The Technics SL-23 is an affordable, loveable belt-drive turntable that I highly recommend to anyone looking for their first ‘proper’ deck.

Updated March 2024!

Technics is perhaps best known for the SL-1200 series of direct-drive turntables and the lovely SL-10 linear tracker. They manufactured a huge range of machines at varying price points, many of them fantastic decks. The SL-23 is one of them, a belt-driven turntable with an FG (frequency generator) servo-controlled DC motor with IC drive.


Technics took belt-drive, and added Japanese engineering, quality and refinement, catapulting the affordable belt-drive sector to the next level. The SL-23 features an S-shaped tonearm, automatic arm return and shut-off and much better performance than many similarly priced belt-drive decks of the time.

The deck comes with a combined moving magnet cartridge and head-shell and it’s a very decent-sounding combination. The Sl-23 also features a strobe and vernier adjustment of both 33 and 45 rpm speeds, a very nice touch. The SL-23 was available as the SL-23K variant, with a black colourway.

The combined cartridge/headshell eliminates the need for alignment in two of three axes but limits what can be done with this combination. When owners want a better cartridge, I often fit a Jelco HS-25, HS-50 or Ortofon SH-4 headshell and a suitable cartridge, better than the Technics EPC-270ED.

It’s also possible to fit an AT-style cartridge to the factory plastic headshell. This requires the correct hardware and this is a nice way to go where owners want to retain the original look. Alternatively, a modern AT headshell and cart make an excellent combination.

Technics SL-23 Specifications

Courtesy of Vinyl Engine:

Type: frequency generator servo turntable
Drive method: belt drive
Motor: DC motor
Turntable platter: aluminium die-cast
Speeds: 33 and 45rpm
Speed change: electronic
Pitch control: 6%
Wow and flutter: 0.05% WRMS
Rumble: -65dB
Tonearm:  s-shaped tubular arm
Effective length: 220mm
Overhang: 14mm
Offset angle: 22 degrees
Stylus pressure range: 0 to 4g
Cartridge weight range: 3 to 8.5g
Dimensions: 135 x 428 x 348mm
Weight: 6.5kg


The SL-23 is relatively straightforward to work on and doesn’t need much to keep it running well, as long as speed gremlins haven’t appeared. Be aware that there are two different belts for the SL-23 based on the serial number, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation.

You’ll find belts on eBay, most of which are of mediocre quality and often the wrong size. Premium rubber drive belts of the correct dimensions prevent excessive force on the motor bearing, extending motor life, lowering noise and improving performance. The right belt eliminates any chance of damage and poor running that the wrong belt can cause.

The other issue with the SL-23 is the speed selector/power switch and this one isn’t trivial to resolve. The contacts become dirty and gummed up with dried grease, causing the switch operation to become intermittent. In these cases, the switch must be disassembled, cleaned and serviced with the correct cleaners and lubricants to eliminate this problem. The tiny switch parts may be damaged or lost by those unfamiliar with this work, effectively killing the deck, so don’t do that!

Be wary of claims that Deoxit alone will cure this – it will not. The speed switch may initially be improved after a spray of whatever contact cleaner you want to use, and if that’s the extent of your engagement with the deck, you might (incorrectly) assume that you’ve fixed it, but this is temporary.

A word of warning: for most people in most scenarios, I suggest leaving the switch alone and letting someone familiar with these machines do the work for you. There are near-microscopic parts in these switches and if you lose them, the switch will NEVER work again.

