Refurbish Fidelity Research Tonearms

Would like to refurbish my FR-64s .... Has someone made it? Experience? Who? 
Syntax is in Germany or Austria.  Someone here sent his FR64S to Japan, I think.  Also, doesn't Frank Schroeder work on them, if one has the patience?
A well-made tonearm like a FR will be working fine into the next several centuries! Just don't use it as a hammer!
Leave it alone! It's internal wiring will not wear out! Don't fall for the false belief that replacing the wiring will result in somehow "better" sound! 
I own two vintage FR arms: a 29 and a 54! Both still 100% functional! No compelling need to "upgrade" them!
Upgrade probably not, but i would gladly have my FR64S taken apart, cleaned and checked for tolerances...if by an experienced and reliable technician. It has been in service for ~40 years after all.

What are the Ikeda contacts?
Syntax is no babe in the woods.  He does not need cautionary advice.  If he wants to get his FR tonearm serviced, he has a good reason.
I would like to recommend Robert Graetke of Analog Tube Audio, located in Germany. He did a great job on refurbishing my 64S.

Thank you all
i did so many years the comparisons and my FR-64s + 66s Arms, they always amazed me when coming back…their natural reproduction still is a class on their own.
All other Arms work more or less ok with a few carts but with demanding carts they bite the dust.
I found one I will trust
Richard Mak from
see his Website for repairs, good pics
Syntax.  Please let us know what you think after your arm is cleaned and repaired.

The Audiomagik site suggests that all FR-66/64 arms need degreasing, cleaning and fresh lubrication to sound as new due to disintigration of the original bearing grease.  My FR-64S, which I bought from the original owner in Japan, does not have any detectable bearing chatter and is remarkable in how smooth and easily it pivots. I would be surprised if the grease around the bearings had gummed up given these observations.

There could be multiple reasons to get your arm serviced unrelated to the grease issue but I will still be interesting to see what they find in your FR arm. 

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He also offers the option for direct wiring …. Hm….is it blasphemy to think about it?

He also offers the option for direct wiring …. Hm….is it blasphemy to think about it?

That is an intersting question.

I had 2 FR64S one silver wired, one copper wired. I sold off the copper version - it was not in the same league in terms of precision and transparency as the silver wired version.

What I have found is that it can be useful, if you are changing cartridges from time to time, to be able to change the eletrical parameters of the phono cable, even for moving coil.
Example, I primarily use MIT for phono - I make my own from the original verilay wound inner cable used in the 330 as a building block. Now in some instances I can get a sgnificant improvement using a "shotgun" version. I also have to hand the MIT Oracle Phono Interconnect as a reference.
MIT is very capacitive and there is an argument for using a capacitive block for MC cartridges - Manley use to use it in their preamp.
Used correctly can yield improvements in timing and coherency which is why I hear significant differences even with MC’s with different constructs.

For moving magnet cartridges, I use a ultra low capacitance Audiplan silver cable, from the 80’s which was never available commercially -$2k per metre in 1985.

So I have had to make up multiple phono cables with DIN connectors.
If the FR 64S had internal wiring running out to a pair of RCA phono then the ability to change cables would be much easier.

The other consideration is how long a cable do you need to get to the phono stage. This is important because the longer the distance, then the more the cable will affect the sound. All cables lose - they never win - it is a matter of how much you lose and at what cost ( transparency, timing etc ).

Ikeda himself was a fan of "mixing cables" to achieve the sound he liked - he use to suggest that if your arm is silver wired, then use a copper based phono cable.

So in my view you have 3 options
Keep DIN - means you can change phono cables with DIN
Run short run to RCA’s - makes changing phono cables easier and you can experiment without having to buy a dedicated phono cable.
Hard wire to phono plugs - I would only do this if the cable length required is relatively short, and you are confidant that the wire is so much better than anything else available

Which leads to my question for you - what wire.

For me the best wire is the Kondo fairy wire, but given the difficulty of rewiring the FR and the fragility of the Kondo it may be a risk in the long term. CARDAS is garbage. Audio Note 3 wire silver is quite good, but again fragie. I dont have any experience with the Ikeda silver wire or if it is available.

I know Audio Origami has both Kondo and Ikeda silver - he may be able to advise.

What are you thoughts on tonearm wire ?

