartridge. Fumes are a non-issue. BTW, you shouldn't have to clean the same record more than a once or twice. If done correctly the cleaning process has a long-term effect.
I use the Last fluids to clean and treat my cartridge. I clean it about every other side, though the Last folks actually say to clean every side. Never gave it a second thought...

I clean my records about every ten plays or so using a VPI HW-17F with Nitty Gritty RCM fluid, though I may change brands to the Last RCM fluid. I change the brush and suction tube about every 1,000 sides cleaned.

I wouldn't worry about damage to your cartridge. I think cleaner is better when it comes to vinyl and cartidges...
As far as cleaning the stylus...I was told to NEVER USE a cleaning pad that has those short, dense, thick fibers that look like velvet. One slip or inadvertent backward motion, and the cryin' starts, because you might have just done cantilever or suspension damage! Use an artist's camel hair brush (just cut off the wood handle). Happy Tunes!
Thought a while back I heard that folks at Linn sold a fine grit sandpaper to clean the stylus.To me this makes sense given that it is a diamond.I use most of the LAST products but like others am concenerd that any wet cleaner isn't getting the grime off (think of the heat and pressure at the tip) and worse may do the above damage.Any more thoughts fromanybody else?
the linn 'sandpaper' is made by 3m. it's green and coarse on one side, not actually sandpaper. from what i understand, most places that carry linn have it. it works quite well.
Has anyone tried lens paper? I know, sounds like another weird tweak, but think about it--if it's got what it takes to gently clean a lens, how would it work on a diamond tip. My experience has been--pretty good. You do need to be careful not to get the tip caught--that could result in the most expensive cleaning you ever had.
Try silly putty. You can get an egg at a toy store for $2.00 and it will last a lifetime. Just let the stylus rest on the silly putty under it's own weight for a second and you're done. Recommended by my Linn dealer. BTW there is another thread here where someone tells of spending $70.00 for a similar product designed specifically for styli!
Record Research LP#9 is nothing short of a miracle for cleaning a stylus. It is made from a base of ISO-propyl alcohol, but should not be cause for alarm. This type of solvent is required to remove the baked on crud that attaches itself to the diamond.

As for fear of damage, remember that Musical Surroundings represents Record Research products, (including LP#9). They are also the importer for three very fine cartridge lines, Benz, Koetsu and Clear Audio.

Point being, the small profit in LP#9 would be a poor business decision if it raised warranty costs even a fraction of a one percent. These are literally among the most expensive cartridges in the world. One model is at or near $10,000.00.

As to performance, I have tried the methods mentioned here, with all being effective to some degree. Like Sdcampbell, I do my cleaning with the battery powered stylus cleaner, only I begin by saturating the pad with Record Research fluid.

You owe it to yourself to try this method. You will get an immediate improvement your first cleaning, and will show you what it can do in the first cut you choose to play.