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Yamaha GT-2000 Turntable Major Service & Cartridge Install

The Yamaha GT-2000 is one of my favourite turntables so naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to work on another one, shipped from Japan. Let’s take one of the first ever close-up looks inside this great deck from the golden era.

It’s true, I do love the Yamaha GT-2000 direct-drive turntable and have written about them several times previously. In that article, I reviewed a GT-2000 and documented replacing the audio cable with a custom-made Mogami cable I built for that machine. This time, however, we take a really deep dive inside a recently imported Yamaha GT-2000. I check the motor, spindle bearing, circuitry, take a good look at how I care for the chassis of a deck like this and fit a beautiful Ortofon Quintet Black S MC cartridge! This deck sounds amazing.

If you need specs and other details on why the Yamaha GT-2000 is one of the great turntables, check out my GT-2000 review. As always, visit the Vintage Knob for more great Yamaha GT-2000 info!

Stay tuned here for a video about this major service, as soon as I get a chance to edit it.

Straight Outta Japan

This Yamaha GT-2000 came almost directly from Japan to me, via my customer. This is a new customer and we had a few chats on the phone about turntables, what I recommended and so on. I have to point out the obvious here – this is part of the advantage in speaking with a specialist. I persuaded him to consider upgrading from a Pro-Ject turntable to one of these beasts. I don’t think he’d even considered it prior to reading my articles and speaking with me.

After a few conversations, he’d ordered a GT-2000 from a vendor I recommended in Japan. Great result. Seriously, this is like going from 1 to 10, like going from a Hyundai Getz to a Mercedes G-Wagon, straight to the pointy end of analog audio. Talk about an upgrade. But I reckon this is what the hi-fi hobby is all about, learning, listening, trying new equipment, speaking with people who give us a better understanding, and so on.

Anyway, let’s get into it.

Inspection

The Yamaha GT-2000 came here partly for a post-purchase inspection, testing, service and set-up. As will become evident, there’s considerable time involved in properly looking at a deck like this. The first part is always to inspect the package. Is everything there? Are all the accessories included? Is there any obvious damage? Is the main bearing OK?

This was the first issue I found. There was excessive clearance or free-play in the spindle bearing of this deck. I know it’s excessive because of my previous experience with this model and with other high-end turntables. I was able to considerably improve it though and I’ll discuss this later. Everything else appeared OK, a great start.

Yamaha GT-2000
I’ve removed the platter, we have the new cartridge, anti-skate weight and some other bits and pieces here.
I wash the mat of every deck that comes through my workshop, without exception (well, except Rega felt mats..!).
Yamaha GT-2000
Looks good, lets get started.

Deep Cleaning & Rejuvenation

The cleaning process for me is always quite relaxing, more so on large turntables like this one. I always start by removing whatever parts I can and all loose dust and dirt using a very soft brush. I then usually go over the chassis and check the torque of all fasteners, the tonearm, lid and motor fasteners in particular.

Yamaha GT-2000
It’s surprising what a difference this first step makes to the end result. Note the imposing cast-iron motor housing.
Yamaha GT-2000
Step 2 of the cleaning phase is cleansing the wood. Here I’ve used a special foaming cleanser to remove years of dirt, greases and built-up grime.
Yamaha GT-2000
We are left with a much cleaner piece of equipment that looks way better and reveals other things that might have previously been hidden.

Step 3 is rejuvenation. In this case, because of the beautiful wooden plinth, I’ve treated the wood with special furniture-grade wood oil. This oil gives me great results every time.

The oil enriches and nourishes the wood.

Honestly, it’s like a different deck after several passes with rag and oil. Time-consuming? Sure, but with a deck like this, it’s worth spending a little extra time.
Yamaha GT-2000
What an improvement.

Yamaha GT-2000

Service

Servicing a Yamaha GT-2000 or any other turntable involves mechanical and electronic elements and steps. With this machine, I’ve focussed on the mechanical aspects of service as the electronics tested and worked perfectly. I expect this from these very reliable machines, from a very reliable manufacturer. I love Yamaha, for lots of good reasons.

