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    

Vintage Marantz Model 6300 Servo Control Direct Drive Auto Shut Off Turntable!Oracle Delphi Mk Ii Turntable Great Condition No ReserveVintage Swiss Thorens Td 124 Mki Turntable Broadcast Quality Fully UpgradedGarrard 401 Transcription Motor Unit Turntable - Excellent ConditionGarrard 301 Grey Hammer Tone Transcription Turntable 51400/1a Grease Bearing Thorens Td 150 Mkii Turntable Record Player W/ Headshell - Ortofon Om 10Technics Sp-10 Mkii Turntable, Syntec Tonearm/preamp Excellent Condition Rare !!Sansui Sr-2050e Turntable W Shure M75ej New Belt Serviced * Superb!Pioneer Pl-a35d Turntable In Walnut Base New Stylus And Belt * Nice!Denon Dp-60l TurntablePioneer Pl-560 Turntable Pickering Cartridge / StylusTechnics Sp-10 Mk3 Frame (no Platter) Garrard 301 Transcription Turntable, Grado Walnut Tonearm On Plinth, Dust CaseEmpire 698 Belt Drive Turntable Excellent ConditionVintage Marantz Model 6200 Turntable W/ Shure V15 Cartridge Record Player AudioSuperb Logic Dm101, Dm 101 Turntable With Sme 3009 S2 - Detachable Headshell NrTechnics Quartz Direct Drive Turntable Sl-1200m3dVintage Mcintosh Mc30 Hi-fi Mono Tube Power Amp Mc-30Technics Sp-10mk2a Broadcast Turntable With Quartz Phase-locked Direct Drive NewThorens Tp25 Tonearm + Thorens Td124 ArmboardLuxman Pd-289 Full Auto Turntable W/ Signet 5ea Phono CartridgeSuperb Logic Datum Ii 9" Tonearm - NrVintage Dual 1229 Turntable With Damaged DustcoverPioneer Pl-540 Turntable Record Player-clean Working Condition NrGe General Electric Baton A1-501 Pro 16” Transcription Turntable Tonearm A1501 Vintage Marantz Model 6370q TurntableTechnics Sl-1200mk2 TurntableEdison Standard Cylinder Phonograph*** Beautiful Robin's Egg Morning Glory HornShure V15 Type Iii Vn35he  great ConditionThe Ar Turntable Sanyo Phonosphere Rpt 1200 Vintage Record Player Turntable Works! Rare.Thorens Td-160 TurntableSony Ps-f5 Stereo Portable Record Player Direct Drive Fully Automatic Turntable Vpi Hw 19 Mkii Turntable Premier Ft-3 Tonearm Grado Gold CartridgeSota Star Turntable & Reflex Record Clamp Early Sugden Connoisseur Turntable - Emt Styling & Build Quality 50hz 220-240vacSota Sapphire Turn Table - LnibVintage Systemdek Iix Turntable Scotland Glass Platter Belt Drive SuspensionFlawless Well Tempered Record Player - Superb Turntable With Zyx Rs20 - Nr Vintage Harman Kardon T40 Auto Lift Turntable W Ortofon Mc10 Stylus Japan MadeVintage Thorens Mk 3 TurntableDenon Dp-59l Dp59 Dp59l Turntable Table With Audio Technica At-440mla At440mla Sme 3009 Series Ii Improved Non-detachable HeadshellOrtofon Rs212 TonearmMint Vintage Ortofon As 212 Tonearm With Original Headshell And Mounting BaseExtra Nice Restored Rca Victor 45-ey-2 Victrola 45 Rpm Record Player Garrard Dd-75 TurntableHitachi Hca 6500 Preamp In Good Working Order Turntable Preamp HifiDual 1229 Turntable. Mint ConditionMarantz 6100 TurntableGolden Age Of Tube Audio Sut Step Up Transformer German Haufe Ortofon Denon 103Vintage Fairchild 16” Transcription Turntable Cast Base & Platter Early 50sLinn Axis Turntable, Linn Sondek Axis TurntableVintage Lenco L75 Turntable W/ Stanton 681 Eee Cartridge (plz Read Description)Sony Tts-3000 Vintage Turntable Drilled For Sme TonearmHigh End Jvc Quartz Locked Automatic Ql-y66f Turntable & Shure M 97 Stylus WorksVintage Pioneer Pl-115d Turntable W/dustcover - Excellent - Original Box!Denon Dp-51f Direct Drive Turntable W/grado G7 Rca 45hy-4 45 Rpm Record Player Works Great From An Estate CollectionTechnics Sl-1200mk2 Recording Studio Direct Drive Dj Turntable Great Shape