Which Budget Turntable to Restore, Carts/Stylii

First of all, I'm probably just going to us a Technics SL-1200 mkII. I've got several mk II and mk III decks sitting in road cases anyway.

However, I'm curious about other Technics decks I have here gathering dust. Assume that each one is working fine and that I'll upgrade to Cardas and Audioquest cables for tone arm and patch.


Yes, they're automatic. Basically, I'm going to hook up one of these along with a 1200, as I slowly mod the 1200, because wifey and the sproog like to play records too and I'm pretty tired of coming home to find a record still turning the needle in the runoff groove. The Ortofon OM with Night Club E (I know, I know) isdurable but still, what a waste.

The lesser of the two decks will end up in the sproog's bedroom when she turns four, at which time I'll start her record collection.

The SL 23 has a Stanton 680 EE on it. Needle seems shot, but I'm not sure if it's just a setup issue. Speed pots are hosed and dance all over the place when touched, locking on anything but the right speed when released. The Stanton seems fine and actually looks like it might be a great cartridge, though I don't think stylii are available anymore. Anyone know? It's got a D680 on there now. I love the little brush.

The SL D30 is a P-mount, and the tone arm looks so chintzy compared to the SL-23. Still it *feels* like a nicer deck, even though the SL-23 . I really love that it has RCA jacks rather than cables, though in the end that just means that I'll want to upgrade the internal wiring anyway. It's got a Stanton L717E on it with a D17E stylus, the latter of which I think is shot. When my tech guy gets back into town in a week I'll have him do setups on them both, which should give us a good evaluation of their condition. I think this cart is fine, though, but would love to be able to find the best needle that is still actually available. Suggestions for that would be great, and if there's no good choice, a vote for a preferred P-mount in about the $50 range.

Pres will be basic. I'm using an Art V2 for now, but when one of my 1200s gets a few upgrades, I'll stick a Grado Black onto it and move it to a vinyl ripping station, replacing the home listening one with and even cheaper Art model. My reference system, tucked away in a music studio I rent across town, has a McIntosh preamp, so my proper critical listening happens there and I'm fine with having very basic preamps at home for now.

I keep acquiring decks at yard sales and from customers who want me to toss them. I'll probably start messing around with the internals, using parts to develop some custom decks built into really ridiculous plinths. Long term stuff.

Anyway, all comments are very appreciated.
Thanks for all the great responses.
I know this won't help you much but have you tried calling NeedleDoctor or going to the VinylEngine forum for assistance? When I needed cart recommendations for an old Concept 2QD TT NeedleDoctor customer service was responsive and knowledgeable. The VinylEngine forum is excellent with good search capabilities. Lots of members there with lots experience with various turntables.