Counter weights on your turntable...another dirty little secret?

This is more of a public awareness post for us Mid Hifi peeps who have recently made the  dive back into vinyl. I did back in 2020 and did my research and decided on a packaged deal- please be gentle on me- from one of the two biggest online sellers out there. They set up too and provided some simple instructions to finish the set up when it arrived.

Fast forward a couple year down the road and I am thinking I should bring the table to my local audio repair guy in Northern Litchfield County, CT for a check up. I was concerned that maybe something was off, and man was I  glad I did.

My turntable is ProJect Classic SB- you know that 1970's vintage looking one,  coupled with the second generation Sumiko Oyster Blue Point II. This guy is extremely  busy with endless warranty and service work- so it sat for time before he could check it out, but he knows  what he is doing. He soon discovered that the most he  could track the cartridge was at 1.47 grams-the Sumiko is supposed to track at 2 grams.

The problem was the counter weight. Next challenge was finding the right one and it was not an easy task, as tech support was tough for ProJet and he ended up fining something posted online back in 2018 on counter weights for ProJect turntables. He also reached out to a peer, who has a very  reputable brick and mortar store here in western Connecticut for assistance.


As many of you may know most online sellers do not even sell counter weights.


He eventually found what I needed- for only $35 too, but I was  shocked that this turntable was paired up with this cartridge-and this was not a cheap one either, it could not even track it properly. Why would that even happen? So for over two years I have not  gotten the  best  performance I could from this set up.


So as they say buyer beware and add this tale to the long list of questions when sourcing a table, verifying settings, if your new table was set up at the  factory correctly, or upgrading your cartridge



A great reason to find a reputable local dealer. While I have used turntables for over sixty years I do not have the patience or interest in fiddling with them. In my opinion purchasing from the web is good for accessories. My dealer sells a lot of inexpensive Rega and others as well as top notch ones. 

I remember taping a penny to the tone arm to improve tracking. That was not that uncommon with 1950’s vintage counsol turntables.

Off by about 1/2 gram. A scale could have detected this! The Shure scale is fine! Mine is still good while the cheap Ch*nese electronic scale is kaput! Turntable owners should learn to setup their own rigs! There is joy in learning!

My cheap Chinese scale is a revelation. You must have invested in the really f’n cheap one.

I agree with Jason and more.

If you can't setup your own TT you have NO business owning one.

If you can’t setup your own TT you have NO business owning one.

I believe a trusted TT technician can do better than the home hobbyist. Most don’t have an oscilloscope to check output and other tracking errors. However, the OP might have noticed the counterweight was at the limit of its travel suggesting there might be a problem. 

The supplied counterweight is a standard  

"no. 183 for cartridges with weight between 7 - 14g"

The chosen cartridge weighs 6.3 gm

The online seller didn't do his homework.  It most likely wasn't  possible to get the weight any closer to the tonearm pivot.

Exactly, ghdprentice - support local dealers who are invested in customer service rather than pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap online vendors.


fuzztone wrote, "If you can't setup your own TT you have NO business owning one."

What as piece of bloviated bullshit.  I am blind in one eye and my sighted eye has required retina surgery inside the eyeball twice in the last seven years to retain the vision I have with it.  A good turntable set up guy is a must for me.  On the other hand I have designed and built my own speakers for the last thirty-eight years.  How would you like it if I said those who can not design and build their own speakers have no business owning speakers. 

+1 @jasonbourne52 

Learning how to setup your cartridges is an absolute necessity if you are serious about getting the sound you like. There is so much you can do with your cart and arm to mold the sound to your ears, it's literally like an equalizer.  I don't understand folks who rely on pros to do it for them. They are missing all the options and enjoying only one sound, the one the "pro" picked with his install, whether it was done correctly or not.

For rookies on a budget with this issue, tape a nickel to the headshell then balance the arm via instructions at Vinyl Engine. That would probably get the tracking force in a workable range. If the nickel is too heavy, use a dime. Nickel too light, use a quarter. Et cetera. 

My Pro-Ject Perspex SB (similar to the Classic) came with at least 4 different counterweights with the turntable. I'm pretty sure the one you purchased comes from the factory with multiple counterweights.

I would go back to the seller. There is nothing wrong with the Pro-Ject line of turntables.

Dadawada has it exactly.  Talk to a tech at Fine Sounds and get the right counterweight.  The other option is to add weight to the headshell. A half gram of Bluetack will also damp any resonance. 

The Shure scale and similar beam balance scales are hopeless.  60 year old technology based on pre-industrial science.  The pivot carries far too much friction - if you tap one end and let it swing to a halt it never stops in the same place.  I doubt it's accurate to a quarter gramme.  Don't use it.  I binned mine in the 80s when the first digital strain gauge scales appeared.  The one I use now reads to a 100th of a gramme and repeatedly gives exactly the same reading.  Essential.