Capacitance in a cable (speaker or IC) is associated with a low "characteristic impedance", defined as the square root of the inductance divided by the capacitance. (Hence, the higher the capacitance, the lower the characteristic impedance, also hence, characteristic impedance is independent of length.) In my system, with a tube or SS preamplifier driving OTL tube amplifiers and those amplifiers driving full range ESLs, I consistently find that cables with low characteristic impedance sound best.  Commercially sold cables with highest characteristic impedance (e.g., some Nordost products) consistently have sounded awful in that system. I think it's an often neglected parameter that affects performance according to system component characteristics.  I also think that the advantage of direct wiring from cartridge to phono stage, especially with LOMC cartridges, mainly eliminating connectors in the signal path, outweighs the flexibility in choice of wire made possible by those connectors.
Hello Dover,

thank you very much for your impressions. Agree, i also prefer the FR-64s with silver wire inside. It increases the natural sound by another step.
i did made no final decision but the regular refurbish will be done definetely. I want to hear what was going on when it was new, now with cartridges and phonostages of today or yesterday. I expect, it will amaze me (again).
The more I think about the direct wire option … yes, it should be another step up. Logical, smallest signal has to pass multiple contacts…
My phonocable in use is Audioquest Leopard, very well done, clever made
and a bargain compared to others which mainly are simply rebranded Regular cables.
Don’t know what brand mr. Mak uses … but When i go for direct wire, i think to get it in shotgun mode … i will see what we will do when the Arm is open.
i share your view of your named cables…
i want to keep that Arm, i learned so much with it about „modern highend“ … and it has a very high serial no >120000, could be one of the last …
Luisma, I am not anxious when it comes to cables. I long ago settled on what I liked well enough and have not felt the impulse to change or "upgrade" for at least two decades in my main upstairs system. In keeping with my finding that low characteristic impedance cables work best with my electronics and my chosen full-range ESLs, I have been using Goertz ICs, I forget the name, 21 feet of a balanced twisted pair of silver ribbons running side by side, which makes the IC capacitative.  Both my preamplifier and my amplifier are true balanced designs. For speaker wire, I use only 4 feet of Goertz silver ribbon speaker. Ralph Karsten advised long ICs and short speaker wire with his gear (Atma-sphere), and that’s what I do. Furthermore, the front end gear can be placed near my listening seat and far from the speakers, to avoid acoustic feedback. I don’t even know if Goertz still exists or still makes audio wires.
Richard Mak is my recommendation for Pricing, Quality of work and overall workmanship to bring back the tonearm like new. His Silver wire upgrade is also highly recommended.
I had my FR64s refurbished by Rick Mak. 

I can't think of anyone that has actually seen more of these apart than Rick. He did a fabulous job on mine.

Disassembled FR-64s by Thomas Schick (Germany) and his opinion about it. READ HERE
I’m gonna refresh the grease in my FR-66fx by myself, luckily the access to the side spring (for dynamic tracking force) is open on my sample (because of the dried glue). After a conversation with Nandric I decided not to “upgrade” anything in my 66fx.

Regarding FR service I’d like to know the price, for some reason many posters prefer not to post any information about the cost of the service like it’s a top secret. If you will proceed please let us know the cost of the upgrade.
@chakster no big secret as far as I'm concerned. I looked up the invoice of Robert Graetke of Analog Tube Audio, which amounts to €559,15 including tax and shipping. This quote was for a complete overhaul of my 64S (#051198), including new pure silver wiring (diameter 0.20 mm). Obviously the bulk of this total was labour cost (6 hours of work). In the process he also refreshed the grease of the dynamic balance spring. However, two years after the fact the VTF dial has become increasingly difficult to operate again. It's a common issue usually contributed to aging, but my experience now suggests a design flaw or else a problem with my sample. Either way I've found that static balancing sounds slightly better, so I stopped using it altogether. By contrast the dial of my 64FX has always been very smooth as well as more accurate.

I’m not sure about the above video?
does it look like a finger is rubbing on the first clip?
also, why are comments turned off?
just curious....
If the cover over VTF spring is still attached, use a suction cup to remove it. Also, modern damping grease is available from Nye Lubricants. I used Nyogel 774H5 and am VERY happy with results.
@lewm , "I also think that the advantage of direct wiring from cartridge to phono stage, especially with LOMC cartridges, mainly eliminating connectors in the signal path, outweighs the flexibility in choice of wire made possible by those connectors."

I know someone else that feels exactly the same way. FR arms may be beautifully made but they are archaic. Boat anchor tonearms and low compliance moving coils are a sure recipe for accelerated record and stylus wear. With modern technology, light armatures and rare earth magnets, stiff compliance cartridges should be a thing of the past as well as the heavy arms needed to hold them correctly. As far as audio is concerned I have no desire to relive the past. There is nothing special about it. Technology and wisdom move on. It seems some audiophiles want to spin wax cylinders. Not me. I am for the best sound and I do not care what it takes and I try not to move backwards in that quest. That is what being an audiophile is about, the best sound. The love of music is another issue. 

