[ Home | Staff & Contacts | HiFi Playground | Listening tests | DIY & Tweakings | Music & Books ]

Shure SFG-2 - stylus force gauge

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap

[Italian version]

Product: Shure SFG-2 stylus force gauge
Manufacturer: Shure Inc. - USA
Approx. price: 25 $ - 28 Euro
Reviewer: Lucio Cadeddu

[Shure SFG-2]
Shure SFG-2 gauge

You may know that setting up the right stylus pressure is crucial not only for the best sonic results from your analogue turntable but also to avoid damaging the LPs while playing.
A correct tracking weight can preserve your vinyl from aging for the years to come.
So, there you have it: a "weight scale" printed on the counterweight of the arm of your turntable. You already know the basic procedure: move the counterweight till the arm remains in perfect equilibrium, turn the scale so that it reads 0 grams, then turn it (counterclockwise, normally) again to set the correct weight.
Now there's a problem: the weight scale on the counterweight, especially on cheap arms, is normally inaccurate so you can easily end up with a WRONG tracking weight. Definitely a no-no.
Plus, please consider that many arms, especially of the hi-end crew, don't have ANY kind of weight scale.
Now you begin to understand why a precision stylus force gauge is needed.
So you start looking around for a stylus pressure gauge and you find those digital space-age atomic-powered scales that cost an arm (yours) and a leg, sometimes more expen$ive than your whole analogue rig.
The next natural step is then to start browsing your TNT-Audio for reasonably priced alternatives.
And BAM! You've just found a hi-precision, easy to use, solid and smart force gauge for just 25 bucks, more or less. Introducing you the Shure SFG-2 stylus force gauge: a no-frills, grandma-tested, accurate and inexpen$ive toy that can end your worst nightmares about tracking weight.

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap...

[Shure SFG-2]

The Shure SFG-2 force gauge is a blast. Just put it on the platter, set the desired weight, gently place the stylus on the scale and read the result. Even your grandma can do that!
The allowed weight ranges from 0.5 to 3.0 grams, claimed accuracy is 0.1 grams (within 0.5 and 1.5 grams), it is solidly built and user-friendly, and there's even a small mirror to help you seeing when the scale is in perfect equilibrium.
Shure claims each SFG-2 unit to be factory-calibrated in order to respect the 0.1 accuracy. This accuracy is pretty high indeed, considering it is a very simple mechanical device. 0.1 accuracy means that when you're reading 2 grams, it could be 2.1 or 1.9 grams, a negligible error you can fine tune by ear.
But I was curious to test if the claimed accuracy was real or just hype. So I took the Shure scale to work (Dept. of Physics, at the University where I teach Real Analysis) and asked a colleague to bring the toy into our labs, where certified 1 g and 2 g weights are available for our students' physics experiments.
The lab's room temperature was kept at +20 C (as usual when doing mechanical experiments) so we were ready to start....and, WOW! ...the scale worked as accurately as claimed! Even better, the SFG-2 under test, when weighing the 1-gram test sample, gave us 0.95 grams, with an accuracy of 0.05 grams!
Kudos to Shure for being able to mass-produce a hi-precision stylus force gauge with this level of accuracy at such a low price!
So what else can I say? The SFG-2 is easy to use and REALLY accurate as claimed. A true bargain.

Some advice

Beware of the fact that room temperature always influences the cartridge ability to react to groove modulations. You may need to use a slightly heavier pressure when room temperature is below 20 C and slightly lighter weight when the temperature is higher.
This should be kept into proper account when trying to get the best out of your analogue playback system. A pressure gauge may be of great help here, you can fine tune the sound of your analogue TT by varying the tracking weight according to room temperature.

The SFG-2 is sturdily built but it is a precision instrument, so please don't bend it or let your children play with it. Though it appears to be safe (no dangerous edges or pins) it should be kept away from children's reach.
When putting the stylus over the scale, please pay attention during operation: a wrong movement and your precious stylus may dangerously fall (read: crash) on the platter.


Apart from a certain (tiny-weenie, indeed) amount of static inertia, the Shure gauge is flawless.
In other words, the low friction pivots, at sub-gram weights, show some inertia, i.e. you need to push the cartridge a little bit up and down to make the gauge search for the equilibrium zone.
This is perfectly normal. With such low weights, static friction of the pivots starts to play a role, though it doesn't affect measurements on the long run.


OK, another must-have. Low cost, worldwide availability thanks to Shure's worldwide presence, reliability, 100% no-nonsense construction, ease of use and high accuracy: these are the pluses of such a clever, well-thought and made product.
Moreover the elegant package makes the SFG-2 a perfect gift for audiophiles commited to analogue, let your relevant S.O. know it!
25 $ bucks definitely well spent. I like HiFi accessories this good.

A warm thank you to Jack Kontney of Shure Inc. and Thomas Neutz of Shure Europe for having sent us this delicious toy to test.

© Copyright 2000 Lucio Cadeddu - http://www.tnt-audio.com

How to print this article

[ Home | Staff & Contacts | HiFi Playground | Listening tests | DIY & Tweakings | Music & Books ]