Posted in audio, gear, vintage

    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.

    29 comments

    David

    David

    I have the same turntable, and the veneer is not originally that color. This is due to a habitual smoker or dirty owner.

    Chris

    Chris

    I'd love to do a restore but can never find any old equipment. Great job!

    Jeff

    Jeff

    David, the base was heavily scrubbed with magic eraser and warm soapy water, and the photo has been white balanced (though maybe a tad on the warm side). So if the color looks off, it might be your display. Or maybe Technics made slightly different versions for different production runs, because I see on Google that some look a little more gray than others. But this one is definitely clean

    Brent

    Brent

    I'm not sure about the plastics used on that record player, but I've had good results using "retrobrite" to restore the plastic on a heavily yellowed Super Nintendo. Heavy scrubbing accomplished nothing until the retrobrite was used. May be worth looking into here.

    http://retr0bright.wikispaces.com/

    Nate

    Nate

    Great post. I have an sl-23 as well which I bought from goodwill for 7 bucks and then paid $30 to ship it! Anyway, part of the reason I decided to go with it (besides the value) was because all the controls are integrated into the right side section and, after taping that off, it could be easily painted. Mine is now high gloss white and I'm quite happy with it - modernized retro I guess. Fwiw, it also looked good in a flat black which I used as a primer.

    Jeff

    Jeff

    Nice! I would like to see photos of your paint job

    Ian

    Ian

    I just bought one sl23 $ 8.00 yard sale I would like to replace the lid it has one scratch but nice I think this was a good buy.

    Dan

    Dan

    I Found Mine For $19.00 Dollars In Almost New Condition And It Blows Away My Marantz 6350Q!!! Technics Is The Boss...

    RIchard

    RIchard

    Hi, I'm having speed problems with mine. I tried to put it on 45 after about six months of having it on 33 and everything went crazy, just wouldn't keep the correct speed and sometime it wouldn't start properly. Then suddenly today it starts working again. I couldn't find contact cleaner but bought wd 40 however I've realized this is not the stuff to use and didn't use it. What part of the turntable alters the speed, is it the capacitors? Did you use the contact cleaner on the dials from inside the turntable by opening the back or just from the front? The photos you suggested didn't help. I also had to replace the audio cables just bought some decent ones from radio shack was simple enough. I've just ordered I new needle/cartridge so I'd like to get it running as smooth as.... Thanks for the post!

    Jeff

    Jeff

    Richard, the speed control is part of the power switch. You need to flip the turntable upside down (remove the platter and secure the tonearm first), then unscrew the bottom. Once open, you'll be able to easily find the power switch and adjustment dials for both 33 and 45 RPM. Spray a little contact cleaner inside the power switch and speed dials, give them about two dozen turns, and then repeat the process again. It's unlikely you'll need to replace any capacitors.

    RIchard

    RIchard

    Awesome! Worked... so far. Installed an Audio Technica 95E cartridge and the sound (and speed) are much sharper. Thanks!

    Thomas

    Thomas

    Hi all!
    I'm looking at purchasing a Technics Sl-23 for $100 here in Australia. This would be my first record player! Any tips on what else I should be looking out for? Do I need a receiver, amps etc?

    Cheers

    Tom

    Harald Bough

    Harald Bough

    I bought mine when I was 13 (1975) in Europe. My original finish is silver. Have used it up until 8 years ago when mine started exhibiting the same speed issues - Never had the heart to toss it. Now I'll try the contact cleaner and dust off my Vinyl! Glad I stumbled across your review. Thanks

    Glenn

    Glenn

    Back in the early 90s i came across one of these when i started getting into rave music and dj'ing and learnt to mix on one of these, been 14 at the time and it all been about technics 1210, (a bit out of my price range) i made do with one of these along with another unknown deck i had, cant remember what it was but it had nothing on this. This lasted my years, was a great deck and have found memories of it. It ended up getting stolen from a friends house when he was burgled. :( would love another one

    Disco

    Disco

    I just bought an SL-20 off Craigslist for too much, but I love it. The speed was inconsistent, so it needed to have its controls and power switch cleaned and lubed. Now it works great.

