Tips for fine tuning a VPI Scoutmaster

I'm a first-time TT owner. I just bought a VPI Scoutmaster used, and I have some questions about fine tuning it. I've got the force and azimuth in a good state, but I'd like to learn how to make the fine adjustments. Would love to hear your tips for getting everything perfect.

1. How do I determine the correct tonearm height? I know how to move it up and down, but how do I know when it's perfect?

2. How do I fine-tune the azimuth. I just put the needle on a non-moving record, put a thin metal rod across the top and am eyeing it. Are there any tools/tricks for making sure it's right on?

3. Any other tips?

Your ears will tell you the right height; there is no agreement on what is best. Some believe the arm should be absolutely parallel; some either slanting up or down toward the cartridge. Generally, having the arm lower at the pivot than at the cartridge end reduces the treble, raising it increases it. I am usually a down at the pivot man but you have to try it for yourself. I replaced the stock feet with Star Sound Audio Points [ solid brass cones]; this is a screw out , screw in job that takes 5 minutes. Better bass and transient response. I am a Star Sound and VPI dealer. The best way to do the azimuth is with a Fosgometer [sp.?] but they run $250 or so, If a friend didn't have one I would do it by eye, I wasn't THAT far off when we checked with the meter. Use the best arm cable you can, one of the best things about VPI is that since they use standard cable it is easy to experment. I liked VDH but the choice is very wide.
Some pointers....Start by making sure the turntable is exactly level. Use a small carpenters level you can get at Home Depot. Put the level on the platter horizontally, then vertically, and adjust the feet so that the bubble is between the lines in both positions. You didn't say what arm you have, but a great starting place at least to start is to make the arm level. I adjust the azimuth in my VPI arm by looking head on the cartridge, holding the weight of the carpenters level in my hand, but just touching the headshell, with the cartridge down on a non moving record... making sure the arm headshell is level left to right. If not, adjust by moving the counterweight around the arm tube. If you just tighten the allen screws firmly, but not super tight, you can just "force" the weight until it makes the cartridge level as to your carpenters level. If you have questions, or if you want further clarification let me know.
Thanks for the tips. I'll try them out. I also ordered the Michael Fremmer's DVD on turntable setup (recommended somewhere else on these forums):
Also, someone recommended the soundsmith counter intuitive (
Get a Gingko platform for the Scoutmaster. I also like what a Black Diamond Racing clamp brought when use on my Scoutmaster.! instead go to, get Bearclaws, and sell the VPI minifeet. You will be amazed. Speak to Dan.
Very good info on VTA here (be sure to read Risch's followup post for correction of a critical typo):

The Fremer video is good, especially since he demonstrates setup with a VPI arm. He shows rough azimuth adjustment and also adjustment with some special tools. But the video was done before the Fozgometer was invented, which seems like it's much easier to use.

Also google "sra vta fremer" for some additional facts/discussions. You probably won't go too far wrong just listening with the tonearm parallel to the record, at least to start. That's what most cart manufacturers suggest. But eventually, you'll want to set VTA/SRA by ear, as suggested above.