In recent years, there’s been a resurgence of interest in vinyl LPs, from vintage psych to contemporary rock by the likes of Radiohead, Pearl Jam, and White Stripes. Less discussed is the parallel quest for the perfect vintage record player or turntable. The good news is that finding a decent turntable from the 1960s, ’70s, or ’80s is not as tough as you might think. Manufacturers produced untold numbers of these popular machines, and because a fair amount of them were used by conscientious audiophiles, many of the ones on the market today are often in fine condition.

The 1960s were a golden age for turntables for a number of reasons. First, manufacturers were moving away from bulky home-entertainment systems, which were more like pieces of furniture than audio-delivery devices. Instead, they created individual components that consumers would assemble into an integrated system on their own. The coincidental widespread availability of stereo LPs also gave music lovers a reason to upgrade their old, bulky mono players for sparkling-sounding new ones.

Naturally, the major electronics manufacturers tried to sell consumers on the idea of choosing from just their branded components, including the receiver (an amplifier), tuner (usually an FM radio), speakers, and turntable. As it turned out, those last two categories remained stubbornly specialized for quite some time. Thus, companies like Dual, Garrard, and Acoustic Research were able to make names for themselves against Japanese electronics giants like Matsushita (now known as Panasonic) and its subsidiary brands, the most famous of which was Technics.

The German firm Dual was founded in 1900 as a manufacturer of spring-wound motors, which, by 1909, were being used in gramophones. In the 1920s, Dual was producing gramophones of its own, which could be wound by hand or driven by electricity (they were literally dual-powered, which is where the company got its modern name).

The golden age of Dual began after World War II, when the company introduced its Dual 1000 turntable. A stereo turntable followed in 1958, and a stackable turntable, the model 1006, appeared in 1959. But Dual’s most classic turntables, with their handsome wooden bases, were the 1009 and 1019, released in 1963 and ’65 respectively. By the end of the decade, the model 1219 featured the ability to start the turntable when the arm was lifted from its rest.

England’s Garrard goes back even further, to 1721, although it did not get into the turntable business until 1930. What with a worldwide economic depression, it was not exactly the best moment in history to launch a consumer product that nobody actually needed, but the company was given a boost when the BBC purchased the turntables to play its 78s over the air.

Garrard’s first breakthrough turntable came in 1938, the RC100, which could play both 12- and 10-inch records, but World War II quickly forced the company to covert its facilities to military purposes. After the war, Garrard brought out the RC70 (it could play 12-, 10-, and 7-inch records at 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM. The RC80, which boasted a new magnetic cartridge, followed in 1950...

The biggest product for Garrard, though, arrived in 1954, when its legendary 301 turntable was embraced by newly prosperous audiophiles, who were known in those days as HiFi enthusiasts. The 301 was such a stalwart for Garrard that the company did not see fit to replace it until 1965, when the 401 appeared. Its run was even longer, lasting until 1977.

Another British manufacturer with a similar 1950s-to-1970s run was A.R. Sugden, whose Connoisseur line of turntables was pioneering. Unfortunately, A.R. Sugden turntables are often confused with those produced by Acoustic Research of Cambridge, Massachusetts, which didn't introduce its first turntable, the AR-XA, until 1962. It was a belt-driven turntable with a walnut base that ran at one speed, 33 1/3 RPM, and whose only visible electronic gadgetry was a solitary on-off switch.

This was a truly manual turntable, whose stylus-bearing arm had to be gently placed on the record, and then just as carefully retrieved when it had run out of grooves. Many would-be customers shook their heads in disbelief at the primitiveness of the machine, but purists loved it, which may be why AR continued to make it until well into the 1970s, even after it had introduced two versions of the AR-XB, which had more-advanced features.

Other turntable brands from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s that are popular with vinyl lovers include Marantz, Thorens, Denon, and Bang & Olufsen.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Vintage Knob

The Vintage Knob

The Vintage Knob is an extensive resource on all types of audio electronics organized by manufacturer, from Aiwa to… [read review or visit site]

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas pays homage to international female opera singers of the LP era. Chronicling more than 800 singers, the… [read review or visit site]

317X

317X

Despite its mysterious title, 317X is plain and simple—an online gallery of vintage LPs, with a 1950s vintage fee… [read review or visit site]

Mybeatles.net

Mybeatles.net

Jesse Barron's collection of Beatles 45s, picture sleeves, magazines, books, and memorabilia. Browse singles and al… [read review or visit site]

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

This great site, from the Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors, offers detailed background information an… [read review or visit site]

