The Complete Guide to Buying a Turntable on eBay

Like if this guide is helpful
The Complete Guide to Buying a Turntable on eBay

Obsessive music fans are on a constant quest to find audio components that replicate the fidelity and atmosphere of a live performance. For some, the clarity of lossless files played through digital components separates frequencies best. For traditionalists, the organic distortion and accuracy emitted by pre-amplified stereo turntables brings a level of nostalgia that is incomparable. To satisfy the ballooning fan base in search of sleeker, better record players, manufacturers work overtime to design hybrid models capable of coping with both digital and vinyl media.

For those who grew up in decades preceding the Nineties, however, the nostalgic quality of turntables that come out of eras between the Sixties and Eighties generate a more authentic sound. Younger generations have an entirely different set of expectations of their turntables: Professional DJs need players that can be used intuitively to generate a range of effects and pitches.

How to Refine the Search for Turntables Listed on eBay

eBay makes it simple to filter out the unwanted specifications of turntables so that only listings of appropriate players are provided. The page beneath the Record Players and Turntables category lists the most prominent specifications influencing the sonic character of these components.

Shopping According to Brand

Brand loyalists are given a list of the most predominant turntable manufacturers. In many cases, electronics brands are indicative of quality, or the lack thereof. When hunting for turntables, those logos become an imperative way to separate the old from the new. They also reveal whether the players in question are of audiophile quality or suited to less obsessive listeners.

Sixties and Seventies

Prices are often steep for vintage collectibles but generally, expensive players from this decade are built from quality components. Affordable players from the rock era are likely to be sonically inferior. In the Seventies, turntablism was born, so DJs can source players that handle pitch control and scratching. Today's DJs generally prefer turntables that were manufactured in the Seventies, since they are easier to control manually.


Valuable players from this decade are best selected according to how well they have been used. Those that haven't been played since the year of manufacture will have intact styluses and quality cartridges. Turntables made in the Eighties offer a fine balance between quality and price, making it possible to achieve high fidelity sound without paying the hiked up prices of contemporary players. Air bearing linear tone arms were introduced late in the decade, allowing efficient tracking without the need for a servo motor.


A golden era for advanced diamond styluses. Such needles are still manufactured today, but those made in the Nineties match affordability with quality.

2000 to 2009

By sacrificing a few high tech features, it becomes possible to find high fidelity players at a slightly lower price. Many models from this decade allow strong pitch control and scratching, making them appropriate for DJs as well as amateur listeners.

2010 and later

Audiophile quality turntables fetch a grand price in exchange for quality, versatility, and the addition of digital features. These boutique offerings are appropriate for vinyl collectors who need to keep their valuable limited edition pressings in peak condition. Entry level options from these years are often priced similarly to those of the Eighties, yet do not surpass the older versions' sonic quality. High end manufacturers continue to improve stylus, cartridge and tone arm design.

Honing the Search Using Drive Type Selections

The motor that drives the turntable affects stability, vibration levels and thus audio quality. When the stylus is perfectly centred in the middle of the record's groove, sound is at its best. Motor placement can push the needle out of that sweet spot.

Direct Drive

Belt Drive

Manual placement of the tone arm while the platter is static keeps the stylus and record in tip top condition for longer.

Clumsy or novice listeners are prone to scratching albums when they aren't used to the delicacies of needle placement on a spinning record.

Some direct drive turntables come with heavier platters to overcome distortion problems.

Drives lose their flexibility in time, leading to reduced tension that unbalances the down weight of the stylus and tone arm. Recently developed polymer based belt drives have extended longevity.

Platters are light, which can lead to negative feedback.

The motor's placement besides the platter reduces vibration to improve sound quality by keeping the stylus in place.

The motor's central placement causes vibrations that distort audio quality.

Heavy platters improve stability, leading to quiet, low feedback audio quality.

