Turntable talk: NVA meets Montreal’s go-to repair person for the Technics 1200
Darryl runs DC Electronics, the go-to shop for Technics 1200 turntable repair in Montreal, where he’s been repairing, servicing and upgrading them since 2002 . As someone who knows those iconic decks inside and out, we chat with him about the Technics 1200 in advance of the workshop he will give at Never Apart February 9th on the topic.
How did you get into repairing Technics 1200s?
It all started with replacing the RCA cables on one of my 1200s. They started acting up (as most original technics RCA’s eventually do), so I knew I had to take the plunge and open it up. A good friend of mine had already opened his, so he showed me. I knew how to solder so I bought some RCAs at Future Shop andI soldered on some new cables! That was likely around 1999. I only started really fixing them seriously a few years later, following in the footsteps of my friend (The Vinylkiller /Udj) that was doing it full time in Toronto.
Tells us about your artistic practice: who is DJ Camero and what does he play?
Camero is best known for mixing funk, hip-hop and house. But back in the early days (late 90s) he mixed everything from top 40 to drum’n’bass. He plays pretty much exclusively on turntables, mostly with serato scratch live, but he really enjoys playing real vinyl without the distraction of the laptop screen. He guests regularly on Wefunk radio at CKUT.
As a DJ, have you ever run into challenges with venues owning poorly kept Technics? What would be your advice to them?
Definitely, I almost always find issues with Technics at venues, though thankfully most of the time it’s not deal breaking. It’s a bit the nature of turntables, Technics do have fragile parts (tonearm especially) and are mechanical machines that need upkeep, and need to be understood and cared for. A common issue is drink spills, that can mitigated by having a place for drinks in a location not super close to the turntables. Having the DJ setup elevated from the masses also helps, as guests tend to hold their drinks over the turntables when watching. It shouldn’t be easy for them to reach over the turntables, to talk to the DJ—it should be made obvious they need to come around back.
Put the turntables away on nights when DJs don’t use them, treat them like expensive musical instruments (after all that’s what they are!). Have backup turntable(s). Even if 1200s are meticulously maintained, accidents happen usually at the most inopportune times—so having a turntable you can swap quick is the best option. It also means you still have a working setup while the broken turntable gets repaired.
What is a myth regarding Technics that you’ve found not to be true?
The myth that Technics are the absolutely the best DJ table in every way. Technics are better in many ways then other brands, but they don’t necessarily out perform every turntable on every specification. For instance, DJs/turntablists that scratch often prefer certain non-Technics turntables that have better torque, available straight-arm tonearms, and ultra-pitch capabilities. Vestax PDX2000, Numark TTX, Stanton STR150 are some popular options.
What makes the Technics 1200 still so iconic in your opinion?
The Technics 1200 is still considered the DJ’s true instrument in my opinion. It has been and still is an industry standard, at least as far as DJ turntables go. Granted the Pioneer CDJ is probably now more common in clubs and venues, but anyone that DJs with turntables will know what a 1200 is. There’s just multiple decades of history to it, 3 500 000 units sold worldwide since the 70’s, and it’s an indisputably reliable piece of gear/instrument. I often compare it to a toyota 4×4 truck, most everyone knows what it is and how long they last.
When people speak of a “vinyl resurgence,” how do you see that from the perspective of someone who repairs turntables?
It makes me happy, as I’ve seen the unfortunate slow movement of the DJ world away from turntables. I think statistically, it’s more consumers than DJs buying records, but this still helps fuel the repair industry, as the 1200 makes a good home unit. I think it also encourages future DJs to try vinyl as a medium.
What’s the most important tip for up-keeping a Technics 1200?
Difficult to pick the single most important tip, so I’ll just list a few. Don’t lick your headshell contacts, it may help make a poor connection better temporarily but it encourages further degradation of the tonearm contacts. Keep your drinks away from them! If they are black, keep all the black parts clean, the finish is easily damaged by contaminants. Be careful transporting them, take the counterweight and headshell off and pack securely/separately, make sure the road case actually secures the platter. And of course get them serviced regularly 🙂
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