Inexpensive Good Vintage Turntables?

I'm considering buying a turntable again. I've been without one for going on 10 years. This time around, could you recommend some really good inexpensive models (prefer belt but DD OK, too). And carts (preferably modern) that will work with them? And who are good online sellers of restored models? I know very little about vintage turntables ...


Thorens TD160 with all original parts will be a great start. The performance is superior to Technics1200.

I would look for a Linn LP12. All parts are available (better than original) and you can update it all the way to a contemporary Linn Klimax. 

There’s a chap @pbnaudio who sells restored Denon direct drives.

if you are keeping costs down find a Goldring Lenco and make ur own plinth Lencoheaven is a superb source for tech details and support

Belt drive turntables are easy in many ways because motors tend to be easy to source - so a Linn is always a solid choice. 

if ur in the UK I would source a Townshend Rock Elite. I have a few turntables but I find this addictive - there’s a guy called Matt McNulty - just Google him - very honest and knowledgeable.

The world is ur oyster my friend

Although PBN do beautiful work on what are already excellent Denon turntables, the final cost would probably not meet the cost criteria laid down in the OP. Otherwise, great  idea. I’d vote for a Lenco L75 with maybe a few cost effective upgrades.

Hi , it might be helpful if you give additional info such as price point and your current system. That being said I have a restored and modded Thorens TD 160 MK II with a Grado Prestige cartridge. The plinth is custom made from rosewood salvaged from a Herman Miller table. The wiring and base have been redone as well. I do want a Jelco arm eventually. Happy Hunting, Mike B.

I have a turn table question for the audiophiles.

I'm looking to sell a vintage Sota Spharrie with a Premier FT-4 tonearm, and a Blue Point cartridge. It has been meticulously cared for and in excellent condition.

Any thoughts on value?

Thank you,


@beartunes which city/state are you in?

Many people will see a single post and suspect a scam could be taking place. Or maybe I am unique.

A photo might help to provide some assurance.

Having the same TT and different arm, I suspect that the arm and cart are nothing too stunning.
I had a Sumiko BPS for a while (15 years).


Any Empire! I have four in my TT collection. Truly excellent American-made belt drives with powerful motors and heavy platters. 

It isn't just the turntable, but the arm, cartridge, phono stage and particular pressings, in top condition, cleaned. That is going to cost money. No way you get what "vinyl" has to offer without spending money. Some people are happy to go "used" and vintage; others are wary, short of a full restoration. 

If I budget this, it isn't cheap. And we haven't even talked about the cost of the "software." Record prices are high, and grading is all over the place. That said, I've been very fortunate- I talk to sellers in advance, because I don't want to have to return. And in a very few cases have I had to, given the number of records bought online. Just be aware that this isn't an idle pursuit, if you want to realize what good LP playback can offer. 

Not that I like the prices any more than you do. 

Bill Hart

@lohanimal The GL75 or a close matching model from Lenco is a good option.

The Lenco GL75 is very good suggestion and Lenco Heaven Forum is a great place to find ideas, instruction, pictorials and inspiration to get it up to its very best.

Another bonus of the GL75 is that there are designs produced for it by owners that can be seen on the LH Forum, that have it in use as a Belt Drive and Idler Drive.

For plug-n-play get a new Pioneer PLX1000 ($700) and an AT740ML cartridge. No headaches worrying about restoration costs. I bought one to add to my TT collection. I put a Denon 103R mc on it. Sounds excellent! Go to the Stereophile archives and read Herb Reichert's review from a few years back! 

@whart don’t discourage the OP.

U can clearly spend silly money but plenty of fun can be had without blowing the budget.

Goldring 1042 cartridge is excellent as is the 1022 which is cheaper. A rega planer 3 or systemdeck with an rb250 or rb300 are very reliable and sound fine. Both very easy to upgrade 

There are literally hundreds of models of good used turntables available. An exhaustive list would literally be exhausting.

One will receive no end of recommendations of various models

Eg, I picked up a ’new and unused’ Mission 775S the other day, on the cheap. It cost me about a fifth of what a new Rega Planar and Rega tonearm would cost. It came with a Jelco manufactured Mission labelled tonearm. Is it superior, overall, to a planar 3, any planar 3? You betcha.....

Patience and some Sun Tzu, is advised. "If you wait long enough by the river, the body of your enemy WILL float by". Meaning, take your time, and do some opportunistic slow-mo well considered fishing.

One thought: the best sonic qualities are generally contained within fully manual turntable designs. Where the tonearm can be (and invariably is) a separately purchased item.

Since marketplace confusion exists, within buyers, this means they can overvalue complete systems where the tonearm is a lower quality design and is not perfected as a separate item. Where, alternatively, concurrently.. the given ’for sale’ turntable/tonearm combinations are separate purchases and integrated... and this is sometimes not recognized as the advantage that it is...this means..that with patience, and good analysis...excellent bargains can be found.

A caveat in that analysis, can be..that one has to take it on as a task likened to always being at the ready. Ancient Humanoid behavior adapted to the modern times. Funds ready to go, and looking at local and national adverts, all at the same time, like forming a habit. Waiting by the river, with spear held up high, poised above the river of adverts..waiting to strike at the unrealized bargain, when it shows itself. Bring home the turntable bacon.

If one is too busy in other things, well... take the lesser valued more expensive way out, and save the time, but spend the money. And buy a finished set with the majority of the value retention being on the seller’s side. Personal choice, I guess.

@holmz thank you for your suggestion regarding the vintage Sota.

Its located in Portland OR, and currently boxed. I will have to figure how to up load a photo on this venue.

No doubt there is plenty of room for up grading the tonearm and cartridge.

kind regards.

I own the combination that @jasonbourne52 recommended - Pioneer PLX1000 and an Audio Technica AT740ML. It's DD and new (not vintage). However, it looks very similar to the classic Technics SL1200 and its pretty inexpensive, when compared to other quality TTs. I think the combination sounds great, especially for the $1000 all-in price. I like that it comes with a non-hinged dust cover. No fuss, no broken hinges or stress on the dust cover. I cannot recommend it more highly for a setup in the $1000 price range.

Believe it or not Vestax DJ decks with new tonearms are on a par with the Technics SL1200. they are dismissed due to the DJ Deck aesthetic (which i actually like). Brilliant bass. 

What country are you in?

@beartunes I might be interested… if you go through Bend you drop it off with a friend.

aholmz thank you for the Bend OR suggestion. I do have family and friends there. I'm sure you're aware those Sota's weight a ton. To do that much schelpping I would not be interested in a casual looker, nor would I leave it there out of my care.

Kind regards,

Here's a top view photo. It has been meticulously cared for.

Reacting to the ’vintage’ post, there are more older tables that performed well; not SOTA for their era, but may have gotten matched with a ’so-so’ arm and cart.

I’ve an older Marantz table that I intend to mate with a tangential arm, cart subject to budget and reasonable ’returns’ for it as a whole ’performance concept’. *L*

(SOTA is a state of mind, imho... ;) ...There will Always Be Better...*G*)

Have an old Rabco SL8 (...yes, go and’s ok...) that could be subject to the plethora of mods for grins....but a diy tang arm is not out of consideration...

"I have the technology..."
The time?


Pivot arms will be rejected.
Like you, I have my preferences...*S*

And, it hinges on your expectations, as usual....

I think the question is, "How vintage do you want it?"

I bought the #1 selling HiFi turntable of my early youth, the German-made Dual 1019. These were state-of-the-art best-sellers from 1965-70 and millions were sold in the USA on even the highest-end stereos! It’s an idler-wheel turntable (not exactly belt-drive OR direct-drive). Its low-mass tonearm supports 0.5gm tracking force, anti-skate, fully automatic and semi-automatic operation, 16, 33, 45, 78, pitch control, cueing, 33rpm installable changer spindle, 45rpm installable changer spindle(!), a do-everything table. Wow and flutter might be a tiny bit off of a quartz-feedback modern table but everything else is superb. Compared to turntables today I think you’d need to spend $800+. Many service specialists rebuild these tables.

As for headshells, Dual TK-12 headshell 3D reprints are available on EBay. As for cartridges dozens will work and I recommend Shure M44 (Jico M44 now), M55, Shure V15 or M97xe (M44 is perhaps the best selling cartridge of all time.) Modern Ortofon cartridges like red or blue or black will also mount on these.

In my opinion #1 is the cartridge, #2 is the tonearm (low mass is better, and anti-skating is essential), and #3 is the drive-technology & turntable features.  Dual 1019 has ALL THE FEATURES you could ever want and a highly competitive tone arm so this high-end 60’s table can still be competitive where it matters - in the sound coming out of your speakers.