Communicating with Turntable Sellers on eBay

eBay's unique communication tool allows buyers and sellers to discuss individual products before and after the appropriate turntable has been chosen. By clicking directly onto the turntable in the listing, a page opens up detailing the record player's specifications. At the bottom of the page is a list of questions and responses that have already been exchanged about the product. When hunting for turntables, some core questions will ensure that the process occurs without a hitch.

Are the cartridge and stylus included?

For those choosing a turntable from the Seventies and Eighties, the inclusion of a diamond stylus ensures a significant rise in sound quality. It is easy to buy a new cartridge for a turntable, and bundled accessories make it simpler to acquire several components at a lower price. An upgraded cartridge is an excellent addition that will significantly improve sound clarity.

Is the belt in the belt drive still flexible?

eBay separates new, used, and refurbished turntables from those that need to be fixed after purchase. A lack of flexibility in the belt drive mars sound quality and will demand replacement.

How many years has the turntable been in use?

An original owner will be able to give an accurate impression of how well used the turntable is. Many repurposed record players that are decades old have not been used since the era of their manufacturer, which ensures an undamaged stylus, a drive that is intact and many future years of listening pleasure.

Are there missing parts?

When discontinued turntables have missing parts, make sure that they are available to purchase separately.

How will it be packaged?

To keep the turntable in its original condition, the component should sit snugly inside the smallest possible box. Padding such as bubble wrap should fill empty spaces to absorb vibration. The overhang arm should be positioned on top of the tonearm, which should be secured with tape. The platter and mat should be packed separately and wrapped in bubble wrap.

The Finer Details of Using eBay

Once music fans have found the turntable that matches their needs best, it's time to consider the finer aspects of the transaction. Shipping terms and warranties need to be considered. Upgrades and accessories can push a standard turntable up a few tiers to become a finely tuned, enhanced stereo component.


eBay sellers have the option of choosing free shipping for their clients. Another way to cut down shipping costs is by trading with sellers within a defined location. Local sellers can be selected according to country or continent. This option speeds up shipping time. Express options ensure that impatient music fans receive their turntables within one working day, while those who buy more than one item from a seller may be eligible for postage discounts.


eBay allows searches for turntables based on warranties for new and used items. It's also possible to purchase a Square Trade warranty on qualifying products, even if they have an industry specific warranty included. These can be used to cover exclusions, repairs, handling damages, expired manufacturer warranties and replacement parts.


The simple replacement of a tonearm, cartridge and stylus can bring a major upgrade in sound quality. eBay lists a range of parts that can be used to improve turntables. By searching for 'turntable upgrade ', listings of these components can be found.


Turning a turntable into a component that is compliant with an existing stereo system is simple with eBay. Accessories such as phonograph cables, preamps and operating instructions can be found beneath the turntable accessories listing.

Find Turntables on eBay

To find the appropriate turntable on eBay, it's useful to use the extensive search functions on offer. The most streamlined way to find a broad listing of all available record players is by entering 'turntable' into the home page's search function. This will open the Record Players and Turntables page. Uncertain audiophiles can find their ideal player by browsing this general page. The left hand column supplies a list of brands, models, features and drive types. Clicking on any of these opens up a pop up window for a refined search. eBay separates new turntable listings from used ones. It's possible to search beneath these two categories or to whittle the listings down to a more select group with specified features such as turntables with belt drives or set revolution speeds .


When using eBay to find used turntables, it's usually possible to maximise audio quality while minimising price. The Buy it Now feature allows instant purchase of both new and used record players. The advancements that have transformed turntables into multi-functional hybrid components makes the steeper price tags attached to new items well worthwhile to a core group of audiophiles. Regardless of the manufacturing date, it remains possible to find players with extreme sonic clarity. For digital fans, vinyl lacks the audio clarity of alternatives, but when the listener chooses the stylus, cartridge, drive type and motor wisely, the turntable will offer true-to-life authenticity that can only be mimicked by a live performance.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides