Can't speak to the 126 but I bought a 166mk II and it plays and sounds great. It is in excellent condition and shows little sign of wear or usage. I did put a new belt on it and bought a cartridge for it. As to whether yours is worth it or not I guess it depends on how much you paid for it and what condition it is in.
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How much you paid for it certainly has everything to do with the answer to your question. Unless you paid too much, or something is wrong with it, you are not wasting your money. The TD126 was a fine sounding table in its day, and you would probably have to pay a lot more than you have in it for better today. It is certainly worthy of a decent cartridge.
A high-end shop may not be interested in an old Thorens, but I think you might be surprised how good it sounds. If the bearing never dried out, and everything works, it may be worth upgrading. Tonearm wire/cables, maybe tonearm/armboard.
It's a good deck.
If it has the stock Thorens tonearm (TP16 MkII) it requires a high compliance/compliant cartridge, due to the lower mass (<8 grams I think).
When setting it up look into redamping the springs as the foam sponges (located inside the spring coils) break down with time.
I used wedge shaped makeup sponges in my TD125, but research what others are using for replacement parts.
Maybe someone was having a bad day @ Brooks?
I have owned a TD-166MkII since I bought it new in 1984. It has always sounded fine to me, and has been very reliable. I bought it when i thought turntables would become extinct, and I refused to re-purchase all of my vinyl in CD form. Who knew vinyl would have such staying power? Anyway, I wouldn't classify any Thorens as a "lemon." They are very well made and designed. The TD-126 MkII is no exception. I have the stock arm with two wands. One has an Ortofon OM-30 Super MM cartridge, and the other a Denon DL-160 HOMC cartridge. They both sound great and track beautifully, with the Denon sounding a bit smoother and richer in my system. Years ago, I had a Grado in it. Not sure why I switched it out, it was a long time ago.
There are many tweaks and mods for vintage Thorens 'tables. I just had a local modder, K-Works in Clifton, New Jersey, do some work on my TD-166MkII. I had new feet installed that provide better damping and leveling ability, added a lot of vibration damping to the plinth and platter, added an Ersa-Mat (I think TTVJ or Needle Doctor sells this item), and upgraded the RCA cables. Too early for a full evaluation, but improvements seem to be subtle, but noticeable, including better bass definition and perhaps a smoother presence range.
Don't let what the shop guy said bother you. Either he wants to sell you a new 'table or he doesn't know much about Thorens decks. Do a web search. There are many sites devoted to vintage Thorens 'tables. Enjoy!
The TD126 mkII would have been the top of the line Thorens deck in its era. Mid seventies iirc. Electronic speed control. A frequency generator. In this iteration Thorens was still using an AC synchronous motor of small watts output. The model was then and still is today well thought of. A high-end player for its time and, when well set up with an appropriate tonearm/cartridge, competitive with some serious players of this era.
The TD126 mkII will come standard with the TP16 mkII tonearm. This is a relatively low mass arm that was designed to mate well with high compliance moving magnet cartridges of that era. Today you might want to try a different tonearm. But the standard arm could still deliver good music. It is the limiting factor today, however.
It was the TD126 mkIII that tried the disastrous DC servo-loop motor controller ( on a belt drive player) fiasco... That model was initially poorly thought of but Thorens continued to develop the model on into the 1990's.
Fortunately you have the mkII which is desirable.
Unfortunately the deck is old enough to require a thorough clean-up. Typically the electrolytics (caps and resistors) in the speed control circuitry will need to be replaced, since these dry out over time.... And there has been time.
Your typical radio repair shop (if you can still find one)will no longer have significant knowledge in turntable repairs or setup. A full generation has grown up not living with the Lp and its players.
Generally, it is the diy'ers that delve into the world of vintage Thorens players.
Thanks TD160 for offering pertinent info (unlike the "pissing in the punch bowl" response of Syntax).
Yes, parts on the board may need replacing, but the OP lives in LA (as do I) and there should be local qualified tech's available.
They (the caps) might be operating OK @ this point, but replacement is something that does now, or will be in the future, need to be considered.
All gear requires proper maintenance, so this is not a negative, IMO, for a vintage deck as such steps/expense should offer many years of trouble free use.
I'll suggest the OP (original poster) run a query through the vinyl forum @ AA (audioasylum.com) as there are many Thorens fans/owners that frequent the site.
I've considered the II/IV versions with the stock arms as it would be much easier for my wife to use, (than my TD125/SME combo) plus it plays 78's and it's a very musical deck.
What makes this a wonderful hobby is we can use different combo within our own budget to get our own audio nirvana. I don't think it's a lemon as long as it's still in good shape...at a reasonable price. It will be a disaster if we incline to use the same brand of TT, cart, phono...etc.
Disregard those "arrogant" comments and enjoy the music;)
I've recently come upon the same model in a possible sale. The owner is asking $525 for the Thorens 126 mk ii in excellent condition. With a shure m97ex cartridge (not a pricey item, to say the least).
Any thoughts on that? I would think this is a fine vintage TT, but it's still old, no doubt needs tlc under the hood, has basic cart, and high price. What might a fair market value be for such an item?
Or should I take that 400-550$ US elsewhere in search of re-entry TT?