Jelco - SA-250 Tonearm
Good bye, Jelco
On April 2, 2020, Jelco announced discontinuation of their tonearm operation. As of this writing, their website is still operational, and you can click the image of the tonearm to link to it.
The effect of Jelcos coming off the market is more widespread than many realize. Ortofon arms are now unavailable as they were manufactured for them by Jelco.
Many individuals are unaware of the number of manufacturers who "produced" tonearms which were made by Jelco. Among them were Linn (Basik and Akito), Audioquest (PT6), Koetsu, Sumiko, and Graham (Robin), to name a few.
One overlooked substitution for the Jelcos is the lower range of Kuzma tonearms (the Stogi S) The success of the 4Point and Stogi Reference tonearms casts a bit of shade on the junior Stogi.
But Wait! Some SA-250s are still available!
We produced a run of SA-250 tonearms (9″, statically balanced, “S” shape with removable headshell) with our partners at Artisan audio.
We have a small remaining stock of these SA-250s and are holding this inventory for sale with turntable packages.
These SA-250s are no longer available as an individual purchase.
This tonearm has always fascinated us as one that plays above its price class, and early in 2021 we began investigating it's potential. We learned two things. One is that they leveraged the resources of their parent company Ichikawa Jewel by specifying ruby bearings which are very good, and are extraordinary at this price point.
A Hot Rod Jelco
The second observation relates to a practice that was common in the 1970's - a lossy counterweight connection. We experimented with solidifying this connection and documented over here.
This takes the humble SA-250 to the next level. While it's not a world-beater, it's very honest arm and the improvement is notable. The key improvement lies in its extended bandwidth, with a more authoritative and yet nuanced presentation than the original.
This mod impressed us to the point where we'll shortly be experimenting with rewiring it with Cardas Clear litz. We suspect we haven't seen the limits of this tonearm.