Record Collecting Beginners Guide: How to Get Started?
Once you play your first vinyl record, chances are you are going to be hooked for life. At least that is the case with most audiophiles who get exposed to music on vinyl records for the first time.
If you’re someone that’s excited about jumping into the vinyl hobby for the first time, you may be wondering several things:
Where do I buy records?
How do I find my first turntable?
How do I store or clean my records?
How do I properly play and maintain my records?
If any of those questions are ones you’ve asked yourself, then this article is for you. We’ll discuss all of these topics in-depth today so that you’ll have a better understanding of how to begin your vinyl record collection.
And below, if you’re interested in also purchasing a new turntable, please take a brief moment to check out our interactive table to better compare and contrast some of the most popular record players on today’s market.
|Rega Planar 1 Plus||Plug and Play Audiophile Turntable in White|
|Marantz TT-15S1||Includes Clearaudio Virtuoso Ebony MM Cartridge|
|Clearaudio Concept Black||Comes with pre-installed Moving Coil cartridge|
|Technics SL-1500C||Direct drive turntable w/built-in phono preamp|
|Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB||Pro-Ject Speed Box Built-in|
|Rega Planar 3||Elys 2 MM Cartridge|
|Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO||Satin Blue Finish|
|Denon DP-450USB||S-Shaped tonearm; Auto-Stop function|
How to get started?
There are two main ways you can get started with vinyl records. You either go and buy new records (at major stores Urban Outfitters or online at places like Amazon), or you look for used records (at offline record stores or places like Discogs online).
Before we go into some details about both of these options, we have to cover one important things: never feel rushed into making a decision. Don’t feel the need to go out and buy as many records as you can just so you could fill up your apartment with lots of cool looking albums.
Many people do this for some reason, and they end up regretting buying half of those records. Instead, it’s better to hunt for specific albums you really like or keep an eye out for interesting records as you go about your day.
Buying new is always great. You are getting a brand spanking new album that you know no one mistreated nor damaged. These records are going to be as good as you are capable of taking care of them.
One issue with buying new is that you might have a hard time finding certain albums if they are out of print. Another issue is price—because vinyl is so popular these days, newly released albums can range anywhere from $14.99 to $39.99.
Another option is to buy used records in various stores that keep them. We’re talking mom and pop stores, bookstores and other places. Naturally, buying used completely changes the game when it comes to inspecting the records and making sure that you aren’t buying something that is so damaged you won’t even be able to play it.
So, once you enter the store and find an album that you find interesting, ask the owner or the staff of the store whether you can inspect the vinyl. If they agree, take the record out of the covers to take a closer look.
Is the record dusty? Are there any visible dents, scratches or warps? Is the album cover in nice condition, or is it suffering from mistreatment or even water damage?
Next, start looking at the grooves. What you’re trying to find are traces of the stylus digging deep into the grooves due to someone incorrectly setting up his or her turntable. This is the part where you need to be meticulous. Some things you will be able to spot from a mile away, while other forms of damage will require a more detailed inspection.
- You can read our article entitled Where Can I Buy Vinyl Records here
|Best Selling Turntables|
|1) Denon DP300F|
|2) Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO|
|3) Audio Technica AT-LP120XBT-USB|
|4) Audio Technica AT-LP60X-BT|
|5) U-Turn Orbit|
Maintaining your vinyl is a very important part of having a larger collection. There are things you simply need to do from time to time in order to prevent your records from deteriorating.
If you need to clean dirty vinyl, try to avoid using tap water (especially tap water). Yes, some people will clean their vinyl with hot water, but that is bound to either discolor the vinyl or ruin the label.
The best thing you can do is get a vinyl cleaning kit. You can find these in just about any vinyl store. An average kit comes with all of the tools you will need to clean the vinyl, such as brushes and rags. It will also come with a special cleaning fluid that won’t have a negative impact on the quality of your records.
