Trouble setting up Grado wood body cartridge


Hi everyone,

I recently installed (well, tried to) a Grado Sonata 2 cartridge.  I used to have a Sonata 1 and liked it a lot, so I decided to give the mk.2 version a shot.  It turns out that the body of the cartridge is wider (and perhaps longer) than the previous version.  And the cantilever/stylus is very close to the middle of the cart.  When I try to set it up, I simply can't see the stylus as the large body of the cart rides pretty low.  I have a Feickert and the protractor that came with the table, but neither allows me to see the stylus well enough to set it up.  Are there any other owners of the series 2 Grado who have run into similar issues?  I don't think a mirrored protractor would help since I really can only see the cantilever from a 90 degree side view - I can't get an angle to see exactly where they stylus is touching the protractor.  

Thanks for any suggestions.

Best, Scott
smrex13
Well first off you want to be doing all this out on the kitchen table or other big flat well-lit table with a chair you can sit on. Then you tape the platter so its not moving around making everything harder.

Next what I like to do is lay a Q-tip crosswise and towards the rear of the cartridge. Tweak the Q-tip with bending or trimming some cotton from the ends until you get it to where it supports the cartridge with the stylus just a little above the record. Or protractor. Whatever. (And this would be the point to mention how much easier this all becomes with the MoFi disc. But you dance with the one who brung ya.)

Doing it this way, with a good seat and light and taking care to get the Q-tip level just right, you should be able to see the stylus float just barely above the marks. Do it just right and the cartridge body will be only about 1mm or 2mm higher than when its resting in the record groove, but that should be all you need to get the job done.
@millercarbon
Nice tip! 
Yeah, that ones maybe even as good as using a rubber band as a third hand to hold the cartridge to the head shell while you thread it up. Mikey eat your heart out. I amaze even myself sometimes.
Hi Scott. The Grado is a great cartridge. Here is what you need to be able to do this to the state of the art without serious test equipment.
You will need to get: an LED head lamp at Home Depot or Amazon. This will give you line of site illumination and allow you to adjust the lighting while keeping your hands free. A DB Systems Protractor and any other tools required to adjust your tonearm which you probably already have. Lastly a Hi Fi News Analog Test LP which you can order online.
As miller suggests set the TT on a solid and level table. Get a stool or box to sit on that gets your horizontal line of site about 6 inches above the surface of the platter. Remove the drive belt and get a wedge, I use little wood wedges to slip under the edge of the platter to lock it in place.
Mount the cartridge, disable the anti skating device and set the VTF. If you have Parkinson's disease you might need rubber bands to help you with this. Set the tonearm height so that the side of the cartridge is perfectly parallel to a record. Set the Azimuth so that the front of the cartridge is perfectly parallel to a record. I use a 150 gm record for this by the way. Grados are accurately built so that you can use this method reliably. Take the record off and place the DB systems protractor on the platter and put on your head lamp. Looking from the front gently move the platter until the stylus is right over the "A" point. With this lighting you should be able to see it easily. Lock the platter in place with your wedge then follow the DB instructions. Lastly set the anti skate by using the bias tracks on the test record. Too little anti skate and the Left channel distorts, too much and the right channel distorts. Try to get it so that the channels do not distort at all or both channels distort equally minimally. If you have to, add a little VTF. Have a glass of wine. If the DB systems protractor makes you dizzy have a glass of Islay Scotch. I always go for the Scotch.
Thank you for all the great suggestions!  I'm going to tackle it this weekend when I have some time to focus on it.  Will let you know how it goes...
What a great idea. I was having that same problem a few years back with my Benz cartridge. I ended up moving  to a Dynavector where the stylus projects outward of the body. Much easier to set up with these aging eyes. Good luck with your setup this weekend.
Another thing I thought of:

You said the new cart is wider/longer. If its also shorter then the resulting extra downward angle is only making it harder. Eyeball VTA so the cartridge is sitting level when viewed from the side. VTA always needs to be fine-tuned later anyway.