new to turntables.....need help

Hello! Today I picked up a Technics SL-D2 at a garage sale for what I think was a solid deal ($5). The player seems to be solidly built and plays nicely. Are there any upgrades my fellow members would recommend to help "improve" the sonics? New cartridge? Like I said, I am a "newbie" to the record world and if any A-gon members would like to offer a helpful suggestion, I am very appreciative. I am also willing to learn the hard way but I thought I would try here first!!
Hi, Usually a change to a better interconnect will be a great improvement as they always use mediocre ones on most turntables. I bought a Technics SL-L20 at a household sale that I use in my garage system when I work on the cars, changed to a pair of decent pair of cables and it made a huge difference.
A new cartridge is critical if the condition is unknown (which it probably is). You risk damaging records permanently if you play with a bad stylus.

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with your deck but Audio technica makes some cartridges for both p-mount and standard cartridge fittings that are very good value for money. I particularly like the AT-95E.

You can try, or ... I've had good service from both of them.
thanks guys!!
Ditto Seantaylor about the new cartridge. That will certainly make the biggest improvment and provide you with peace of mind.
As mentioned, a good cartridge is of paramount importance. It must also be aligned properly. There is a nice protractor that you can download from the internet - contact me off board if you wish to go this route. But a better idea is to have someone familiar with setup do this for you.

There are really a lot of free tweeks that you can do with this table. The second most important thing, once your cartridge is sorted out, will be to find a suitable surface to perch your table on. Usually, light tables work better than heavy, but experimentation is in order here. You can use little blocks of wood or cones under the table as well, and this may, or may not, work. Remember, your cartridge converts movement into electricity; the only movement you want is from the grooves in your record.

Your tonearm has no easy way to adjust vertical tracking angle. That is the angle at which the stylus meets the groove as seen from the side. Back of the arm down is usually warmer, back up is usually brighter. There is generally just one place that Goldilocks will consider just right. Take some old, worn out records, or perhaps some 12" round pieces of cardboard. Put them under the turntable mat, on top of the platter. Add one, listen, then another. You are changing the VTA, by raising the record and thus the sound. The only way to go the other way is to find a thinner mat.

When you remove the headshell on your turntable, you will see that there is a little rubber ring on the mounting collet. Try listening both with and without this ring. It will sound a bit faster without it. Remember that you must recheck the overhang when making this comparison.

If you tap along the length of the arm with a pencil, you will come to a point where the sound is brighter and louder than the others. This is the primary resonant point of the arm. Take a bit of Blue Tack or that coiled clay for sealing windows and roll it into a little line, apply this around the arm at the point of resonance. This can make a really big difference in sound. Sometimes it will take you in the wrong direction though. Again, you will need to rebalance the arm when you do this. You may find that a dot on the headshell also helps; easy, a little goes a long way, and too much sucks the life out of the sound.

Oh yes, also get some record cleaning gear. The Disk Doctor makes some cool stuff that is cheap. The more you play with the darned thing, the more tweeks you will find. Happy listneing.
Much thanks!!
I googled the SL-D2 and it looks like it takes a standard cartridge, not a P-mount. If you fit the cartridge yourself you'll need a protractor. You can download a free one from enjoythemusic, but the turntablebasics mirrored protractor is very good for very little money. If the deck has a way to set the tracking force you'll be all set, if not get the turntable basics one ... it's cheaper than the Shure. Be careful not to track too light ... contrary to what you;d think it can damage records.
YOu can also try different types of mats and see which you like the best. My Technics SL1300 sounds best with a cork mat. I just bought some cork 12" wall tiles from Wal-Mart and used the rubber mat as a pattern. You can also do a google search on making a cork spot mat. Cheap tweaks and some make an improvement. Enjoy the fun!

I had not heard of the tweak viridian suggested on tapping on the arm for resonance. I am going to try that one myself.
If your 'table is not P-mount you might consider forking out some dough and get a Shure V15 TypeV MR. Probably the best moving magnet ever made and they won't be around much longer. It comes with it's own protractor and is a piece of cake to install.
Being that you bought this at a garage sale for $5.00 it would be wise to bring it somewhere to be serviced. Motor speed checked, oiled. If it has belts (which I doubt)replace them. Bring a new cartridge & have your serviceman install it. Live with it a little while and if you find you are listening to records move that CDs' get a better turntable.
The D2 is a direct-drive and does not need a belt. There is a strobe built into the platter and speed controls on the top deck, so speed should be set by the user quite easily. The headshell is universal, not P-mount, and should accomodate any of the popular standard mount cartridges.