VPI Classic/Clear Audio Maestro Wood Question

I just bought a CA Maestro Wood cartridge from an A'gon member. Per the seller, the cartridge is practically brand new and hasn't even broken in yet. The seller has great feedback and I found him to be very reliable.

I mounted the Maestro Wood myself, being careful to double check alignment, azimuth, VTF and VTA. My turntable is a VPI Classic, with the stock JMW 10.5iSE arm. As far as I can tell, the turntable and arm are in good working order. As regards azimuth, I adjusted it with both the little aluminum rod provided by VPI AND with a bubble balance. Azimuth is perfect. Ditto VTA. Oh, per VPI's suggestion, I am NOT using anti-skating force AND made sure the tone arm wire is not twisted.

After all mounting procedures were performed and double checked, I "eye-balled" the cartridge and cantilever alignment while playing a record. I noticed that as best I could tell, it seemed as though the cantilever was pulling slightly inward towards the spindle, maybe 10+ degrees. Same thing with the cartridge just sitting on a record with the platter not turning. However, when I lifted the arm, the cantilever seemed to hang straight down. Sound imaging is spot center in play mode. Ordinarily, I would have thought the cantilever was pulling slightly inward towards the spindle because of excessive anti-skating force, but as stated above, I am NOT using the anti-skating set-up.

Ok -- the question: Is it normal for the Maestro Wood cantilver to pull slightly inward towards the spindle under the circumstances described above?

One more question: I also own a CA Virtuoso Wood which needs a new stylus and cantilever. Does anyone know who the Clear Audio contact is that does the re-tips?

Thanks for the advice.
Sorry, I'm not trying to twist your comments into something else.

I see where you mentioned later about having some other clearaudio cartridge rebuilt, and I wrongly assumed you were referring to the cartridge on the table, my mistake.

But it does seem you are seeking opinion as to why this issue you note is occuring, and I assume you hadn't ever noticed such occuring with another cartridge on this table?

Hopfully, you'll get all solved, and hopefully too, others can give you better advice than I have.

Choosing not to mention any names with this reference I once read, by a very knowledgeable person who I know that posts to this forum once made a comment, along these lines I believe that if one sets up antiskate to track neutrally on a blank test track, that antiskate will most likely be set much too high.

And to further go on, he mentioned that too high antiskate will often be the cause of a cantilever that will take a permanently skewed-crooked set.

But that no antiskate at all can never cause this to happen?

And that's where I'm a bit at a loss to understand this priciple? Where one can be detrimental, but the other isn't?

Hopefully more folks can enlighten up both, and please do keep us posted on your findings. Hope you get all sorted out. Best of luck, Mark
Follow Up Note:

I rechecked my adjustments using different methodology and tools. I rechecked cartridge alignment and overhang using a recently acquired VPI jig rather than my Dennison protractor. Although both tools incorporate the Baerwald (sp?) geometry, the VPI jig enabled me to make more accurate adjustments. The VPI jig lays flatter on the platter and the brightly painted alignment grid is easier to use as a reference. I also used my bubble level in a different way to check VTA. It turns out that additional adjustments were required, especially VTA -- the tone arm had to be raised quite a bit to achieve the right SRA/VTA.

I rechecked the cantilever alignment after I made the adjustments described above. Interestingly, because I raised the tone arm to achieve better SRA/VTA, I actually had a better "look-see" of cantilever alignment. I believe the cantilever is pretty straight. It might always have been ok, it's just that because the tone arm was hanging so close to the platter, it was hard to get a good look at its position relative to the cartridge body.

Moreover, consistent with other posts in this forum, I believe the various adjustments affected the sonics somewhat. In particular, the music playback is more airy and less bassy. Imaging is correlatively improved as well. I'm still fine tuning SRA/VTA, but the adjustments are now pretty small -- on a "tweak" magnitude of change. Overall, an improvement!
Good light is important to setting up a TT. Make sure your TT is level before setting up the cartridge. A good alignment protractor is helpful as is a good digital scale, VPI setup tools, in my opinion, are a rough estimate of a set up. To set azimuth on a VPI arm the arm has to be balanced (set to proper weight) after setting the aluminum rod on the arm or the weight added by the aluminum rod can skew the results. A bubble weight can crush the cartridge. After setting azimuth with the rod it's best to visually check the cantilever for azimuth.
From your OP I think you misunderstand anti-skate:--"Ordinarily, I would have thought the cantilever was pulling slightly inward towards the spindle because of excessive anti-skating force, but as stated above, I am NOT using the anti-skating set-up"-- When antiskate is applied it prevents the arm from being excessively pulled to the spindle. On a VPI TT the external anti-skate rig is probably not recommended but one twist of the tone arm wire might be a good idea.
It takes time, a long time, to get it perfect.
Mjglo, Thanks for your comments.

I agree 100% with what you said, particularly using the bubble level to adjust azimuth. Hence, I set the azimuth with the level using the tonearm lift to gently lower the arm to just touch the record a tad. I then checked the level at the point of contact and determined which way to rotate the tonearm weight. The process was iterative and a pain in the as* because the adjustments were just a hair touch and everytime I screwed with azimuth, I affected VTF. FWIW, I agree that using the bubble level could damage the cantilever unless extreme care is used, but it's inherently much more accurate than using the aluminum rod. The rod is useful to do an "eyeball-double check" of azimuth. You're right . . . it takes time and patience.

BTW, as I mentioned above, I do not use the external AS rig, but as you said, just a little twist of the arm wire is plenty.

It has taken time, but it was fun!
Another simple method to fairly accurately eyeball azimuth angle, and will be free of cost, is use a thin mirror to set the Stylus upon, and the symmetry of the Stylus, and the reflection of the Stylus in the mirrror should be noticeable if it is off.

What you're looking to achieve-see, is a precisely symmetrical hourglass shape.

And the Mirror can be something as simple as a CD you don't much care about, to set the Stylus upon. Neither Glass, or Plastic will hurt the Stylus.

This view of the Stylus from the exact front of the cartridge can be enhanced by the use of a Jeweler's Loupe, or a magnifier.

Glad to hear things are getting better with the set-up! Mark