Woodsong Garrard 301, Artisan Fidelity 301, Shindo 301, SME 301, or etc.?

I feel fortunate to own a beautiful Woodsong 301. Chris Harban is great to work with and has an incredible amount of knowledge. I believe he is among a handful of the best restorers. Artisan Fidelity seems to also do a great job and may even surpass Woodsong. And there are others in the cottage industry doing restorations.
Then there is the venerable Shindo version and, now, SME bought the original Garrard name and design and has come out with version using mostly original parts but saying that they aim to manufacture new. But the general view says that the SME one doesn’t compare to the great restorers. Has anyone bought any of these or others?

I think with your question we must distinguish the differences between "restorers" and one who modifies to potentially make better. Do all those fall into the same category?
Woodsong appears to offer plinths and I don't know if he does anything to the 301 like new platter and bearing. We know Artisan Fidelity mods the 301 to a highly expensive level, then we have to ask is it still a 301?

You make a very important point which is completely lost in most discussions. I dont believe anyone offers an optimum reincarnation of the Garrard 301's. 

For example in my rebuild I have revisited fundamentals under the chassis that none of the premium rebuilders offer - 

1. I have punched out and replaced all the rivets/washers connecting the control levers under the chassis with nylon bushes and telon washers to eliminate noise from metal to metal contact and rattly levers. None of the rebuilders do this. In fact you would think with 3D printing it is now possible to remove all the metal under the chassis.

2. I have decoupled the power switching from the on/off lever so that when you change a record, the idler disengages but the motor continues running. Given that the motors take a while to stabilise it seems crazy to me that no one else has thought about this simple mod. It also eliminates having a 110/230 volts switch and wiring under your low output moving coil. None of the rebuilders do this.

These are just 2 examples. There are a myriad of other possible mods under the chassis that rebuilders have never thought of.

For me the rebuilders change the chassis/bearing/platter and build a plinth, but they faithfully replicate the motor/control systems of yore along with their inherit faults.

And then there are the thoughtless mods - like the aftermarket bearing "upgrades". Most people denigrate the original flat bottom spindle and thrust pad. However changing that profile to a ball and thrustpad actually destabilises the platter and spindle. Think about it - is it easier to stand on a flat surface or balance on a ball. The ball produces hifi but affects bottom end coherency compared to the original design.

I could go on and on. There are more tinkerers out there than engineers.

For me 2nd mod looks very promising and not difficult to implement - thank you for a hint.
I have tried ball profile as spindle mod but wasn’t too excited so moved to rod as Classic turntable company offers (Garrard 301 spindle thrust base). I like it more.

Congrats on your new turntable, OP!
The beautiful pictures on Woodsong and Artisan Fidelity's website were certainly inspiration for me to build my 401. When SME released the new 301 with M2-12R tonearm and a 20K price tag, I had to build a 301 as well but with a nicer plinth. There are so many plinth maker and aftermarket parts that you can custom one to your exact liking and makes a vintage turntable project fun if you're into that kinda thing.
I've always wondered how well the permanent Stillpoint and Track Audio feet that these professional builders use work. I always thought different flooring calls for different feet when dealing with idler tables, similar to the Shindo Garrard.

Thanks for posting this thread. Please post your system, so I can see pics of your Garrard.

I have a modified Garrard 301 in a Woodsong plinth as well. I am not a diy guy, but would love to hear a 301 with all of the mods made by @dover

My 301 was restored by Audio Grail. It also has an Audiosilente idler wheel, Harban eddy brake, and a Shindo platter/bearing. It is on Nordost SortFut. It came on Stillpoints, but taller feet due to the size of the Shindo bearing.

@scar972 Great looking room and turntables!

@pcosta The EMT is a big time audiophile qualifier.

Jim Perry

@jperry Thank you. I really like your Garrard 301, your Ikeda tonearm is a beauty and on my list when the time comes.