Technics SL-23
This SL-23 is a little dirty and needs a correct belt, oil and attention to the speed control verniers.
Technics SL-23
Note the integral cartridge and headshell. This is not an ‘ordinary’ belt-drive deck, it features an FG servo-controlled motor, unusual in a belt-driven machine.
Technics SL-23
Technics SL-23
Here we see the arm return mechanism, motor and bearing with the deck partially disassembled for service. It’s very important to use the correct weight and grades of oil and grease.
Technics SL-23
Tiny motor, but a good one. I’ve applied a drop of synthetic bearing oil to the top bearing and cleaned the drive pulley.
Technics SL-23
It’s worth oiling the pivot point the large gear revolves around and the spindle bearing of course. The spindle bearing comes factory-filled with a molybdenum disulphide-type grease. I have this grease in the workshop and used a Teflon-based clear synthetic grease for a while. These days I use premium molybdenum disulphide grease. Likewise, the auto-return lever here should be cleaned and VERY lightly lubed with moly.
IMG 2813 0
Here we see the vernier speed controls, a typical Japanese touch. I gain access to these and apply a little premium potentiometer cleaner.
IMG 2816
This speed selector switch is often an issue and needs very careful attention.
Technics SL-23
Here’s the speed selector switch up close. These switches suffer from problems that necessitate careful disassembly, cleaning and service. The parts including spacers, washers and tiny springs are so small that the risk of damage is high unless you have experience with these. Here, I’ve removed the small nuts and washers from the top of the wafer switch, to facilitate further disassembly and cleaning.


The Technics SL-23 is best summed up as a great little deck that performs incredibly well for the money. There aren’t too many decks selling for $200 – $400 that I recommend and you’d need to spend around $1000 on something new to compete.

Pitch accuracy is very good for a belt-drive machine. This is due to the servo-controlled drive motor and precision motor and platter. Bass is suitable weighty for a budget deck and sound staging is again very good for what you pay for one of these. The Rega turntables all the cool kids think are so good can’t hope to compete in terms of speed-accuracy with a deck like this SL-23.

Technics SL-23
The strobe is a very nice touch on a budget deck. This SL-23 is clean and running beautifully again after a major service.

As usual, the Technics EPC-270ED cartridge is a great-sounding transducer, worth keeping if you are prepared to fit decent Japanese replacement styli as I do when I work on SL23s with their original cart/headshell. This combination always sounds lovely, easily beating the Ortofon 2M Red for example.

Alternatively, where the Technics headshell is gone, I’ll often fit a combination of Audio Technica headshell and VM-95 series cartridge, especially the ML or SH variants where customers are happy for me to do so, because this extracts more from these great little decks, for very sensible money, and allows easy access to modern, locally available replacement styli.

Technics SL-23

Bottom Line

The Technics SL-23 is a lovely turntable and I highly recommend you keep an eye out for one if you’re in the market for an affordable and well-engineered deck. A secondhand SL-23 is a better option, for less money than a new machine at say $500 – $750. The bonus is that you get a proper vintage hi-fi classic, some Japanese hi-fi heritage and it’s a Technics, so you know it’s good!

Technics SL-23 Belt-Drive Turntable

$300 - $600 AUD

Chassis / Build-Quality




Sound Quality







  • Solid build for a budget machine
  • Reliable and easy to maintain
  • A great performer for the money


  • Lightweight build compared to better machines
  • Compact size and tonearm limit performance
  • Motor susceptible to wear caused by incorrectly sized belts

54 thoughts on “Technics SL-23 Turntable Service & Review”

  1. This was very helpful. my records aren’t sounding as good as they should be. I have narrowed it down to the turntable being the problem. I have no idea if it’s ever been serviced and will definitely do so. I want to get a new belt and stylus but am having trouble finding out what exactly I should get.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Brad, glad this helped! My suggestion is to definitively bring her in for service. I will check out the entire deck and lubricate and adjust everything. I’ve not had a deck come in that doesn’t sound better after I’ve serviced it! Let me know if you’d like to book her in. Cheers, Mike.

      1. I’d love to have you tune it up but I live in Canada. Just looking for the specific stylus and belt you’d recommend.

        1. Hi Brad – OK, this makes it tricky. You need the standard replacement belt for the SL-23, available from many online sellers and the stylus will depend on what cartridge you have installed. Just choose a replacement for what you have, unless you want to install a better cart. If so, I suggest looking at the Ortofon 2M range as a starting point. Proper service and setup are critically important in all of this, as is matching a different cart to the tonearm’s mechanical characteristics. Cheers, Mike.

