VPI classic 3.0 Signature anti-skate.

Don't be afraid to venture past the VPI instructions that claim it's a “win” to somehow track across a record with no anti-skate. The seemingly purist bent that no anti-skate is better sounding hasn't been born out in practice unless you have a mighty light cartridge out on the end of the tone-arm. Physics be as it may be, ALL cartridges with arching tone-arms need anti-skate. Yes, VPI feels that the marginal anti-skate provided by the “twist” in the tonearm wiring adds what is needed, but it doesn't, and not the right amount is added for various cartridges weights.

I have used a SUMIKO Blackbird (9.6 grams) and a Benz Ruby Z (10.6 grams) on my VPI classic 3.0 and BOTH cartridges showed the effects of not enough anti-skate. Either cartridge is an excellent tracker IF the needle is where it is supposed to be.

Once you reach the max recommended tracking force, the needle can't be “forced” down into the record groove to counter anti-skate.
Heavier cartridges will need more anti-skate all things being the same.
The effects of too little anti-skate outweighs the “benefits” of no anti-skate UNLESS you have a light cartridge with the proper anti-skate being applied by the tonearm wiring.
Longer tone arms need less anti-skate all things being the same.
Lighter tone arms will need less anti-skate all things the same.
But, you WILL need anti-skate to 100% properly place the needle in the groove based on each cartridge weight and hardware.

The situation was that the SUMIKO would race to the first cut of the album through the lead-in groove. A dead give-away that anti-skate is in force. The Benz would do the same, but being a heavier cartridge, it would also randomly “jump ahead” in the first two tracks while I tried to set the VTA angle. Another sign of too little anti-skate.

Adding back in the anti-skate device and adding just a touch more anti-skate cured the problems, and things got MUCH better sounding, too. More anti-skate isn't better, but the right amount is. Too much can make things way worse, even.

I would be wary to think that minimal anti-skate is the way to go on this VPI classic 3.0 Signature table with the JMW Memorial 10.5” tone-arm despite the instructions. A 3D printed arm is lighter and MAY JUST get away with the tone arm wiring “twist” but don't just take it on the chin. If you need anti-skate don't be afraid to GO WITH the grain, and add some. With both my cartridges this arm was rubbing the cat backwards with the tone arm anti-skate amount and it did not respond too well.

LISTEN and use your judgment WITH the proper ant-skate applied for album playback (not aggressive test records!) and then decide. There is no reward for somehow JUST managing to get a cartridge to track across a record with no added anti-skate, but there is a reward when it does it right. Ignore the manual and pay attention to your cartridge.
VPI has an anti-skate mechanism that will attach to any of their arms. Last time I looked, they were around 100.00. Much better than the bent wire IMHO.
Using the anti-skate mechanism on my Signature with steel arm as well. Tried the twisted wire first but I think it sounds better with the anti-skate. Carts are Soundsmith Zephyr and Ortofon 2m Black.
Rower30, Antiskate is a contentious discussion like religion. I can't hear a difference either way.
BUT, from a physical standpoint regarding wear on the record, I believe there HAS to be some level of uneven groove wear along with stylus wear which is confirmed by those who rebuild carts.
Forget the cart, what about YOUR irreplaceable album?
It is for that reason, I use 4 of the orings on my Classic/ART9 just because.
Fabulous sound, by the way!
I forgot to mention how I too, enjoyed how the Bird sang on my table. Very convincing. In my system, I couldn't dial out the last bit of occasional "sizzle"/sibalance.
Also, found getting the SS ruby rebuild after crashing the Bird changed its personality in a good way. Overall tone had a smidge more "natural/real" character. A few months later, one of the windings decides to unravel.
Gave up on the Bird. I see there is now a low output version. No doubt a great sounding cart in the 1k range. I prefer the Bird over the Benz Glider tone as well.
Disagree....all my cartridges sound better on my 3D or 10.5 with no antiskate. To me, antiskate sounds like excessive damping is in place....not for me.
I use a Ortofon Cadenza Black on my 3D arm with my Aries 3 model. I use the anti-skate device. I tried the twisted wire first and it did not work out.
LISTEN and use your judgment WITH the proper ant-skate applied for album playback (not aggressive test records!) and then decide.
I did.... many years ago. With my best cartridge (listed) on my best tonearm (ditto), zero A/S produces the best sonic results (lack of damping, as Stringreen described). I described it in great detail in many posts over many years. Search if you care.

Is it theoretically optimal to play with zero A/S? No.

Could playing with zero A/S cause asymmetrical stylus and/or record groove wear? Yes.

What's the right amount to use? Whatever the listener favors, with his/her equipment, music and ears. It's a risk vs. reward decision and each person's balance point will differ.

The only "right" answer is:
- understand all the parameters
- listen with educated ears
- then decide for yourself.

Dougdeacon, couldn't agree more . I did the same thing many years ago and my ears told me no A/S sounds better.
I just buy carts that will track at 2 grams and have never noticed any more wear and tear .
I heard before that generally speaking you want max tracking force allowed and minimum bias to get the best sound.
After reading your posts I played a little more with the anti-skate with my Spacedeck/Spacearm/Goldring 1042 set-up.
It was not that simple. I moved it back and forth without touching either VTA or VTF. The preliminary conclusion is that my preference depended on particular recording. In fact, this should not be surprising, so it isn't.
I heard before that generally speaking you want max tracking force allowed and minimum bias to get the best sound.
Max tracking force has never been my recommendation (unless you're a vinyl newbie - and I know you're not, Inna). Newbies are well advised to play their cart near the top of its VTF range, as this minimizes the risk of mis-tracking and vinyl damage. Experienced listeners are capable of extracting better performance by playing with this adjustment and all others.

Sonically, my cart performs best with the MINIMUM tracking force and A/S that are compatible with clean tracking. Increasing either adjustment beyond that point diminishes performance.

This is because downforce and A/S both use the tonearm to apply pressure to the cantilever and suspension. Whether that pressure is vertical or lateral, damping and slowing of dynamics results.

The ideal settings certainly do vary from record-to-record, even groove to groove. Perfectly unsurprising, as you said. It would be astonishing if this were not so, or perhaps just indicative of a less capable system or listener.
Dougdeacon, I actually ended up setting the anti-skate close to max and VTF somewhere in the middle but closer to min. In my set-up with the records I play this appears to be the best overall.