Digital guy, thinking of taking the analog plunge.

What is the simple way to get stated with a turntable. I am looking for something easy to use that does not require hundreds of upgrades and tweaks. Is there a good starter set up out there or is buying a used table somebody upgraded a better bet.

Where does one start?
I do have budget considerations and found that my first trip into the digital world of hifi was on a tight budget. I moved up rather quickly, but spend more time in a gear hunt than relaxing with music. This time I have the speakers, I think I have the amp, and will be looking for a source that lets me relax and spend time with music rather than tweak and upgrade all the time. I love some of the old vintage stuff, but am not sure I have the patients early on to let the learning curve work. I would like to get into something that is ready to go and if possible be under a grand used. I have looked at the empire decks, VPI Jrs., and a few of the oracle units. There is a tipping point between ease of use (albums spinning), quality of sound, limited maintenance, and cost effectiveness that i am looking for. For now I plan to stick it out with my old pioneer deck and scott nixon dac for cds. I want to keep the collection small with albums I want to listen to for hours.
I reserve Friday night for LP listening. I wait all week for it in fact.

My rules are;

I have to listen to the entire LP both sides.

No breaks - just keep them spinning.

No new music - just classics.

Last night was a blast. I picked up Elton John's - Greatest Hits and it was great. I spun Linda Rondstadt - Made in the USA and Bob Seger - Night Moves. All I can say is I approach it the same way you just mentioned. I want to sit down and just enjoy the music. Dont worry too much if the speakers are toed in perfect or the amp has warmed up enough. Just grab a beer, sit down and relax. It's really worked out great.

I agree with your second post - get something you dont have to mess with much. I ended up with a modified Technics 1210 M5G and a Denon 103r. Seems like an excellent match to me and I enjoy it very much. I thought about a big investment but I wanted to see how it went first. It's going very well and I'm not sure I will move up at all; why spoil a good thing?
Looking to stay under $1k, that is my max unless I move some other great or find a great trade. I am set with speakers and amp, but everything else is in the air.

I really want to keep it as simple as possible. Set up, maintenance, and updates are going to need to be simple. This is key for the arm/cart choices as well.
Since you are new, stay with new unless you can buy local and have good dealer support.

Also, I would recommend that you go with a either a pre-packaged combo or purchase from a source that will ensure good system matching (especially table/arm/cart).

I started with a Pro-Ject Debut III and made some misteps. For example, that table will not accommodate mc carts without upgrading to the acrylic platter (original platter is steel and mc carts attract to it). Also ended up with the Speedbox II. That said, I ended up with a pretty nice combo for around $800 all-in.

If I were to do it again, though, I would probably start with one of the following:

Rega P3-24 and Elys 2. You should be able to get both for around $1000.

Pro-Ject Xpression III and Speedbox II. You should be able to get both for around $800 (ask for at least 10% discount).

Also, look at getting the Bellari VP130 phono stage or the entry-level Vincent phono stage (forget the model number, but it's a 2 box affair).

Happy listening,