  2. Hi Mike, after looking online i’m a little confused about the right belt. Some places have the belt at 5mm and some at 4mm. Which belt did you use?

    1. Hi Rod, I believe there are actually model variations with the SL-23 which mean that there are two different belts available – 4mm and 5 mm. This is where I would investigate and supply and fit the correct belt if you brought her to me for a service. I’m guessing you are not local? If not, your best option is to find a reputable supplier and give them the serial number of your unit, to be sure you get the correct part. Having said this, you will likely find that both belts will fit and work, so I wouldn’t sweat this.

      1. Thanks for the info Mike. I’m on the eastern seaboard, otherwise would bring it in. Once again, thanks for your help.

  3. I recently pulled my SL 23 out of storage needed new stylus and speed was off, took to have serviced they tried a used stylus before I left it and only one channel worked, I left it they worked on it and speed is dead on, I picked up put a replacement stylus on it and only one channel, took it back, they replaced the audio cords said it was fixed, got home still one channel, took it back they called and said fixed, got it home and it worked for awhile but then sometimes only getting one channel, don’t know why, still has the original shure M91ED cart. could cart have degraded, been in storage many years

    1. Hi Gordon, thanks for commenting and sorry to hear you are having SL-23 troubles! I’d love to take a look and sort her out properly for you, but I’m guessing you are not local or you would have already brought her to me. I’d definitely try to find a competent repairer though, someone who is able to troubleshoot vinyl systems. Easier said than done I know, good luck getting her sorted.

  4. Very nice! I have one of these a friend gave he no longer was using it. He bought it new. He was a heavy smoker and I could not get the Deck cleaned it had a yellow hue. I tore it aprt and veenered it with Walnut. I don’t usally finish things in Gloss but I did with this and it came out smokin hot. Very nice turntable.

  5. Thanks for sharing. What grade oil do you recommend for the motor and where to find it? My motor develops a squeal sometimes especially when just starting up and I hope it is just in need of oil?

    1. Hi Peter, no problem and thanks for your comment. If your motor is squealing and you live locally, I suggest bringing the deck in for a service. I can service the motor, spindle bearing and turntable set-up at the same time, as well as address the speed controls which always need service. Belts sold on eBay for example are often too tight and can place excessive strain on the motor top bearing. The motor likely will need oil but be careful if applying oil yourself. The correct way is to use an oiler to place the tiniest drop of synthetic bearing oil right where it’s needed and not get any on the drive pulley. I use various synthetic oils but you could use a light machine or motor oil if you aren’t able to bring the deck in. Watch that belt though!

  6. Gday Mike. Glad I found your post about this unit. I’ve got my mum’s unit with me to tinker with as a Melbourne lockdown project. Glad she hadn’t got rid of it as from what you’re saying it’s a very solid unit!
    Other than needing a new belt and a bit of oil, the sound output is very soft. Have to turn the stereo up to full volume to get anything out of it.
    It’s the same stereo unit we’ve always used so I’m a bit confused.
    Any guidance on where to look or what the issue could be would be great.


    1. Hi Brendan, sounds like we need to check the cartridge for any physical damage, especially to the cantilever and stylus and then measure its output to make sure all is working well there. We also need to make sure you are feeding the signal into a phono input, not a regular line-level input. Unless it says ‘Phono’ somewhere on the front and where you are connecting the deck, the amplifier will need a phono preamp to hear signals at the correct level.

  7. Hi Mike, thanks for getting back to me and pointing me in the right direction. We had a few issues here. Faulty phono inputs on the amplifier was a big one. Got it working with a cheap pre-amp into a different amplifier.
    Also had a few issues with some buildup on the connection between the headshell and tonearm which had to be cleaned with some alcohol.
    Just need a new belt and possibly a new cartridge and stylus to get it sounding like new.
    Thanks again.

