When I mention to someone that I recently sold a turntable on eBay, I almost always get the response of “People still use those?” Well…yes, they do. There are plenty of audiophiles who prefer the analog sound of vinyl over the “cleaned up” sound of an mp3.
But not just any turntable is worth listing on eBay. The turntable must have a valuable brand and should be in usable condition. And don’t confuse “turntable” with “record player”. Record players are usually thought to be units that just play records, and either have built-in or attached speakers. Turntables are stand-alone units that must be connected to an amplifier or other stereo components.
Although there can be some value in record players, turntables are significantly more profitable. But what do you look for?
Brands such as Thorens, BSR, Miracord, Dual and Technics are usually guaranteed sellers. Note that I said “usually”. Condition and rarity play a serious part in a turntable’s value. For example, a BSR 550 can easily sell for over $100 if it’s in good condition. But if it’s missing its spindle, or the dust cover is cracked or missing, it can be a hard item to sell. Also, if its cartridge is gone or it’s present but sounds horrible, that detracts from the value as well.
Some brands to avoid are “store brands”, such as JC Penney’s or Sears. Although the vast majority of these were made to reputable turntable manufacturers (such as BSR) they typically do not have the same high level of build and components buyers are looking for. Hint: if the turntable large and heavy, it’s probably a good turntable to buy!
Another point to remember is that vintage turntables from the late 60’s and to the early 80’s are usually the most in demand. Newer turntables (except for high-end models) are not of great quality, and older turntables don’t have the degree of sound buyers and collectors are looking for.
One nice thing about non-working turntables (or turntables that need some fixing) is that there is still a good market out there for their parts. If you’ve acquired a nice old turntable that doesn’t seem to work, it’s possible that there’s still value in its tone arm, cartridge, case, platter mat, dust cover, manuals or even the knobs! So if you have a bit of mechanical and electrical knowledge, it can be pretty easy to strip an old turntable down for parts and sell them off individually. Remember, though, that the parts themselves should be in good, usable condition.
In my experience most vintage turntables sell for $50 to $200, depending on model and condition. So be sure to keep this in mind when you’re thinking about buying one to re-sell on eBay.
Also, remember that unless you have all the original packing material for the turntable, packing one up for shipment is a seriously time-consuming task. It can easily take a full hour to properly pack one up for shipment and a lot of packing material is needed. So you’ll need to decide if spending an hour or more packing a turntable you sold for $50 makes sense for you.
Testing a turntable
Degree of difficulty: average.
Be sure to verify that all the speeds play correctly (yes, you’ll need an old LP to do this, as well as a stereo to hook it up to). If it’s an automatic turntable, make sure it starts correctly and places the tonearm at the start of the record; it also has to return the tonearm and turn off when the record is complete.
Make sure the cartridge still sounds good. Make sure all wires that connect to the stereo are present and that the power cord is still there and in good condition.
If it’s a belt-drive turntable, make sure the belt’s in usable condition (replacement belts can be notoriously difficult to find and even cost you more than what you paid for the turntable). If the turntable has a built-in strobe to indicate speed accuracy, be sure to test this as well for all speeds the turntable has.
I have sold turntables on eBay for well over 10 years, including my original Thorens. I’ve sold close to 50 turntables, both working and non-working. I’ve also successfully stripped turntables down for parts and have sold dust covers, motors, tonearms and even cartridges. My high point to-date has been the auctioning off of a vintage Garrard 301 Transcription turntable for over $1000!
Selling turntables on eBay is not for everyone. You will really need to dedicate some time to testing them thoroughly and do some investigative work before you even purchase it. But this time may be a wise and profitable investment if you have a nice collectible (and usable) gem of a turntable to list on eBay!