Newbie looking for cheap dependable table

I have been lucky enough to be asked to "store" about 1,000 of my father's LP's. While growing up he would buy a few new albums every week & we would listen to them over the weekend together. They are in perfect condition, he would always clean them & store them perfectly so I know they are worth having.

My dilema is that as much as I want to get into vinyl playback it seems like a MAJOR PITA. I am intimidated by everything that I am reading here about setting up the stylus, proper cleaning & care of everything. I am not much of a tweaker with my system now unless I get off on a tangent for a little while. I also never get enough time right now to listen to my system as it is, I will need a table that is ready & waiting for me when I have few free hours. Now that being said I was intimidated when I first got into this hobby a few years ago & everyone here was kind enough to help me get my feet wet.

So the question at this point is with about $1000.00 to spend should I purchase a used Rega, Music Hall or refreshed Thorens for about $500.00? I figure with the rest of the money, I will try one of the cheaper phono stages plus necessary tools, cleaners & any other widgets.

Obviously like anything else in this crazy hobby if I find this is for me I will spend way more than I ever expected. For the moment though I am looking for a good table that will let me get used to this new world & hopefully make me want to get in over my head. If I find this isn't where I want to be I will either sell it all or offer it to my father. At this point I am still thinking I will be listening to 90% digital & only 10% analog.
I think the Music Hall MMF 5 would be a good place to start. Used you can find them for abou 500. Otherwise, you could step up to the MMF 7 if you wanted to spend a little more money.

I started with an MMF 5 and thought it sounded good even with the stock cartridge.
I own the MMF-5 and would highly recommend it as a plug and play unit. The sound is very good also. I have not really been able to listen to a high end analog rig, so I don't know what I'm missing, but I'm happy with the Music Hall MMF-5. I purchased the table and a Music Hall phono-pak pre-amp for under $700 from Music Direct. Use the rest of your budget for a record cleaner.
A used Rega is a good, dependable, low maintenence table. I am not familiar with the others, I've seen and heard some Thorens, and Music Hall, but don't know enough to offere advice.

If you go with the Rega, I would recommend using a Rega cartridge too. Rega arms don't have a VTA adjustment, but are set correctly for a Rega cartridge. Who knows maybe your 90% vs 10% might change! Have fun!
A number of people in your situation are buying Technics DD tables that are still being manufactured mostly for DJ stuff. Try Musician's Friend, the model is SL-1210 or SL-1200 if I recall. If you can stand putting up with the prejudice against Japanese products and DD tables in particular you will probably be quite satisfied and buying new certainly simplifies things. Good luck.
In addition to the TTs already mentioned, you should consider a Technics Sl-1200mk2 (or mk5) modified with a tonearm damper from

Check Ekobesky's review here at Audiogon or the recent review at TNT Audio

Assuming your father has a reasonable taste in music, you're in for a treat. Good luck!

- Harald