I've been looking to purchase my first record player for a while, but am on a very tight budget so I've been looking on Craigslist for one second hand. Most of the ones I've found are very old and I'm fine with that, but I was wondering if anyone could tell me what do I need to check before I buy it to make sure it is in good condition and working well.
I have no idea what I'm doing and could sure use some help!
The best test (without equipment) is to actually play a record on it through a system and listen for speed problems, hum, or mechanical noises. Stay away from record changers as they are complicated and more likely to have problems as well as not sounding as good as a fully manual turntable. A belt drive table would allow for easier repair as a replacement belt is usually available and not too pricey. I would assume that a new cartridge or stylus will be needed.
The above advice is good but I know that americanaudiophile and I just differ on one detail.
I would steer secondhand buyers on a budget towards Japanese direct drive models as these are generally reliable and don't have belts that need replacing. Many belts, though probably not all, can be found on e-bay but add at least $10 to the price of any belt drive turntable.