Getting a Koetsu Onyx cartridge rebuilt - help

I have a vintage Koetsu Onyx that I'd like to have rebuilt. I don't want to use Van de Hul or Benz Micro because I don't want a hybrid back. Seem to recall reading somewhere that Koetsu has a service in London, or at least an arrangement with someone there who can do this type of work.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Try Koetsu SE Asia. They have a website at:

Regards, Richard

Here's a copy of the last post I recieved from ang melvin ... hope it might help ...

Info on Rebuild costs as requested :

Rosewood Standard/Black - USD650
Rosewood Signature - USD850
Urushi - USD1250
Rosewood Signature Platinum - USD1450
Urushi Platinum - USD1550
Onyx Platinum - USD1850
Jade Platinum - USD2350

Add USD20 if a new wooden box is required.
Cost to upgrade cartridges is on a case by case basis.


Melvin Ang
Koetsu S.E.Asia
michael fremer from stereophile recommends the Expert Stylus Co. address: PO BOX 3, ASHEAD, SURREY KT21 2QD, ENGLAND, UK. TEL: (44)(0)1372-276604. FAX: (44)(0)1372-276147.

apparently this company can rebuild MC cartridges at a fraction of typical factory rebuilds.
let us know how you get on.
good luck !
Thanks everyone, you've provided me with great leads. Has anyone used one of these outfits and could comment on their experience?

koetsu cartridges can be rebuilt/retipped by koetsu in japan
call the importer axiss distribution at 310 329 0187 ca.
I have just received my two Onyxes and a Rosewood from Garrot Brothers in Australia where thay have been retipped and Onyx Sapphire received a new cantilever as well. Prices range from about $280 for a simple retip and up. I can tell you they sound great, especially the Sapphire, which is spectacular. However, for this price don't expect Koetsu factory job, which basically is a replacement service not a rebuild/retip. Garrots use their own styluses which come extremely close to Koetsus of different vintages. They GLUE their tips in rather than PRESS them in like original Koetsu. If money is consideration I recommend them. If you can spend more I'm sure there are others out there. Expert Stylus Co in England has similar prices and good reviews but I don't know anything about their methods. Know that they use black and white sapphire rather than clear like original Koetsu or Garrots. I have heard that Van DenHul and Benz retipped Koetsus don't sound like Koetsus anymore but I seriously doubt that. Stylus shape will affect amount of detail, tracking, surface noise and frequency response to some degree but it's the generator that's responsible for 90% of the sound. Mine sound very Koetsu-like. Pls let me know results of your repair, especially the Koetsu S.E. Asia - they sound interesting.
I have just installed a Roksan Shiraz that was rebuilt by Expert Stylus Co. The sound is fabulous. Very high quality work at reasonable prices. Highy recommended.
If you can get a factory retip through an Asian dealer, thats the best way to go. It will be less than half of the retip list. My company has offices in Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul so I know about this. My friend in the Tokyo office left so your best bet is a dealer in Singapore, because they speak English there. There is also a dealer in Seoul, he has a website and speaks pretty good English. I was also able to get information through our Tokyo office, in particular that Sugano says NOT to use an electric cartridge demagnetizer on their cartridges. They don't need them because of the purity of the metal and demagnetizing lowers the life of the cartridge.
Thanks again everyone. Got side-tracked from pursuing this for awhile.

I've written to Axxis Distribution asking for an estimate on what is likely to be a significant rebuild.

Got mine from Sugano-san himself when I lived in Tokyo (1976-80). Quite a gentleman who has sadly passed. If I can handle the cost I'd rather have it done by Koetsu Japan. If not I'll probably mount this classic for display in a place of honor!

Paid around $500 for it back then (exchange rate was over 300 back then), a far cry from he $7500 list for its current equivalent.

I can highly recommend Expert Stylus in England, their work on various cartridges of mine has been fantastic and of a very high standard.

I just sent them 2 Koetsu Roswood signatures one of which is a long body built by Sugano-San so looking forward to these babies. I have heard good things about Soundsmith in the USA.
Another vote for the Expert Stylus company. They have been in the business for over 20 years. They are very easy to deal with, charge £25 to assess the cartridge to see if it is worth working on. That is included in the price if they do a rebuild. They can replace cantilevers and stylus, clean and rebalance the cartridge. they can not of course replace coils.

i have had a koetsu Rosewood and recently, an Onyx rebuilt. The latter cost £295 total and took about 6 weeks. I was very happy with the results in both cases. You can not do an A/B comparison with a 6 week gap, but they sounded fine to me.

They do'nt advertise or have a website as they have all the work they can handle, without it. I am told many sites advertising rebuilds, send to Expert stylus to do the work and add there own markup
Melvin Ang has arranged the rebuild of several of my late Father's Koetsu Stones. He is personal friends with the family and hand delivers them to the factory. His prices are much lower than Axiss Audio who is the official Koetsu USA rebuild broker.

Also, a less known fact is that you may have your cartridges upgraded to platinum status or spring for the diamond cantilever.

Having 3rd parties retip your Koetsu has a high negative impact on resale value. Just check the AG listings that are selling 3rd party rebuilds of Koetsu's.

Finally, Koetsu will not touch a Koetsu cartridge that has been worked on by 3rd parties no matter how reputable. I found out the hard way.
Birdogthecat: I am sure you are right about Koetsu disavowing work by another supplier. You can also claim a retipped Koetsu by someone else, is no longer a Koetsu. Nevertheless, other providers like Expert Stylus, provide an excellent service and you get a cartridge, nearly as good as new, for a small fraction of the Koetsu price.
I know with Koetsu, you actually get a new cartridge, only the body is used. It is still jolly expensive.
The only thing that would have tempted me, was a rebuild as a Platinum Onyx, but the price was way out of my league, for what is effectively, a rapidly depreciating asset.
Well, more than the body is reused in the Koetsu rebuild. The magnets are retained. I am not sure about the coil wires. Perhaps somebody out there knows the answer to that. I could email Melvin and ask him, I suppose.

