Both are very good rigs. The 765 is a bit more user friendly. Both the IC-761, and the IC-765 were based on the IC-751A platform. In fact the 761 was a IC-751A, packaged in a bigger box, bigger display, built in power supply, built in tuner, plus a few other extras. Icom had offered all these, very good options, for the 751A, but many people wanted all the extras in a big box, like the Kenwood TS-940S. The 751A, even though it was in a smaller box, would go toe to toe with the 940S. The 761 had a very short production run. Part of that had to do with Pass Band Tuning patent rights, another story. You will notice that on the 765 the Pass band Tuning, has been changed to IF Shift. Hint, Icom really didn’t want to go that route. BUT……….. the 765 can easily be changed back to having Pass Band Tuning. It’s a very simple mod.
All the early Icom’s, 751A, 735, 761, 765, suffer from one common problem. PLASTIC trimmer caps. They just seem to up and loose their ability to hold adjustment. Icom, and any good repair tech, now replace the trimmer caps with ceramic ones. I have been told that they will never need replacing. The trimmer caps will go WITH NO NOTICE, in most cases. I purchased a IC 751A ( looked like new, low really not used much at all ), from a local ham. I had used the rig at his house for an hour before buying it. Packed it up, drove home ( 30 min ), plugged it in, bingo, the trimmer caps had just gone south. I have heard this same thing from others. The going repair ( replacement ), of all the trimmer caps, is about $ 110 – $ 145. The only other minor service problem is the battery back up for the memory. There are several after market replacement mods for this, and all work quite nice.
Both the 761 and 765, have a bunch of hot rod mods for upgrading the performance of the radios. Most of them will improve the rigs, but at what cost.
Like all rigs both are getting a bit old, by service standards. Like all radios that approach 10 years or older, the availability of SPECIAL parts and company support is becoming a question. Many of the older radios used components that were designed just for a particular rig. When the supply runs out, your out, of luck. Then you go looking for a parts rig, of a repair tech who stockpiled some spares. In some ways the old Drake’s, Collins, Swans, and the like, can still be more readily. So far, I have not heard of any really big problem with the supply of parts for the 761 and 765
Over all the reliability of the 761 and 765 has been very good.
Don’t let this stop you from buying one. If you can find a very clean well taken care of 761 or 765, take the leap of faith. Try to buy a radio that was not in a smokers shack. Also try to get one that has not had the famous “ out of band mod “, or used on the 11 meter band. Also check ( or ask the seller ) how much the radio is putting out. If they aren’t sure, ask they to turn up the RF power control all the way, Mic set to 10 o’clock, and to transmit in FM mode ( into a dummy load, 1:1, 1:5 or so ), and to tell you what the watt meter says. If they brag that the radio is putting out 150 – 200 watts, think twice about it. Many people have a habit of trying to get the last little watt out of a rig. Over the long run not the best idea. 100 – 125 watts is fine.
I think that you will find that most people would recommend the 765, late serial number. Look for a serial number that begins with a 3 or a 4.
Mods link: http://www.mods.dk/
Just look for Icom, then the radio you are interested in. If you search the internet real hard you will find the hot rod mods. Sorry I don’t have those book marked.
Review Link: http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/408
You will notice that the 765 is one of the few radios to get a perfect 5.0 in the eham review section.