Srajan's response to my e-mail was something like "Freaking yes!" if I remember correctly [you do, precisely - Ed.]. Here's the added bonus for you, dear reader: Not only do you get to learn about a cost-effective real-world approach to restoring and hot-rodding a classic Garrard 301, I am going to share with you every detail on how to do it in a step-by-step fashion that you can replicate. I want you to know that it is possible to play at the bleeding edge of audio performance without being a millionaire or having to forfeit the kids' college education. You just have to be a little bit more creative and patient how you go about it.

6moons readers will not only get the 'audio everyman' angle on this table, you will also get the 'classy side of town' perspective of the ultimate Shindo/Gerrard player system as Jules compares it to today's cutting- edge tables in his Super Tables review series. Here's a hint: Jules bought a Shindo/Garrard after having listened to it just once. Ahem. So whether your wallet's a wee bit slender like mine or you're a big-bucks cool cat who can afford to purchase a $20K Shindo/Garrard in a single pop, 6moons has got you covered.

10 Second History of Garrard
When I started on this journey, I didn't know a darn thing about vintage Garrard 301s so I want to share with you what I've learned thus far. The original Garrard Engineering & Manufacturing Company Ltd. was located
in Swindon/England and today is sadly out of business. Garrard started building the 301 in 1954 and continued production with few changes until 1964 when the 301 was replaced by the 401, considered by many enthusiasts to be sonically inferior even though the 401 had an allegedly better motor. I haven't listened to both so I don't know if the 301 really sounds better but I think it is much more attractive with its seductively rounded lines compared to the rather edgy and squarish-looking 401. In 1979, a Brazilian company acquired Garrard and scaled back its operations until it was completely shut down by 1995.

In 1997, Loricraft purchased the rights to the Garrard name and began refurbishing old Garrards and manufacturing new pseudo Garrards - the 501 and 601. If you live in the US, dealing with Loricraft is unfortunately not an option. That is too bad considering they are probably one of the greatest -- if not the greatest -- 301 experts in the world. I had hoped to purchase a refurbished 301 from Loricraft to serve as the basis for my articles. As I found out and had confirmed, Loricraft doesn't respond to e-mails from potential US customers wanting to purchase turntables or parts even though they do attend CES in the US to display their wares. I attempted for over a year to reach them with numerous e-mails and nary a response. I didn't try to telephone Loricraft -- tricky due to time differences when you live on the West Coast of the US -- so perhaps if you tried to call them, you might have more luck than with e-mail. I'm not sure if the latter is a case of
incredibly poor customer service or if they simply don't want the hassles of customers from across the pond. If the Loricraft folks read this article, perhaps they can clarify how someone in the US can do business with them. If so, we'll post their reply at the end of the last article.

Buying a Garrard 301 on eBay
My first step was the scariest. I have never bought anything from eBay prior to this venture. However, it is reasonably easy to locate a nice eBay Garrard 301 if you live in the US, and you can get upgrade parts from sources such as Shindo USA who take very good care of their US customers. Garrard 301s were built in an incredibly robust fashion and I have never heard of a problem associated with one purchased on eBay in the US to be used for restoration and hot-rodding purposes. I suppose it could happen but think you are pretty safe going the eBay route. I'll give you a few pointers that'll help keep you on the sunny side of the street. In fact, when I bought my 301, there were two brand-new-in-the box units for sale so Garrards in good condition aren't too rare at the moment.

As far as the table goes, there are three basic varieties you might run across. The first is the early hammer-tone grey grease-bearing model. The second is the mid-production cream-enamel grease-bearing model and the third is the late-production cream enamel oil-bearing model. Collectors covet the early model, which sells for often more than several thousand dollars in mint condition. I actually prefer the looks of the cream-enamel version where you'll find grease and oil-bearing models for sale. Among aficionados, there is much debate about which is better. While some say a properly maintained grease-bearing 301 is the best route, others say that they sound dark and ponderous compared to the oil-bearing variant. Oil-bearing advocates claim that it is this model, which is responsible for the über performance reputation of restored and hot-rodded 301s. Alas, it doesn't matter which one you choose if you replace the stock bearing with the Shindo bearing and platter. The Shindo bearing's extreme level of quality will be much better than either version of the already excellent quality of the original. Garrard also offered an extra-cost strobe platter option, which had the strobe markings machined into the outer surface of the platter for fine-tuning the 78, 45 or 33.3 rpm playback speeds. I chose the cream enamel oil-bearing 301 as the one I wanted to find and buy, figuring it'd probably give me the better sound of the two until I could explore the Shindo upgrades.

