SME Series III or SME 3009

I have an SME Series III arm with an Ortofon SME 30H cartridge I use with a Thorens TD 160 BC II turntable. I'd like to buy a TD 124 just because I think they're so handsome and I lusted after one since the 50s when I first became interested in audio. But most of the TD 124 I see listed come with SME 3009 arms. Would a 3009 be a step up or down or sideways from a Series III? The Series III is handsome and entertaining in itself with its weight suspended over a pulley.

I have used a Series III tonearm on a TD-124 and found it to be an excellent match, IF you take care to mate the proper cartridge to this tonearm.

The SME 3009 Series III tonearm is quite different from the earlier Series II model. It is a low mass tonearm designed for high complance cartridges when ultra-low tracking force was de rigueur in the 80s. However, I find it to be an excellent tonearm with many useful features, including interchangeable arm wands and the ability to really fine-tune the arm for best performance.

As mentioned, this tonearm requires a high compliance cartridge. I have had good luck with the Ortofon 2M series - I have run the 2M black on a TD-124 and IMO it was outstanding. Also, most of the Soundsmith cartridges can be ordered as 28 uM (high) compliance units. Some other choices would include the AT OC9/III and 150MLx, Grace F9, Grado Gold/Silver/Black/etc series, Ortofon OM30, Shure V15 series (w/ JICO SAS), Sony XL-MC104P. Some of these are avalable new, some are via here or eBay.

Downside: I can't think of any LOMC cartridges that I would try to mate with this arm, but that's not a big problem in my book.
Having read your post here and a series of posts on the Asylum, I've decided to keep the SME Series III with its Ortofon SME 30H cartridge and look for a TD 124 without a tonearm, or try to work out a deal where the seller keeps the SME 3009.

I came across this old thread and saw my post at the end of the year. I found a local source for Thorens expertise from whom I bought a beautiful TD 124 that he had mechanically restored -- it didn't need cosmetic restoration. He did a proper setup of the SME 3009 Series III arm with Ortofon SME 30 H cartridge. The table and arm are a joy to use. The sound with high-end vinyl is superb, but even my old vinyl sounds surprising good. I ordered a lucite cover that lets the unit appear like the jewel it is. It sits atop my equipment cabinet so I see the icon every time I enter the media room. Pure joy.

You can add a 4 gram weight on headshell to increase wand´s mass so a (high compliant) LOMC will fit too. SME III is an excellent arm and sounds superbly with certain carts, maybe most that benefit from heavy damping 
Have the same SME 3009 S III arm with both SME and Ortofon/SME 30H wands.
Was confronted with the stylus replacement problem for the Ortofon/SME integrated cartridge and ended with two replacements: one new Ortofon OM30 as it has same Nude Fine Line (8/40) conical tip as the original 30H stylus, and the other a new Jico Concorde 30 with a bonded elliptical tip (0.3x0.7 I believe?).
Both of them seem to perform nicely but I found that the fit of the Jico stylus on the Ortofon wand was not as good as the Ortofon, it will not go all the way to the face of the support, a very small gap will therefore remain.
I could of also mounted an Ortofon OM40 (elliptical) but price is higher and I am not sure I would get all the benefit as it normally fits a cartridge that has different electrical (coil) values?

If you are looking at a 9" arm you might want to look at the Ortofon TA 110.  I just got one for my Garrard 301 restoration project.  I haven't heard it yet because I'm early in the restoration but the service that is restoring my 301 says this Ortofon matches well with both the Garrards and the Thorens 124. You should be able to pick up a used TA 110 for $800 - $900.