I have never used Expert Stylus, probably because their lack of a website.

However, I have used SoundSmith on several of their top $350.00 rebuilds: Shelter 90x, Adcom SXC-VDH, and others. The characteristic sound of all those cartridges, after the rebuilds, changed. For the better? For the worse? I do not know. Just different. Perhaps better.

Based partly on those observations plus one personal experience, I would never have a Koetsu rebuilt by a 3rd party.

I bought a Koetsu RSP from an AG listing that I was well aware needed extensive rebuilding (the cantilever was severed in a TT dusting accident). I sent it to VDH through David Lewis Audio in PA (it is virtually impossible to contact VDH directly – at least for me it is).

VDH does excellent work. What I got back was a superb version of a high-end VDH cartridge in a Koetsu shell. Do not misunderstand: I love VDH cartridges and at this moment I am negotiating for a Colibri XGP (X coil + Gold wires + Plastic body = XGP).

Back to the RSP VDH rebuild: I contacted Melvin to see if he could persuade Koetsu Japan to restore the RSP to its former glory. The answer eventually came back as "No."

Finally, remember – if you plan to resell your Koetsu as you move up the ladder, a 3rd party rebuild has a severe negative effect upon resale value. Just check current AG listings for verification of this fact – it is an observable fact.
I was informed by Koetsu UK that everything but the body was discarded. That does'nt mean they are correct of course.

I think you are dealing with 2 groups of people here. Those who make the initial investment to buy a new unit and those, like me, who buy second hand. If you buy new, I can see that to preserve value, it is worth considering a Koetsu rebuild. Anything else seriously will damage resale value. For cheapskates like me, who bought both my RSP and current Onyx, second hand, the economics is quite different. I used my RSP for 3 years, heavily, had it retipped and sold it for what I paid for it. The Onyx cost me $800, it makes less sense then to spend several thousand dollars on a Koetsu rebuild.

It really would be interesting to have a kosher Koetsu and rebuilt model side by side, to hear the differences. I am sure they would be different. By the time you get your cartridge back after a 6 to 8 week rebuild, you can'nt really remember the origonal sound, to compare
It could be possible, that such a Koetsu - which is coming back from a independent re-tipper - will show better specs than those from Japan :-)

I cannot argue with your reasoning as I did the exact same thing. After buying a broken RSP from an AG listing, I sent it off to VDH for rebuild/retip. As you state, it was a bargain and I figured, "What the hell." It is not a very pretty cartridge in the first place. I know that is not supposed to matter, but it matters to me.

I like what I got back from VDH, it just was not a Koetsu. Maybe it was better - who knows? My Koetsu Sky Blue and Vermillion Urushi sound differently, but I do know if one is better than the other. The Vermillion is supposed to be better, but I do not know if that is true. The turquoise Blue color is really cool.

What I need now is to find somebody who really knows their way around the Van Den Hul line. Someone who has no financial interest in a sale nor an axe to grind. I need some advice.

In closing, I am not going to write any more on the Koetsu rebuild topic as I have no more to add. It was fun reading all the back and forth.
Hai bird dog .... i have a koetsu and a vd hul the condor only i damaged my condor just before i bought the koetsu, and changed appartments in the mean time so comparison is difficult

What i can say is that i think the vd hul delivers a little bit more detail(light tracker) and the urushi is wonderful with voices , i will have my condor checked here in holland by vd hull maybe its only a loose wire as the damaged occured using a to stiff needle brush, after that i make my definite claim ,both are very strong advocates of analogue , the colibri is also what i will buy in the future at one time .

greetings from holland

Since you live in the Netherlands, do you know much about VDG cartridges? I am looking at a clear body Colibri XGP listed on AudioGon. I have never seen a clear plastic body Colibri - just black plastic or metal. I have seen the myrtle wood bodies as well. But, I have never seen clear plastic.
I know about the "high end broker" and "A 10 audio" they both sell colibris new or second hand a bit of googling .
What the plastic concerns i dont know about all the colours it should not make any sound difference i would think and no i am no vd hul expert what i do know is that he lives in the dutch countryside and that he is very much devoted to audio so youre not buying a hyped marketing product but something beautifull made by hand , i would not take the high output ones personally but the low ones (lower moving mass. )
I agree. Looking for a LO - .22mv output or close to that. It is too late for me to get the clear body, and all the XGM & XGP Colibri's currrently lised on AG are HO - .45 & .65.

I will try to Google the leads you sent me.

Thank you.
Found them both. HighEnd Broker has a LO XGP Reference Colibri. I have never heard of a "Reference" model in the Colibri line. I plan to contact both dealers this weekend.

Thank you for the leads.
Youre welcome

He also sells (or sold ) a XPP with platinum coils which is even more expensive as XGP (gold coils).
I would like to hear what you think of them if you by one .

Well, after all that, I have just sent a used Koetsu Vermillion and a used VDH Colibri XGM to Expert Stylus in Surrey, England for the following:

The Koetsu Vermillion: Complete suspensions rebuild, sapphire cantilever, Paratrace stylus.

The VDH Colibri: Reducing the output from .45mv to .22-.23mv, suspension tweak, sapphire cantilever, Paratrace stylus.