  8. Mike, found your website while looking for info on my Technics SL-23 I purchased probably around 1975? I’m having issues with severe speed variations, it comes and goes intermittently. Also sometimes I hear a bit of squeal when starting the platter. I don’t think it’s the belt, could it be just lubrication? I’ve never put any lubricant on the motor or bearing. Any help would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Bill, yes these are classic signs she needs service. Lubrication is just a part of that, the main switch will need disassembly and cleaning and there are various other things that should be done at this time. If you are anywhere near Perth, I’m happy to assist.

      1. Mike, thanks for your reply, unfortunately I live in the US, Washington state actually. I was just hoping you would have words of wisdom and you did, you seem quite familiar with this turntable. I tried a drop of oil on the top bearing but that didn’t seem to cure the ill. I can be listening to an LP and the speed with just drop down, speed up etc. all very random. Sometimes it seems to clear up if I’ve had the table running for 45 min. or so. That’s why I don’t think it’s the belt, but…I suppose it could be? It is old and I guess the next logical step will be to replace it. I don’t know what length to get however? Thanks again!

        1. Hi Bill, no problem and no it’s definitely not the belt, or the motor, though service should include attention to both. There are two sizes of belt, determined for your deck by serial number. Again, someone with the right experience should be aware of this, hopefully you can find someone good locally.

  9. Hi Mike. I’m french. I’ve got my turntable Technics SL23 A in 1976. It works great since these many years ! Today it works with an AT 96E after an Shure M97 XE. I have only a little problem concerning the tonearm : It drops too fast. I’ve tried to pour damping oil 300.000 cst but the problem is still there. Have you any idea how to do ? Tha,ks a lot if you can answer ! Cheers and sorry for my bas english !!! Alain from France.

    1. Hi Alain, thanks for your comment and glad you are still enjoying your SL-23! This is a technical question and therefore better addressed via our contact form, but in this case, the arm lift mechanism will need to be disassembled and serviced. I could do that for you, but distance precludes this. It’s time-consuming, fiddly work, the arm-lift device was not considered a serviceable item, so we’ve developed techniques for working with these and other parts like this across many makes and models.

  10. Hi Mike, thanks for your answer for my problem of tonerarm of turntable Technics SL 23 A. Obviously i can’t send you my turntable in Australia. Do you know if the system is working with oil or another manner like mechanical spring to lower the toenarm slowly ? Because the oil 300.000 cst that i have poured has disappeared into the body of the device. Cheers.

    1. Hi Alain, no problem and no you cannot just pour in damping fluid, this will create a mess and definitely won’t solve the problem. The mechanism needs to be disassembled and serviced, it uses both a spring and damping fluid.

      1. Hi Mike thanks for your advice. For thé moment I will let the tonearm as it Is. It Is not a great problem. I have only to take Care when I put thé needle manualy on thé record. Thanks for all . Alain.

  11. Gday Mike from Canada! I’m lucky enough to have recently purchased 2 Sl-23’s for $175 (for both). One is immaculate, having recently been serviced by a dude who does it for a hobby, but doesn’t like to get more jobs than he wants to do. The other was a bit rough, but I’ve cleaned it and de oxited it, but I’m getting sound only from the right channel. Any suggestions that I may try myself before bothering the “crotchety” repair dude?? Thanks, love your website. Brian

    1. Hi Brian, great work on the SL-23s! The thing to do first is to check signal integrity from the cartridge through to the RCA connectors. You can do this with a multimeter if you have one and know how to use it. Problems like this can be caused by broken cables, damaged cartridges and styli, dirty headshell connectors and so on. Beyond that, both should really go to someone who knows how to service and set them up with good cartridges, new styli where needed, correct overhang, tracking force, antiskate etc. Also, the mechanisms need service beyond using deoxit, so keep this in mind.