The Remington Site

The Remington Site

Since 1999, the Remington Site has offered classical music collectors a glimpse into Remington Records, an independ… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vpi Classic 1 Turntable W/extras!Marantz 6300 Turntable Record Player In Box "pretty & Pristine"Linn Sondek Lp12 Turntable (valhalla)+ittok Lvii Tonearm+talisman Virtuoso Dti!Oracle Delphi Mkiii Turntable Audiophile Record Player Sumiko Premiere Ft-3 Nm+Sony Ps-x555es Automatic Turntable. The Most Sophisticated Biotracer!Vpi Super Scoutmaster Turntable + Cover + Accessories - Mint - Mint - Mint!!Garrard 301 Turntable- Exceptional Condition.Vintage Thorens Td124 Turntable Clearaudio Champion Level 2 Audiophile Turntable / Rega Rb900 TonearmOrtofon Mc20 Super Mc Moving Coil Low Output Phono Cartridge Turntable VinylDenon Dl-301 Ii Moving Coil Stereo Cartridge . Rega Planar 2 Turntable With Upgrades Groovetracer Subplatter Herbie's SlipmatLinn Axis Turntable With Linn Basic Plus Arm / Grado CartridgeYamaha Yp-d6 Turntable With At 120e Cartridge, Service, Super CleanDenon Dp-60l - Looks Great, Needs WorkMarantz 6350q Turntable Record Player Rega Planar 3 TurntableMarantz 6100 Turntable Auto Return W 2 Cartridges Ortofon Audio Technica * Nice! Luxman Pd121 Turntable Org Box (no Tonearm)Denon Dp-60l TurntableMicro Mccurdy Presto Record Cutters For Transcription 16 In. Turntable. LatheGarrard 301 Transcription Turntable - Superb Original Condition - Very RareLinn Axis Turntable With Audio Technica 8008 Cartridge1903 Columbia Aq Cylinder Phonograph * Complete, Original & WorkingRare: Pickering 190d Tonearm For Rek O Kut Turntable - ExcellentRek O Kut Model 160 Tonearm 16" - Effective Lenght 12" + Ps 20 HeadshellSumiko Premier Ft-3 Tone Arm With New Grado Cartridge,no Reserve Nice Condition.Technics Sl-1200m3d Turntable W/ Original Box & Manual (turntable Nm; Cover G/f)Technics Sl-1200m3d Pro Dj Direct Drive Turntable System Record PlayerJ A Michell Engineering Hydraulic Transcription TurntableVintage Thorens Model Td 124 Td-124 Turntable Record PlayerC. 50's Rca Step Up Transformer Sut Tube Audio Ortofon Spu Denon 103 CartridgeVintage Marantz 6100 Turntable Record PlayerThe Ar Turntable, Acoustic Research, Teledyne Mid 1980's,sumiko Arm,shure NeedleRca Cutting Arm For Transcription Turntable ( 73b, 33rpm Cutter, Record Lathe) Micro Mccurdy Presto Record Cutter 16 In Transcription Turntable Pioneer Pl-630 1978 Ppl Fully-automatic Quartz Locked Direct-drive TurntableMarantz 6370q Turntable Shure Hi-track Cartridge Checked & Cleaned Works Great Technics Eps-310mc Cartridge New Old Stock, Original Box, Mint! VintageGarrard Type A Turntable In Original Box Never Used 1963-1964 1903 Zon-o-phone Rear Mount Parlor Phonograph W/hinged Base * Exc. ConditionRca Transcription Turntable W/ Grey R&d TonearmThorens Td145 Turntable W/ Micro Audio Cartridge 2002ePioneer Pl-510 Direct Drive Turntable Technics Quartz Sp - 15 Turntable , Hardly Ever UsedGarrard Model 301 Turntable / Take A Look!Pioneer Pl-570 Pll Quartz Synchro Pulse Turntable Owners Manual W/ Pc50 CartridgBrand New Technics Sl1200-mk6 Turntable - Worldwide Free ShippingVpi Sds Power Generator / Turntable Speed Control Synchronous Drive SystemTechnics Sl1200mk2 Dj TurntableVintage Technics By Panasonic Sl-1200 Hi-fi Audiophile Direct Drive Turntable!!!Sansui Sr-636 Turntable Direct Drive Pll-servo For Parts Or RestorationAntique Jehovah's Witnesses Portable Watch Tower Crank Phonograph Record PlayerPro-ject Debut Carbon 2m-r Turntable, Blue - PIsokinetik Isomat 1 Acrylic Turntable Mat - Ideal For Transcriptors & MichelllVintage Turntable Pioneer Pl-530Bang & Olufsen Beogram Rx2 Turntable Record PlayerVintage Linn Basic Lv-v Truntable Tone Arm N/rVintage Marantz 6100 Turntable/record PlayerMicro Seiki Rx-1500fvg Turntable With Ry-1500d Motor Rp-1110 Vacuum