Given that speakers are low impedance devices especially our ESLs keeping the speaker wire short is at least theoretically beneficial regardless of the amp being used. I have been running my system this way for decades even before balanced inputs became common. I did not like the idea of keeping big class A amps anywhere near low level equipment, just a knee jerk instinct. 
With modern technology, light armatures and rare earth magnets, stiff compliance cartridges should be a thing of the past as well as the heavy arms needed to hold them correctly. As far as audio is concerned I have no desire to relive the past. There is nothing special about it.

You have to try Miyajima Kansui as an example of modern low compliance design. About Miyajima Cross-Ring patent watch this. The rest in this cartridge is traditional (aluminum cantilever, shibata stylus, wooden body), even specs are “nothing special, but the sound is very special (reviews are crazy about it). Many of those super advanced cartridges with exotic parts and impressive specs in reality are just boring as hell compared to the Miyajima. Those Japanese designers really know what they are doing now, and they knew it 40 years ago too, they don’t need parts from Mars to make their cartridges exceptionally good.

Some of the best analog records recorded and pressed 30-50 years ago, old mastertapes still the best source for audiophile reissues today. The whole analog is technology from the past.

Manufacturers like Miyajima (Otono- Edison Lab.) follow the great Japanese traditions (in cartridge manufacturing), but with their own unique tweaks . They are absolutely fantastic modern low compliance MC with the most involving sound I have ever heard (from MC type)!

And heavy tonearms like FR or Lustre are great for those modern low compliance MC!

Miyajima-San is a big fan of Audio-Technica (Technihard) headshells - his best recommendation for Miyajima cartridges.

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BTW those old FR-7f and FR-7fz monsters are also amazing in my opinion. 

My old bearings vs new ABEC-9

( When the going gets tough, the tough get going...)

This is an interesting video - certainly the old bearings look pretty sick.

The video would have been better if he had shown the bearing motion and noise with the bearing pillar upright.

In actual use this is the bearing pillar for horizontal motion of the arm, and in fact the load on the bearing is the arm mass. The load on the ABEC9 ball race bearings is in fact sideways ( 90 degrees ) to what is being demonstrated. 

For example when I rebuilt my Dynavector 501, the same bearings were rattly when spun as in the video, however with the pillar held vertically and the arm mass sitting on the bearing the rattle disappears.

Notwithstanding that those old FR64 bearings looked knackered to me.

They sounded out of true in terms of roundness - hence the constipated motion.

@mijostyn, you say there is nothing special about ’boat anchor’ tonearms and low compliance moving coils, but exactly what modern technology and wisdom are you referring to that have rendered them archaic? The only real advance in cartridge design is the availability of more powerful magnets, enabling a better output/impedance ratio that potentially translates to better sonics. As you say modern technology and wisdom move on, but in vinyl playback it’s mostly towards ever more ridiculous pricing.

Also, your comment that high mass arms and low compliance carts induce accelerated record and stylus wear is a myth. My own record collection consists almost entirely of previously owned records from the late 50’s to the early 70’s. What do you think these records were played with in those days? Yet well kept copies (in NM to EX condition) have survived these guerrilla circumstances admirably and usually sound infinitely better than records pressed today, which 'benefit' from this latest technology and wisdom.

Of course you are entitled to believe that new is always better, but please don’t try to sell it as fact. And what’s the purpose of doing this in a thread about refurbishing one of these boat anchors you obviously don’t care for?

You say you want the best sound and don’t care what it takes. This suggests an open mind, but in the same sentence you contradict this by saying you try not to go backwards. Which suggests a closed mind towards anything not new. Why?

Dear @edgewear : " Either way I’ve found that static balancing sounds slightly better,...."

I own/owned at least 7 tonearms that were/are balanced design. All of them but 2 use the spring to set up the vtf that always is a resonance source.
This happens with the 66 and 64 ( I still own the 64. ) and the SME IV/V the other 2 balanced tonearm designs that I owned were the MAX 282 ( great really great tonearm ) and the GST 801 that been balanced designs do not use that spring and has not those resonances.

For years I posted that all balanced tonearms vintage or today designs must be used in static way to set up the vtf and it’s not only because that distortion resonance source but because the LPs are not totally flat and is better to use the gravity for handled in better way those waves and the other important issue is that in static way the tonearm will stay nearer to the tonearm pivot given it a better control to horizontal and vertical extremely fast movements demanded for the grooves tracking along those imperfections in the LP as off-center/waves and the like.

