Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

the thin end of the wedge
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stevoz
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Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by stevoz » 11 Jan 2016 06:55

I just thought it may be nice to have a thread dedicated to everything GRACE!! =D> These truly wonderful and unfortunately discontinued cartridges and tonearms seem to have a dedicated following among many vinyl lovers around the globe, including myself, and for GOOD reason. Queries ranging from replacement stylii, cartridge bodies, re-tipping, cantilever repair/replacement, different tonearm models and even company history have all been discussed to varying degrees on this and many other audio forums. Not to mention countless glowing reviews regarding the Grace promise of the reason we are all here in the first place.....brilliant sound. It is widely claimed that Grace made MM cart's that approach or equal the best MC carts. Firstly, some company history. Here's an extract from audiotools 'Defunct Audio Companies' section: "Shinagawa Musen Co. Ltd."

'Small company in Tokyo, Japan that was founded in 1949 by Akira Asakura to manufacture broadcast products, name translates as Shinagawa Radio Co. Initial product was an oil damped pickup-arm that faced competition mainly from USA based Gray Research, but their broadcast arms were unusually inexpensive in Japan since the USA occupation forces forbade the Japanese government to tax USA imports. Asakura-san hit upon the idea of using Roman characters for the brand name to make the brand seem more international and decided to call his products Grace as the pronunciation in Japanese is not too different to Gray.

The company was supplying pickups in 1953 and possibly sooner, these were not copies of USA or European designs but built on research into the properties of Rochelle Salts performed by the Riken research institute during WWII, but almost all gramophone pickups released in Japan in the first few years after the war were derived from technical data released by Riken. Introduced the F-8L moving magnet pickup in 1965, but that was designed in cooperation with NHK, it was one of the world’s first high end MM pickups although it was initially marketed purely as a broadcast product, it was meant to replace moving coil designs to enable NHK to have a pickup with a similar performance as an MC but feature a replaceable stylus.

Their products also appeared under the Andante trademark in the late 70's and early 80's but it's unclear if they owned that trademark, they also appear to have supplied Linn with a pickup design or 2 as an OEM. The company is still around primarily as a property holdings and rental company, they appear however to have helped owners of their products in getting service, rebuilds and re-tips. In 2009 the company made one last run of pickups and high end styli for their older cartridges to celebrate its 60th anniversary, some with newer stylus profiles than were shipped originally, this is significant since some of their F-8 derived pickups used ruby and other precious stone cantilevers that has meant that in the last few years owners have only been able to get inferior replacements. The 2009 pickup and stylii run had already sold out to pre-orders in 2008 BTW.
Shinagawa Musen Co.,Ltd., 3rd Fl., Grace Bldg., 16-2, Higashi Ohi 3-chome, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 140-0011, Japan.
Tel: +81 (0)33764 7131...' It is also definitely worth downloading the brochure and product guide in the library/database for pic's of all Grace products. It is interesting to note that the company still exists, and although not involved in audio manufacturing at this point, it is even more interesting to note that only six years ago they did make some more carts and styli(in italics above). "One last run" it says, which is truly tragic, and if I have my way, will be reversed!! No surprise they were all ordered/sold before the first one was even made! Please tell us your Grace story, what you have and why you love them! It could also serve as an information and help section for Grace fans and those who would like to share in the Grace experience :mrgreen: ! I have an F8c and an F8, both with original styli, the one on the F8c is brand new and sounds divine. I wish I had more, and may work on that :D . My goal is to hopefully get the existing stylus manufacturers to start making replacement styli for Grace carts again, and even the company itself to reconsider that "one last run". They are surely aware of the "Vinyl Revival" that is sweeping the globe, I hope we can all help them change their mind..... [-o<

zacster
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by zacster » 12 Jan 2016 01:19

Well I'll chime in here. I have the Grace 707 arm on my Rega Planar3, a common combo back before the RB300 came around. I also have an F9E, which came with the Rega/Grace when I bought it used. That F9E has a bent stylus, and it was replaced when I lived in Seattle before I left in 1986. I hadn't seen it since, but I decided to look for it in my house in Brooklyn last year and I FOUND IT!! It was in a box with CDs that I decided I would never listen to again which was in my basement unopened from my 3 moves since I left Seattle. I mounted it on the Grace 707 and it sounded great, bent stylus and all. The stylus is bent down, not side to side, so it still tracked straight but not level.

I've thought about getting the replacement stylus from SoundSmith. It just seemed expensive. In the meantime I have an Ortofon Quintet Blue LOMC on my TT and I have to say I like it.

stevoz
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by stevoz » 12 Jan 2016 04:34

Don't ever get rid of that F9e, something in the way of a replacement stylus will turn up. I had given up hope, then up popped the genuine article as a bargain. Your tip appears to be fine, so maybe a cantilever rebuild/reset? It's still a bit of coin, but it will be worth it to hear that cart in all it's full glory! :D

zacster
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by zacster » 14 Jan 2016 00:04

I was thinking I could try to gently bend it back. It may be too fine a job for me though as I can never see the fine points very well. I would use it more often if the 707 had a removable shell. I've broken all the cartridge leads swapping my various cartridges in and out over the last year and I have to keep replacing them.

I guess there aren't too many Grace lovers out there.

