You may have noticed that vinyl records are back, and might be keen to take up collecting yourself, and why not?
But you might like to know a few tips and tricks to help you on your way, so I decided to write this for you.
First of all, I’ve been collecting vinyl since about 1983, I think that’s about when I started buying my own, although I had records from a very young age, usually in the form of the old Disney read along records where Tinkerbell would ring her bell which told you that it was time to turn the page.
My first pop single was The Star Wars Theme, by Meco.
I probably bought about four singles every week when I was a teen, and I kept all of them, so I have quite a lot now. I was mostly interested in 45s (7″ and 12″) I wasn’t all that interested in Albums, mostly because I wanted to buy particular songs, and I didn’t have that much pocket money at the time, so I thought that LPs were kind of a waste.
I stopped buying records around the early 90s when CD singles, Which weren’t readily available earlier, started appearing in shops.
Now I think the transition from vinyl to CD was easy, looking after CDs was dead easy after vinyl, Look, Vinyl is looked upon by people like myself in a romantic way, the huge covers with beautiful layouts and song lyrics, coloured vinyl, picture discs…. but in all seriousness, despite the fact that I love my vinyl… it’s a pain in the arse.
Also, people will tell you that vinyl sounds better than CDs, It can, but only if you shell out heaps of money on really good equipment, which a CD player isn’t going to cost that much and will give you great sound on a budget.
Everything needs to be kept clean, your hands, the covers, the record, the needle, the turntable… and failure to care for your record will result in tears.
Seriously, if you are one of those people who have bought a CD or DVD in the last few years, and now it’s so badly scratched up that you can no longer play it, then turn around now and go back to reading facebook or whatever, vinyl records are not for you.
I personally have CDs from the mid 80s which are still in perfect working order, this is mostly because I transferred the same level of care to CDs as I was doing with Vinyl.
*** The Holy, Unbreakable Rules of Record Collecting ***
These are the rules of collecting vinyl, stick to them and you’ll have a great collection which you can enjoy for years.
* Never Never Never Never Ever LOAN your records to ANYBODY… EVER!
No other hands but yours will touch your vinyl, not your parents, not your friends, and remember, while you can get another partner you may not get another good copy of that record again.
Loaning vinyl will result in sorrow, you will either get your records back in poor order or not at all, and when I say poor order, I mean scratched or broken records or covers which have been torn and stained by coffee, oily stains from fingers which have been handling fish and chips, or even vomit from that party which your records had been taken to.
* No Food and Drink to be eaten anywhere near vinyl, and no smoking either, Thankyou.
It’s just too easy to knock a cup of coffee over your records, don’t risk it, and seriously, wash and dry your hands about three times after eating fish and chips, If grease gets onto the cardboard or paper, that’s it.
* No Kids… Leaving kids around your record collection may result in covers being “coloured in” and records used as frisbees, if you have a good record collection, either don’t breed or devour your kids shortly after they’re born.
* Records must be put back in their covers and back into storage after use.
Years ago, I bought my Niece her first picture disc, “Push” by Bros. and She left it on the turntable and went out. Unfortunately a friend of my sisters had arrived while she was out (Probably at school) and bought her toddler. The toddler was, naturally drawn to the delicate record and proceeded to scratch it to shreds with the stylus.
Just put them away.
Bros – “Push” Picture Disc from 1988.
* Do not leave your records in the sun, even if they’re in their jackets.
One Christmas I was given two records, Abbas “Arrival” and another called “Jive to stay alive” by Dennis Garcia.
I was a kid back then and with nobody to ask, I guessed that this was the record that the amazing tune I’d heard on the radio a week ago, was on… The amazing tune turned out to be Jean-Michel Jarres “Oxygene” which Mum bought for my Birthday later.
Although this record was a rather cheesy affair, Dennis went on to play with some cool local bands, and played with David Bowie during his Australian tour… and the record is going for about $90 on E-Bay. *sigh*
After opening our presents, we got into the hot car (Note: Christmas in Australia is Summertime,) and headed to our holiday home, which was about an hours drive from here. I put the records on the back, under the rear window, under the hot sun. By the time we got there, my records had warped badly. Nobody had told me that would happen, and there’s a fair chance that if you were born after 2000, that you may not know either. They were both, mostly unplayable after that.
* Clean your records, find a way to clean them which works for you and do that. Dust is basically tiny floating asteroids which are sharp and enjoy getting into the grooves of your records… I have found that even a quick rinse under a tap, using cool water, is ok (don’t wet the label).
* All Records are equal and deserve the same amount of care.
I don’t care if one is Led Zep and the other is Justin Bieber, Both records will get the same amount of respect, always!
Invest in outer sleeves, Record shops used to sell them, and some still do, but if you cannot buy them there, then people on E-bay sell them, usually in packs of 50 or 100, in all sizes… 7″, 10″, 12″ and for CD cases too.
Yes Dog, I have put record sleeves over my record sleeves… if you plan to sell your records at some point, then having them in their original plastic pack makes them a little more oooh-errr if ya know what I mean, darling.
Get yourself a good set of crates to keep your music in, and if you have kids, a good solid, lockable chest, preferably locked in a room they cannot get to… Never leave records laying around with kids, don’t trust them with your pets either, your pets will get the blame.
If you’ve scored a really nice, limited edition record which is sealed, don’t open it and play it, keep it sealed. Look, I’ll tell you a secret, I don’t own a record player and I’m not buying one either… These days I can listen to music online and I still have loads of CDs too. Records are beautiful things to have, and you can be supporting your favourite artist if you’re buying new ones.