The first eBay thing you need to do is register so you can bid on an auction. Bidding on a vintage Garrard 301 involves rather fierce competition so before you bid on one, you need to maximize your chances of winning an auction. Go to and set up a free account. In their own words,

"eSnipe gives you the power to effectively manage and win eBay auctions by placing bids for you during the last few seconds of an auction - a practice commonly known as "sniping." With eSnipe bidding for you, you can mask your interest in an item, protect your privacy, change or cancel bids and more."

It's a great service and rather than reiterate any more of what it says on their website, I recommend you go there, read up on it and sign up. In order to pay for an eBay purchase, you are probably going to need a PayPal account, so set that up too before proceeding.

Once you have those preparations squared away, you are ready to bid on your first Garrard 301 auction. The easiest way to find out what's available is to search for Garrard 301 with the eBay search engine. Anything to do with the 301 will be listed under the retrieved results. Read about the tables offered for sale, look at the pictures and give the sellers a call or send an e-mail to quiz them about the general condition:
  • Are any of the fittings or switches broken?
  • What kind of shape is the enamel finish in?
  • Do all the switches work like they are supposed to?
  • Does it play at all three speeds?
  • Does it run quietly?

If answers to these questions indicate any kind of problems, don't even consider a potential purchase. Factory replacement parts like switch knobs are nonexistent. If the seller can't answer any of those questions, stay clear and keep looking - a good-condition table will show up in time. Find out if the seller will refund your money if you receive the Garrard 301 and its condition in your opinion is not as good as the seller stated. You need a Garrard 301 in good working condition to serve as the foundation for your project.

You should be able to find a good, lovingly used eBay Garrard 301 for less than $1000 and probably closer to $750. There are stories of people buying mint 301s for $300 but holding your breath while waiting for that kind of bargain could be dangerous. For a new-in-the-box Garrard 301 of any kind -- assuming you can even find one for sale -- expect to pay $2000 or more. Ditto for a mint-condition grey grease-bearing 301. After you have selected a couple of Garrards for eSnipe to bid on, there is nothing else to do but sit back and wait. I've watched eSnipe as the end of an auction neared. The price began to run up on a new-in-the-box cream grease-bearing 301 I was bidding on with an upper limit of $2000 - I lost the auction. I lost another auction on a used cream oil-bearing 301 at $600.

Then a 301 showed up with a "buy now" option for $850, which was perhaps a little steep but it does appear that sale prices are starting to rise a little as word gets out about the 301's potential performance level. The "buy now" option allows you to buy without the normal auction process but most items don't offer it as an alternative. After talking with the seller about the condition of his "buy now" cream oil-bearing 301 fitted with the optional extra-cost machined strobe platter and having determined that the condition was acceptable, I bought it. It was reportedly a single-owner table that had been played for years but still worked fine. The seller vouched that all the hardware was in mint condition, that it worked at all three speeds, ran quietly and that the enamel finish was in good shape. I paid $50 for packing and shipping from Florida to Washington State and thus had a $900 total invested in a vintage Garrard 301 with plinth, arm and cartridge. I assumed that the old plinth, arm and cartridge would end up being throwaways but you never know! It turned out the owner was able to take a charge card through his business so I didn't even need PayPal - but you probably will.

I awaited the arrival of my 301 with the anticipation of a kid waiting for Christmas morning. I was relieved when the box containing the 301 was delivered in good condition and I saw that the owner had packed the old turntable inside to perfection. The condition wasn't quite as perfect as the seller believed but it was within the range of honestly differing perceptions. There was a tiny chip in the enamel on the very back of the chassis and the mat was shot but overall, it was a very very nice-looking 301. I went back online and left positive feedback for the seller as is the custom on eBay. The plywood plinth, old wooden Grado arm and Shure cartridge looked primitive and ragged and would almost certainly end up in the trash. The power cord looked frayed and dangerous. The tonearm leads looked cheap and disgusting and were as corroded as anything I've ever seen. The plinth actually smelled bad. It had the musty smell of age and decay about it that comes from 50 years of humid climes - think cat box odor.