Let’s begin by accessing the motor and electronics.

Yamaha GT-2000
Here we see the inside of the multi-layer laminated MDF plinth. Everything is neatly routed out, leaving this compartment for the motor, motor drive electronics and power supply. A hefty wood cover keeps all of the gubbins protected.
Yamaha GT-2000
A close-up view of the electronics. The power supply is bottom right, a transformer at the top, motor control to the left. Made in Japan.
Yamaha GT-2000
This image clearly shows the laminated MDF/particle board construction. I see five layers glued together to firm a super-heavy, dense, monolithic structure. You can clearly see the blue Rubycon capacitors in the power supply and no, they don’t need to be replaced. They could be replaced, that’s another matter. There are not many capacitors used in this design which is a good thing.
Yamaha GT-2000
Astute readers may spot the OKI integrated circuit in the middle of the motor control board. OKI make photocopiers and printers, can you believe! I suspect this chip controls the phasing of the motor drive coils.

You might remember I noted an issue with the main bearing on this GT-2000. This is part of the reason why a deck like this should always receive a professional inspection, especially after a long trip from Osaka. Knowing this, I can investigate further and do something about it.

Yamaha GT-2000
This is an important part of the motor examination, as it allows me access to the main bearing, from the bottom, for inspection and lubrication.
This is the bearing cap, with screws and a rubber gasket. Oil was original, I can tell from the smell. Spot anything that might be a problem here? I only just noticed it at high magnification whilst writing this article, but there appears to be a crack in the plastic part of the bearing cap. There’s nothing that can be done about it of course, and it doesn’t affect the running of the deck, but it ties in with my feeling that the deck was possibly dropped at some point, with the platter installed.
The bearing well, which is the base section that holds the lubricant needs a clean and fresh synthetic bearing lubricant. Note the metallic residue at around 7 o’clock. This is leftover from manufacturing where the bronze bearing insert was pressed into the aluminium housing.
I’ve given everything a good clean and added some fresh oil.
The serviced bearing, with end cap screwed back in place.

Servicing the bearing didn’t fix the excessive bearing clearance, but it did reduce it. The platter certainly rotated more freely after service.

Yamaha GT-2000
An important but overlooked aspect of turntable service is having the correct tools. You should never attempt to remove or replace the plater without using the right tools, or you risk damaging the platter, deck, motor or bearing. In this case, I use bolts that fit perfectly into the holes in the platter, designed for the original factory tools.
After replacing the platter, I also fitted some clear bump stops for the lid.

Cartridge Installation

Lastly, I installed a lovely Ortofon Quintet Black S moving coil cartridge on one of the lightweight, economy alloy headshells I stock for lower mass arms like this. The Quintet Black is perhaps not my ideal choice for this machine but it works well enough and sounded fantastic when installed on the new headshell and correctly aligned for overhang, azimuth, tracking force, anti-skate and VTA. All of these parameters are critical when setting up a turntable, never more so than with a line-contact or Shibata stylus like the one fitted to the Quintet Black S.

Ortofon Quintet Black S
I used this specific headshell for several reasons. Customer budget played a big part. I think most of the funds went into the deck and cartridge, leaving just a little for the work I needed to do! Aesthetically, they work well, the width of the cartridge matching the headshell. The low mass of this headshell is also perfect for use with this Yamaha tonearm and its small counterweight. Too heavy a cart or headshell and you cannot balance the arm correctly.
The front-mounted finger-lift makes cueing with this headshell extremely easy.
Very sexy combo, even with this basic headshell. The aluminium design is slightly flexible which even allows me to correct for headshell mount misalignments which are common.

Results, Final Thoughts & Further Improvement

I really think the results speak for themselves and whilst this customer disappeared as quickly as he initially appeared, I’m sure it’s because he’s just loving playing his records! I have to say that this deck sounded amazing, set up as you see her here. As if any of this would be a surprise, but I need to say it, just in case you had doubts!

