I seek your guidance - re turntable

You Audiogoners were a great help a few months ago, when I was getting back into music reproduction after many years of doing other things. Thanks to Audiogon, I've set up a system of Acoustic Zen Adagio speakers, Odyssey dual mono amp, BAT preamp, Perpetual Technologies dac. My intent was - and still is - to play most of my music on my Imac, and that is working fine. But, I still have a record collection from the 1970's and 1980's, and I do like the sound of good vinyl.

So I had this 30+ year old Technics turntable, and was using that. The cuing lever didn't work, nor did the automatic return, which would seem to move the arm in random swings when I didn't control it manually. But it did play manually. A few days ago, I decided to play a great old digital 45 recording of the Apassionata Sonata (mastering lab series direct cutting, Ikuyo Kamiya, Bosendorfer Imperial). Well, the Techics got stuck on 45 rpm, and won't go back to 33. My 33's don't sound as good on 45.

I have to either fix the Technics or replace it. I think it would cost more than the Technics is worth to fix it.

So here's my question. If my primary source is digital (computer) but I don't want to throw the records on the ash heap of history, and I don't want to spend too much (would like to spend under $1200), and I do care about what the thing looks like, and I have no expertise and don't want to spend days setting it up, and I expect to buy something used on Audiogon (or possibly on ebay) and I do have an ear that likes good sound, what turntable, tonearm, should I look for?
There are several. I have seen an almost new VPI Scout for $995 recently. It would be hard to beat this table under $2000. Can be upgraded if you want. I think VPI is an excellent table , have been a dealer for them in the past and am again now because I like them myself. But there are others. I do not recommend direct drive, I was a dealer for several of them including Technics when they made good ones and belt was better then.
If it were me, I would look at a used VPI HW-19 JR or MKIII. Both would do a nice job for $400-700 bucks. Most likely would have either a Audioquest or Rega arm. Always coming and going on Audiogon, there are a lot of them out there. Of course you could shoot your whole $1200 on a VPI Scout. But I'm thinking if you were happy with the Technics, why spend more then you need to.

Now I will let the next guys tell you you need a Rega or new Technics SL1200 table.

2nd vote for VPI Scout. Maybe a used Rega P5.
Yes - I saw the scout too late. Looked like a good deal. There's a VPI HW-19 MK II for sale on ebay with a power conditioner (nice to have?) and a Premier ft-3 arm. I don't know how it's different from the III.

Was I happy with the Technics? Well, yes, but ... Don't you want something better, at least until you find something you like too much to replace? I know that happened to me with cars. I had so many of them I lost count a long time ago. Some were the latest and greatest at the time and some are worth a bundle now (I don't still have those). But a few years ago I found that I had three and couldn't imagine selling any of them, so I'll probably have to put them in my will. Is it that way with audio?
A Lenco.
I have sold a few, one left at the moment. But it would cost about $2k to put you in audio nirvana.
You can see some of my tables in my "system".
They sound better than they look.
Oregon - I looked at them, thank you. Nice work. I do a little wood working myself and appreciate what you've got. In fact, I recently had to go to Oregon (on the internet) to find a piece of wood for a shelf for my preamp and dac - the only place in the country that had what I needed - a single beautiful piece of solid walnut that when finished was a full 21.5 inches wide, 28 inches long and 1.25 inches thick. It was from an old (obviously) tree that was not cut down, but fell into a stream during a storm and was harvested from there. One of your turntables would look pretty nice in my study.
I second the Rega recommendation, especially the P5 if you can get a good used one. The new P3-24 would be a good choice as well.
Many thanks.
The vintage, idler wheel Lencos are incredibly musical.
IMO, this is due to it's stability at maintaining a solid rpm. Once properly plinthed (big, heavy, massive layered birch) vibration from the small, but powerful Swiss motor is absorbed. It's surprising how a simple, inexpensive Rega arm and Denon cart can be a match made in heaven.

BTW, hate to see those beautiful trees go down. We had a screech owl in the neighborhood who lived in an old apple tree. All day long folks walked up to it and gazed into it's eyes. It never flinched.
Call up Kevin at KAB and get a Technics SL-1200. Then choose between an AT 440MLa / 150 MLX, or Ortofon 2M Blue / Bronze.

Spend the rest of your budget on a MintLP protractor to ensure proper alignment, and record cleaning supplies (DiscDoc brushes, MFSL Plus cleaning fluid, vacuum cleaning machine - or DIY vacuum approach, new inner sleves, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, etc.).

Don't simply blow your budget on the table only. IMHO, proper setup and clean records are as important, if not more, than table / arm / cart.
Nrenter's advice about proper set-up is right on! Never heard the SL-1200 but lots of folks here love 'em.
I agree with Nrenter about KAB (and the cartridge and MintLP suggestions). However, in keeping with the OP's desire for simplicity, I will mention that Kevin also offers modified Ortofon and Stanton carts that he mounts for you, so when you receive the table it is truly plug-and-play.

The only other table I'd recommend based on the OP's requirements is a Rega P3 with factory mounted Exact cartridge. Again, it's plug-and-play.

Before you make a decision, it'd be worthwhile to call Kevin at KAB and just talk with him. He won't hard sell you. He'll just answer your questions and help cut through the internet "noise".
Your wish list for a turntable can be answered in one word - Rega. No Muss... No Fuss... just sounds great and setup is the time it takes to get it out of the box and plug it in.
Hmm, no Clearaudio fan here?
If you want a new table, Clearaudio Emotion would be worthwhile to consider. It can be had at around $1000 without cartridge.
There you as I said at the beginning, I through my 2 cents in with the used VPI HW-19, at $400-700(depending on variations) that would leave you plenty of scratch to spend on a nice cartridge, and still be under $1200.00.

And you also got the SL1200 and of course the Rega picks as I mentioned you would.

So there you go, probably more confused then ever, good luck.
03-03-09: Twilightround
Was I happy with the Technics? Well, yes, but ... Don't you want something
better, at least until you find something you like too much to replace?
The thing is, the general audiophile community
tossed the Technics DD tables aside in favor of suspended belt drive models
without realizing that the Technics retains strong advantages in speed
consistency and accuracy, and build quality owing to economies of scale,
while its weaknesses relative to suspended designs are pretty easily
addressed for not a whole lot of money.

The tonearm wire on the base model limits the sound quality, but KAB can do
a tonearm rewire with Cardas for a very reasonable price, or you can start
with the more upscale SL1210 M5G which has better tonearm wire than the
lower end models. Second, the tonearm is very precisely made, but KAB
offers a fluid damper trough that makes the tonearm work even better on a
wider variety of cartridges, and tracks even hideously warped records without

Third, Kevin provides a much heavier, thicker turntable mat which helps
reduce noise; you can also purchase any number of premium aftermarket
mats to do the same. The Herbies Way Excellent mat and the Iron Audio mat
are fairly popular with SL12x0 users on A-gon.

Fourth, the Technics biggest weakness is probably noise and vibration
isolation. The standard feet aren't very good. Kevin has some really quality
feet available called the Isonoe (not to be confused with Isonode) footers.
People here use various combinations of sorbothane, squash balls, cutting
boards, brass cones (from PartsExpress, Mapleshade, or Audiopoints), and
Vibrapods to create a platform that drains the vibrations out of the turntable
base and also isolates the cartridge feed from room-borne noise and
vibration. I get performance from my SL1210 M5G that I never thought
possible, and most of the performance increase comes from the combination
of cones, platform, and vibration absorbing materials that provide the
platform for my turntable.