Pioneer PL-514

Pioneer PL-514 Turntable Service – An Affordable Gem

The Pioneer PL-514 belt-drive turntable is an absolute classic. There’s really not much more to add, so come and find out why.

The Pioneer PL-514 is a high-quality, great-sounding belt-drive deck from one of the big Japanese manufacturers. In terms of build and performance, like so much other Japanese gear, it puts many other belt-drive decks to shame.

Check out my video, below, and read on for more details.


The Pioneer PL-514 is a high-performance belt-driven turntable which employs an auto-return mechanism. Other features include an anti-skating force control, cueing device, detachable dust cover, insulator feet, plug-in type headshell and a 40mm thick particleboard cabinet.

For what you pay, you get a heck of a lot of turntable with the PL-514. I mean, this thing punches far above its weight, right up into decent direct drive territory and beyond. You could pay $2000 AUD for a new turntable and I promise you it won’t be as nicely made, nor will it sound as good or be as collectible later.

Specifications, courtesy of Vinyl Engine

Type: auto-return turntable
Drive method: belt drive
Motor: 4-pole synchronous
Speeds: 33 and 45 rpm
Wow and flutter: 0.055% WRMS
Signal to noise ratio: 65dB
Platter: 320mm aluminium alloy die-cast
Tonearm: static balance type, pipe arm (s-shaped)
Effective length: 221mm
Overhang: 15.5mm
Usable cartridge weight: 4 to 10g
Dimensions: 440 x 365 x 140mm
Weight: 7.5kg


I serviced and upgraded this one for her owner. I installed a Jelco HS-25 magnesium headshell, Ortofon 2M Red moving magnet cartridge, new belt and cleaned and lubed the motor, deck mechanisms and bearing.

Doing all this work takes time but the results are well worth it. The deck’s noticeably quieter post-service and runs with less wow and flutter. It looks better too and the new Ortofon 2M Red cartridge and Jelco headshell really lift performance and freshen her up.

This Pioneer PL-514 runs perfectly now and plays a record very nicely. I highly recommend you look for one of these if you need a good, solid record player that will likely last for another 30 years!

Pioneer PL-514
Dirty deck as it came to me
Pioneer PL-514
Platter and chassis top-plate removed to reveal auto-return mechanism, spindle bearing access and motor.
Pioneer PL-514
Here you can see the oiling points on the motor, synthetic bearing oil is a good thing to use here or good mineral oil.
Pioneer PL-514
I also lubricated key parts of the mechanism you see in this image
Pioneer PL-514
One screw releases the retainer, allowing access to the spindle bearing for cleaning and re-lubing.
Pioneer PL-514
Pioneer originally used grease here, but it is very dirty and oxidised. Best to replace this with a quality synthetic grease.
Pioneer PL-514
You can see how dirty this bearing was and how oxidised the grease.
Pioneer PL-514
Steel thrust ball sits in the bottom of the bearing. I removed this and cleaned everything with a solvent before re-lubing the bearing.
Pioneer PL-514
Here she is all cleaned up and ready to go, with new Jelco HS-25 headshell and Ortofon 2M Red moving magnet cartridge.

20 thoughts on “Pioneer PL-514 Turntable Service – An Affordable Gem”

  1. Mike! Thanks for this post – I got a Kenwood KD500 a while back on your rec and love it. I recently got a one of these tables as well. Everything seems to be fine motor-wise but I’ll do the cleaning and lubing. The only issue with the unit I got is that the auto-return function doesn’t work properly. The tonearm doesn’t make it back top the cradle but falls and rubs against the edge of the platter. I’m pretty good with mechanical things but since I screwed up working on a Technics SL-1900 I’m a little shy on working on this. Do you think this may be a job for a pro?

    1. Hi Fatima, thanks for your comment and I’m glad the articles have been of some assistance. I’d say that this might be best taken to someone with experience working on these machines. It’s easy to damage things if you aren’t familiar with them and working on them all the time, so just be careful.