Of course one risks turning into that bloke from toy story, who kept all the toys in clean boxes, and never played with, perhaps if the doctor tells me I have a few weeks to live, I’ll open my records and play them all at least once.
If you ever have to post a record, there are special record posting packs out there. Always use the heaviest cardboard ones that you can get, and if the record is super valuable, feel free to go a bit crazy on packaging, in a cardboard record pack, wrapped in bubble wrap, in a virgin (as in “unused”, not as in from Virgin Pizzas) pizza box, put into a larger box with packing pellets 🙂
Save the packs from when you’ve ordered records from online shops, that’s the best way to get them.
Some people remove price stickers, but it’s better to leave them on, as they add a bit more to the story, as in “Gosh, I only paid $12.00 for that, from… Leedin records? Wow, they went out of business in, 1992, I think” keep receipts too, if possible.
Some people have difficulty identifying a collectible from a non collectable, but if it’s coloured vinyl, numbered, limited, etched, signed, an unusual size or shape, that’ll usually do it. if you’re still not sure, consult “The Google” 😉
There’s this too, after Record Store Day, some records will sell out quickly and then show up on e-bay for triple the price, if you missed out, resist the urge to pay big money, the record may still be available elsewhere, and cheaper too.
Here’s a thing that some people don’t get, the cover is often more important that the record, from a collectors point of view, a case in point is “The Butcher Cover” from The Beatles “Yesterday and Today” which is rare and worth quite a lot today, another rare cover is from The Rolling Stones album “Sticky Fingers” which featured a photo of a mans pants with a fully functioning zipper… Look after the cover.
Oh, and If anyone so much as touches your records, bite their fingers off.
Explained here is a fair bit of Jargon which you’ll come across while collecting,
180g, 200g, Heavy Weight – Simply a heavier version of standard records, they’re claimed to sound better because they lay flatter on the turntable.
Numbered – A Numbered, Limited edition. So you might buy a record which is 1032/5000 which means it’s the 1,032nd copy of 5000 prints, which is the case with one of my records, as you can see.
Two copies of Duran Durans – “No Ordinary EP” on 10″ White Vinyl, The US version on the top is numbered, while the UK version below, was not.
Limited Edition – Limited to a particular amount of copies, but you may need to poke around online to find out how many copies were made.
Gate Fold – When an album cover opens like a book. Here’s the famous innards of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The Beatles – Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, from 1967, and re-released multiple times since.
Coloured Vinyl – Anything other than black, Coloured vinyl is usually limited to a particular amount, so it’s always collectible and personally I think it looks better. There is some discussion as to whether coloured vinyl affects the sound quality, technically it shouldn’t, although some say that records of multiple colours may click slightly as the needle travels over different patches of colour. I don’t know if that’s true, but is worth debating. Man of Colours, pictured below, was originally released in Red, Yellow and Blue vinyl editions, this one is a re-issue.
Picture Disc – Where a picture is sandwiched between two pieces of clear vinyl, due to the process of making picture discs, the sound quality is not as good, and I would treat picture discs more as something to be looked at than played, although the sound is still reasonable, many people couldn’t tell the difference, let’s put it that way. The record below, Karma Chameleon came out when the song was a big hit, but has since been re-issued too, I have the original and the re-issue, and why wouldn’t I?, I adore my New Wave and loved Culture Club. (Still do!)
Wide Label – Some records have a larger label than normal in the center of the record, it’s mostly done for effect, it looks interesting. I have this Ghostbusters record, it’s in “Slime Green”, it’s weird and I love it.
Australian release of Ray Parker Jrs “Ghostbusters”. The Extended Mix on Slime Green Wax, from 1984.
Four Prong – Where the center of the label can be pushed out, so it can be played on turntables with a larger spindle, which is often not required (I’ve never seen a turntable like that in fact). If you have a collectible record of this type DO NOT push the center out. If you have a record with a large hole in it already, you can play it by using the adaptor which is on your turntable, yes, that little plastic thing you always wondered about. (sometimes the adapter is called a “spider”)
Alice Cooper – School’s Out. from 1972.
Twelve Inch or EP – An extended song like the ones often heard in clubs, they are said to sound better than seven inch singles because the grooves are further apart, a loud track can “bump” against an earlier segment, producing “crosstalk” where you may hear a soft drum sound before you should hear the proper beat, it’s kind of like ghosting.
Ten Inch – The standard size of 78RPM records from the 50s and earlier, and occasionally turns up as an interesting variation for collectors.
Splatter – A splattered, spotty, multi-coloured vinyl record, simply to interest collectors.
Etched – When a design is etched into part of, or one side of the record, it just looks nice.
Shaped – When a record is anything but round, Yes, all of these can be played. 🙂
Matrix Number – The number etched into the vinyl, near the run out groove and label. They are also seen on CDs, around the hole.
Finally – People who make bowls and clocks out of records, send cold shivers up my spine. Records are art, they should never be lowered to the realms of craft (wrinkles nose in disgust). * acceptable if the record is damaged, but it’s still a bit like having your Mother stuffed.
Places to buy collectible records.
Note: One thing to consider when buying records which have to be posted out, is how they’re packed. I’ve had a few damaged covers because the packaging was not strong enough. the companies below pack their records well.
Eil (Very extensive catalogue, but also kind of expensive)
Other stuff, out of interest.
Odd sized records
A book about coloured vinyl and picture discs.
Discogs Collector site.