The Best Vintage DJ Turntable: Technics SL-1200

Technics 1200 MK5

Technics 1200 MK5 Silver

Calling this turntable ‘vintage’ might be a bit misleading since it is still the only choice in DJ turntables today. The Technics SL-1200 has had a long history and the end of its 38 year production cycle in 2010. It was and is still is the top DJ turntable.

The Technics SL-1200 has had 6 major product revisions over its entire lifespan.

  • Original SL-1200 – Released in 1972. Technics dubbed this player as the “The Middle Class Player System”
  • MK2 – Released in 1979 – Renamed the “The Middle Class Quartz Direct Drive”. This model became popular with hip-hop DJ’s. There were silver and black models available. The European SL-1210MK2 represented the black edition of the turntable and featured some updated internals.
  • MK3 – Released in 1989 the SL-1200MK3 was created for the Japanese market. In 1997 the SL-1200M3D was released. This model featured a removable dust cover, removal of the center ‘notch’ on the pitch slider, allowing for precise pitch control around that point, as well as a reset button which adjusted the pitch back to zero regardless of the position of the pitch slider.
  • MK4 – Released in 1996 to the Japanese market only this model was aimed at the non-DJ crowd. It featured a notch at the center 0 pitch location as well as an additional 78rpm setting to add to the existing 33/45rpm options.
  • MK5 – Released in November of 2002 the SL-1200MK5 increased the anti-skate settings from 0-3 grams of force to 0-6 grams of force. The removable lid was converted from hinges to magnets.  The target light was upgraded to LED. The older bulb style would die over time. Also released in November of 2002 was the SL-1200MK5G/SL-1210M5G. These models came with an all digital pitch control, which included a selectable ±8% and ±16% pitch range. Other internals including a blue LED target light were added/upgraded. The MK5G and the M5G are the same internally, the M5G was the 30th anniversary model and featured a speckled black finish.
  • MK6 – Released in Feb 2008, these models made small improvements over the previous versions including oxygen free copper wire and improved LED’s.
  • Special Models – There have been many special edition Technics 1200s created, notably the SL-1200LTD, a black turntable featuring gold components.

Full information about this legendary turntable can be found on Wikipedia.

New Technics SL-1200 Turntables

Finding a new in box 1200 can be a tricky thing these days and likely you will end up paying a premium price for them. As of the date of writing this article you are looking to invest at least $1000 dollars for a new 1200. Realistically plan to invest $1300 for the model you want. There are sellers on Amazon which have some new units in stock from time to time.

Used Technics SL-1200 Turntables

Used Technics are a bit easier to get your hands on, but its all about the quality of the turntable which will ultimately determine the price. Looking on Amazon you can occasionally find deals, but most of the time they are overpriced. If I was in the market for a used 1200, I would search for Technics 1200 on Ebay. There are many more options in these listings and the prices are usually more reasonable. You can buy a turntable in excellent condition for around $200-300 and the prices increase from there.

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Posted in DJ Knowledge, Turntables

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