Need Tonearm help for a Thorens TD124 Mark II

I've had a NOS Thorens TD124 Mark II for awhile now and it's still in the box but lately have considered taking it out and putting it into service. I have a couple of other turntables so is it even worth putting into service. If I do, I need some help in choosing a tonearm. I do have a NOS SME 2009 Series II Improved tonearm that has never been mounted. Should I go with something like that or a modern tonearm. I don't have a cartridge picked out yet but I do have a sealed Denon 103D and a NOS Shure V15 Type VxMR. I am inexperienced in setting this up but want some advice as to what other owners or people who heard a TD124 think, or what direction they would go in with what I'm working with. Thanks all for Your help!!!
You'll need a plinth and phono amp too.
Look up Jim Campbell. Great table, good arm and Shure cartridge.
I have an Ortofon plinth and armboard for the table and have an Allnic 1201 for a phono preamp. I've had them for a while now, just been collecting over the years. 
The SME arm will match well with the Denon 103D (I have this cartridge in my collection, along with a 103, 103R, 103 Gold Anniversary, 301 and 304). I prefer and use step-up transformers with mc cartridges. The plinth is important for getting the best sound out of the Garrard's - check out Art Dudley's (Stereophile) DIY plinth he made for his 301(with Ortophon arm)! 
I think you mean a 3009SII arm. My dad had both a TD124 and that arm and I had both restored. There used to be guy named Alfred Kayser that restored vintage SME arms with new knife bearings and wiring. Long story short-I was never happy with the tonearm despite the alleged reconditioning. Low mass arms call for high compliance cartridges as you presumably know since you named some. These cartridges simply can't match the performance of modern low compliance cartridges. The SME arm is crude and clumsy by modern standards. The deck is great. Your challenge-if you want to mate it with a modern arm-is that the platter sits low in the cast iron chassis relative to the tonearm mounting area. Also, there is no room inboard for the junction box that many modern tonearms have (e.g. VPI). If it were me, I would still go with a modern tonearm, probably a Graham Phantom or a modern SME, and have a seasoned pro install it. Now all that said, I sure find it hard to believe that you are the last guy on the planet with an NOS new-in-the-box TD124. You sure? You willing to sell?
Thanks all. Yes the turntable and tonearm really are NOS in the box, I actually have a NOS TD160 in the box too. I found them and accumulated them over the years trying to feed this audiophile addiction. I appreciate the comments. I did consider putting an SME V on the turntable, I had seen a few 124's with that arm. I did at one time buy a Pete Riggle 12 inch tonearm for it which he made for the table along with an armboard for it but I that's still in the box too. I had considered just selling everything and using whatever I got to buy a modern table, I just didn't know if I was missing out on anything with the 124, it's been well regarded for a long time. I do use a Music Hall mmf7 daily and recently purchased a Basis 2500 and an Eminent Techology 2.5 tonearm but I would have to drill into the Basis to mount it and haven't wanted to do that just yet. Any and all other thoughts are so much appreciated!
I had a TD124 with a Rega RB300 arm for 10+ years, I made the arm board out of plexiglass, it was amazing....
michaela, it's time for you to add another forum. Lenco Heaven. 

The website is all about idler drives. Lencos, Garrards, and Thorens.

For those of us who moved from belt drive to idler drive, there's no turning back.

Once signed in, you go to market place, from there you go to traders. Start reading.

A new oversized bearing is mandatory. Sien (moniker sph) is doing a production run right now. Just order it!!!!.

Once the Thorens is in a new, heavy plinth, motor dismantled, cleaned, greased, and reinstalled, new bearing etc. etc. you will wonder how anyone would buy anything else. It is that amazing.

Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Effort equals reward, and this will be rewarding.
Your 3009/II Improved is a low mass arm and will work best with the Shure V15 VxMR.

I used to mount my TD124/I with 3009/II non improved, and it sounded okay. Later I went through a series of arms and settled on a Schroeder clone.

The 124 comes alive with high mass plinth, preferably mounted on high mass platform. I find that ceramic ball based footers also work better than brass cone footers.
another option for not too much outlay in $ are the Jelco 750 Arms of various lengths. I use a 12incher on my Garrard and IOM its a better arm then the SME 3009 any series but that of course is my listening preference. I'm sure you could sell that SEM and with the funds buy all the toys for the Jelco and have money lefty over.
@cousinbillyl  - Thanks for the info. I registered for the forums, just waiting on the approval to get fully into it! I appreciate sending me in that direction!

@jls001 - Thank you, I had been thinking about a heavier duty plinth. I had seen ads for slate plinths over the years but never pulled the trigger on one. I had gone more classic route with the Ortofon plinth.

@glennewdick and @kon5t - thanks for the recommendations, I really appreciate hearing others experience with this table. Seems I need to do more investigating!
michaela, just installed the new bearing from sien (sph) at LencoHeaven. Truly unbelievable. My noise floor dropped to a vanishingly low level. I also installed the Synergistic Research Blue fuses, and now I have no noise floor, it's gone.
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I just finished restoration of a Garrard 301.  I put an Ortofon TA 110 arm on it with a Lyra Delos.  The Ortofon is heavily damped so it mates well with rim drives.  I have never heard a Delos sound as good as it does on this table and arm.  Of course you need to make sure your cartridge(s) mate well with a damped arm.  The Garrard has a very heavy solid plinth and runs dead silent.  Pictures on my virtual system.

Did you ever get an arm for your 124? If so, which arm and what are your impressions of it now after some time?

