Customer Reviews: Shure SFG-2 Stylus Tracking Force Gauge
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on September 29, 2005
The Shure SFG-2 Tracking Force Gauge is a well-made precision device that gives you an accurate reading (within a 10th of a gram) of your tracking force. Even if you have a tonearm with a tracking force scale on the counterweight, this provides a much more accurate way of knowing exactly how much force is being exerted on your precious records.

The range of this gauge is any weight up to 3 grams. Unless you have a prehistoric phono cartridge (which you need to stop using!), or are using a specialty cartridge made for listening to 78s, it should fit the bill nicely.

The black body of the unit is made from a precision heavy plastic material that is extremely durable. The weight scale is metal. There is also a mirror with two white pointers. When the two pointers are aligned, the tracking force is indicated by the position of the sliding weight on the scale. It's packaged nicely with easy to follow instructions on it's use.

Some pricier digital scales are probably a bit more accurate, but when you get down to accuracy of 1/10th gram, that's splitting hairs. A highly recommended accessory for any vinyl lover.
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on March 17, 2009
I wanted a tracking force gauge for some time, but never got around to buying one. I figured, hey, the counterweight on the tonearm is good enough, right? Boy, was I ever wrong. I discovered my tonearm was about three grams overweight! This tracking force gauge is pretty cheap insurance in my view. If I had any idea how far off the tonearm counterweight was, I would have bought one with my turntable. Please note, this is not a digital model and will not give you ultra-precise measurements. Shure has a gauge for that too, if you're willing to spend the money.

Description and Use: Balance scale just like at the gym. The unit is placed on the turnable mat extending from center to edge. The weight is adjusted from 1-3 grams. Tonearm is lowered and needle placed in the gauge groove. measurement taken. Tonearm lifted, tonearm weight adjusted. Repeat.

The stated tolerance on this gauge is +-0.1 grams. For the tech, that's pretty darn good, and for the price is outstanding. I can easily say this gauge has saved me from buying a new cartridge that much sooner. And heaven knows how much it has helped extend the life of my records.

1. Value for dollar unsurpassed. Consumer reports best buy or Stereophile three dollar signs, take your pick.
2. Reasonable accuracy, especially for moving magnet cartridges, which seem (at least to me) less sensitive to weight differences than Moving coil. Your ears may vary.

1. Balance point is a metal pin on a plastic platform. When I used it, because of such low weights (1-3g.), I sometimes questioned the accuracy of the device, as it seemed to get stuck at either end of the scale. A metal platform would reduce friction and (I think) have more accurate results. However, it easily showed my tonearm was waaaaay overweighted.
2. Balance indicator can be difficult to read. The balance indicator is merely a small (approx. 1/8" wide by 1/2" deep) black platform. The other end of the balance scale floats up or down in accordance with your desired weight and the tonearm weight. When viewing the balance indicator front on, this 1/8" wide nub can be difficult to tell how far off you are. If you have vision issues, you may want to look elsewhere.

Overall a very nice addition to my setup. Way overdue as a matter of fact. My recommendation is a tracking gauge is a REQUIRED piece of equipment. This will work with acceptable accuracy. Better options are available (digital) but only you can say if you want to spend way more to get a more precise result. Also remember you are going to have to adjust your counterweight on the tonearm, which was hassle enough. More precise scale will require smaller adjustments to your tonearm. The real question is: Is your tonearm good enough for a digital tracking force gauge?
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on December 27, 2009
As mentioned in (surprisingly) only one review, this device is magnetic. I've had one for many years and only noticed this when I tried it with a moving coil cartridge. Perhaps this is why Shure sells this - they do not make moving coil cartridges. With a moving coil cartridge, not only would the results be extremely inaccurate, but there is a strong risk of damaging the cartridge irreparably.
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on September 11, 2011
Those of us who are still playing LPs understand that digital is not always better. Then why do we succumb to the lure of a digital force gauge for our turntable setup? I did, and I can say that in my case it was the belief that "If it's more expensive and more complex then it must be better" ... compounded by a dose of "If it looks like a computer then it must be right". Well, I was stupid. For years, I used this balance-beam style of force gauge with perfectly good results.

Then I outsmarted myself by buying an Acoustech digital force gauge, that gave me a readout to the hundredth decimal place. Only after a long time, did I decide to test the accuracy of the Acoustech against the Shure gauge using a lab-calibrated weight. It turns out, those hundredth decimal place readings don't mean a d*** thing. Nor do the tenth decimal place readings. The Acoustech is built from the cheapest parts imaginable, and the strain gauge at its heart is sourced from a place that doesn't know the meaning of quality control. Therefore its readings are nearly random. Oh, and after a few years the electronics completely gave up and died.

