I have a pioneer pl-51 direct drive tuntable I bought back in the early 70's. last time I used it was around 1989. it doesn't have a needle because my grandkids broke it. is it worth buying a needle to use it again?
I have to ask ... what are the chances that a TT that is 40 + years old and that has not been played in the last 28 years ... is just going to need a new needle to get it going? You can give it a shot, you may get lucky.
If you plan to get back into vinyl (which I did), there are some new TTs that are worth trying. If you have a qualified technician in your area, I may go for $200 or so to go over the Pioneer. I don't think I would go much higher, I would go new instead.
I would probably take it in for a tonearm and motor lube, but yes!
There are a lot of good affordable moving magnet cartridges available today--Ortofon 2M Red or Blue, Shelter 201 (esp. if you buy from a Japan vendor on an eBay storefront), Audio Technica AT150Sa on closeout ... and there are some very cool headshells available now.
Dear @g_nakamoto: Mainly depends on what level of quality performance you want to listen and how many LPs you own.
Pioneer design good, very good and excelent levels of products. Your TT model is not really in any of those levels for today standards, it has really poor measures as specs. Of course that can works at some limited quality level performance. Its tonearm is not good neither.
You can get an inexpensive Pioneer vintage TT looking at the 600 series, as the PL 630 that's very good motor with good tonearm.
I bought a PL-71 in 1974 from Radio Shack, when I was attending a university in Cookeville Tn. Back then, there just weren't many Hi-Fi stores around, unless you went to Nashville, even then maybe a couple. Audio Systems and Nicholsons. Anyway, I stopped playing vinyl around 1987 and went to the CD. About 8-9 years ago, I decided to get my old Pioneer back out and started with replacing the stylus in the original shure V-15. After trying a few different cartridges, I installed a Koetsu Urishi Black. It sounded awful until I beefed up the mass of the tonearm. The difference was like day and night-truly. I lubed the spindle and cleaned the pots that adjust the speed and the performance of the old Pioneer is very good. Some can't tell the difference between it and my VPI Scoutmaster. Proper motor speed, good flawless arcing, sufficient tonearm mass and of course proper cart set-up is all I need. The main thing I found, was the stock tone arm just didn't have enough mass. You really have to experience this, to hear the difference and it's amazing what increasing the mass will do, for the sound. Definitely keep the "51", get a good cart and experiment.
Dear @handymann : " keep the 51 ". Depends on what the OP is looking for.
In the other side the 51 and 71 are not similar TT. The 71 had a way better tonearm and I mean by a wide margin and its motor was better too. You can't compare in between and think that in both TTs he will has same quality level performance because it's not that way.
Let me amend my last post about the PL -51. Why not buy a good cart, like the Lyra Delos and install it on the 51. If results are not satisfactory, invest in a new TT and put the new cart on it. Nothing ventured-nothing gained.
If you enjoyed that tt when you used it many years ago - and the rest of your gear is similar in quality ( in other words - you haven't had upgraditis for the past 30 years) - then a new stylus is likely going to get you where you were - and that might be just fine - but just make sure the tracking and alignment get properly adjusted at the same time - if the kids ruinined the stylus - chances are a proper set up and once over by a qualified shop is in order - I know in Toronto - one retailer offers this service incentive per year for free - obviously to sell gear - but - you may only need a new stylus
Hi Raul: Sometimes I look at the question, without looking at any of the other answers, before I chime in. I agree with what you say, concerning the disparity in quality between the two Pioneer TT's. I was just saying that if he has all the prerequisites of the basics in TT mode, sometimes it's senseless to spend bookoo bucks on a new TT. I don't have the top of the line TT's, but would like to. I've noticed if one has the basic requirements of a good TT, sometimes you can tweek it to sound almost as good as a superior make and model. IMO, if you have the basics, money is better invested in a superior cartridge.