I am the proud new owner of an old 124 v2 and while the Ortofon RMG212 it came with is pleasant, I am curious about other owners' experiences.

I’ve owned a few Thorens players, including three different TD124 players. All of those the first version (MK 1). Two were early with 4 digit serial numbers the other one was somewhat later in the production run with a 5 digit sn.. I sold the two early 4 digit decks. Still have the later one.
I’ve used a few different tonearms on mine, including an SME 3009 SII. And also the SII improved. I’ve used a Zeta (black) tonearm. I’ve used a Rega RB250 -modified by Expressimo- tonearm. I"ve used an Infinity Black Widow tonearm on it. I’ve used a Graham 2.2 tonearm on it.
And lastly, I set up a TD124 mkII with the factory oem TP14 tonearm on it. All of these arms worked well on the TD124. Although I might add that the TP14 was the most complex to make adjustments to.
I think the DL-103D moving coil cartridge is not as low in compliance as are the current DL-103 and 103-R versions, ... and so it may match ok to the SME 3009 SII with its 12grams effective mass. And the Shure V15VxMR will likely work ok on it as well. That Shure ,btw, is not as highly compliant as were its predecessors. More like a compliance rating around 20 whereas earlier versions were with a softer suspension.
The Rega was good, actually. In spite of its medium low effective mass rating, it worked well with both low compliant MC cartridges and also high compliant MM cartridges. A capable arm that offers very good value for the money.
The Zeta was good too, although finding one of those in good adjustment might be a challenge.
I’ve set up a TD124 with a Jelco SA-750D arm. It was quite good. It looked great with an excellent quality of build and finish. Excellent value at its price. This arm can work with low compliant cartridges as well as medium compliance cartridges. I heard it with a re-bodied Denon DL-103R mounted to it. I’ll bet the Shure V15VxMR will work on it ok.

The Infinity arm is perhaps the worlds lowest effective mass tonearm that was mass produced at 3grams effective mass and definitely requires a high compliance cartridge. I used a Shure V15VxMR on this arm with good results. I got better results with an earlier M91-E. Actually, I prefer the M91E to the V15VxMR on this arm.

I’ve used an ADC XLM-II and Sonus Blue cartridges on this arm and table to good effect. Though the ADC and Sonus offered less bass weight than any other cartridge tried on this arm. I also tried a Technics EPC-205-II to very good effect. More bass weight and very good overall impressions. Actually in today’s world, the BW arm is limited to vintage cartridges. I don’t know why I ventured down that particular rabbit hole. ;-)

The Graham is very good on the TD124 and might have an advantage in that its un-ipivot - pivot brg is less affected by drive train vibes than are gimbal bearing arms. I suspect that other un-ipivots would work well on the TD124.

Additionally, the SME 3009 SII with its clunky knife edge bearing seems less disturbed by the drive train vibes of that Thorens. With it mounted the table produced a nice quiet background -- for an idler.

Further notes on the SME 3009 SII while on the TD124.... This is a somewhat clunky implementation of the knife-edge bearing concept. I regard it as a ’blunt instrument’. It is far from being the last word on detail extraction. Although it did, for me, produce nice meaty slices of enjoyable music from my record collection. Good mid-range, mid bass and lower bass presence. Yeah, it allowed for the reproduction of strong body and slam on the TD124. I’ll give it that much. But for fine detail, inner detail -- not so much.

Another thing to consider is that with the built-in arm board support in this chassis Ten inch tonearms can’t be used. Mounting distance required puts the base body of such a tonearm right into the outer frame work of that chassis. 12 inch arms work fine on chassis mounted arm boards as well as arm boards separate from the chassis. And, by the way, with the right arm and cartridge the Td124 can reproduce some very fine detail. It can also produce a great big sound field with solid body and weighty slam.

Yet another consideration. If this TD124 has been in storage for a considerable number of years, a thorough clean-up, re-lube, and adjust is in order. Otherwise it won’t perform like it should---if at all. The motor gets most attention on these but the rest of the drive train is of concern.


The Zeta is imo a good recommendation. If anyone finds one that could use some TLC, Johnnie at Audio Origami is very familiar with the arm, and himself holds it in high regard. He will take yours apart, clean, repack, and adjust the bearings, and if you wish rewire the arm with your choice of Cardas copper or two different silvers.

The Zeta is a true medium-mass arm, around 16g depending on how many of the metal "discs" are installed in the adjustable-mass counterweight. Occasionally available in good condition for just under $1000.

Steve, great post!  I would only add a few observations:

1- I'm not a fan of the chassis mounted "paddle" armboard.  I have purchased and made several, from different materials, and I have found that a plinth or outboard pillar-mounted arm always sounds better.  I have tested this with the same arm mounted in an oversize plinth that allows mounting behind the deck (top position).  Always better.

2- Call me a traditionalist but I'm a big fan of Ortofon SPU cartridges.  Not exclusively, but mainly for vintage stereo and mono albums these cartridges always put a smile on my face.  So I lean towards high mass tonearms like the classic Ortofons, Ikeda, Fidelity Research and the Schick (sort of high mass).  Lately I have heard the Pete Riggle Woody SPU model and I was very impressed.

3- IMO, the single best upgrade for a TD-124/301/401 is to replace the crappy, unreliable analog strobe with a digital LED-based unit.  This does not make your TD-124 sound like am 80s consumer Technics turntable.  It provides steady platter speed control that elevates the sound from your vintage rim-drive deck to palpably better.  I like the Keystrobe kits from the UK but there are others.  Not expensive, easy to install and just works as advertised.