    There is a slight squeak when the platter starts, but then goes away in about a quarter-second. It doesn't happen with the platter removed, so I'm guessing it's not the motor; I'm not sure what's causing it. Maybe the spindle against the platter is making a noise. There is also a very tiny amount of looseness where the tonearm meets the pivot. I think the whole thing would need to be disassembled to fix that, so I haven't bothered.

    I was pleasantly surprised at the finish of the plinth. I see a lot of them on ebay that are really discolored, but mine is in almost perfect condition. It's also a much more durable texture than I imagined it would be. I used 91% alcohol and a paper towel; that cleaned it almost perfectly. The next step is to polish the dustcover. Not sure yet how I'm going to approach that.

    Jenn

    Jenn

    Hi! planning to get this as someone's birthday present, But i am absolutely new to turntables and record players, hence i don't really know if i need a pair of speakers to go with this? or do i need an amp for this turntable?

    Jeff

    Jeff

    Jenn, you need both speakers and an amp or receiver. The amp or receiver needs a phono input to run the turntable. See my turntable guide for more clear instructions (search in the upper right for "how to set up a turntable")

    RIchard

    RIchard

    Just thought I'd update my post on this thread, I've had this turntable for a year now and it's probably the best I've owned. The base is made of mdf covered in formica (cheap). It is a strange olive color. It's belt driven (but fast on start up) the mechanics are mostly plastic, but it's easy to open and work on, it uses a thick S arm that is a variant of the Technics 1210 (it has a big grip on the head so it's easy to pick up in the middle of a track). For a home turntable to play jazz/folk/blues it's perfect with the automatic return arm so you can pass out while it's playing. At a party it's fast as sh1t when you want to wip of Motorhead and put on a big electro number on, it's right there. Certainly not good for real djing with a mixer and a second turn table but that job is only for a 1210. You can buy a Denon for the real quality but why bother. I can't tell the difference. It's a bit annoying changing from 33 to 45 as it appears to take time to change speed but for $100 it's a really fun object that delivers speed and quality 30 years after it was built. Just think how much pleasure that has delivered to many many people.

    Kyle

    Kyle

    Maybe a dumb question but worth a shot...would you ever consider selling? I'd love to have this as my main hub for vinyl.

    Disco

    Disco

    Kyle, these are available on ebay all the time. They made a ton of them.

    In fact, I just got one this past Saturday off CL. There is some yellowing, but it's not too bad. I used Novus #2 to polish the cover, which worked pretty well, but I need to do another application.

    Kyle

    Kyle

    Yes, I have been looking. Going to do my own restoration I think. Possibly paint the plinth. They are just getting harder and harder to find for cheap since vinyl is coming back. I have an SL-20 but I want the SL-23 for the auto return feature.

    Jeff

    Jeff

    Kyle, I sell all of my gear to fund my hobby of purchasing new gear. Unfortunately this SL-23 has been sold long ago :)

    Andy

    Andy

    Hi there,
    I just got one of these today from a house I was working on. Ofcourse it doesn't start at all on 45 and slow/ stops on 33. This post looks like it should help, I took the bottom off and had a look - coud you elaborate a little on the "secondary speed control variable resistors", do I need to remove screws on the circuit board or just spray the connectors on the board or what?
    Thanks!

    Disco

    Disco

    Andy, check the service manual at vinylengine.com -- most of what you're looking for is there. You'll need some contact cleaner.

    Andy

    Andy

    Thank you very much for your help. It works now :)

    Scot

    Scot

    I just acquired one. Want to fix it. Can't seem to get the platter off. Do they stick? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Snake

    Snake

    I brought my SL23back in the 70s have not used it for 30 years or so if I was to sell it today what would I get for it ???

    Disco

    Disco

    Snake, it depends on the condition. Check ebay for sold listings. You might get $50-100. High end is for really good shape machines that come with a decent cartridge.

    Matt

    Matt

    Hey! I have just brought one home, although it $150 AUD for the turntable, reciever and stereo tuner. I have the same speed issue. With the contact cleaner, is there any particular one thats better?

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