Some modded the unit by removing the power supply and making it external linear.

My Yamaha Yp211 has been going strong and sounding good for 40 years.  I would consider their products 

let's see if this produces a photo of the vintage Sota

@beartunes - nothing visible yet.

Linn Basik...I have one with the Akito arm...superb (especially after putting a Jelco arm cable on it). Hard to find but generally can be inexpensive.

Picking up on the comment ‘how vintage’ is a fair point.


The Linn LP12 has been in production for almost 50 years. It has had many iterations I hasten to add - a bit like a Porsche 911 I guess 

The Rega Planers 2 and 3 are much the same.

Even the likes of the SME 20 go back 30 years and are still made now.

classic vintage is clearly those no longer manufactured such as the Goldring Lenco; EMT 950, Thorens TD124

in many ways the era when the most high tech together with market penetration was in the 70’s. Sadly the UK was fixated with the LP12 - we know there are many roads to audio nirvana nowadays but it killed off the chance of superb DD’s that proliferated the rest of the audio world were using from entering the UK market which was an awful shame.

@holmz I haven't had time to figure out how to use the audigon image insert.

I guess I'm not the first.

Thanks for watching this space.

"Just say no to DD."


Wow, as an owner of all types of drives I had to laugh at that moronic statement. There are plenty of vintage DD tables that still perform better than most of the junk sold today. It would take a hell of a good belt drive to match the drive motor in say a JVC QL-A7! About 3 to 4 hundred verses how many thousands? Lot's of thousands to come close to those specs. Just good powerful smooth delivery of music.

Just because your biased doesn't mean your right. Of course you could be British, they were duped to believe that kind of nonsense.



Just because your biased doesn't mean your right

Probably typed without a hint of irony.

Perhaps a vintage VPI. I own an HW-19 and I think parts for it are readily available as are upgrades. Plus, customer service is (or it was about 2 years ago) pretty responsive. 

I prefer linear tracking turntable. Good one are Yamaha PX2, PX3. B & O 4000. 

VPI TNT HOT ROD JUNIOR. Built like a tank. Not made anymore. Used one costs approx $5000.


I sold a Sapphire III in light oak with FT3 and AT440MLB 2 months ago - got $1100 for it.  Condition was good, but not pristine.  Functioned perfectly.  Unrestored.  Took a decently long time.  I was only looking for a local buyer, as I didn't want to ship it, so that limited my audience.  Hope that helps.

I have a Thorens TD 320, since new! 1986?? It was their value model way back when. Shared motor with more expensive models. Built like a tank, TROUBLE FREE -STILL. I had the output cable/RCA's removed and replaced with flush mount high quality female RCA jacks so I could use high quality interconnects. 

They are around.... I also agree with the person above on Empire TT's but I haven't seen a lot of them in good  shape( or any shape) I lusted over my buddy's AR-XB, a magnificent little minimalist unit that was Iconic the day it was introduced. It was produced,like Thorens in large numbers so you may find one of the them. There is a very clean/refurbished  unit on E-bay now for $495.

Happy hunting 


Thank you for your reply,  I agree the weight of the Sota limits it to a local buyer, which may require more time.

The condition is pristine and  meticulously cared for. Hoping to get a techie friend to help me upload pictures.

Thank you for your input. 


Just because your biased doesn't mean your right

Probably typed without a hint of irony.


Like I stated at the beginning, I own all three types of drives. For sheer fun my restored and hot rodded Russco Studio Pro Model B is the table that I enjoy most, gotta love that shifter, for easy no fuss listening with perfect speed it would be my JVC TT71 motor drive in a 2 arm Victor CL2P plinth and if I want to fuss around, it would be my massive Acoustic Solid table, (belt or actually thread drive). I think that covers all 3 drive types pretty well.

My recommendation for someone getting into vinyl? Look for an older mid to upper level DD table. No fuss, just get on with playing.



if you want a fantastic sounding engineering work of art, how about a Transcriptors/Michell Hydraulic Reference? either with the Transcriptors Unipivot, an SME 3009 or a Grace/Hadcock?

For the original poster, I’ve gone through a good number of turntables. There were a handful of criteria that influenced whether and for how long I was happy with a turntable. I’ll lay those out here:

1 - was it sensitive to foot falls? My floors are pretty bouncy and if the table skipped, it bugged me.

