Best value table/arm/cart combo?

In a recent thread there was almost a concensus that the best way to assemble a quality analog set-up is to start with the table, preferably one that allows the greatest flexibility of tonearms, followed by a tonearm that worked with the greatest number of cartridges.

Being new to vinyl, and trying to stay within a $3k budget I'm looking for suggestions on the table/arm/cartridge combos that would meet these requirements while providing the best possible sonics for the money. I'm interested in buying used on Agon.

Thanks for your suggestions.
You will, I'm sure, get a number of excellent recommendations. For a number of months, I have been considering replacing my VPI HW-19 Mk4 (with Rega RB-900 arm), and have a budget that is close to yours. While I have not made a final decision about which TT to buy, the VPI Scoutmaster with JMW 9 arm (or maybe JMW 9 Signature) is at the top of my "short list". I think it offers superb performance for the price, and can also be upgraded to the Super Scoutmaster if so desired. I will keep my Grado Reference cartridge, but if I were also going to buy a new cartridge, the Shelter 501 or 901 would get serious consideration.
With your budget you can get a much better rig than a low end VPI. I would definitely urge you to stay away from unipivot arms (what VPI uses) as it is easy to destroy a needle with such devices.

I would suggest you take a look at Scheu Turntables. The Premier Mk III is a lovely table with superb performance. This table can be purchased with one arm (9 or 12"), dual arm (any combination of 9 TO 12" arms), or 12". It uses a quality external motor driving a (either 50 or 80mm) acrylic platter with silk thread (it works well); this is much like how the Verdier turntable is set up.

The base of the table is leadshot loaded from the factory. It is very easy to set up. I am using a SME 312 on my dual arm Scheu with excellent results. Were I on a budget I'd look for a Rega rb250 (with upgraded wire, interconnect, counterweight if you can afford) to mount on this puppy. If I had a bit more money to spend I'd look to a new SME300 series (comes in 9, 10, and 12" lengths) which can be bought VERY reasonably from sources other than the USA distributor. Sumiko grossly overcharges for products such as REL and SME in my humble opinion.

Here is the link to Scheu.

I purchased mine in January os 2004 direct. Sent a wire transfer and the table arrived some three weeks later; no damage. It was packaged very well.

For a lot less money I'd take a look at these used tables:

great turntable and a set it and forget it kind of rig

very nice looking and excellent reviews....priced right on used market..I'd make them an offer

This is a no brainer; used Teres 160 with ET2 arm and Shelter cartridge. Bit expensive but worth it. The arm can be tedious to set up is my understanding, though.

Rega P7 with RB700 arm is an excellent choice, too, and another turnkey solution with great performance. Very small footprint, too.

DPS turntable ready for Rega arm....this is a wonderful turntable with first class engineering AND a small footprint.

Superb performance AND collectible.....this is one of the best

stretch your budget and get one of the best tables ever AND a superb Ikeda arm and cartridge....this table is collectible

very with kuzma arm

another great table from the day with a better than good helius tonearm...helius provides audio note with their Very Expensive top of the line arms

If you decide to buy new besides Teres I would suggest you take a look at the Needle Doctor and an Acoustic Signature Final Tool. Excellent all metal table (no acrylic) with external motor and external speed/ac regulation. This can be fitted with two arms although this is an option and a bit pricey. Standard one is fitted for most 9" arms.

In my opinion once you get past this level of tables you are looking at truly big bucks for not a whole hell of a lot more performance. It gets better, yes, but (as usual) at what cost?

My ultimate table would be a used Simon Yorke; fyi.
I would second the VPI Scout/JMW 9 recommendation. Great tables backed by a solid company. You can upgrade when or if you ever feel the urge. I would look at the ZYX, Grado wood bodies, or the Dynavector carts.

FWIW I am not a big fan of Rega tables. The ones I have auditioned all seemed to run fast with no bottom end and where poorly made.
I wrote this in response to another thread awhile back, so I cut and pasted it here for you to use as well. (I checked your system, and I could not determine if you have a preamp. If you don't have one, you will probably need one, and either have to get an internal phono stage, or get a seperate phono stage.)

I would recommend buying a "lightly" used turntable and arm, and something easy to setup, like a Rega P3, or better yet, something like a VPI scout, or a Basis 1400 (I started with the Basis myself. I recommend used, because if you don't like the hassles of vinyl, and let's face it-some don't, you can get out for almost no money lost.) I do recommend getting a new cartridge though, to avoid the possible problem of buying a damaged cartridge, and having to install it yourself. Plus, by buying a new cartridge, you can take the table, (and arm, if not already mounted to the TT), to your local dealer and have him mount the cartridge for you, thus avoiding the biggest hassle and pitfalls of setting up a proper analog system. (Again, this is what I did, and it made my life so much easier.)

Second, the biggest factor in going to vinyl is CLEANING the vinyl. This is a necessary requirement, and there really is no getting around it. Either be prepared to spend a lot of time cleaning records by hand (not really fun), or bite the bullet and get a cheap used record cleaning machine like a Nitty Gritty, or a Record Doctor, to help you clean/vacuum the records. (If you can afford the VPI units, they are better built, and a little easier to use, as you clean the record on the platter, as opposed to cleaning it on a separate table and then vacuuming it dry.) I went with a used Nitty Gritty 1.0 myself, (Yeah, I'm cheap!) and have no regrets. It works just fine, despite being one of the cheaper RCMs available.

Third, don't forget that in addition to the turntable, tone arm, cartridge and cleaning supplies, that you will need a phono preamp. Don't cheap out here! Spend the bucks and get a decent phono preamp, (Yeah, used of course!) Something like an Ear or an ARC work just fine and you can really hear the difference between the cheaper preamps and the quality preamps. (I started with an ARC PH-3, and it worked fine. I eventually went solid state, as I discovered that I really don't like the sound of tube rushing, but that is my personal taste. Most people barely hear it, so I recommend going with a tubed phono preamp first, and then if you don't like it, go with something else. Besides, the good solid state phono preamps seem to cost more than the good tube phono preamps, IMHO anyway.)

Well, good luck and don't be afraid to ask questions!
Sdcampbell - The Scoutmaster is at or near the top of my list as well, though I've read some threads where the 9" JMW arm is thought to be the weak link. I don't seem to remember specific complaints. You apparently are a fan of both the arm and table. Have you done much research. Better yet, have you actually heard them?

C123666 - WOW! Thanks so much not only for all the helpful info you provided, but the time you spent researching it. You've been most helpful and given me much to consider. Really appreciate your help.

CMO - Thanks for your input and suggestions. The VPI seems to have a great following.

Kurt - Thanks for reminding me to update my system. I've recently added an E.A.R. 834P phono stage and reinserted my unused Viva Linea linestage in preparation for getting into vinyl. Your suggestions are good ones. I will keep them in mind as I continue the journey.
I third the VPI and would laugh at or ignore anyway who calls it entry level. It's one of the most popular in its price range for a reason. I use mine with the Dyna karat (mkII something). It's great and if you HAVE to spend $3k there are plenty of upgrades, or use it for the phono preamp. Lots of ways to burn money as an audiophile.