The first cartridge I ever owned was a hand-me-down Shure M7-N21D setup in an Elac 10, but the first cartridge I ever bought was a Shure V15 type 3. I listened to it for several years in my Technics SL 1600 mk2 and was completely happy with this setup until I read an article in some hi-fi magazine that recommended changing cartridges every few years, what did I know? So I bought a V15 type 4 and then a V15 type 5-MR. Luckily, I didn't get rid of the cartridges I replaced.
Since the type 4 and 5 have the dynamic stabilizing brushes, I didn't think that the brushes on the generics would be as good as the originals. So I unearthed my V15 type 3 a couple of years ago and bought 4 NOS SHURE VN35E 's from an ebay vendor for $25.00 each...
... two of them were in perfect condition, the other two had cantilevers that were completely corroded.
I wanted to find a reliable source for replacement styli for some of my vintage Shure cartridges so I've been trying out generics from JICO, Garage-A-Records, Turntable Needles, LP Gear, Voice of Music, and Ed Saunders.
For the past few weeks I've been listening to the V15 type 3 in my Pioneer PL-41D comparing the following styli, these are my humble (?) observations:Shure VN35E
price varies, nude elliptical, USA, smooth and neutral soundingGarage-A-Records VN35E
$39.95, bonded elliptical, Japan, the closest to the Shure of the groupJICO VN35
$78.00, bonded elliptical, Japan, lively and great sounding, slightly more forward than the Shure and G-A-RThe Generic Stylus 4764-DE
$15.00, bonded elliptical, Japan, similar to G-A-R but slightly less smooth (faintly gritty?)Ed Saunders VN35E
$39.00, bonded elliptical, Switzerland, dull sounding with weak bassPfanstiehl 4764-DE
$15.00, bonded conical, Switzerland, similar to ES
Taking a closer look I found that, physically, the JICO, Garage-A-Records and The Generic Stylus all have the components that are shown in the following illustration(with the exception of the telescoping cantilever):
The Ed Saunders and Pfanstiehl, which are identical physically to each other, (with the exeption of the stylus tip, ES is slightly smaller) do not have the following components: 4, 5, 8, and the square tube that surrounds 6. The Ed Saunders and Pfanstiehl have smaller cylindrical magnets instead of the square magnets that the others have. Also, the cantilevers on these two are slightly thicker than the others.
The JICO and Generic Stylus, although they sound different, are identical in every way: Both are made in Japan and it's obvious that they are from the same factory.
As mentioned above, the Ed Saunders and Pfanstiehl are identical and both made in Switzerland. The curious thing is that the black plastic grips on the Ed Saunders, Pfanstiehl, JICO and Generic Stylus are identical to each other including all of the manufacturing flaws.
One more observation, the Shure and the Garage-A-Records not only sound similar, but also have similar grip designs that the others do not share.
Photos of all of the above mentioned styli are in my album.