Whereas, the Shure gauge is based on such simple principles of physics ... i.e. gravity ... that it's easy to build it to a high degree of accuracy. All one has to do is to make the balance beam longer, and it becomes more sensitive. Since there's minimal wear to the pivot point, in practice the parts never lose their precision. So while it looks crude to our 21st century eyes (accustomed as they are to electronics everywhere) the Shure gauge is actually the more accurate, and obviously it's the more reliable option. Used in various forms for centuries to measure everything from potatoes to gold, you can trust the balance beam gauge.

You do need a gauge of some kind to set up your turntable for the best sound. So buy this one and then get some LPs with the $ you saved.
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on September 1, 2015
Never thought I'd need something like this, but I got it because it was cheap, and what the hell, it looks semi important. When I got my Teac TN-300 setup it said the cartridge is rated for 2.0 grams, so I slid the little slide to 1.0 grams, positioned the scale on the turntable and got the arm lined up with the 2x groove.

Turns out I was a like .45 grams over 2.0 grams, which was set by strictly using the marks on the tone weight.

Don't know how much of a difference this adjustment made, but for my first "serious" Vinyl setup I am quite happy with the results. The scale is super easy to read, at first I wasn't quite sure how it worked, but once you set the scale on the turntable it all makes sense.

My only note would be to not put the scale on a record, I think it needs to be on the turntable itself. Dunno how much difference it makes, but when you're talking tenths and hundredths of a GRAM, I guess every little bit is important.
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on November 9, 2011
I recently jumped back into the world of vinyl playback. I purchased a B&O RX-2 back when I was 13 years old in 1983. The problem with the B&O turntables is the fact that they have a proprietary cartridge system that can only be replaced/upgraded by Sound Smith. I was recently at my In-Laws and they were about to take a Pioneer PL15D-ii turntable to the junk yard! I grabbed it, ripped it apart and got it working perfectly. I installed an Ortofon Blue cartridge on the tonearm. Even though the counterweight on the old 1973 Pioneer was fairly accurate, it was not as precise as the Shure scale. If you're a perfectionist and want your vinyl to last as well as your cartridge needle, the weight your cartridge tracks is critical and there is not a better way to perfect that weight than with the Shure scale. The Shure scale will also be very useful should you upgrade a head shell or tonearm on an older unit. Get back into vinyl, you'll be amazed at how much better it is than CD's or MP3's!
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on January 26, 2014
If (like me) you were relying on your tone arm's dial-up calibration to get the correct tracking weight, you're probably in for a big surprise. My Technics setup was way off prior to using this, my first real tracking gauge in more than 30 years. Easy to use and store, this should be an essential part of any vinyl lover's tool kit.
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on December 7, 2015
As a new vinyl collector everything about the vinyl world seemed intimidating to me. This medieval looking contraption is actually pretty simple to use without the error and overestimating of the similar function digital scales out there. If you've ever used a protractor or a compass for something other than stabbing a classmate this is very easy to use and surprisingly accurate. I used this to set my Audio-Technica turntable's tracking and have been listening to the now properly tracked vinyl tracks since. Looks scary, but easy and accurate once you open it.
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on January 9, 2014
For a fraction of the cost of an electronic tracking gauge, this Shure gauge was very easy to use. When one considers that tracking is set up ONCE for each stylus/cartridge combination, it makes no sense to spend more money for an infrequently used item. The more expensive electronic gauges depend on perfect battery status for correct reading. This device requires only its presence!
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on August 19, 2013
I know there are folks out there who spend 100s of dollars buying digital scales, but I'm never really confident about those. Those scales use very delicate sensors which are easily damaged with excessive pressure and are even affected by dirt and dust. Bottomline is, you have to be very careful with those; having said that, a well calibrated scale will definitely be very accurate and provide a higher resolution to allow for very precise VTF calibration.

I've used digital scales and have compared them to the SFG-2, the truth is, the SFG-2 is very accurate and as it states provides accurate resolution up to a 10th of a gram. The reason I've decided to use the SFG-2 over digital meters is really very simple,

1. Its as basic a concept as you can have when it comes to weighing scales, yet provides a very high level of accuracy.
2. Additionally, I don't have to worry about the type of cartridge I'm using as it works with both MM & MC.
3. No need to every worry about batteries.
4. And last, but not the least, I don't have to worry about the sensor getting damaged.

I'm not against digital scales, I'll only recommend that you don't use them alone, use the SFG-2 in tandem or as a backup and you'll have more success and reliability in your cartridge setup process.

The reason I docked a star is for the way the counter-weight is setup, it's not snug on the scale and tends to move even when you're balancing the tonearm, had this been better implemented, this scale would be perfect!
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