Taming the Schröder

Galibier Design - Schröder Headshell Mod (mounted)

Headshell Mod

I’ve always contended that a key consideration in choosing a tonearm involves how you interact with it. 

As with any tool, individuals have differing tastes and priorities - whether due to the tool's ergonomics or its  features and functions. 

I wrote about it in this post.

In general, I limit my recommendation of Schröder arms to experienced vinylphiles, or to someone who has a Schröder expert perform their setup.  

That “someone” had better have extensive experience with Schröders, otherwise you’ve hired the wrong individual.

It's not all that Bad ...

Now, a Schröder will sound absolutely wonderful if you set it up “by the numbers” – as good as any arm I’ve experienced (at any price - prove me wrong).  The single exception is Frank's custom version.

The magic however, lies in the tuning, and I consider a failure to exploit this arm’s potential to be a crime against music.

Shown here is the the headshell rebate which houses the pivot bolt (click any of the photos for an expanded view).

Galibier Design - Schröder Headshell Slot (unmodified)

Schröder Headshell Screw Rebate

Energy Management

Galibier Design - Schröder Headshell Mod (Mounted)

1st try - a bit too tall

A critical design element in all of Frank’s tonearms involves his approach to cartridge energy management.  Owners rarely follow Frank’s advice in the excellent tuning section of the CB tonearm owner’s manual.

Frank states that bolt torque should progressively increase as you work your way from the headshell bolt (loosest), to the azimuth set screw (tighter) to the counterweight set screw (tightest).  

What’s lost on many, is that the headshell bolt needs to be “finger tight” (Frank’s words).

What does that mean?

Typically, this torque setting puts the cartridge on the threshold of spinning out of adjustment.  

Yes.  It's typically that loose!

Frank’s custom wood arm wands extend to the headshell, and the wood provides some compliance (compression) which makes it considerably easier to find the sweet spot.

The aluminum "stub" on both the standard carbon and ebony CB’s has no compliance, and tuning can be a bit tricky.  It behaves like an on/off switch.

Galibier Design - Schröder Headshell Mod (Mounted)

Getting Closer (& trying nylon washer)

The slightest bit too loose, and the cartridge spins about the pivot bolt.  If it's the slightest bit too tight, and you miss some of the magic.

Find that sweet spot, and ahhhhhh.

Adding  Compliance

Galibier Design - Schröder Headshell Mod

Out with the Hand Tools

I began to consider how add some compliance, in order to "replicate" the wooden headshells.  

I considered both a soft washer (nylon, fiber, etc.), and a nylon pivot bolt.

Unfortunately, the arm's recessed headshell slot is barely wider than the M3 pivot bolt – too narrow to accommodate either a washer or the head of any nylon screw.  Even nylon socket head screws are too wide.

What to do?

Out to the shop with my lutherie tools, I fabricated a “plug” to "fill" the slot.  The photos above show the first two attempts, with the first one (trying a brass washer) being a bit too tall.  We shortened it in our second try (shown with a nylon washer, above).

The rendering (below) shows the production concept.  We extended the height slightly above the arm wand (by about 1mm) in order to widen it so it will support the entirety of any washer we might experiment with.


Confirmation Bias?

At this point, I view this as an experimentation platform, but preliminary results have been positive.  Like any modification, it takes a bit of time to ensure that one isn't falling victim to confirmation bias.  

It's received a broad response, and we're on our second production batch.

Of course this mod is non-destructive.  Remove it and return to baseline.  Stay tuned for updates.

Galibier Design - Schröder Headshell Mod - Simulation

Production Simulation

A Secondary Benefit - Smooth Operation

Galibier Design - Schröder Headshell Tuning Kit

The Production Insert

We're not fans of socket head screws on headshells without protective washers.  

The screw head tends to gouge aluminum - forming a "memory" which makes it difficult to make fine adjustments.  

The washer facilitates smooth movement and protects the material beneath it.

Note that the Kuzma headshell design also challenges the use of washers, and we custom fit washers for these arms (click here for the story).

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Schröder Rescue Unit

Thom


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