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I was focused on getting this turntable set up quickly and simply (in hindsight this was short sighted), but the availability of quality tone arms made this slightly easier than the deck. I felt quite confident that an SME 3009 S1 would be a good choice but fate changed this. I could not ignore the success stories I had read of people using 12” arms with the Garrard and when an opportunity arose quite unexpectedly on an SME 3012 I just had to make my move.
It transpired that the 3012 I had found was a type 'A' which is thought to be a rare prototype version circa 1959. I am not sure how it differs from the MK1, if at all, but I was satisfied that this version SME had an elegant simplicity about it and was of a period which I could happily match with my 301. I was pleased to say the least; however the opportunity came at a price. The age of this tone arm had taken its toll and it wasn’t without its problems. The main rear end weight was so heavy the rear end of the arm was pitching down; the old SME RCA connector looked functional but a little worse for wear, the arm lever had lost its plastic end ball and I felt after nearly fifty years it could do with a rewire. Apart from this, the arm was in remarkably good condition for its age, far from a write off but definitely requiring some work. It transpired that the spigot in the rear arm tube behind the elastic coupling needed replacing as it was not supporting the weight and the elastic couplings were simply failing as a result. Due to the specialist nature of this job I spoke to Robert Graetke at Analog Tube Audio about a possible solution. Robert has a lot of experience with SME tone arms and offered the friendliest and most expert service I could have hoped for, as well as a solution which gave me great confidence. So, off the tone arm went for a full re-wire using pure silver hair wire, an RCA conversion, a new rear end tube and spigot along with a very nicely designed arm lever finger tip. My tone arm returned looking very nice, in full working order and exactly as Robert had specified. Great service!!
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