Need help buying a used turntable for $500

OK gang,
My father has left me a vintage collection of Jazz albums and I have my own collection of 70 & 80's Rock music. I have a Denon 3802 receiver which is only sending 110w per channel to a pair of B & W 604 towers. So I am looking for a turntable I can afford and still get the best possible sound.

I have been looking at used Thorens, Rega, Project, & Lencos but it is impossible to tell what model and year are a good value. Can anyone help suggest the criteria I should use for selecting a suitable turnable and offer some models to pursue?

I would greatly appreciate your advise.

I would suggest buying a brand new Technics 1200 or 1210--you can get one for $399 shipped from Musician's Friend. Then add an Audio Technica 440 MLa cartridge, which you can get for less than a hundred bucks, shipped.

I bought this combo as a "stopgap" while waiting for a much more expensive table to be built, and I have been dumbfounded by how good it sounds. Very user friendly, too.

Consult the many threads on this table for more information.
I wholeheartedly agree with Waltersalas.
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Can't go wrong with a new Technics and you can add upgrades as budget allows, if you so desire.
All great suggestions, however if your amp does not have an input marked "phono" you will also need a phono preamp to amplify the signal and equalize the signal. Nice, inexpensive phono preamps are made by NAD, Creek, Musical Fidelity, Projekt and several others. They go between the phono and the input on your Denon.

Other good value phonographs are the Rega Planar 3 and P3; if you are a bit of a tinkerer and prefer a warmer sound, and appreciate older things, the Thorens TD 150 MKll or any of the TD 160 series are very, very nice turntables. There are a host of nice upgrades for all of the turntables mentioned, if you find that you derive enjoyment from analogue replay, you may want to explore some of these enhancements.
Another vote for the Technics. At $399 its build quality, speed consistency, and durability is stupid good for the money. I think it's particularly good for the kinds of music you'll be playing--jazz and classic rock. It shines in bottom end drive and also with acoustic instruments.

Mine's exemplary on things like Bowie's "Let's Dance," anything from the Police, Cars, Elvis Costello, Steve Miller, and also Dave Brubeck, MJQ, John Abercrombie, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny.
Yep, I agree with Waltersalas. Get the technics 1210 available from several sources; or better yet, get the Technics from and on their option list, order the cardas arm wire and the arm dampening trough; and you may not have to upgrade since upgrading may move you sideways and not upward.
I appreaciate the help and have some concern on the Technics table or any model. Back in the early 80's I owned a Technics direct drive turntable with an Audio Technica cartridge using a Kenwood 30 amp receiver. Sound was good but when the music was soft or during start up I could hear a hum. How do I elimnate the hum or is this something I have to live with when playing LP's?
Back in the early 80's I owned a Technics direct drive turntable with an Audio Technica cartridge using a Kenwood 30 amp receiver. Sound was good but when the music was soft or during start up I could hear a hum.
I've been living with an SL1210 for nearly 8 months now, and it's playing through a much higher resolution system than I had in the '70s or '80s (or a Kenwood receiver, for that matter). And I listen to it more critically than I listened 25 yrs ago.

Mine does not hum, growl, scratch, rumble, or squeal. This past week I lubed the bearing with the officially correct oil and added KAB's fluid damper. Now this thing is spooky quiet. Even when listening through Sennheiser HD580 headphones, I hear no turntable noise. None. Sometimes I hear LP surface noise, but even that has dropped significantly since adding the damper trough.

Hum might have been a cartridge mismatch or a grounding issue.
Holy cow! Should I ditch my Thorens TD145 MKII for the 1210? Am I missing out?[this is not a thread-jack]

what you describe is a ground issue which although sometimes a bit elusive can ususally be dealt with in short order. Nothing to be afraid of an certainly not specific to any given rig.

Check out the many posts re: this very common question of how to get into vinyl on the cheap.
Try to find an SP-15 w/epa501 arm. These vintage table/arm combos are vault-like, dead quiet, and have VTA adjustment on the fly. The motor is the same one used in the Goldmund Tables. $500 and the patience to locate a clean example will be rewarded. Happy listening, Ralph