1+ @baylinor ,  The guys that set these turntables up at dealerships know less about turntable set up than most of all of you. Setting up a turntable is not rocket science, it just takes a few tools. There are YouTubes all over the place on the subject. If you can use a screw driver you can set up a cartridge. I can understand why most will not install a tonearm, that takes a drill press. But align a cartridge?

The problem with proper cartridge alignment is that it take patience and you have to be very fastidious. You have to really care about what you are doing and nobody but the owner is going to be careful enough to really get it right. The dealers only have the patience for a ballpark job at best. When is the last time a dealer asked you what alignment you would like?   

@dadawada  I will have to double check the box to see what may be in there. I don't recall  extra counter weights.


Yes, learning to do the cartridge set up can be a natural next  step, but for many -myself included, who are living very  busy lives and somethings are not going to be at the  top of the to do list. This was one of them for me.

@fuzztone  so with your logic if you don't own a vineyard then  you can not enjoy a  glass of wine?

@baylinor  that is an interesting comment, but to treat your cartridge with so much variance to get it to your" sweet spot?" That can be  very subjective. You could hypothetically do that every time when you  change a genre of music.


The settings on the phono stage are a similar comparison. I would prefer not to be changing all these settings every time I spin an album. I want it to be set up correctly and then properly maintain that-which regrettably I was not doing. It is clear that I need to at the very least invest in a stylus weight.


Thanks for everyone's comments. I  hope to get it back this week and will report back.

Setting up a cartridge is not as difficult as some make out. You do need to have the proper tools but if you’re investing in a nicer turntable you should also want to learn how to set it up.

Some of what you need you can download and print out from the internet, like a cartridge alignment sheet. A good cartridge tracking weight scale is good to have for about $60.

For most cartridges it takes about 10 minutes.

What as piece of bloviated bullshit. I am blind in one eye and my sighted eye has required retina surgery inside the eyeball twice in the last seven years

I had 3 retinal surgeries plus the resultant cataract fix in 1 year in my dominant eye. BFD

I have SCA 3-3 fumble fingers and still do my own setups. BFD

As @dadawada sez it’s not rocket science or I would have to call my son in, a Dr.of Astrophysics. If you feel you need help, pay for it.

@idigmusic64 logic demands paying for a certified mechanic to air up his tires.

Any comments I’ve made only promote self sufficiency, a key part of the hifi experience for me.

The OP was about starting out ignorant (like every last one of us) and then finding help. A beautiful thing.

Learning how to set up your turntable should be a requirement for all audiophiles , included in the audiophile 101 course😃 seriously it’s a skill that helps you to be more involved in this hobby. There’s som many resources on line that can help and the set up tools are relatively cheap. Enjoy the hobby. 

Good comments (some a bit hot ... wait are we on an audio forum?).  OP thanks for sharing your experience, nice to see a newer audio fan share experiences.  We all started there.   My $0.02 is that I agree with those that suggest learning how to set up your TT, lots of youtube videos out there.  Should be able to get the basic tools (digital scale and printed templates) for less than $100... maybe even sneak in a USB microscope.  I realize there are some that are restricted in this endeavor of TT setup, but most vinyl enthusiasts would say the reward exceeds the effort by leaps and bounds.

Set weight to float tonearm, set to O, roll weight to 2, skate to 0,

play tunes, easy peazy


had to hair dryer the tonearm assemble years back, as the lube dried a bit, warmed up, set, good another 30 years.

after all these years, finally bought a blank record. Will set tracking finally, will see if I was off by much, don’t think so. Sounds good, looks straight



turntable mucking is great, head basement, pop on LP, stay close, wife comes, “whotcha doin?”

setting up TT honey. 

will you be long, . Maybe an hour, 

great excuse, so is changing truck oil in garage,

music, water, relax, change at slow pace, leaves me alone! Priceless, no naggin, whining, etc. 2 hrs free peace time in garage, me n my music. 



Thanks for all the comments and the insights- and the well deserved lashings by a  few of the elders, as the table is  back and spinning records again.

I definitely have noticed sonic improvement right out of the gate- the vinyl is very quite, even on  older pressings. Mid-range are bright and crisp. I did a play a wide variety of albums this morning including of Judi Collins(White Bird), Steely Dan (Royal Scam). Coltrane( My Favorite Things Mono), GD( Light Into Ashes) and  others to get a  good overall impression. The bass is slightly  lacking but that may have more to do with my phono stage settings. That  unit is a Jolida JD9 II tube phone stage and my  integrated amp is a Rogue Sphinx V3.

One thing with the  added 0 .5 grams it  seems the Cueup does not work as effectively as it once did- as now it does not raise the cartridge completely off the record as it previously did. 

I will be investing in a stylus  scale and will  educating myself on being able to verify the settings.


Any other insights- along with colorful commentary, one liners, and appropriate memes, will be  greatly appreciated.


Double check your adjustments on the Q-Up, you can make the lift stronger, an extra half gram should not be an issue. The lift force slider is on the rear of the body.