Great tip from another forum

I just wanted to share a tip on cartridge alignment that was suggested on another forum.

If the cartridge has sides that run parallel to the cantilever (as many do) then hold a straight piece of wire, or long sewing needle along the cartridge body to make it much easier to check alignment with the grid on your protractor.

I used blu-tak to hold the needle along the edge of my cartridge and was able to confirm that the tracking angle was slightly off. Since I corrected it inner groove distortion has disappeared (this on a Goldring 1042 with a line contact stylus).
Correct overhang setting has nothing to do with any of the cartridge surfaces; only the cantilever.
Thanks Sean, it will be obvious to 99 44/100ths of us that you were talking about alignment of the cantilever in the headshell with respect to the protractor grid and not overhang (position of the stylus). That is a good trick to use. On some cartridges, being off kilter even a tiny bit can make a big, big difference. Keep in mind, however, that this trick depends on the correct assumption that the cantilever is perfectly parallel with the cartridge sides (which is not the case if the cantilever is skewed or bent even slightly one way or the other). Bottom line - always align the cantilever and not necessarily the cartidges sides, even if they are supposed to be "square".
Sean that is a good piece of advise. I use a small machinists square with my GeoDisk, but not everyone has those two devices.

I'm not sure what the 'overhang' reference has to do with this thread though...
I'm not sure what the 'overhang' reference has to do with this thread though...

That makes two of least.
Overhang is set separately, and is set before aligning the cartridge. Once the overhang is set correctly (so that the stylus will track the curve on the protractor) then you set the alignment. Overhang is also much easier to set. It's always been alignment that I've struggled with (perhaps I should buy a cartridge with a conical stylus :-)

I was expecting someone to mention that the cantilever is not always parallel to the cartridge body. This is absolutely true, and correct alignment really requires sighting down the cantilever from the front of the cartridge. However I'll admit I find this extremely difficult to do, so the trick of using a sewing needle to align the cartridge body is probably as good an alignment as I'll ever achieve.
Sean, I understand the difficulty and, of course, like Nrchy, understand overhang. I generally use a mirrored protractor, which makes it easier to see the cantilever, but you can pretty much replicate whatever angle the cantilever might find itself by using the blue tack to make the needle of which you speak run parallel to the cantilever as you look at the bottom of the cartridge (though you might have to affix the needle before mounting the cartridge in some instances). Of course the weight of the whole "trick" will throw off the VTF, which affects all the other parameters, of course, since changes in any of the cartridge alignment factors affect each other. Having a straight sided cartridge with a parallel cantilever sure makes things easier!
4yanx ... sorry I wasn't more clear. The explanation of overhang was (obviously) not intended for you or Nrchy.

It sounds like you take cartridge alignment to a higher level than me, but since I'm playing in Rega planar 3, Goldring 1042 territory I'm quite happy with where I'm at right now. The 1042 has a removable, replaceable stylus, so if I remove it and look at it from below it gives me a pretty good idea that my cantilever is parallel to the cartridge body.