If you are a collector, you probably have at least a few vinyl records in your possession. If you’ve got records, you’re going to need a vintage turn table to play them on, of course. There are many options online for buying a vintage turn table, so you need to know what you’re looking for before you dive in. Perhaps you don’t have any records and you’re looking for a conversation piece or specific collector’s item, or you’re chasing a nostalgia high. That’s cool, too.
History of Vintage Turntables
Vintage turntables date back to over 100 years ago with the invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison. This was the first-time recorded sound was able to be played back. It looked much different than the vintage turntables we know today, and the phonograph was meant to resemble the workings of the human ear. After some design modifications, Edison renamed it the graphophone.
Soon after, Emile Berliner invented the gramophone, which is the beginning of what we consider the base of vintage turntables. In fact, his design incorporated a turn table. While the pressed record spins on the table, a needle reads the impressions to play music. Berliner then patented the design.
From that moment on, inventors were in competition through the advancement of technology. This was a huge game changer. People didn’t have to go out to see live music anymore, you could listen to it in your own home. It’s hard to fathom this when we have music in our pockets 24/7 with smart phones.
Vintage turntables started being mass produced right before radio came about, so they didn’t gain much traction until the 1960s and 70s. This was when they became automatic, too, so they were a hit for that stereo sound you get with records.
What to Look For
Vintage turntables look the part. They are stylish and everyone can tell what it is. If you are planning to purchase one, there are some things to look out for to ensure you are getting a quality product. Quality might not be as big of an issue if you’re planning on using it for parts or fixing it up yourself, which can be half the fun for some.
If you are looking for one that works and don’t plan on tinkering, it’s important to ask questions and check the quality. A vintage turntable was probably very loved and uses a lot. It has seen many records, and it wants to play more for you! Most owners will have treated it with care and respect, but you should still be meticulous on your search.
One thing to look for with a vintage turntable is the motor. If you’re buying online, you could ask for a video demo to make sure everything is in working order. If not, maybe some pictures or consider buying in person. If the motor doesn’t work and you aren’t going to tinker with the vintage turntable yourself, you might want to pass on something that doesn’t have a working motor.
Be sure to test the arm and needle to make sure they work to play your music! Even if you aren’t a wiz with this kind of thing, it doesn’t take a scientist to know if a vintage turntable doesn’t work. It should, of course, turn!
Why Should I Buy a Vintage Turntable?
Since turntables have made a comeback with musicians and are very trendy right now, buying a new one can be pricy. Being on a budget is a good reason to check out vintage turntables, as they can be reasonably priced if you aren’t looking for anything too fancy. On eBay, you can purchase a vintage turntable for around $100, and the price goes up from there depending on brand and other features.
Buying a vintage turntable is like buying a part of history. Instead of having something made this year in your house, you have something that has had records of the decade’s past played on it and your records are adding to the history. A vintage turntable also makes a great conversation piece and will open the door for you to talk about that extensive record collection you’ve been working on.