If you can’t find this kit for some reason, you can make your own cleaning fluid by mixing two thirds distilled water and one third isopropyl alcohol. This solution will take care of any imperfections that need to be removed.
Once the cleaning is done, make sure that the records are dry and then return them to their cover.
A good practice is to get some rice paper wraps for your vinyl. These are pretty cheap and they help protect the records from dust and other unwanted dirt that you definitely want to keep away from your collection.
Storing your vinyl isn’t all that complicated as long as you can provide a sturdy container that is roughly the size of a standard vinyl. The main thing you are looking to avoid is having a weight being pressed down on top of the vinyl.
Other factors you want to protect your vinyl from is excess humidity, heat, direct sunlight or anything that could damage them indirectly. It goes without saying that you don’t want to keep them in a place where you can accidentally spill something, or above fireplaces. That portion of the advice falls within common sense, but if you’re a beginner, it’s certainly possible that you never knew this until, well, now.
If you don’t want to go and buy dedicated vinyl containers, you can use just about anything that fits the requirements we have mentioned earlier. This simple nature of vinyl storage allows you to be creative, too. You can keep them in places where they can make the space around them more attractive. Let your creativity loose and have fun with it.
Just remember, however, to store your vinyl vertically. Never store your vinyl horizontally (meaning, never stack one vinyl record on top of another) because the heavy weight of the vinyl at the top of the stack will cause the vinyl below it to bend and warp under the crushing pressure.
And that will lead to some badly damaged records.
- You can read our article entitled How Best to Store Vinyl Records here.
When you feel like listening to a certain album, take the whole package out of the storage. That means the vinyl, its cover—everything. Remove the record while making sure that you only touch the very edges of the vinyl. Leaving fingerprints all over the record looks bad and can cause performance issues as well, due to the oil that’s naturally on your fingers.
Place the vinyl on the turntable and either position the tonearm manually or press the button dedicated to that function.
Speaking of which, make sure that you have set your tonearm properly. Check that the counterweight (assuming your record player has one) is set to the right value and be gentle when you are placing the stylus onto the record.
After you are done listening to that record, make it a habit to store away your vinyl as soon as they are not in use. If you leave them lying everywhere, you are just increasing the chance of something bad happening to them, and we don’t want that.
One more thing. If you have a lot of used vinyl, it would be a good idea to get new outer sleeves for them. Depending on how old they are, the original covers could actually deteriorate to a point where they start releasing various chemicals, which can damage the vinyl.
Blank or clear plastic covers are cheap (although, you can certainly pay more more for super clear, thick plastic) and you can always save the original ones in a different place. Then, when you need to either sell, gift or present the record, you can just quickly pop it into its old cover and you’re good as new.
Okay, let’s quickly recap everything we have talked about today. We are going to put this into a bullet point format so you can go over it easily:
- Take your time and don’t rush
- Buy new or used vinyls
- Inspect used vinyls for damage carefully
- Clean the vinyls with proper cleaning materials and tools
- Store vinyls in a proper way
- Use vinyls by making sure that you return them to their place as soon as you’re done with them
- Check the tonearm counterweight before use
- Swap old covers if they are showing signs of deterioration.
Owning a vinyl collection is one of the most satisfying things you can experience as a music fan. Having all of that high-quality music around you is pure magic for those who appreciate good sound and a fun listening experience.
The advice we gave you in this article should be taken as broad guidelines which will help you form healthy fundamentals of vinyl storage and use. With that said, it’s worth noting that different people have different circumstances. Some of us have to store our vinyl in a less convenient place where the environment isn’t optimal. Others will have to buy or build special containers for their vinyl.
Whatever the case, you should be ready to conform these rules to your specific situation. The end goal is to have a great collection of vinyl that is well maintained, and hence performing well whenever you pull one out to play it.
You would be surprised just how many people disregard proper storage and maintenance procedures. Don’t be that type of person. Take care of your vinyl and they will most definitely take care of you for many years to come.
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