Can I mod my Technics 1200?

I have yet to hear what the big deal is re: vinyl. I have a Technics1200, mostly because I one day want to get another, and use my mixer to learn how to mix records.

I have a pretty cheap cartridge... Shure M44G.

When I play records, it doesn't sound that great. Maybe the TT isn't set up right? Maybe I can do some mods? I'd like to make a stab at this...

Is there any way I can get a decent vinyl sound with this TT? If I need a different cartridge, which one? I'm not sure I can get a different arm. What about mods... ? Any suggestions?

This really needs to stay under $500.
Fear not Dennis, the Psychicanimal will be along shortly. :-) Until he arrives however, I think I can try to get you started.

Sure (sorry), there are lots of better cart's you could try. For instance, I run a Benz-Micro Glider M2 in my SL1200. I've also installed such tweaks as a sorbothane mat, a Michell record clamp, a Music Direct tonearm wrap, a KAB fluid damper, and a Symposium shelf riding atop Foculpods underneath. And a decent phono preamp makes a big difference (I use a Camelot Technology Lancelot). One day when I'm feeling ambitious, I'll replace the cheap output RCA jacks and as much of the captive leadout cable as I can with better stuff. The tweaks work and are nice, but are not essential to enjoyment.

You are correct that you really can't swap the tonearm on this deck, but you wouldn't want to anyway. I'm convinced that properly outfitted, you can't get a better TT for the money than this, and PsychicA will probably opine that's true for triple the money. I don't know about that, but if you're pretty casual about analog for the time being, I don't think it's necessary for you to scrap the TT right away, although I'm sure folks will come along here to disagree with me (many of whom will never have owned a 1200). I've had mine for over 15 years, and it's the only piece of gear I haven't felt the urge to upgrade while building my high end system. 1200's are very solidly built, very easy to use, easy to set up, reliable, sound fine, and are non-tweaky for the non-analog-veteran. It benefits from Technics' extensive TT-building history and economy of scale in bringing a level of technology and construction to a price point that no high end company could hope to match in today's digital world.

As far as set up goes, the TT comes with its dedicated cartridge alignment jig, so correct overhang should be no problem if you follow the instructions. If you've also correctly set the tracking force, anti-skate, and vertical tracking angle (arm height) according to your cartridge's instructions, and provided you have the TT on a good support and leveled, than you can probably place the blame for any sonic shortcomings on your cart, phonostage, or records.

I'm not familiar with your cartridge, and you don't specify what you're using for preamplification, but there are definitely options for you at your $500 max. budget. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to actually go out and audition analog gear these days, but I can recommend talking to Bob at the Elusive Disc mail-order company for good advice, service, and prices. Stick with it - it shouldn't be that hard or expensive to get analog sound that easily competes with your digital overall, and will probably beat it for sheer musicality.
THANKS Zaikes for all that... I think part of the problem is that I can't get the cartiridge I have now to firmly stay in place. Since you have a 1200, there are those 4 wires, that you plug into the cartridge, and then you screw the cartridge into the "jig", but I can't seem to get those screws to stay tight. I dunno... sounds like such a stupid little problem, and you'd think anyone could figure it out, but I haven't been able to.

The other thing I'm not sure about is how to balance the arm. With just the cartridge attached (loosely), it tips backwards. Adjust the weight at the back doesn't seem to help (I just turn it, and it turns, but doesn't really change positions?); so I attach this 4g weight on top of the cartridge "jig", and it's now heavy enough to play records, but maybe it's too heavy?

And yes, my preamp is a Numark mixing board. I'll have a good phono stage once my Supratek Syrah comes from Australia... I'm guessing in February...
Well Zaikesman, you started out with this one. It's your baby. Gonna take some work.
Oh lordy...
Dennis, baby - I'll email you! (Just don't try to play any records in the meantime! :-)
Zaikesman, i like that phrase,

oh lordy, lordy.
contact member "psychicanimal" he has a modded 1200 & swears by it; Francisco loves to talk about his mod's so definitely get a hold of him
He's seriously delinquent on this thread, ain't he Bob? :-)

I'm in contact with DTM, turns out we live in the same area, so we can be '1200 buddies.
I'm not delinquent, I've been away working out in another state the past 10 days...

What can I say? Go get a cartridge alignment protractor (, the fluid damper ( a brass cylinder to place next to the tonearm. Don't forget the clamp. I don't know about the Sorbothane mat--could overdampen and soften the bass. For $99 it's a rather expensive experiment for me. I have an old Music Mat but am not using it. Will try it someday...

Cartridges? Get something decent to start with, but not a Grado (they're unshielded). Stanton, Ortofon, Dynavector...

Then change IC's (shame on you Zaikes!).

The 1200 is a killer deck for the money. Deano heard my rig back in April and liked it.
That would be Dean Martin?
Deano, from Indiana. The guy w/ the Lamm linestage and monoblocks rigged to JMlab Micro Utopias in a near field set up...

"Near field is the ticket to intimacy"
Zaikes... THANK YOU. i got my cartridge on properly, using the jig, and was able to balance my arm, as well as look up and set the arm height according to the user's manual. i did all of this without using a leveling bubble. i know, i'll need to rebalance the arm all over again, but i just really wanted to listen to some records, just to see! considering my cartridge probably sucks, as well as my numark mixer used as a phono stage, the music was actually good! i could hear that with more work on setup, as well as an eventual upgrade in phono stage, records are going to kick. there was a different quality to what i heard... innately deep i thought.

anyway, totally enjoyed the talk, and i really appreciate you taking all that time to go through the setup. i'll let you know more as after i get my TT leveled out.
Glad I was able to be of some assistance DTM, and enjoyed our conversation. Were you able to find out anything more specific about the recommended tracking force range for your cart? (For those reading along, I counseled a default setting of about 1g for this Shure M44G cart, with a visual double-check of the cantilever deflection and body ride height above the record surface to adjust further, but that's just a guess on my part for the time being.)
yeh, they have a great website. Tracking force for M44G is 1.5g, antiskate also 1.5.
Good. Tracking too lightly is actually worse for your records than tracking a little on the heavier side, so if a range is given, don't automatically assume that it's better to set VTF at the low end. You can also fine-tune these settings by ear with practice (and a revealing system), within the recommended range. If you have a 'naked' or body-less cart like my own Glider, you can actually visually observe what settings best center the coil former in the gap during play.