  2. Have one at my cottage and one of the guests damaged the head. It is not usable and I do not know where can I get a replacement. Willing to get a new headshell, but do not know which one. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Hi Eugene, when you say head, this isn’t a standard term so do you mean the stylus, the whole cartridge or the headshell? Each is available separately and costs vary according to what you want to achieve. If you live locally, I’d suggest the best thing is to bring the deck in for a look.

  3. Thanks! Sorry for the late reply …

    I managed to get my PL-514 running, including regreasing the bearing/spindle using one of the Super Lube silicone greases. Now very smooth and quiet. The auto-return mechanism works fine as well without any additional lubrication.

    The only issue is the cueing mechanism. It raises and lowers ok, but it’s a little noisy and seems to be a tad sticky. I was hoping you would suggest a proper viscosity range for replacing the silicone damping grease (I’ve seen anything in the range from 10,000 cSt to 300,000 cSt!), since you’ve already done this fix. I could always try trial an error, going from the most viscous to the least, cleaning in between, but I thought I’d see if you could suggest something (since I won’t be sending my ‘table from Texas to “down under”). There’s nothing in the service manual I found on-line. 🙁

    Thanks again!

    1. Good news so far and I suggest you try something in the middle of the range for the cueing lever. It varies from deck to deck, but give 80,000 – 100,000 a shot and see how that goes.

  4. Nice job!! I have a PL-514 that I’m bringing back into service and it needs just a touch of TLC.

    What oil(s) do you recommend for lubricating the motor and the spindle on the PL-514? What do you use to lube the auto-return gearing? The queuing lever for the tonearm works ok, but I recall it being smoother; what do you recommend for re-lubricating it?


    1. Hi Robert, thanks for the comment! I use a range of greases and oils and don’t really want to get too far into that here as it’s an involved topic, varies from deck to deck and the service manual is usually the best place to look for more information on this. Pioneer use a grease bearing for the spindle on this deck, so it’s best to use grease here. In this case and others like it, I use a premium, lightweight synthetic grease and it works very well. Elsewhere, straight 10 weight and 30 weight oils are handy, along with the synthetic grease for gears, but only where specified. I would need to check, but I don’t recall there being any grease on the auto return gears – check the service manual. I also use silicone oils for certain applications, like some cueing levers, but not all – again, this varies greatly from deck to deck.

  5. So if I was to buy these vibrapods do I replace the original rubber feet or just sit turntable with original feet on the vibrapods?

  6. Excellent, thanks for the reply mike! It’s cleared things up for me. One more question. I have bought 4 nickel plated damping cones/spikes, but now i have heard from forums that its a bad idea for turntables. What do you think if i change the original rubber feet to these? I find the original feet doesn’t isolate or dampen pretty well.

    1. Hi Erkan, I agree and suggest you retain the original rubber feet. There are all sorts of vibration absorbent pads you can add to turntables to reduce transmission of ambient vibration, like Vibrapods for example. Perhaps look at these, and at the way your turntable is situated.

  7. Hello Mike thank you for showing reviewing this turntable I have one also I bought refurbished and after 5 just added a few drops of lubricant to it. The next step though for me is to change the photo rca cablevto an updated one as this has got the original and I think might make a difference. What do you think? Can you tell me how to do it? Thanks

    1. Hi Erkan and thanks for writing! I suggest you stick with the original RCA cable on a deck like this. Japanese manufacturers used good quality cable and on a deck like this, the supplied cable provides a good balanced setup.

    1. Hi Jacob, lots of different lubricants are needed to work on turntables. I use a range of products, most of which aren’t available in retail stores, but are from commercial vendors. If you are looking for a bearing oil, one option is a roughly 30 weight mineral oil.

  8. Hi Mike
    Thanks for the great work on this turntable. It sounds amazing with the service plus new headshell and cartridge. Have owned this for close to 40 years so it was well overdue for a service. Looking forward to many more years of enjoyment.
    It’s nice to know there is someone who can service and fix these things rather than having to replace.

Feel free to leave a comment!