Safe to use an old Sumiko Talisman Virtuoso B?

I bought a VPI HW19 / Souther Linear tracker some time ago, surprised to find it came with a Sumiko Talisman Virtuoso Boron cartridge.  The seller ( a reputable shop) warned me that the cartridge was old, and he couldn't verify it's condition.  he mentioned the possibility that the suspension could be old and dried out, could even fail and drop the whole cantilever out, allowing the cartridge to scrape along the record (if I understood him correctly).  I think he was trying to cover himself from any liabillty, he didn't even try to sell me a new cartridge.  I did try the cartridge, and it worked, but I replaced it with a Clearaudio Maestro Satine (installed with the supplied weight plate, due to the Souther low mass arm).  I don't remember how it sounded relative to the Clearaudio.

I'm wondering if I'd be better off with the Talisman, and if the whole suspension scenario is a real concern.  Has anyone heard of such a thing?  I'd hate to ruin a prized old record. 


Send it to VAS for a checkup. Steve is great and can give you an honest, informed decision in short order, assuming he can work on it. 

I bought a used Dynavector DV20XL or something like that and it had collapsed suspension. The bottom of the cartridge was scraping on the record.  But, for that brief moment, it sounded sublime. I ended up getting it fixed by Andy at The Needle Clinic for a few hundred back in 2011. 

I am not clear from your post whether you tried to play music with your vintage cartridge. In any case, while I have never heard one myself, this is a very highly regarded cartridge. If it works and plays music and you’re happy, there is no need to do anything further, or to spend any money on it. Just enjoy it. I think you are correct in thinking your dealer was just trying to cover his behind. I have many cartridges that are older than that cartridge, and have never been worked on by Andy Kim or VAS, or any other guru, and they sound wonderful. I can’t see any way in which having a check up would help a problem that may not exist.

I just put it on my old Dual turntable (it's much easier to set up than my Souther arm), and it plays fine.  It doesn't seem to be unusually low, the bottom of the cartridge looks to be about 1/8" above the surface of the record, although I don't know what it is supposed to look like while playing.  I was envisioning the vibration cracking a dried up piece of rubber until it suddenly crumbles, spilling cartridge parts over a favorite irreplaceable album.  Maybe that's not how these things fail?  I really have no idea. 

I took a chance on a used Sumiko Talisman S (sapphire cantilever), van den Hul stylus.

Plays/rides well/sounds terrific

stiffer cantilevers gives a bit more solid bass