So, yes I agree with you.

In the other side around 40grs. of EM in the 66 is not the best for any cartridge because at the end the cartridge cantilever/suspension are looking that dynamic mass during playback.

Any medium mass tonearm can handled any cartridge in way better way than a heavy one as the 66 or 64. Yes, I know that some die for it, good for them.

Btw, for your last post seems to me that you are the other way around from what mijostyn posted and in some ways is true that today analog advancements maybe are not so spectacular over the years against vintage items but in tonearm exist many advancements not only in the use of build materials or pivoted LT designs but today tonearms are best damped than the vintage as the 66S and this is an important issue to achieve better quality levels of LP reproduction.
No I don't think that in the future " things " in analog changes to much due that this alternative is way limited and one way or the other it's at its limit. Anyway we can enjoying it.

.Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,

Each his own opinion…. But none of those „experienced“ ones did own such expensive cartridges like Lyra Olympos ( i had 3), 2xTitan i, Delos, Kleos, Atlas, several Koetsu Stones with/without Diamond cantilever, Benz, Transfiguration, Air Tight, Zyx and a lot more I forgot and did use them side by side with most modern Arms and SME 3012R, Kuzma, several Graham Arms and FR-64s / 66s Arms witch each of them. Same with my former Denon 103, 103R etc.
I did and still do. And the FR Arms are superior to any other Arms. With all cartridges named above. You hear more from what is in the groove. More believable…
Probably some have problems to hear differences, well. Not my problem. When someone has opinions and produce that as facts, well, nothing new… Forums are loaded with such „ experts“
Best is, go out, listen to different units and do your own learning. It is all brain and part of the designers ability. Some are better than others…..

and yes, FR-7 carts are outstanding, they are still better than most modern ones, also own FR-7f, FR-7fc, FR-7fz and they survived all named above…

@rauliruegas I’m neither in the ’new is always better’ camp, nor the ’vintage rules’ one. There are great designs to be found in both. In phono cartridges there’s little real design innovation, yet ’archaic’ technologies are shamelessly reintroduced as new innovations. For example, several years ago Audio Technica presented the ART1000 as a major breakthrough. Of course the identical direct couple design was already issued by Victor in the 1980’s with the MC-L1000 (so they even ’paid hommage’ to the model number). As far as I know AT never acknowledged this, nor did any reviewer bother to mention it. Similarly, diamond cantilevers are now marketed as an innovative feature, but in the 80’s were commonly used in top end cartridges. These were certainly not cheap back then, but current pricing is just absurd. Last time I checked Namiki sells diamond cantilever/stylus assemblies B2B for ca. €1000, yet Koetsu charges its customers €4000 extra for this privilege (which is no more complicated to fit than their standard boron cantilever).

I agree with you that more innovation has happened in tonearm design. While the somewhat older Audiocraft AC-4400 is still my favorite tonearm, I can appreciate my ’modern’ Reed 3P for its refinement and versatility and certainly the 5P for its audacious design (unfortunately never had the chance to hear it). But for some of those ’archaic’ low compliance cartidges like SPU’s, FR7’s and yes, even current Koetsu’s and Miyajima’s there’s a special synergy with boat anchors like FR64/66. To each his own, but there are cases where those with a closed mind on ’old stuff’ are really missing out.

@syntax mostly agree with your post (which I hadn't seen before posting mine), except that I slightly prefer my 'modern' top carts like vdH Colibri XPW Blackwood (platinum coils, nla), Transfiguration Orpheus and Proteus, Ortofon A90 and A95 in the Audiocraft. But with SPU, FR7f(z), MC702, Ikeda 9 Rex, Miyabi Standard and Kiseki Lapis the FR64 rules!

Dear @edgewear : I think that an advancenment in cartridge design is what we can read here, I have not the opportunity to listen to it:

About tonearms I owned your Audiocraft AC-4400 with 3 different arm wands and all options on counterweigths and even its removable headshell. Audiocraft still is a very well regarded manufacturer where its cartridges are really good ones an its SUPs too as TS-20, I still own the 

In my opinion the best vintage tonearm is the MAX-282 that I owned with all its options including 4 different arm wands. In reality this Micro Seiki tonearm design was way a head years of its time. Even today it's very hard to beat it.

