VPI Uni-Pivit Tone Arms


I have owned a few VPI TT with the uni-pivit arm. My current TT is the VPI classic 3 signature. The uni-pivit arm is wearing me out. The arm is always tilted to one side no matter how I adjust it. I also notice that the sharp point in the arm housing has rounded quite a bit. I remember some time ago when I touched it I would get a sharp prick like a pin sticking me. Now i can run my finger across it without worrying. Is this normal?
Has anyone else notice the tilted arm? Mine is tilted to the left and sometimes the ears (the part that sticks out from the arm housing) touches the base of the housing.

But with all this discomfort, the TT still sounds awesome. But I hate those things about the TT that I pointed out. I owned the vpi classic, scout, and scout 2, and they all have those faults I mentioned that bothers me.

What's your experience with the uni-pivit arms?


almandog
Still good for me after many years. I would ask VPI for a replacement part that holds the pin point tip.
Seems like you've not been vigilant about getting the pivot point/cup alignment correct, over a long period of time. With all due respect, you need a refresher coarse in setting up that arm my friend.
Guess you could be right. I have gone through the setup procedure so many times. But I still might be missing the obvious to others about the uni-pivit setup. Mike at VPI was very helpful but he is not there anymore, I think. 
A fair number of VPI arm owners have added the optional Dual Pivot. Me, I tried a unipivot arm in the 1970’s and hated it. I tried another in the 80’s and hated it too.
Just get a new spike. Maybe the worn spike also has created a wear spot in the female bearing

I replaced it on my 10 year old Classic. Simple remove/replace repair.
May as well replace the female bearing that contacts it(it's just a threaded piece with a recessed end) which is in the arm.

I don't know about the dual pivot mod, but while you're at it?

Thanks for your response. 
I have sent an email to vpi about this issue. I will report their response. 
Almandog, curious if the arm in question is a 3D arm or one of the metal arms?
The side azimuth weight (ears) are adjustable and are used to balance the tonearm.  Have you tried adjusting the side weights?
As mentioned, the pivot spike is replaceable.  Meanwhile a fine file can de-bur the tip or sharpen it.  If you're using a Fozgometer, stop.  
You may find setting azimuth with a block similar to this
https://www.amazon.com/VTA-Azimuth-Gauge-Alignment-Block/dp/B0771Z3XMH/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=azimuth+t...
as a starting point and dialing in by ear works quicker and better.  I sure did.  If azimuth drifts too quickly, dump the teardrop weight and get something like the Espressimo Audio half moon. 
http://www.expressimoaudio.com/101VPI.html
After 20 years of unihell these things worked for me.  I will never go back to a uni though.
@testpilot, the ears as far as I know are only adjustable on the 3D arms but being they are rubbing that would indicate to me that that is what he is dealing with and needs to screw these all the way in and adjust the azimuth as close as possible with the dropped counter weight and only fine tune with the side weights. A Soundsmith Counter intuitive might help also, I know they work well for me. Enjoy the music.
VPI now makes a Gimbal bearing tonearm. About time.
The unipivot topology came about because it is a cheap easy way to make a tonearm. Don't have to by expensive bearings and worry about tolerances but there is trouble in paradise. To many degrees of freedom. A tonearm should only be able to move up or down and side to side. It should be absolutely rigid in all other planes. Records are not flat. Any change in altitude is going to subject the arm to torque because the arm is offset which is going to change azimuth. Graham tried to fix this using a magnetic field to hold the arm steady and it works if you want to spend ridiculous money on an arm. I would rather get a 4 point. Much less expensive, better sounding and more suitable for a wider range of cartridges. 
VPI has finally come out with a turntable I could consider, the new Direct Drive with the gimbal pivoted tonearm. If they could figure how to suspend it like a SOTA it might even be perfect.
@mijostyn, I love all the unipivot arms I have owned and still own the 3D Classic arm and a JMW9, simple works best for me and I have no issue with milking the very best from these arms. Are there better? I am sure there are but to what exspense? I do agree with you on the point of no movement in the vertical plane thats why I would not consider the unipivot without a center clamp, BDR/Stillpoint and the periferal ring. Still wondering if this is a 3D or metal arm the OP is having this issue with.
He did not say but only the arm wand is different. The bearing assembly is the same. 
Sure tooblue you can make them work. Clamps help as you suggest. Staying with more compliant cartridges also helps. Less leverage on the arm. Asymmetrical counterbalance weights also help. But, theoretically at least a captured bearing would be best. How does this effect sound. Know way to know from here. More than likely it would be hard to hear difference. I'm sure Michael Fremer could hear the difference. His hearing is better than mine:)
I was addressing the rubbing of the outer weights on what I believe would be the VTA tower as the only thing short of a bent part or drastically maligned setup for this to rub as the 3D weights do screw in and out. I just looked at his system page and see it is a metal arm.
The Tonearm that I am using is a Metal Tonearm.
I did use a Fosgometer to set it up but I find that an oscilloscope does a better job setting up azimuth.
I am partial to the single bearing arm.  It allows, as does none other, for an effectively friction-less bearing.  When I moved to a 3D arm wand, I discovered that I HAD to change the lower bearing as the old one (with the cup) did not work with the newer arm.  I believe the newer one is made of a more durable material than before.

