Adding LED Lights to Vintage Receiver – Pioneer SX-780

So I have this SWEET Pioneer SX-780 that I bought off of eBay a while back and I like everything about it but the lights are kind of yellowish and I keep seeing pics of Pioneers with Bright White or even Blue tints.   What gives?

So first of all this is an easy modification.  The old Pioneer incandescent lamps are 8V lamps and over time they get a little smokey looking and tinted.   All you really have to do is replace them with an LED lamp.  The lamp fixture in the amp is the same one in a lot of modern automobiles today.  So what you need is a T10 5 watt lamp such as this one.

So this is where it gets dicey.  People will tell you on the internet that this is a 12 volt lamp and the Pioneer wants 8 volts therefore it will be dim.  NOT TRUE.  Almost any modern T10 LED has a voltage regulator inside of it which means it will work GREAT at any voltage between say 5 and 15 volts.

The real problem now is cost.   Three of those guys will cost you $21.  And you know what?  If you are doing this once, and don’t want to wait for the mailman, run up to Walmart or Advance Auto and get three and YOU ARE DONE.  Period.  Sometimes it just doesn’t matter.

However you can buy these things by the suitcase on eBay or Amazon on the cheap.   Here’s 10 of them for $7.50 on Amazon.  And the advantage here is the LED array sticks up beyond the case so it will be brighter.  The Sylvania I listed above only have 2 LED’s and they point straight up and don’t extend beyond the socket.  So it will be dimmer and harder to see IN BRIGHT SUNLIGHT.  At night it is perfect.

The absolute best place to buy replacement lamps for your Vintage Audio Equipment is ebay user projectblk86 He can also be found on the Facebook Group “Vintage Stereo & Hi-Fi Equipment” (which you must join) as user Joseph Mirabella.   He seems to have just about every lamp for every piece of vintage gear and buying from a guy like this supports the Vintage Audio hobby as without guys like him, we’d be scrounging for parts from God knows where.   Support his store if you can.

So let’s get to it.  Remove the four screws on the sides of the Pioneer and slide the case back a little and then lift it off.  The original lamps are right on top.  You might even be able to notice they have a blueish tint on them from age and heat and look yellowish when illuminated.

Two ways of getting the lamp out.  Your fingers won’t quite grasp the lamp.  You can either very carefully use needle nose pliers to pull them out or you can push the whole socket out, turn it and pull it out sideways.  I don’t really recommend the second way because the lights are soldered to each other by a wire and you risk breaking that and also the tuning string is right under these things.   Pull them out with needle nose.

So the LED lamp is just about the same size but again on the incandescent lamp the whole bulb is illuminated whereas the LED array is pointing up and obstructed by the plastic housing.  Also you can easily remove the clear dome, which I did for mine.  Also take care when pushing the new lamp in because the socket (which you can barely see in the pic below on the sides) can easily be pushed out of the housing.  You need to hold the socket while you are pushing in the bulb, which also means the power should be OFF and unplugged.  Be careful.  I want you to come back to my blog!

They’re pretty doggone bright.  Inside where the lamp sits is reflector material. Again these LED arrays are below the socket.  If you want MAXIMUM brightness you should get another lamp like in my Amazon link above.

And here’s the finished product.  I like it.  You can also get other colors.  I like the blue but not so much the red or green.  It looks GOOD, no it looks GREAT.  A $20 mod if you are impatient. A $3 dollar mod if you aren’t and willing to wait for LED’s from China on eBay.

Here’s some different lamps.  They actually seem a bit dimmer and have a slight colored tint to them.  I prefer the first type however these below fill in the face plate more completely.  Much more uniform.

Enjoy your vintage audio.  They don’t make ’em like they used to.

13 thoughts on “Adding LED Lights to Vintage Receiver – Pioneer SX-780

  1. Marcial Garchitorena

    Replacing mine with compatible LED’s from EBay. Truly a worthy modification to a great sounding vintage receiver. Thanks heaps for the step-by-step guide!

  2. Mark DiRollo

    I’ve owned my SX-780 since new – 1979. Any idea where we can get the actual sockets? Mine are all crumbled and don’t hold in place like they should.

    1. John

      Very helpful info! Would you know where I can get replacement LEDs for my Pioneer SX 1000 TW? Present bulbs are 6.3 Volt .25 Amp Bayonet base single contact. 9 mm base

  3. Mark DiRollo

    anyone know where I can get a replacement plastic reflector. Mine is cracked and broken into 3 pieces.

  4. Mike Reifinger

    Hi, Would you know how to get Display Lamps for a vintage Technics SA-5470 Receiver? What would the Part # be?

  5. Randall Elliott

    Very helpful article! Thanks for directing me to ProjectBlk86 – he was able to quickly tell me which fuse lamps to order.

  6. AK

    I would like to thank you for posting this blog since following it actually gave me the ability to change the bulbs on my Pioneer SX-780. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into writing this and posting it including the kind of bulbs that are suitable for replacement. I was unable to locate the originals and Ebay shipping cost was way more than the cost of the bulbs so I went with T10 12v LED bulbs and the receiver looks great. Thank you again!


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