2 - did it keep speed well and at the correct speed? My ears are sensitive to speed variation

3 - how much of a PITA was it to install a cartridge (I’m not incredibly patient and I’m also not inclined to fuss with things too much or overly sweat VTA or azimuth and so on)

4 - was it reliable and low maintenance?

5 - finally, did it please me visually and did I like how I felt using it?

Went thru a good number. I ended the journey with 2 tables - a new SL-1210GAE that was not inexpensive and a Sota Sapphire with SME3009 tonearm. One DD, one belt. The SL1210 will outlive me and I can realistically say it will never be replaced and will likely never give me any problems. The Sota, which I don’t really need, will stay around because I have so much respect for it. It does not, however, hold speed on par with the Technics.

The ones that are no longer here?

- couple of Thorens (TD-316, then 318, then 320) - they skipped if I looked at them funny and the tonearm was (for me) a PITA to install cartridges on. Sounded nice

- Rega P3/P25 - nice, simple, reliable, reasonably good against foot falls, but ran a little fast. I could imagine having one again with a speed box

- Older Technics SL-1500 - once I got it working (cleaning pots, etc.), it was problem-free and was probably good enough. But I felt like I must be leaving something on the table if I’m using a $300 table that was 40+ years old. If you can find a good one from the 1200-1800 lines, you’d probably be happy

- Older Pioneer PL-600 and 630 (the heavy, good ones). Wanted so much to love these, but they were starting to get flaky - would slow down, then speed up, would not turn on, etc. The 630 broke my heart - time and money spent trying to get it to work, unsuccessfully

- Duals (1019, 1229, 1249, another 1 or 2) - liked them, but because they were old, found them fussy and difficult to keep running well. Ruined my 1019 trying to refurbish it on my own.

- assorted others not worth going into.

My experience says either (1) get a good Sota Sapphire, but make sure you get a good one with a decent tonearm already on it or (2) get a Technics DD - maybe even buy new if your budget permits. If a nice Rega lands in your lap, that could work as well.

An AR 'The Turntable' or later are excellent tables.  Usually good with an undamaged arm.  I refurbed mine over a couple of years.  Just added Jelco 750D arm, cart. with tone arm board, and spring kit. 

But, I started with it as it was, just a new belt.  YMMV, but sounds much better than anything new under 1K, and now it competes well with more advanced tables.  The Thorens, Linn, Sota, and similar tables with a decent arm all good candidates.  I like the Linn, due to upgradability, but pricey, and the Sota Turntables.  I am happy with my 'The Turntable' but if a Sota fell into my lap I'd grab it.  Good luck with your search.

Post removed 

The Following supplied info', is a Copy/Paste of info' I had offered recently in another Thread.

The producer of the Info' has a vast experience with LP replay equipment from Vintage to Modern spanning a price range from Hundreds of $'s to $50-80 000+.

A report of this nature from an individual with nothing to gain and with a very attractive experience of using equipment that spans across many decades in comparisons, should hopefully be enough for the OP to consider this TT as a Model of interest.

It meets the Brief, Vintage, DD, and Affordable.   

It is reports of this calibre about the Aurex/Toshiba SR-510 that encouraged myself to purchase a selection of these TT's, to be added to my growing collection of Vintage DD TT's.  


Toshiba Aurex SR 510 drive with 12" Thorens tonearm.

The Toshiba drive was supposed to compete with the Technics SP 10 at the time is now and again at fair prices in the bay.

The weak point was the original tonearm at that time, and nowadays the integrated PhonoPre is no longer needed for the "special" Toshiba systems.




the Toshiba SR 510 also plays with a friend of mine and doesn't need to hide from a Micro Seiki RX-1500 with Koetsu tonearm standing next to it. Thanks to the interchangeable headshell, the comparison (with the contemporary Yamaha MC-9) can be made quickly.

With my SR510, unfortunately, the original tonearm can only be repaired with (for me) greater effort, insofar as the assembly of a modern tonearm in the 1000 EUR class.

The TP92 tonearm is mounted reversibly, if you want to mount the original arm again, this can be done optically and technically without any difference to the original, since the Thorens TP92 hole is covered by the (black) original tonearm base (see pictures).

In fact, it would have been possible to have a frame for the Toshiba direct drive drive built on the basis of a Technics SP10 frame, for example. But in terms of price, it would make the project unnecessarily expensive and since the original frame can still be used "originally", ie it is not damaged by the additional drilling, I went this route.

On one of the next cool days I will devote myself to connecting the tone arm.