Vintage Japanese Turntables

My LPs have been in storage for many years, but I am thinking about getting them out of storage, buying one of the direct drive turntables I loved in my youth, and using a still new and in the box SME III tonearm I have in my collection.

A couple of questions for the analog experts, please

1) If I find a turntable without an SME armboard, would it be difficult or expensive to buy an SME armboard, or to otherwise adapt say, a Grace armboard for my SME arm? Or adapt the turntable?

2) I have found the Denon 103 debate interesting because I remember this as a cult cartridge which I thought might work well with this arm?

3) Any other concerns for vintage Japanese direct drive turntables?

I understand my choices might be largely sentimental here and easily outpeformed by other things - but for this application, I just want good to very good sound and vintage cool, more than state of the art performance.

Thank you.
1) Usually not, the oval SME cutout usually overlays the smaller, round cutouts of other 9" arms, however your arm came with a mounting template with which you can verify this. Armboards are also usually pretty easy to fabricate if the manufacturer no longer supports the product.

2)It will work butit will not perform to its capability as it requires an effective mass of 14 grams minimimum with 16-20 being optimal. The Denon 301 for low output or 110 and 160 for high output will be a good match. The Grado and Shure cartridges also match nicely with this low mass arm.

3) Many early high-end Japanese tables used a servo system to regulate speed through a feedback type mechanism. A magnetic tape was adhered to the inside of the platter with magnetic impulses at regular intervals. These impulses were read by a magnetic tape head and the speed adjusted accordingly. If these become demagnitized as is fairly common, and the turntable does not have a servo defeat switch, major surgery may be required to return functionality, if that is possible at all.
Kenwood KD-500
Viridian, thank you.

Wizard, yes, an excellent candidate which is on my short list and the turntable I loved as a kid.

Also like the huge Denons with the illuminated switches, so wondering if I could rip out the factory tonearm which also relates to my armboard question....
Hi CW, I don't know what your budget is, and what 'vintage cool' is for you. Offhand, fitting the category of tables which would accept the SMEIII, I like the high-design look of the PD-310, and stretching higher, the PD-444 and PD-555, and of course the "flying-saucer-in-a-plinth" method of buying a motor and plinthing it your way (Denon (go for the numbers above 5000 or the DP80 or DP75), JVC TT-71/TT-81, Sony TTS-6000 and TTS-8000, etc). I am sure there are more. For me, if I really wanted to use the SMEIII, my first thought would be a TTS-8000 in one of the original black lacquer plinths they sold, maybe the one which came with the 'rack handles'. Either that or a Micro Seiki, but those tend to get on in price (though if you want to spend the money, they are excellent. The belt-drive 1500 series are great tables, and armboards for SME are easily found or made; or the 'one-box' tables with model numbers ending in 91 or higher (91, 101, 111, 555, 777) are all excellent and allow interchangeable arm bases which accept SME-mount arms).

Personally, I'm partial to some of the tech-y looking stuff like the PX-2 you once had, and similar automatic tables, but they usually come with their own arms and I have never tried taking the original arms off. For further source material, you might try The Vintage Knob.

As to concerns about both armboards and tables, Viridian has it nailed. I would add the caveat that if the servo defeat switch is engaged, it may work, but some models had a tendency to stray a bit far before coming back and sound bad doing so. The models I distinctly remember having the strip were the above-mentioned Denons and Sonys. I am sure there were others which used the technology from Sony.
CW, I thought that you might enjoy the eye candy of the direct-drive museum:

Some of the better Denon tables have the formentioned electromagnetic speed control mechanisms, such as the DP-6000. Anything that says "quartz lock" BTW does not as these servos are referenced to a quartz crystal.

Funny, I had a 3009 series lll arm with both the standard and titanium nitride arm tubes, mounted on a KD-500. That was a long time ago. The only DD I have left from my collection is the Micro Seiki MR-711 with MA-202L arm. I don't use it much, but it was so hard to find that I didn't think that I would be able to replace it. There is a dodgy example in the direct drive museum, above.
Another vote for the Kenwood KD-500. I love its marble like plinth.
Another vote for the KD-500 . These were frequently sold with the Infinity Black Widow Tonearm that used the SME Mount . You should be able to find this combo at a decent price . Good luck