SME Model 10
Michell Gyro SE
Depends on what you want to spend and how long you see yourself listening to your records. All comments based on experience ...
at $2K - buy the new Technics 1200GR @$1700. Several excellent cartridges in the $200 - $300 range, depends on your phono preamp. You will be set for a very long time with this TT.
at $1100 - buy the Project Classic 25th Anniversary model. Already set-up with an Ortofon cartridge. Good choice if you want better than a budget experience.
at $300 - Audio Technica LP120. Set aside that $200 for a better cartridge. Smart and safe choice if you are not certain how deep you want to dive into this. Really nice for the cash. Have set up two friends with this TT.
The Pioneer mentioned above is not shabby. Do some research on Super OEM turntables. The Pioneer is cut from that cloth. I spent a few years with a Stanton ST150 (M1). They get the job done, but when you spend some more and get over the $1000 mark, you will notice the differences and they are substantial.
As for buying a vintage TT, hope that the seller knew what he was doing. A pure learning experience. A potential rabbit hole ... TTs were built better 30 and 40 years ago, but so was I. My experience is that sellers dump these when they tire of them and are looking to upgrade to where they originally wanted to be. I prefer to buy new.
This so depends on what your expectations are in terms of sound. Go too cheap and you will wonder what the fuss is all about.
Turntables are more personal than digital players, ergonomics being a consideration. I myself prefer a high-mass design with a platter designed to damp vinyl resonance, and an LP clamping system. The best value around in that type of table is the old VPI HW-19 Mk.2 or MK.3, which are plentiful used. It is a heavy-duty design, with a massive floating steel subchassis having a very low-resonant-frequency-suspension via four springs, an 8lb. black Delrin platter with lead insert, and an LP clamp that secures the LP to the platter and flattens warps. I found one in the desirable piano black finish a few months back for $500 plus shipping (another $100).
Mount an arm of your choice, like one of the Jelco’s, an Audiomods arm (from the U.K.), or a Well Tempered, and a pick-up that matches the gain provided by the P-3, and you’ve got a great LP player for between $1500 and $2000. Do you consider that affordable? It is very utilitarian!
A cheaper alternative is the AR ES-1, from the 1980-90’s, which was offered with or without a Jelco-sourced arm. It is a lower-mass design, with a floating subchassis (via three springs) and an aluminum platter topped with a felt mat---an economy Linn Sondek. Available with arm for under $1000.