All that said, and much as I had avoided the dual pivot* because it seemed to be at odds with the idea of the unipivot, I tried it and I like it.  Though it's a contraption, it is one that works and, properly set up--leaving the great bulk of the weight on the original pivot--it is responsive to virtually every problem raised about the single bearing arm.  As a bonus, it makes setting azimuth crazy easy.

*my remaining question about it was resolved by the availability of the ruby ball point.


If you have a drop down counter weight, make sure that you did not bump it out of alignment thus causing a shift in sideways balance. Also, if your side weight is touching the platform, you have more of an issue than a slight azimuth imbalance.
My first arm was the Graham. It started I think as a 2.0 then got a couple upgrades by the time I sold it for a monster upgrade to Origin Live Conqueror. 

When it comes to tone arms, couple things I know for sure: it does not pay to get caught up in design. The Origin Live is a lot better arm than anything Graham did, but not so much because the Graham is a uni-pivot but mostly because the Graham has a whole bunch of extra connections in the signal path where the Conqueror has one. That's not to say these are the reasons but to make the point there's always more than one reason. People love to focus on unipivot, or tangential tracking, or whatever, as if its just one thing. Its never just one thing. Its the whole package. Including ergonomics, how it looks and feels, and ease of use. All these things matter. A lot. Especially when you consider hardly anyone ever has the chance to directly compare arms, and yet almost everyone winds up loving whatever arm they get. (Case in point: note the OP says his arm sounds wonderful even in spite of the teetering tilt and all.)

And the other thing I know for sure is, once you get much above a grand or so you should stop buying packages and start looking for table and arm separately. Everyone selling table and arm together (or even worse, table, arm and cartridge) is cutting all kinds of corners to hit arbitrary price points.

So rather than upgrade to a new table with another corner-cutter arm I would be looking to find a really good arm to go on my table. The arm that's on there now, resale value is zero, because nobody wants it, which tells you all you need to know about that. So hang onto it until you are ready to upgrade the table. Then put the VPI arm back on there and sell it to the next noob for whom it will be just perfect. You will have graduated from a wanna-be to a fully fledged vinyl spinner.
Not bad millercarbon. Origin Live makes a good tonearm for the money.
The low friction excuse for a unipivot arm is fiction as the entire weight of the arm and cartridge is focused on that one bearing. With two contact points the weight is halved on each bearing and so forth. Modern bearings have extremely low friction. Another factor is that the cartridge has very favorable leverage over the bearings being at quite a distance from them. Stability is more important. 
So what is a good replacement arm for VPI Uni-Pivot arm. Please don't mention any thing over $3K.
Jelco 750 is an excellent affordable arm!
And for twice the money there is the Fidelity Research FR64. I'd go for the Jelco!
How about a VPI 3D arm and the Dual-pivot device?
Would I need to get anything else to accommodate those two items on the turntable?
Any here has that setup?
almandog,
I don't think replacing tonearm with a 3D arm or adding dual-pivot is your answer because none of these get to the root of your problem.