Btw, from some years now the fashion with tonearms is to go for 12" and even 14" whith not real advantage over the shorter ones that have true advantages over the long ones. In the past happens almost the same with the 66 or the SAEC and many other. If you still own the 66 and 64 it's to take in count that the quality level performance is a little better in the 64 and the same happens with today tonearms models.

For my Ikeda REX9 the best quality performance was mated with Mission The Mechanic , never really shinned with 12" tonearms.

The OP always diminish my posts similar to hwat I posted here on the 66/64 but the fact that he own 3 Lyra Olympos speaks his total misunderstood in the whole FR issue because that cartridge is a good performer but colored and this fact comes from JC post years ago when he answer a question comparing the Olympos vs his other designs. I had the opportunity to listen the Olympos 3-4 times in different tonearms and if you listen to that cartridge you can confirm its coloration. So that's what he like, that's the kind of distortions that moves his boat and nothing wrong with that due that all these is according each one priorities and very personal.


The moon was huge last night, I spend several hours listening to my Japanese pressings from the late 70’s. Ramsey Lewis stuff from the late 70’s is so amazing, just superb analog quality.

I decided to mount my silver FR-7f on FR-64fx with N60 and second tonearm was FR-64s with B60 and FR-7fz cartridge.

Both connected to Gold Note PH-10 (0db, 22Ohm loading). Not sure why it’s necessary to load FR-7 carts like than on Gold Note, even with 22 Ohm it’s super detailed.

I really enjoyed FR-7f with FR-64fx! This is rare version of the FR-7f, it’s not black, it’s silver color (serial number with two digits) with a line mark on front side (don’t know why this line wasn’t printed on FR-7fz, it’s great to locate the position of the stylus). The output difference between the FR-7f and FR-7fz is irrelevant in my system.

Both are really great cartridges and both tonearms are great, so I do not support a theory that only 64s is great, the 64fx with B250 counterweight is great tonearm! I am happy to use both!
@rauliruegas thanks for the info on the Xquisite cartridges that were unknown to me. I have no doubt that removing the joint pipe from the part list will make an audible difference, but as an innovation it's nowhere near as radical as completely removing the cantilever (like original Ikeda 9) or putting the coils directly above the stylus (like the Victor direct couple). The 'ambitious' price level is typical for this day and age, so I will pass on the 'privilege' of hearing it. 

For example, several years ago Audio Technica presented the ART1000 as a major breakthrough. Of course the identical direct couple design was already issued by Victor in the 1980’s with the MC-L1000 (so they even ’paid hommage’ to the model number). As far as I know AT never acknowledged this, nor did any reviewer bother to mention it. Similarly, diamond cantilevers are now marketed as an innovative feature, but in the 80’s were commonly used in top end cartridges.

exactly; some manufacturers think that old-time audiophiles have forgotten about it due to old age and would wanting to positively affect the new generations; many enthusiasts have not yet lost their memory but many managers who have followed one another in the decisions of the CEO know nothing.
I think Audio-Technica engineer actually mentioned Victor Direct Couple cartridge in his interview with Mr.Fremer (filmed in Japan during his factory tour). It’s not a secred that AT was inspired by Victor innovative design from the past, but the AT panent is slightly different, they actually improved it. Victor’s printed micro coil was very fragile. AT design is much better!
@chakster perhaps I’m mistaken, but reports have suggested that the coils of the Victor MC-L1000 were not printed, like MC-1 and MC-L10. 
I only tried MC1 and MCL10, it was very hard to find a NOS sample of MCL10 and it was great cartridge. However, MCL1000 often has the same problem (one channel malfunction).
  perhaps I’m mistaken, but reports have suggested that the coils of the Victor MC-L1000 were not printed, like MC-1 and MC-L10.
I know of a famous cartridge repair men in my country who confirmed to me that the Victor 1000 has printed coils
My FR-64s Tonearm has been completely restored now….

New ABEC-9 tight Tolerance Bearings Video…

Bearing set precisely with Torque Wrench, with no play and no over tightness.
Bearings has been replaced with ABEC-9 highest swiss quality bearing with proper location.

The dynamic VTF spring has been properly lubricated with Synthetic Grease.

The Ikeda silver wire has been replaced with AnalogMagik Reference Tonearm Silver Wire, with Silver Braided Shield.
One cable soldered behind the HS Mount replacing DIN connectors to WBT 0102 AG Silver Plugs for Phono Input. No more interruptions.
I also had the option for Kondo silver wire inside, but i got their KSL cables for a try some years ago and i gave them back. Did not come close to premium Audioquest wire.
The refurbish is 800 $ …. And when you like to change the wire inside - broken, copper, silver … -  etc. he offers some choices