Yamaha GT-2000
Here’s the finished, cleaned, serviced and set-up Yamaha GT-2000, ready to go.

I was pleased to be able to improve both the appearance and performance of this timeless Japanese classic. The bearing issue is something we work with on a case by case basis. Whilst this deck has suffered some damage, it is still so far ahead of the owner’s previous Pro-Ject machine and most other decks you might be able to afford that it doesn’t matter. It’s nice to have a little performance ‘headroom’, the fresh synthetic bearing oil certainly helped and in playing a record, the deck is dead quiet, so all is mostly well in this instance.

So is it worth spending $3000 AUD to get yourself a Yamaha GT-2000? You bet it is! Go and look for yourself at what Yamaha wants for the GT-5000, a pale belt-driven imitation of this great classic. It’s $13,000 AUD for goodness sake! Which would you rather have? Three grand for a GT-2000? Sign me up. If I didn’t already own a Luxman PD-350 and Kenwood L-07D, I buy one tonight, on HiFi-do.

To further improve performance, I would fit a better headshell for sure, and some really good headshell wires, like these Ortofon LW-800S silver headshell wires I have in stock.

These aren’t cheap, but headshell wires make a real difference.

The headshell issue requires thought because it’s easy to overwhelm the small counterweight with a headshell/cartridge combination that’s just too heavy. Then there are the critically important resonance considerations. The arm can be rewired and a higher quality audio cable can be fitted if required, but fitting a better cartridge will yield a noticeable improvement as well. The age old question is where does one draw the line?

What a beautiful machine. If I didn’t already have a great turntable or two, I grab one of these for sure.
Yamaha GT-2000
The owner was speechless for a moment when he first saw his deck again at collection. That’s the sort of result I enjoy.

As always, thanks for reading. Don’t hesitate to let me know if you’d like me to look over and service your Yamaha GT-2000, or any other high-end turntable for that matter.

Liquid Mike

As a kid, I cherished my Tandy 200-in-1 electronics project lab and Dick Smith Funway electronics kits. I had my own little hi-fi at 16. Later, I started Liquid Audio, a specialist hi-fi equipment repair business. Keeping classic hi-fi gear alive and well is what we do. Our mission: to deliver TLC for classic Japanese, American and European hi-fi stereo equipment. In my spare time, I cook, ride, listen to music and research interesting topics.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Louis

    I’ve got one of these and have been contemplating sending it off to get the caps changed for longevity sake. I’m worried that maybe one day one will go bacd and take one of the ICs with it. Interesting to see you haven’t done so here. Mine has functioned flawlessly since i’ve owned it but will probably need attention one day.

    1. Liquid Mike

      Hi Louis, thanks for your comment and glad you enjoyed the latest article! Always good to speak with GT-2000 owners. If you do send this away, make sure it’s to someone who really knows what they are doing and has experience with these machines. Replacing all the electrolytic caps is a sensible plan in theory, but removing boards and replacing parts exponentially increases the risks to the gear when in the wrong hands. Just look in my Hall of Shame and you’ll understand. I didn’t replace caps here for a couple of reasons, they didn’t need to be replaced, nor was it in the scope of work. This was a post-purchase inspection, service and set-up, not a restoration or overhaul. The caps measured well and with equipment like this that runs cool and used great caps initially, this is often the case. Ideally, for long term reliability, we would replace them, and this will likely happen in the future. I could go on for days about capacitors and the misinformation about them out there. When electrolytic caps are bad they can cause havoc and have to go. When they are good, as is the case here, they often work perfectly for many decades.

  2. Brock

    Nice write up. I was hoping to see your usual scoring of this machine at the end. How does this machine compare (build quality, sound quality, etc.) to the Kenwood KD-650?

    1. Liquid Mike

      Hi Brock, glad you enjoyed it! I didn’t review the GT-2000 here, only because I’ve done it previously. There’s a link to it near the start of this article.

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