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”)

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]

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]

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    

Thorens Td 124 Mk1 Turntable With Sme 3009 Ii Tonearm Orginal ConditionLinn Lp12 Sondek Transcription Turntable Sme Series V Turntable Tone-arm In Box With PartsMitsubishi Diatone Lt-30 Top Line Linear Tracking Turntable N-mint No Reserve $1Presto "the Promenade" Transcription Turntable, "velvet Touch" Tonearm Grey/geSme Series Iii Turntable Tone-arm Sony Ps-x75 Biotracer Computer Controlled Fully Automatic Turntable RecordVintage Pioneer Pl-630 Audiophile Quartz Direct Drive Fully Automatic TurntableVintage 1950s Old 8" Emerson " Wondergram " Mini Mid Century Retro Phonograph Near Mint 1904 Victor Ms Monarch Special W/orig. Oak Spear Tip Horn * StunningSme Shure Model 3009 Series Ii Improved Turntable Tone-armVintage Rek-o-kut Master Pro Record Cutting Lathe Model M-5 Complete - RunsMusical Surroundings Phonomena Ii Lp Turntable Phono Stage / Preamp Mm Or McBeautiful Near Mint Sme 3009 W/extrasHi-fi Stereo Rek-o-kut Transcription Turntable Record Player L-34 Adc S-120 ArmThorens Td 125 Turntable With Sme 3009 TonearmVintage Marantz 6200 Turntable Great Working Condition. W/ ManualVtg Tamco Soundwagon Record Player Toy Squirt Vw Volkswagen Bus Box InstructionsVintage Marantz 6300 TurntableVintage Thorens Td 165 Turntable Record PlayerVintage 1970s Pioneer Pl-61 Turntable - Made In JapanRega Planar P25 Turntable With Rb600 TonearmPro-ject 9 Carbon Tonearm As-is Tone Arm From Rm9 TurntableSumiko Blue Point No. 2 Turntable Phono Cartridge Moving Coil Used 125 HoursEarly Ortofon Fonofilm Mono CartridgeJvc Ql-a7 Direct Drive Turntable W/shure V15 Type Iv StylusTechnics Sp-25 Turntable With Sme 3009 Non Improved Excellent ConditionTechnics Sl-1200mk2 Turntable Black,works & Looks Great, Smoke/pet Free StudioVintage Rek-o-kut Turntable Machine Recording Outfit Lathe Audax Cutter MotorPioneer Pl630 Direct Drive Automatic Turntable "no Cartridge"Pioneer Pl-l1000 Tangential Tracking Turntable - Works Great - Has Bad DustcoverTechnics Sl-1960 Direct Drive Turntable W/ Grado Prestige Green Stylus ~no Res! Sansui Sr 838 Turntable Quartz Servo Direct Drive Audiophile Turntable~very NiceTechnics Sl1600mk2 ~ Full Auto Turntable W/ Orig Box & Accessories + Cart Ariston Rd40 Transcription Turntable - For Parts Or RepairCrosley Green Turntable Portable Record Player Barely Used In Box Cr8005aSoundsmith The Voice Ebony Moving Iron Phono Cartridge For Tonearm TurntableTechnics Sl-1200mk2 Turntable Black,works And Looks Great, Smoke/pet Free StudioKeotsu Supex Sd-900/e+ Super Moving Coil Phono Cartridge Set 2 X Klangfilm Step Up Transformers T42 / 75 / 1 For High End Turntable Vintage Pioneer Turntable Pl-41 Plays 33/45 Excellent New Belt And Needle Super 2x Jorgen Jørgen Schou Step-up Transformers, Type 0,6mm, Ortofon Spu/emtGarrard 301 Turntable Handcrafted Plinth (solid Natural Walnut)Vintage Dual 701 T-550 Audiophile Direct Drive Stereo Turntable - Parts/repairTechnics Sl-10 Turntable,technics P-228 Cartridge,original Owners Manual, ExtrasPioneer Cdj-1000 Mk3 TurntableTechnics Sl-1200 Mk2 Quartz Direct Drive Turntable Needs Tonearm ~look~ RmTechnics Sl-v5 Vertical Turntable Direct-drive Automatic Turntable SystemNo Reserve. Pioneer Pl-560 Turntable, Functions Great, Professional Tested!Marantz 6370q Direct Drive Turntable With Dust Cover (for Repair Or Parts) As-isTechnics Quartz Direct Drive Turntable System Sl-1210mk2 No CartridgePioneer Dj Plx-1000 Stereo Turntable With Ortofon Needle/cartridgeLegendary Thorens Td184 Turntable W/ Shure M3d Cartridge Serviced Excellent28" Bowser Turntable W/millhouse Updated Drive System Excellent Local PickupVestax Handy Trax Portable TurntableHarris Cb 1201 Broadcast TurntableMonster Go Dj Portable Mixer Digital Turntable Lcd Touch Screens Used Once GodjThorens Td 160 Turntable 50's Decca 45 Rpm Turntable Record Player P-907 Tube Type & Original Carry CaseDual Turntable, Model 1009sk With Stanton 681eee Cartridge & Stylus