If you're in the market to buy a vintage turntable, then you might be a bit confused about what you should really be looking for. What distinguishes one option from another, and what factors are the most important to base a purchasing decision on? There are many different factors that could come into play, and this is just a quick guide to help you get started in the right direction.
Of course, first things first and that's the overall quality of the vintage turntable in question. Is it in pristine condition, is it like new, or does it have lots of wear and tear? Buyers will disclose the quality of their items for sale, and through pictures and other information you should be able to get a better sense of the condition of the unit.
In addition to this kind of overall quality and state, you also want to consider the quality of the different pieces or components. There are three main components to any turntable that you'll need to be familiar with.
The first and the most important is the tonearm, the piece that actually runs over the record to play it. Tonearms with lower mass are always considered better, and you can find a wide range of materials that provide different qualities and looks, and cost different amounts. The tonearm is certainly something you want to make sure is in perfect working order.
The next main component the platter, or the plate. This is where you actually place the record. Here, a heavier weight is better for more stability. Finally you'll have the motor, and obviously this is what is actually providing power to spin the record. You want the motor and the drive system to be in good condition so you can actually get some usage out of the turntable.
Repairs are always possible, but will depend on how much work you want to put in and what kinds of compatible parts are available. For example, vintage RCA turntables are always popular, but if the unit is damaged you could have more problems finding replacement parts because the company no longer exists. Meanwhile, with a Panasonic or Technics turntable you're more likely to find parts, and instructions, to work with.
A lot of buying a vintage turntable will be about personal preference. You might have a brand you particularly enjoy, or you might be looking for specific features. You might also be trying to stay within an exact price range. You can find high quality vintage turntables for a very low cost these days, but some of the most highly sought after models can easily set you back hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. So choose wisely based upon what you are looking for specifically.
Hopefully you have a better sense now of what to look for when you're buying a vintage turntable. Quality is always important, and the tonearm is the most important of the three major components. If you need to repair or replace anything, look for brands that are still in existence, and always keep in mind your budget and any other specifications you have in mind. If you do all of this, you'll be sure to find a vintage turntable that you're happy with.