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]



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]

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    

Fairchild 411h Vintage Transcription Turntable W/ 280a Tonearm 411 H Shure M3dVintage Marantz Turntable-model 6300, Servo Control Direct Drive/auto Shut OffSchick 12" Tonearm For Turntable, Garrard, Micro Seiki, Emt, Ortofon Spu Etc + +Vintage Thorens Td-125 Turntable & Sme 2009 Arm & Stanton Eee 7538 & Cover NrLinn Sondek Lp12 Transcription Turntable With Trampolin+ Walnut Plinth - Boxed80's New Old Stock Nos Sme V Magnesium Turntable Tonearm Tube Audio CounterpartSony Ps-x800 Biotracer Automatic Turntable. Linear Tracker For The Audiophile.Fine Museum Quality Garrard 301 Turntable From Original U.k. Owner Nr. PristineEmpire 598 Turntable With Original Tonearm, Headshell, Dustcover - GreatVpi Turntable Aries Ii With Jmw Memorial TonearmVintage Collins 12s Broadcast Turntable-micro Seiki Ma-505 Tonearm-bodine MotorProject Essential Turntable Belt Drive Record Player Ortofon Oms 5e LovelyEmt 930st - Ortofon Rma229 - Tsd15 "reference Machine Turntable"Goldmund St4 Direct Drive Linear Tonearm Turntable Tested/works Great/cleanBeautiful Sme 3009 S2 Improved Detachable Headshell TonearmDual Cs5000 Turntable Sony Ps-x7 Automatic Turntable. Sony's Best Seller In The 70's.Linn Sondek Lp12 Turntable, With Valhalla Power Supply, Ready For Arm And NeedleBeautiful Thorens Td 125 Mk Ii TurntablePrimare R32 Phono Preamplifier Stage, Stunning For Turntable, Mc, Mm CartridgesIntersearch I/s Velvet Touch Transcription Turntable Tonearm Gray 108 GraceGarrard 301 Transcription Motor Unit Turntable With 50hz Strobe PlatterGarrard 401 Transcription TurntableVintage Yamaha Ns Series Model Yp-211 Natural Sound Turntable/record Player1956 Rek-o-kut Rondine Deluxe B-12h W/ Rare Gray 108 Transcription ArmVintage Thorens Td 124 Turntable Plinth Tonearm For Restoration Or Parts NrVntg Jvc Ql-f4 Direct Drive Auto Turntable W Lid & Advent E CartridgeLinn Lp12 Ittok , Cirkus, Troika Turntable All BoxedRega P3-24 TurntableMarantz 6200 Automatic Turntable In Excellent Working ConditionVintage Pioneer Pl-41 Belt Drive 33/45 Stereo Phonic Turntable/record PlayerGarrard 401 Transcription Motor Turntable.Excellent Technics Sl-bd22d Turntable Record Player Deck Working With Stylus T4pThorens Td165 TurntableVpi Hr-x Turntable With Rim Drive And Super Platter Upgrades Pioneer Pl-530 Direct Drive Full Automatic Stereo Turntable Marantz Tt-15s1 Turntable With Acrylic Chassis And Belt DriveDenon Dp-57m Direct Drive TurntableTechnics Sl-1200mk2 Direct Drive Dj Turntable UsedDenon Dp-80 Turntable Unit For Professional Match All Tonearm Vg+++ No Reserve Rare Vintage Presto 16 Inch Transcription Turntable Model Y 6n With Rare TonearmThorens Td150 Mkii TurntableSansui Automatic Turntable Fr 3060Bang & Olufsen Mmc4 Cartridge And Stylus Beogram TurntablePro-ject Debut Carbon; Turntable W/ Ortofon 2m Red & Phono Amp New BoxedOracle Delphi Mki Turntable W/new Dustcover Tested/works Great/cleanTechnics Quartz Direct Drive Turntable Sl-1200mk2Grey Hammerite Garrard 301 Grease Bearing Professional 3-speed TurntableRega Rp8 Lp Turntable. Shure V-15 Type Iii Turntable Cartridge With Jico Sas Vn35 StylusVintage Pioneer Pl-71 Turntable - Nice OneSony Ps-f9 Portable Linear Tracking Stereo Turntable Technics Sl-1210mk5 Direct Drive Turntable Technics Sl-1360 Direct Drive Turntable With Stanton 681eee CartridgeDual Cs5000 Turntable Tested/works Great/clean!Technics Sl-1200 M3d Turntable With Dust CoverGates Cb-77 Transcription TurntableSme 3009 Ii Turntable Tonearm With Wiring Harness And Sme Headshell, No Reserve!Empire Troubador 398 Turntable: GoldBeautiful Marantz 6150 Direct Drive Turntable & M95ed Cart - Audiophile Quality!