What can you do when your precious cartridge has a worn out diamond, a bended cantilever, or even worse : a missing cantilever ? Let’s not forget about dried out suspension (rotten dampers), open coils, twisted coil formers, etc, etc…

Moving Magnet (MM) cartridges are most of the time an easy fix as changing the stylus can be done very easily by the end user and should allow you to have a cartridge working as new. You can even upgrade it with a better replacement stylus compatible with your cartridge (I.E. : Ortofon, Goldring, etc.).

Now… it gets more complicated with Moving Coils (MC) designs, which are a much more delicate piece of equipment. If, in MM cartridges, the {magnet – cantilever} ensemble is and can be mechanically independent from the electrical parts of the cartridge, this is not at all the case with MC cartridges where the {coils – coil former – cantilever} has to be linked with very fragile wires to the output pins of the cartridge and thus prevent an easy change of the cantilever when it becomes faulty.

Judging from our past experience, we are convinced that retiping a cartridge is not only glueing a cantilever back on the remaining piece of cantilever standing out but something much more elaborate, much more precise and that, above all : there is not only one universal way of retiping cartridges with different combinations of cantilevers and styluses. This is why we are now offering our own dedicated retiping services with dedicated solutions for nearly each cartridges.

Let us introduce you to our thoughts on how one should proceed to repair cartridges, but before that we do think that if you want your cartridge to be the same as original, then send it back to the original maker/builder and pray that it will come back as good as it was in your souvenirs (we hate psycho-acoustic and the Amati theories… 😉 ).

Most of the time we receive your cartridges in these states :

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Off centered diamond tipBent cantilevers, twisted cantilevers, missing cantilevers, worn out diamond tips or even missing one… Some other things can happen like a twisted cantilever on its axis. These are in fact the emerged part of the iceberg and prior to fixing these we have to insure that the internal mechanic of your cartridge is fully operational

Roksan Shiraz dried out damper One of the crucial part of your cartridge is the damper that is in between the {coil former + coils} of your cartridge and the piano wire shaft. Most of the time : it will stay in rather good shape but the tension the piano wire combined with the repeated pressure (and un-pressure) of the Linn Arkiv melted dampercantilever on the groove of the record can lead to an alteration of its shape. Most of the time we can rejuvenate it and it will work just fine until the next retip or we can change it. We can offer some standard dampers with various elaCala Mighty Frictionless Dampersticity factors or we can use our own proprietary damper made of a selected material and that we have named frictionless damper. This damper auto-lubricates itself and drastically reduces friction thus allowing much better resonance and vibration control. The affect of damper on the sound of a cartridge is one of the critical point.

– As the damper ages : it affects also the tension induced by the piano wire holding the {coil former – cantilever } ensemble. EarPiano wire holding the damper, the coil former and the cantilever assembly.ly Ortofon cartridges had the piano wire tension adjusted by the mean of a weight being held at the end of the piano wire rod. We have now much better equipment to allow precise setting of the tension of the piano wire. When we will retip your cartridge we will of course check the tension of the piano wire of your cartridge and adjust it for optimal performance. In fact we could even adjust it in a way that the compliance of your cartridge can match even better with your tonearm.Setting the coil former and coils in perfect position for optimal balance

– With the adjustments of the damper and the piano wire : we have now set the coils of the cartridge in an ideal spatial plan to limit electrical phase shift which is absolutely crucial to obtain a coherent phasing of the musical signal. Final step of the internal rebuild is to align the coils so that they are perfectly aligned with the the diamond tip at the end of the cantilever and of course with the body of the cartridge. This is done by adjusting the piano wire angle.

Dynavector DV-20X straight cantilever– And what about the retip then ?  Well… we think that if none of these previous steps has been taken into consideration : a retip can be quite a risky, or even useless operation. So, of course yes we can retip with aluminium cantilevers but we favor boron or sapphire ones. We also choose cantilever with different diameters to get as close as possible to the original model. The choice of boron or sapphire over aluminium is not only for a sonic improvements but also a way to obtain better mass repartition and to limit the usage of glue. At this step we will be also adjusting the length of the cantileverIf you want to stick properly a cantilever than use minimum glue ... so that it is as close as possible to the original set-up. Acting on the cantilever length will quite drastically modify  the behavior of the cartridge.We also insure that, at this step, the diamond tip is perfectly aligned with the coils and of course the body of the cartridge to guarantee an easy set-up. One of the key of a successful retip is to use as little as possible glue.

Silver coils handmade by Cala Mighty Sound– What if the coils are damaged ? Well we can rebuild them in copper (99.9999% or silver 99.999%) and even change their electrical characteristics… You find more about theses options in the webshop !

– Last step ? Measurements and… listening. No cartridges is leaving our benches without having been tested and listened to carefully as well. If it is not good enough for us : it will be rebuilt until it is up to our standards and sounds as we expect from it (and some cartridges give us really some hard times). Most of the time we also document our work with photos that we are very happy to share with you.

Now ? Who said retiping a cartridge is just glueing up a new cantilever ? We really do not think that at Cala Mighty Sound but we will be keen on getting out the best performance possible from your cartridge.