The cause for the ear (it is called the azimuth weight, BTW) to tilt to one side could be many:
1. The plateform where the TT sits on is not leveled
2. TT itself is not leveled
3. The counterweight is rotated incorrectly.
4. Combination of the above

Also, with the worn-out pivot spike, you will most likely have to replace the bearing cup insert as well.

Hope that helps.
One of the Origin Live arms would work very well at a very reasonable price. They are lighter than the Jelco arms and will do better with more compliant cartridges like Lyras. 
I’ve had a few vpi unipivot arms with the last 1 being the 10” 3D arm. They had the funky way of doing antiskating but the newer arms actually come with antiskate setup. The ears are used for balancing the horizontal stance of the arm or just move the counterweight sideways until the arm has perfect horizontal balance. Not sure about your arm, but I know that I could have adopted the dual pivot option to my 3D arm which guarantees that the arm is horizontally perfect. I think it’s a $150 option and the user can put it on
To solve the ear ( side/ azimuth weights) from touching the base you can also raise the bearing ( spike ) - it is adjustable. Then Set up your table again as if you just got it.

Well it’s adjustable on the prime so good chance yours is adjustable too. 
@almandog...…………..

I feel for you.  I had the same problem with my VPI Scout and Prime.  I had the Prime for 18 months and probably played 7 or 8 records on it.  Every time I wanted to use the table, I had to play with the arm as it always seemed off.  Finally, I had had enough. I traded in the 18 month old Prime and took a $2000.00 bath on it and purchased the Technics SL1200G.  I could not be happier!  I play vinyl a couple of times a week now and the Technics is truly set and forget.  It's a pleasure to open the dustcover and get ready to play a record without having to move side weights to make the arm level.  When I bought the Prime I was thrilled to have the 3D arm, for about 5 minutes.
While I do sympathize with those who have had problems with the VPI unipivots, I have 4 of those arms (3 metal, one 3D with dual pivot) each mounted with a different cartridge, and once correctly set up, thy have been very easy to use and trouble free. Can be swapped very quickly, too. Setup requires patience and precision, but is worth it for me. I also have ‘tables with gimbaled arms, and enjoy those too. (One is a VPI, and I love it). Perhaps you would benefit from consulting with someone who is very proficient with the setup of these arms. Regardless, you need to replace the unipivot spike. Good luck and happy listening.
Almandog, when you emailed VPI, did you email the company or did you email VPI Forums. I bet if you utilized their Forums like you are doing here, someone would be able to solve your problem for you. I’ve had a Classic 2 Special Edition with the Unipivot arm like yours.for a few months now. They have been helpful on the Forums, answering any questions I sent in. Even the company owner responded. I’m guessing the possible problems mmai suggested might be the cause of your issue or something else simple that should be readily corrected at little or no cost.

This was my first tonearm setup and it took a minute to get everything correct and balanced, and the process was a bit scary. I know if I could get it right you can too. I had a B&O tangential tracking turntable for many years, thus avoiding having to learn this procedure. The were a couple good YouTube videos to consult too to help you pick up any possible mistake in setting yours up. Good luck.
I did the email to VPI, not the forum. 
I had the very same problem early in my VPI usage. I think it was a Classic 2. The metal tone arms are very heavy and it is easily possible to bump the spike and round it. The arm will then not maintain alignment. A call to Marc at VPI and $40. I had a new spike in two days. Installed it and never had another problem

My Prime Signature has the 3DR tone arm. It's much, much lighter and less prone to damaging the spike.

