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?


I’m no cartridge expert.... Is it even possible to build a MC cartridge with a removable stylus like MM’s? I’m guessing not or there would be plenty out there. I recentlu learned that early Ortofon Concordes were MC. Who knew

Anything's possible, but practicality is another matter. There's no natural air gap to serve as an easy separation point like with MM or MI. An MC is literally hardwired from stylus tip to lead outs - where every micrometer is incredibly delicate. You could create separation ability with custom contacts, but where? Anywhere before the coil is too delicate and would add too much moving mass, negating the performance of an MC. After the coil, and what's the point? You're replacing the most expensive parts of the cartridge right there, so economically it's not viable, and probably sacrificing some alignment tolerances too. 

@mulveling Ahhh that makes sense. I did some research the Concorde  200 MC cartridge did have a removable stylus and so did a Sony MC (70's). So I'm guessing from what you said, if it were practical and worry free we would still be seeing them. 

Couldn't agree more! Great guy to deal with!


"Before you buy it, check with Steve Leung at VAS, ask him if he can re-tip and/or rebuild suspension/cantilever/tip. Worse than wear would be bending or snapping the cantilever.

I sometimes buy broken cartridges that I know he can rebuild. I ask him first, he tells me which ones are bad choices to work on."

mulveling, Re your comment on why one cannot rebuild an MC, wouldn't there have to be an air gap between the moving coil and the magnet structures?  Can't be hard wired from stylus to output, I don't think.

Had my Soundsmith Carmen rebuilt for $200. Somebody else may be able to tell the difference, but I can't. Great service from Sound-Smith