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Turntables: Balancing a Tonearm

There are many methods of configuration of the turntables, especially a turntable as popular as the Technics SL-1200. WSUM encourages hosts to do what they need to do to make their show sound as good as possible.

If you modify the setup of the turntables or any equipment, it is expected that you will return the equipment to a standard setup when you are done. Everyone deserves a consistent starting point from which to accommodate their needs.

If you plan on playing a lot of vinyl or scratching, please consider purchasing your own cartridge heads and styli.


Cartridge/Headshell Assembly


Mount your cartridge with the screws supplied. Make sure it is parallel to the sides of the headshell.


An auxiliary weight may be necessary between the cartridge and headshell, mostly in a DJ application. Many new cartridges and new turntables come with these weights. If you cannot achieve the recommended tracking force, then this weight is what will be needed.

Installing the Cartridge Assembly


Install the headshell/cartridge into the front of the tonearm, as shown. Turning the locking collar will hold the shell in place.

Tonearm Balancing


With the tonearm locked in place, put the anti-skate dial on "0" and push the counterweight onto the rear of the tonearm. Make sure that the numbers face to the front of the turntable. Turn the weight until you feel it "click" into place.


Unlock the tonearm from the rest, and move it toward the middle, about one inch from the edge of the platter. Hold the arm off the surface with your right hand on the fingerlift. Begin turning the counterweight one way or the other, until the arm seems to just float.


As seen in the picture, the arm, when properly floating, will not face up nor down, it will stay parallel with the platter. It may take a few tries to get this correct. Lock the tonearm back on its rest.

Counterweight Adjustment

tt7.jpg Holding the rear, silver, section of the counterweight with one hand, use your other hand to turn just the number ring. It doesn't matter which direction you turn it, but you will want "0" to face up when you are done.

Using just one hand, turn the entire counterweight (the silver part) COUNTERCLOCKWISE until the recommended tracking force is achieved. New cartridges will tell what the ideal number is. As a rule of thumb, however, most "hifi" cartridges track between 1 and 2 grams, while most DJ cartridges track between 3 and 5 grams.

WSUM Cartridges

WSUM currently supplies Shure SC35C cartridges for general use. If you are looking for a different sound or are not willing to be subject to the habits of others who use the turntables, hosts are always welcome to install their own head shells and cartridges for their own use. Here are the general statistics and information on the SC35C cartridge and the SS35C stylus from Shure's website:

SC35C DJ Phono Needle, Standard - Scratch/Mix/Spin

Skip Resistance:

very high



Record Wear:


Sound Emphasis:

clarity throughout the frequency range

This highly acclaimed favorite is an ideal choice for all-purpose DJ use. The SC35C is our standard DJ needle for all applications.

  • With a tracking force range of 4to 5 grams, the SC35C provides for significant skip resistance.
  • Sharing Shure's versatile Type I cantilever design with the M35S and M35X, the SC35C offers high-definition sound reproduction at all audible frequencies.

DJ Phono Needle, Standard - Scratch/Mix/Spin

Tone Arm Mount

- Standard 1/2 inch

Cartridge Type

- Moving Magnet

Output Voltage

- Typical at 1 kHz

- 5.0 mV RMS at 5 cm/sec peak velocity

Recommended Load

- 47 kilohms in parallel with 250pf

Tracking Force

- Effective at stylus tip

- Range: 4.0 to 5.0 grams

Stylus Cantilever

- Shure Type 1: low mass

- Heat-treated aluminum alloy / tubular

- 1.0 mil wall thickness / 30 mil diameter

Diamond Stylus Tip

- Polished natural gemstone: Spherical

- Radius: 0.7 mil

Frequency Response

- Essentially flat from 20 to 20,000 Hz

Stereo Channel Balance

- Within 2 dB

Channel Separation

- Typical at 1 kHz: 20 dB

Net Weight

- 6.2 grams


- 15.9 mm


- Full one-year

Accessories Included

- Extra Set of 4 Headshell Wires (4-99)

- Stylus Cleaning Brush

- Headshell Weight (3 grams)

- User Guide

- Mounting hardware

- Stylus guard

Replacement Needles

- Single with box & User Guide SS35C

- 4 Pack mounted on a card SS35CQ

- 12 Pack mounted on a card SS35CZ

Accessory Needle

- For wide groove / 78 RPM recordings N78S

Anti-skate adjustment


Set the anti-skate dial to coincide with the tracking force. In other words, if the tracking force is 2 grams, set the anti-skate dial to "2". The exception is for DJ's who scratch and back-cue. Your anti-skate must be left on "0"

That's the whole procedure! This should be done every time the turntable is moved, transported or shipped. It is also a good habit to do this at the beginning of every shift for which you will be playing vinyl as the last time the turntables were used, they may have been adjusted to different taste. After a few tries, it will become a 10 second job, and will save your vinyl, your ears, and your sanity!

Keywordsturntables, tonearm balance, studio operation, records   Doc ID20270
OwnerLaura G.Groupwsum
Created2011-09-14 18:33:01Updated2021-10-04 14:53:43
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