Rollin
Rolin:

I agree with you on the spike. Probably that's what happen to me. I have not heard from VPI as yet, so I might give them a call. I am also thinking of getting a new 3D arm, or even move up to the Prime Signature. Other option is to get a McIntosh MT10. I will wait on VPI's response before I make any move.
Get the 3D gimbal bearing arm. No more spikes. I have an old Syrinx PU-3. I got it new in 1981. It is not on a table at the moment but I used it for over thirty years and it remains as good as new. I keep thinking about getting an arm board for it......
Wow--I'm so sorry to hear of this poster's experience.  I once owned a Classic 3, and I had zero difficulty with the arm or any other part of the table.  After 3 or 4 years of ownership, it still played perfectly and the point was pin-sharp.  Something must be very much out of adjustment and has been used that way for some time.  I now own a Thorens TD-203 that also has a uni-pivot arm.  This one was a bit more difficult to set up but has been trouble-free since.  It's not the big sound and extended frequency sound of my Classic 3 (not even close!) but the arm and cartridge (2M Blue) play above its price-point, and I am quite satisfied.  The last gimbal arm I owned was a Thorens TD-160c and it did not track nearly as well.
The point should be extremely sharp, but you should not know that...it should never be touched.   the points are replaceable...do so, and then get and install the second pivot kit.   Brings the sound to a new level.
Today I did some adjustments of the arm. I discovered that because the spike has worn down, the cartridge barely touch the vpi jig when aligning the cartridge on the white dot on the jig. I finally got the Azimuth almost perfect using an oscilloscope and a test record. Can't attach picture here to show you.
I will get the 3D arm soon.
I sympathise with you.  I tried a few unipivot arms and decided they were too wiggly and fiddly for me.  However, I still have an old Magnepan arm and for whatever reasons, I still kind of like it.  All my other arms contain conventional bearings of which my old Linn Ittok is probably the most satisfying.
I am in touch with VPI and they are going to send me new spike. Mine is worn down badly. 
This is what I would do, and have done to most of my VPI turntables....Remove the uni-pivet and throw it in the trash where it belongs.......Buy you a REGA 600 or 700 tonearm and install it, and now you have a very nice tutntable............Will
With that second pivot...   screw the side weights all the way in...the arm will lightly rest on the second pivot....adjust the second pivot screw to adjust azimuth.  Very easy to do and very rewarding.  It cost 150 dollars and makes the arm much better. THE Foz makes it very easy ...be sure to use a new battery every time, and also use the recommended test LP
It’s perhaps notable that all the current UNIpivot tonearms that I know about have adopted some secondary mechanism for stabilizing the tonearm pivot.  That includes VPI, Durand, and Graham.  There may be others.  Most owners of those products say that their tonearms work very nicely, better with the stabilizer than without, but in the true sense of the term, they are no longer unipivots.

@autospec, thats a bit drastic, what say you about all the people enjoying their unipivots, like me. I have tried the Regas, a couple of OL and a few others and am back and lovin my two VPI unipivot arms. Throw them in the trash, I think not sir.
Better still throw them my way, I will give you a PO box number to send them all too.
Thank you.
😉😉
Selling it is an easy option. But I don't want to sell something that's not working properly. It would still cause issues for the buyer. I never sell anything that's broken. I think I will get a new spike and the double pivot. 
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mreeter, I have a 40 year old Syrinx PU 3. It is as good as the day I bought it and I have never had to do anything to it but play records. Sharpening spikes? If the spike is hardened for durability, sanding it the way you mentioned will heat up the mental and potentially take the temper right out of it. Which means it will just wear out faster, much faster. Just buy a new spike.
There is everything wrong with unipivots. Show me one well known reviewer that uses one. There is just no getting away from the fact that they have too many degrees of freedom. It is just a cheap easy way to make an arm. You don't have to worry about tolerances at all. You don't have to worry about everything lining up perfectly. You don't have to worry about bearing preload, just plop the thing down on a bearing that is going to wear out quickly and away you go. Nobody even uses the Graham any more.Maybe he just doesn't charge enough for it. If he charged more than the SAT arm Michael Fremer might even buy one. 
Today I heard from VIP. They are sending me a new spike. I thought of getting a VPI Fatboy tonearm but it's at the same price point as trading in my Classic III for a VPI Prime Signature. Now I am in limbo now: The Fatboy tonearm for the Classic  III or the Classic III trade in for a VPI Prime Signature?

 Rational?
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