VPI Setup - What Happened?

I moved.

Now that I'm settled in (ya right) I wanted to spin some vinyl. It's my birthday so I was treated to 6 new albums. I'm excited to hear them. But they won't play.

I cannot find my stylus gauge. My "little one" I'm betting "modified my settings which probably weren't all that good anyway. Point is, The tonearm just runs to the middle of teh album and all I get is distortion with a small amount of music buried within the distortion.

VPI Scoutmaster with a Dynavector MXV Mark II cart and JMW9 tonearm (or something like that).

I've checked the level and, as best I can without the aid of tools, alighned all the parameters which should have been good from the start. What bothers me is the amount of distortion I'm getting. Could something else be broken or does this sound like a completely hosed setup issue?

Tracking force? No real clue. Probably on the light side as I'm starting with 0 force and dialing the weight towards the cart.

Why does it constantly want to run toeards the finish line. I have the tonearm wire twisted in the proper direction so what gives?

Until I find my feeble stylus guage, I'd just like to know that there's still health with my table.

Oh ya, PS Audio phono stage. Drives through an Allnic L3000 pre which gives blessings to a Pass X350.5.
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Is you arm properly set on the "unipivot" point?
My first guess is the arm bounced off center.
Just lift the amr off and set it back down centered.
Other than the whole house is tilted so you think it is level but is really 15 degree canted to one side?
(Doubt that)
So check the arm pivot.
Another possibility -- you lost all or part of the diamond from the end of the cantilever. The symptoms you describe suggest it.
I agree with Rdavwhitaker, check your stylus. The 'little one' might have shortened the life of your stylus when 'modifying' your settings. I did that all on my own once by dropping it on a record, and the consequences are as you describe.
Wow, you folks nailed it. The diamond is missing. No point in looking for it...

Elisabeth, I think the whole house is tilted after crawling around under the house! But the magnetic field must also be altered as a used a good old fashioned level.

Guess it's time for a rebuild, but in the meantime, I have no operational turntable. I always wanted a backup cart.
Any suggestions? Is it simple just to replace the stylus?
I don't know if the stylus is replaceable on that Dynavector -- I'd suggest calling the good folks at Needledoctor, who are terribly helpful, and can tell you if either (1) a stylus replacement is possible or (2) Dynavector offers a "trade in" program (several of the high-end cartridge makers do).

If you like the Dynavector sound, consider a Dynavector Karat 17D3, which is a marvelous cartridge. If you'd like something different, I'd once again suggest talking to Needledoctor - give them your price point and tell them it's for a VPI Table/arm, and I'm sure they'll have suggestions.

Among my favorites I also count the Clearaudio Talismann. If you are looking at a lower price point, consider the Ortofon Black.

No doubt others can offer additional excellent suggestions -- your price point will be a key driver.
Instead of a backup cartridge - do you have enough mono records to justify the purchase of a mono cartridge? You can mount this on a second arm tube and put it to great use when you want to hear the best from mono records. I love my Helikon mono.

If you're going to get a second cartridge, you might as well get one that brings something else to your table.

Moot point obviously if you don't have many mono records. Just thought I'd toss this out on the chance that you do.
Soundsmith will do that fo cheap.
Try the Ortofon 2M range. They are MM but sound very smooth and detailed. They are inexpensive, rugged and very very easy to set up, particularly if you dont have tools (but you will need a stylus gauge for any and all cartridges - but no worries, a free gauge and directions come with the Ortofon's.
I found the Soundsmith website who will retip this cartridge for between $150 and $350 depending on the grade chosen.

Needledoctor, it seems, doesn't have this option. So through a leap of faith, off it'll go for the full-on $350 upgrade which supposedly is a "true" upgrade to the stock and now broken stylus. I'm looking at an 6 to 8 week leadtime. Ouch.

At this point I think I'll need to invest in a guage and possibly the LP Mint protractor. I honesly don't know what arm I own. Bought it used from a dealer who was NOT very helpful. I watched him setup this turntable which turned out to be so far off, you couldn't have performed this worse - even my 18 mo. old could have dialed in better.
How does one know the difference between the JMW9 or 10 tonearm? Where is it measured from?

In the meantime, it's back to streaming or spinning those little silver discs.

I could ask for one those "inexpensive" cartridges you good folks have mentioned. Hello Santa?

Thanks for your help!
Another possibility -- you lost all or part of the diamond from the end of the cantilever. The symptoms you describe suggest it.
How do you "chip" diamond on vinyl? Considering diamond is the hardest mineral in existence, probability of chipping it by dropping the tonearm on vinyl is less than unlikely. You'd snap the cantilever first or perhaps you might dislodge the diamond from the cantilever, but I don't see how you can lose part of the diamond.
I don't have a loupe so I can't fully confirm the damage but the action suggests that there's no longer a tip to follow the groove.

Soundsmith didn't return my call.