Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

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samson7point1
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Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by samson7point1 » 05 Dec 2018 20:58

After years of looking for a decent deal, I finally snagged a Technics SL-10 with the original EPS-310MC cartridge intact. The body is in immaculate condition and after replacing the belt on the tonearm motor and replacing the sticky 30+ year old grease it works like a dream and sounds great.

Thing is the stylus looks a little dirty to me. I'm waiting on a microscope to arrive so I can get a really good look at it before I do anything else, but assuming that I need to clean it I've been looking at my options. The Zerodust cleaner looks neat but it seems like it's really overpriced. On the one hand I wouldn't want to risk damaging such a unique cartridge with a cheap alternative, on the other hand is the Zerodust really any safer than a Mr. Clean Magic eraser or a Slap/Snap Hand? The other thing I'm not sure about is whether even the Zerodust would be safe to use with the SL-10 considering what I'd have to do to get the tonearm into position. Would it be better to take the cartridge out and mount it to a standard turntable with an adapter and try to clean it that way?

My thinking is that _someone_ has to have done this before. Any advice would be appreciated.

These are the best images I could get without a microscope:
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/ezgp9 ... 07-no?.jpg

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/gwPnX ... 21-no?.jpg

danmanch
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by danmanch » 05 Dec 2018 22:32

That sounds like it's a pretty nice moving coil cartridge with boron cantilever. And there are ways to clean the tip. I myself am a wet clean kinda guy. But more importantly before anything what is the history of the cartridge? Is it used? NOS? I personally would assume that if you bought used or came with the table it might need replacing. Sure the microscope might Help you see the tip but unless you're really skilled at viewing wear on the diamond it is a job left for a professional. I would never trust a used/unknown history stylus on my records. Could be a recipe for damaging your records quickly. Would be time to consider a new cartridge if that's the case.

andybeau
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by andybeau » 05 Dec 2018 22:35

I use this AT607 stylus cleaning fluid. Lasts forever and great for when it gets covered in crud.

MostlyHarmless
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by MostlyHarmless » 06 Dec 2018 03:25

Check out Moongel as an effective and inexpensive substitute for ZeroDust.

http://rtom.com/moongel-damper-pad/

I have used LAST stylus cleaner & treatment for years with no ill effects.

https://thelastfactory.com/

I concur; if you don't know the history of the stylus, I would proceed carefully.

samson7point1
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by samson7point1 » 06 Dec 2018 15:39

danmanch wrote:
05 Dec 2018 22:32
That sounds like it's a pretty nice moving coil cartridge with boron cantilever. And there are ways to clean the tip. I myself am a wet clean kinda guy. But more importantly before anything what is the history of the cartridge? Is it used? NOS? I personally would assume that if you bought used or came with the table it might need replacing. Sure the microscope might Help you see the tip but unless you're really skilled at viewing wear on the diamond it is a job left for a professional. I would never trust a used/unknown history stylus on my records. Could be a recipe for damaging your records quickly. Would be time to consider a new cartridge if that's the case.
Thanks for the advice. The cartridge is used and I don't know the history. Judging from the condition of the turntable someone either barely used it or took extremely good care of it. I've been looking at pictures of these decks for the last year and this is the first one I've seen without any real signs of wear. So far I've been careful to only play records on it which would be easy to replace. Going back and playing them again on my Shure M97xE I haven't noticed any degradation. I realize that's not a guarantee of anything, but I'm not ready to toss such a rare and great sounding cartridge when it isn't causing any obvious damage. Can you point me in the direction of a professional who could evaluate the tip for me?
MostlyHarmless wrote:
06 Dec 2018 03:25
Check out Moongel as an effective and inexpensive substitute for ZeroDust.

http://rtom.com/moongel-damper-pad/

I have used LAST stylus cleaner & treatment for years with no ill effects.

https://thelastfactory.com/

I concur; if you don't know the history of the stylus, I would proceed carefully.
Thanks for the tip about the Moongel - I've got some on the way now. It's really amusing how all these products (including the Moongel) claim to have been specifically formulated when it seems like it's all the same stuff in a different shape.

I've been looking at the LAST stuff, but it's really hard to separate marketing from reality. The advice that introducing liquid solvents of any kind to the tip could compromise the epoxy or work its way inside the cartridge seems compelling, but LAST has been selling that stuff for 40+ years and I've not come across anyone saying it ruined their stylus/cartridge. Doesn't the "treatment" coat the stylus with something?

danmanch
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by danmanch » 06 Dec 2018 16:37

No doubt it's rare and probably well worth having it examined. I don't know where you live so could offer no suggestion. But maybe there's a audio dealer in your area or turntable repair shop in your area? They should be equipped to do the task. The guy I bring my stuff to every few years does it as a courtesy. And yes they do wear out as my tech has pointed out a couple times. My original AT14sa finally reached the point of no return. Luckily I acquired a NOS replacement several years ago.
But anyway, definitely try to find someone to look at it, and hopefully it's still got lots of life still in it. And then even if not there would be the re-tipping service's offered which would probably be worth doing anyway. Until then do as your doing and don't play your "best records" on it.

jdjohn
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by jdjohn » 06 Dec 2018 17:33

samson7point1 wrote:
06 Dec 2018 15:39
Can you point me in the direction of a professional who could evaluate the tip for me?
Our fellow forum member @ray_parkhurst has a great setup for evaluating stylus wear. Check out this thread: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=92996 Although I don't think he does re-tipping, he could certainly determine the status of the tip.

FWIW, even though your pics aren't of extreme magnification, that tip looks pretty clean to me! Gunk shows-up as very dark, but that one is nice and white. And based on your description of the turntable's condition, I'd bet there's not much wear on the cartridge or stylus, either.

