What happens when the stylus tip wears out on a $12,000 cartridge?

There is no shortage of stereo phono cartridges with 5-figure price tags. What do you do when the stylus tip wears out? Do any/some/all manufacturers of these cartridges provide or offer a re-tipping service? Or do you just lay out another 12 or 15 grand for a new cartridge? Sorry for my ignorance - the Denon DL-103R/Lithium Audio Musikraft shell I currently use is the most expensive cartridge set-up I’ve ever owned. I’ve had a couple re-tipped by Soundsmith in the past for $200 - 300. What do you guys at the other end of the price spectrum do?


When one purchases a 10K cartridge they are stepping out on the ledge. No way around it. If you're actually looking and this is more than conjecture the solution put forth by tunes409 sounds pretty good. Phasemation is a very solid brand IMO.

I still wonder how you know your cartridge needs to have the stylus tip replaced? Other than the purchase of a $1200 microscope, how do you know. I don’t track the hours played. Plus, if a stylus starts to degrade, it is a gradual process and I would never know how the sound changed over that lengthy degradation process.

How do you all know when the stylus needs replacement?

@pgaulke60 - for me, after a few years, the cartridge just starts sounding a little ratty, as if the stylus is dirty, or mistracking. You can always just send it to a retipper for an inspection and, at least in the case with VAS or Soundsmith, I think they will be honest about it. If you don’t feel you trust them, that’s another story. 

@chayro Thanks for the response.  I have two turntables, in different rooms, with the same cartridge.  I think I will call these outfits and ask about retipping for my specific cartridge.  Would really like to know if it is worn.  Then, if the one I send in is good, or gets retipped I can put it on the table I use daily, and repeat the process.  Thanks

Truth is none of us “knows” for sure when a stylus is worn enough to need replacement, assuming a gradual decline and not a catastrophic failure as occurs when the stylus comes unglued from the cantilever, unless one owns a suitable microscope and is skilled at examining styli. You learn to live with that, or not.