After the disappointing experience with the Oyaide silver & silk headshell leads, and inspired by the massive musicality of the Western Electric WE24GA headshell leads Yazaki-san sent me, I decided I wanted to give a DIY set of tinned-copper headshell leads a try.
First I contacted Chris at Parts Connexion, and asked Chris for a recommendation for a good but inexpensive set of headshell clips. Chris recommended the Cardas PCCEG cartridge clips, which are made of stamped gold-plated brass, and are $6.44 USD for a set of 4. I ordered two sets of 4 for a grand total of $12.88 USD.
My intent was to use the Duelund DCA20GA tinned-copper wire for the leads, but it was a little too big to fit into the clips for soldering.
So, instead I used the same 22 gauge Gavitt cloth-covered tinned-copper vintage-style guitar pushback wire from Art Of Tone ($7.10 USD for 12-feet from Amazon), that I used to make a DIY USB interconnect last year.
The Art Of Tone wire was a perfect fit to the Cardas cartridge clips, which made life easy assembling the headshell leads.
First I cut 4 lengths of pushback wire to use for the leads, then I put a cartridge clip in the alligator clip of my ‘helping hand’ to prep it.
The easy way to prep the headshell clips is to insert the solder wire into the clip where you solder in the headshell lead, then heat the clip until the solder wire melts and falls off, filling the clip with solder.
Then I tinned the end of the pushback wire I was using as a headshell lead, and placed it on the prepped clip, heated the clip with the soldering iron, and slipped the pushback wire into the clip as the solder melted.
I repeated the procedure with the second cartridge clip, wrapped a little Peavey microphone tape on each end for color coding, and the first lead was done!
I repeated the procedure to make the red, green, and white headshell leads, then installed my new headshell lead set on my Schick headshell, and then mounted the Sumile phono cartridge.
I installed the Sumile / Schick headshell with my new Art Of Tone headshell leads onto the Schick tonearm, and got everything setup to play a little music.
I’ll cut to the chase.
The DIY Art Of Tone headshell leads sound fantastic, and like the Western Electric WE24GA headshell leads that inspired them, they are massively musical.
Just for kicks I got out my vintage Shure V15 III with its VN35MR stylus, and gave it a listen too, and it sounded ravishingly beautiful with its WE24GA headshell leads.
Yep, tinned-copper headshell leads are magic, both the Western Electric WE24GA headshell leads with my Shure V15 III & VN35MR stylus combo, as well as my DIY Art Of Tone headshell leads with the Sumile phono cartridge.
I’ve played about a half-dozen records after installing the DIY Art Of Tone headshell leads, and I’m really enjoying their relaxed, detailed, and spacious and ‘real’ presentation of the music.
Many thanks to Yazaki-san for recommending tinned-copper headshell leads, they truly are transformative sonically and musically in the Real Sound fashion.
I encourage you to try building a set of the Art Of Tone tinned-copper headshell leads, you’ll be amazed at how transformative a few short lengths of tinned-copper wire can be.
Update! I’m feeling really silly right now. I completely forgot that Frederik told me he was going to make some Duelund DCA26GA solid-core tinned-copper cable with an oil-soaked & baked cotton dielectric back and April!
After seeing this post Frederik reminded me about the Duelund DCA26GA he has in the works, and told me he was going to be sending me some soon, as its almost ready!
So, in anticipation, I just ordered another set of 8 of the Cardas PCCEG cartridge clips from Parts ConneXion ($12..88) to make up another set of headshell leads with Frederik’s Duelund DCA26GA solid-core tinned-copper wire when it arrives!
I’m thinking the Duelund DCA26GA single-core tinned-copper will be the perfect gauge size for headshell leads, as the 22 gauge is way big for headshell leads, and even the WE24GA is pushing the size limit!
They both sound great as headshell leads though, with a rich, natural, detailed, spacious, timbrally-correct, tonally colorful presentation.
I’ve come to the conclusion that tinned-copper headshell wires may be the single most dramatic wire change you can make in a system, as it’s at the origin of the music signal, and changes at the origin have a huge effect on the sonic & musical presentation of the music.
I’m also thinking that making up some tonearm leads with the DCA26GA solid core tinned-copper would be a great project!
Much more to come!
As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you – the Art Of Tone!