  12. I’m surprised there’s been no mention of capacitors needing changing. I changed mine about 10 years ago after I first got my SL-23. I cleaned the speed select/off switch first with contact cleaner that got the motor spinning again. Had to buy a belt as it didn’t have one. They cleaned the pitch adjust pots and still got a fair amount of speed drift. It started drifting slightly off speed again a few years ago. Thought about changing capacitors again but it came good and more or less has been since. Probably because I’ve playing a lot more records since then being home a lot more and not having parents or a partner complain about the music. I worked for repairs for a record shop that had an SL-23 that drifted sometimes. The boss was going to get me to recap that one but it seemed to come good too. It got used all day, every day that the shop was open. Another work horse like mine that just keeps spinning records. Apparently capacitors can be like that and it was common on flat panel TVs. Probably caps staying cold and eventually discharged too long can cause problems when powered up again. My SL-23 has had more use in the last 5 years or so than it had in the previous 5 years I’ve owned it. Possibly an explanation when some things won’t even power up after being in storage.

    1. Hi Adam and thanks for your comment/query. I’ve not mentioned capacitors in this article because, having worked on dozens of SL-23s, capacitors haven’t been the cause or even related to the issues these decks commonly present with. Briefly, capacitor replacement is a poorly understood topic, fuelled by misinformation in forums and a non-technical approach to service and repair. People often treat capacitor replacement as a shotgun cure-all, when it may be completely unnecessary. That being said, in some circumstances, caps can absolutely be the cause of problems. I love relacing caps with better parts when necessary or when a customer requests it. The trick IMO is to determine the cause of a fault and work from there. Capacitors can be tested with the right equipment, and this informs the service and repair process. Anyway, thanks again for reading and keep enjoying that SL-23!

  13. Mike, My SL-23 Speed adjust can’t get turntable rotating fast enough (just slightly too slow) not quite enough speed control to stabilize 33RPM .
    Will a new belt help? I have a feeling the motor might be the problem?

    1. Hi Art, thanks for your question! These decks generally need various service aspects attended to at this age. The correct belt (of two options) is a requirement for sure, as are the other aspects of service. At this age, these machines need specialist intervention and definitely not a recap as someone suggested in the comments.

  14. Hi – though I’d just also mention an issue I have had with this deck which initially presented as unreliable speed issues but later developed into a complete breakdown. The IC chip used in the motor – UPC1003 – is (according to other forums) the weakest link in quite a few turntables from the 70s made by some of the big Japanese companies including Technics. It’s a chip that degrades over time and, in my case, it had blown completely. I’ve had this deck with a repair shop for a long time now as I’ve been trying to source the IC chip which is almost impossible to find now. There is another variation – UPC1003C2- that some in other forums claim works on the sl23 and is easily available refurbished, online , for about $20. Have ordered 2 of these from different suppliers so far and both have been poorly refurbished and not useable. Am now waiting for the 3rd one to arrive and if that doesn’t work will sadly have to say farewell to the SL23 which, in the brief period I had it before the issues begun, was a lovely turntable (and I reckon the native cartridge with a nagaoka elliptical stylus replacement produces a great warm sound with generous bass and wide soundstage). Anyway, just though I’d advise that, along with the issues mentioned above, speed issues on this deck could also be a sign of a IC chip that is about to die. On


    1. Hi Michael, thanks for sharing your story! That’s a very interesting one, I have to moderate here from a technical perspective and add a few comments for everyone’s benefit, so I hope you don’t mind. You’ve got to be careful with forums. So much of what you’ll read is really just hearsay in that it’s spread from a source of unknown validity and passed around as fact by people who don’t know any better. That’s nobody’s fault, it’s just how these things work and why they can be problematic. From a specialist turntable repairer’s perspective, I’ve seen I think one of these chips die, over maybe 1000 turntables, mostly ’70s and ’80s classics, some with really tricky problems. That doesn’t mean they don’t fail, but it does mean failure is rare. In a case like this, rather than replace the chip, I would source a good motor from a donor deck and save a ton of time and money. Thanks again for sharing, it’s useful information but I wouldn’t want readers thinking this is a common problem as it definitely isn’t. The vast majority of speed issues with the SL-23 are switch related. Most techs aren’t even aware of this or how to solve it!

