Technics SL-23 Turntable
I picked up this turntable at a thrift store for only $15—the first time I've ever found anything remotely worth keeping at a thrift store. It needed a good cleaning and a few repairs, but nothing too major.
I found this turntable at a thrift store for only $15, which is surprising because I never find any electronics worth keeping at thrift stores around here. It was pretty gunked up, the belt had disintegrated, and the cartridge was missing its needle. It seemed to be in decent cosmetic shape (no cracks in the dust cover!) so I figured it was worth taking home.
After ordering a new belt from lpgear.com, I found that it was having trouble maintaining a constant 33 RPM speed, and 45 didn't work at all. A quick Google search indicated that this is an extremely common problem with these old Technics turntables. All you need to do is open up the bottom, spray a little contact cleaner into the speed control knobs, the power switch (which also acts as a 33/45 RPM switch), and finally the secondary speed control variable resistors on the bottom side of the circuit board. It's those variable resistors that usually cause the most grief, since they are never used outside of the factory, and accumulate a lot of oxidation over the years. Once again, I did not document this process with photos but you can see some here on Audiokarma.
After all of the knobs were cleaned, I gave the whole thing a good scrubdown and it was spinning beautifully again. Good as new. Except—one of the channels was not outputting any sound. I used my multimeter to test whether the channel was cutting out on its way through the tonearm, or through the RCA cables. Luckily I determined it was the RCA cables that were faulty (not uncommon for a 40 year old turntable) so I simply ordered a heavy duty replacement set from Monoprice, snipped one end, and soldered them in. Having to rewire a tonearm is an exercise in frustration, so I was glad I didn't need to.
The turntable came fitted with a vintage Pickering XV-15 cartridge, which I found out is pretty well regarded. Instead of replacing it with a whole new cartridge, I decided to order a replacement aftermarket stylus for it instead. As luck would have it lpgear.com had a replacement in stock, so I ordered it at the same time as I ordered the belt.
With the new belt, RCA cables, and needle installed, everything was working perfectly again, and it had only cost me the initial $15 plus about $60 in replacement parts (including shipping). And as I pointed out in the comments of my turntable comparison chart, the specs of these old turntables basically destroy many of the modern entry level turntables, even ones priced between $200 and $400. They just need a little bit of work to bring them back to life. Now if only Technics hadn't chosen the absolute worst shade of olive puke for the veneer.