JDJX
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by JDJX » 06 Dec 2018 17:50

andybeau wrote:
05 Dec 2018 22:35
I use this AT607 stylus cleaning fluid. Lasts forever and great for when it gets covered in crud.
I use it also . :)

Sunwire
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by Sunwire » 06 Dec 2018 18:47

Get yourself a brush like this. I think it's all you really need.
They are sold at a huge range of prices from about $7 to maybe $25 or more.
I think they're all the same, or so similar it makes no difference.
https://www.amazon.com/Sleeve-City-Disk ... B00B1VB0G0

abs1
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by abs1 » 06 Dec 2018 19:15

+1 on the Moongel or the original Magic Eraser.

+1 on the AT607

+1 on the DiscKeeper brush

A stylus can be just dirty from plain ol' dust, etc. and all you'll need is a suitable stylus brush like the one mentioned above. I like Moongel better than Magic Eraser, but I use both when just brushing the stylus doesn't quite get it. Moongel works just as well as ZeroDust at a fraction of its inflated "audiophile" price. AT607 works when nothing else will. I use it sparingly (on occasion), but with extreme care especially when the stylus is bonded instead of nude mounted. Sometimes it's the only thing that will do the trick.

Cheers,
Al

tom6to1
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by tom6to1 » 06 Dec 2018 19:49

Your best guide to whether a stylus is "worn out" or maybe better described as "worn down" will be how it sounds. You played the same records using the 310MC and the M97 to check for record degradation. Did one cartridge sound better than the other? If the 310MC sounded much worse, or tracked less well then maybe you have a problem that needs re-tipping. If it sounds as good (or maybe better), then I would not worry too much. I agree with a previous post: Compared to other photos of dirty styluses yours looks very clean. Get some stylus cleaning fluid and use occasionally. I think use after every side is overkill (I know some will disagree). If your records are clean, and you are using a brush to take off dust before you play (from both the record and the stylus) , there is not that much that can get on the stylus. If you are playing thrift-store finds and you are not wet-cleaning them first, well that's a different matter. I think you are over-analyzing/thinking this. The SL-10 with the 310MC is a great combination. Enjoy!!

JDJX
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by JDJX » 06 Dec 2018 21:17

Yeah.... what I generally do is...

I use a stylus brush after playing every LP.

After playing a few LP or... after playing a newly acquired used LP for the first time, I view the stylus with a 60x magnifier.
If the stylus then needs cleaning (other than dust) I will use the AT607 stylus cleaning fluid..

BTW, of course I will wet clean used LPs before first playing it, if it appear to need it.
However, it it looks totally pristine, I will just play it first and if it also sounds pristine and.... if the stylus is clean after playing it , I will leave well enough alone and not clean it.:)

Having said all that...
it's a constant battle with micro dust with all LPs, new and old as micro dust is everywhere.
Unless unless you iive in a "clean room" it can not be avoided.
So, a useful dust removal routine is prudent . :)

MostlyHarmless
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by MostlyHarmless » 06 Dec 2018 21:48

Samson -


You are well advised to be skeptical of comments found here (and elsewhere), particularly about things phonographic; thus my caveat that I have observed no ill effects with the LAST products. I, too, have my moments of doubt and pain, to crib a line... .

The advice in this thread seems good - it usually is on the site. Best of luck.

samson7point1
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by samson7point1 » 06 Dec 2018 22:14

tom6to1 wrote:
06 Dec 2018 19:49
Your best guide to whether a stylus is "worn out" or maybe better described as "worn down" will be how it sounds. You played the same records using the 310MC and the M97 to check for record degradation. Did one cartridge sound better than the other? If the 310MC sounded much worse, or tracked less well then maybe you have a problem that needs re-tipping. If it sounds as good (or maybe better), then I would not worry too much. I agree with a previous post: Compared to other photos of dirty styluses yours looks very clean. Get some stylus cleaning fluid and use occasionally. I think use after every side is overkill (I know some will disagree). If your records are clean, and you are using a brush to take off dust before you play (from both the record and the stylus) , there is not that much that can get on the stylus. If you are playing thrift-store finds and you are not wet-cleaning them first, well that's a different matter. I think you are over-analyzing/thinking this. The SL-10 with the 310MC is a great combination. Enjoy!!
I do tend to over-analyze. IMO the 310MC sounds better than my M97. Everything used gets wet cleaned, and so does most of the brand new stuff so I think I'm doing all the right things.

My original intention was just to figure out if alternatives to the Zerodust were safe, and whether there's any trick to using something like moongel with a linear tracking turntable. With a pivot tonearm, you rely on gravity to make sure that you're only applying an acceptable amount of downforce, but the SL-10 isn't using gravity for its downforce. What I probably need to do is to start playing a record, cue the tonearm about halfway then power it off while the arm is down, open the lid, replace the record with the cleaning pad then lower the lid so the stylus hits the gel. But this may all be a moot point if the stylus is actually clean.

My microscope is out for delivery so hopefully I'll have better pics before the end of the day.

samson7point1
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Re: Need Advice About Stylus Cleaning

Post by samson7point1 » 07 Dec 2018 02:47

Well, now that I see it up close I feel silly for thinking it was dirty.

After taking these pics with my cheapo microscope I have a new level of respect for some of the other pics I've seen on this forum.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/cXL79 ... 61-no?.jpg

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/FLy8b ... 85-no?.jpg

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/psGNg ... 29-no?.jpg

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/Gc6Vq ... 80-no?.jpg

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/ERRaz ... 84-no?.jpg

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