  15. Thanks Mike. Looks like I may have just got unlucky then especially as the speed started to fluctuate within a week of me purchasing this refurbished gem in otherwise good nick. It was a good week of playing vinyl ! Agree that forums can be problematic and your suggestion of the motor replacement is perhaps one I will look at if this final IC chip attempt fails, however as I only paid $300 or so for the deck it would seem odd to pay too much on repairs. Fingers crossed I have it home again soon spinning the black wax.

    1. No problem and worth considering this: you can replace the chip as many times as you like, but if the speed issue relates to the switch, as is common, the problem will remain. See where I’m going with this..? That chip may be a complete red herring, so don’t spend too much time and money on it. I strongly suggest a second opinion from a turntable specialist. The SL-23 is a very common, very affordable machine and there are tens of thousands of them out there. Best of luck getting it sorted!

  16. My SL23 has been sitting for too many years unused (10+), The belt melted and now I’ve replaced the belt, the motor wont turn. It is getting power to the unit. Is it worth repairing?

    1. Hi Gordon, a deck like an SL-23 is almost always worth repairing. A modern deck with similar performance would cost at least $1000 and it won’t be a golden age vintage SL-23! I suggest taking this to an expert who should be able to sort it out for you.

  17. jan willem vdberg

    I own an sl23 i changed the rca lead for a set of good female rcas so i can change the rca leads
    The difference is unbeluevable no hum anymore

    1. Hi Jan, good result there. If the original cable set is good there won’t be any hum of course either, but cables can and do fail. I generally don’t like the extra connections from a signal integrity perspective, but if it works for you, all good!

  18. Ive told to get rid of the 40 year old grease in the spindle and drop a couple 0f 30 weight oil in the hole, but first take the screw out so if you put to much oil you can have a place for it to come
    out first clean grease with q tips and alcohol also put oil on spindle when old grease is cleaned out, I played the crap out of the sl23 when I was young, never failed me.

    1. Hi Carl, thanks for your question. This bearing is designed as a grease bearing, with tolerances and a non-sealed design that works best with grease. Likewise, the drive system is looking for a certain amount of drag to stabilise the drive torque and this is achieved by using a lubricant similar to the original in terms of consistency and viscosity, which 30W oil certainly isn’t.

  19. Hi Mike

    I was just wondering what you would consider a reasonable price to pay for an SL-23, knowing that it would likely need a service? And if you were to do the service, what is you charging structure?

    Thanks, Paul

    1. Hi Paul, good question, the answer depends somewhat on condition, what cartridge is installed and so on, but $500 is an average price for these and good value. Service enquiries can be made via the contact form and also check out our Terms page for more on pricing, warranty etc.

  20. Yesterday I picked up a non working but beautiful SL 23 for free. I own 3 different versions of the Garrard zero 100, as they are my favorite TTs of all time. After learning how to service those, this baby is one of the most simple TTs I have ever laid eyes on. I got my SL tuned up in less time than it took me to take the bottom cover off. Slight exaggeration. An hour tops. Cleaned it top to bottom, cleaned the pots, lubed the motor, mirror glazed the cover, installed a new belt, and now I have one hell of a sweet 8th TT 🙂

    1. Hi Art, well done finding a nice SL-23. On the service side, they often need a bit more work than this, especially where there are speed issues. The spindle bearing should also be carefully cleaned and re-lubed with the correct type and grade of grease. That said, the SL-23 is a great example of a reliable, low-maintenance Japanese turntable. Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting! Comment, like, share, subscribe. Our advisory service is available via the contact page.

Discover more from LiQUiD AUDiO

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Scroll to Top