JAG
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by JAG » 14 Jan 2016 03:55

Lots of Grace lovers out there. The F9E was my first cart in 1976. Been through a number of carts in the last few years until finding a Grave F9 body on EBay. Mounted a Jico N49 Kenwood SAS stylus and it sounds amazing. May end up with a Soundsmith stylus down the road just for kicks.

zacster
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by zacster » 14 Jan 2016 16:12

JAG wrote:Lots of Grace lovers out there. The F9E was my first cart in 1976. Been through a number of carts in the last few years until finding a Grave F9 body on EBay. Mounted a Jico N49 Kenwood SAS stylus and it sounds amazing. May end up with a Soundsmith stylus down the road just for kicks.
Does that stylus fit? I didn't think anything else would fit the Grace body.

abelb
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by abelb » 15 Jan 2016 09:58

I started with a Grace F8C which I got with a 707 arm I purchased. The stylus had some use but I played a couple of records with it and was struck by the lifelike natural quality of the sound. Specifically Sam Cooke live sounded so real it was like being outside the venue having removed a few bricks from the wall to listen through. I then found a NOS F8L on eBay though three years later it's still unmounted. I may soon though as inspiration strikes (my preamp currently set for MC and requires soldering to adjust). Does anyone know the difference between the F8-C and F8 cartridge bodies? Would it be worth trying the F8-L stylus on the F8 "Custom" body?

stevoz
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by stevoz » 15 Jan 2016 10:24

Even though both cart and stylus look similar but different, the styli are interchangeable. I have tried the stylus from my F8(which I believe is the F8L, the cheapest in the F8 range), so that would be the RS8L, in my F8c, and it fitted, and vice-versa. Going by the VE 'stereo pickups catalog' download, the F8L was about 20% cheaper than the F8c, for both cart and replacement stylus, so I guess the F8L stylus won't be an upgrade on the RS8c stylus in the F8c, just a different sound, but it will still be good! :)
Last edited by stevoz on 15 Jan 2016 10:38, edited 2 times in total.

abelb
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by abelb » 15 Jan 2016 10:29

Thanks for the info! I think I'll leave the F8 and original L stylus in place when I finally mount it. I'll be sure to report back as well. Currently using the DL-103 and before that the OC9-ll.

abelb
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by abelb » 15 Jan 2016 10:41

both of my styluses look identical (round edges, clear plastic). Maybe my used F8-C came with the L stylus.

abelb
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by abelb » 15 Jan 2016 10:45

I'll post some pics soon

stevoz
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by stevoz » 15 Jan 2016 12:50

The RS8c stylus has flat sides with a circular side profile, whereas the RS8L stylus(and all other F8 models)are circular/curved all the way around, when viewed from above. Both are clear plastic. Other F8 models were different colours. The RS8c is unique in shape compared to all the other F8 model styli. Does that help?

stevoz
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by stevoz » 15 Jan 2016 13:10

zacster wrote:
JAG wrote:Lots of Grace lovers out there. The F9E was my first cart in 1976. Been through a number of carts in the last few years until finding a Grave F9 body on EBay. Mounted a Jico N49 Kenwood SAS stylus and it sounds amazing. May end up with a Soundsmith stylus down the road just for kicks.
Does that stylus fit? I didn't think anything else would fit the Grace body.
I know there are alternatives for Grace F8c's and therefore all F8 cart's, but personally I'm not sure about F9's, but if JAG says that set up sounds amazing, that stylus must be ok. In the case of the F8 range, the Shure V15/III is supposed to fit with conditions. This is an extract from an email sent to me from Kermit Gray of KVG Labs in Kansas, after I asked him about this carts compatibility with the Grace F8c: "Yes, the VN35HE hyper-elliptical replacement stylus for a Shure V-15
Type III will fit, as will any VN35 stylus (VN35E regular elliptical,
VN35J low-compliance elliptical for changers, VN35MR Micro-Ridge, and
VN35-7 for 78-rpm), with these caveats:

1. Shure made their styli to looser tolerances than did Grace, so,
occasionally, a specific Vn35 series stylus will not fit the Grace.
Thus, be prepared for a replacement stylus not to fit; just because
others have made it work is no guarantee. .

2. Shure places the magnets in a different position than Grace did, so
although the cartridge will work, it will sound different.

3. Shure uses a bias wire approach to controlling damping and lateral
compliance, which will change the Grace's resonant frequency and
tracking force settings. this MAY cause tonearm compatibility issues, if
you're not using a tonearm that would have been "Shure V-15 friendly."

4. The Shure stylus is higher mass, also affecting resonant freqeuncy
and stylus force.

5. Both the vertical tracking angle and stylus rake angle will differ
between the Shure stylus and the original Grace.

6. Putting a Shure VN35 on a Grace F8 is ugly." ........I like that last one, but looks aren't everything :roll: and if the Shure or same other brand(Jico SAS etc) replacement stylus works, I'd imagine it would sound pretty good, only different from an RS8c stylus. So it's good to know all is not lost if one can't latch on to an original genuine. :)

abelb
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by abelb » 16 Jan 2016 05:27

34494
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The cartridge on the right came with the original packaging is the F8 with RS8L stylus.
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Above: RS8L on left, RS8C right
34499
Above: RS8C on left, RS8L right

You are correct Stevos, the two styluses are obviously different. I actually could not install the F8-L stylus on the F8-C body as the hole in the F8-C appears slightly smaller than the F8-L pipe assembly. The shape and angle of the pipe is different between the assemblies as well.

stevoz
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Re: Official Grace cartridge lovers thread.

Post by stevoz » 16 Jan 2016 06:09

They are the same styli I have, and correctly identified. I agree with you on the tight fit of the RS8L in the F8c. I managed, but when I went to take it out of the F8c, it was a bit of a battle, and I thought 'I'm never doing that again!' Besides. there's no real need to. So maybe they're not as interchangeable as I first thought. I'll admit, I'm no Grace officianado, just a major fan of Grace products and still learning more myself. I was hoping this thread would attract the Grace experts that are out there, to help us all out when needed! :) Enjoy...

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