Putting on records is a philosophy, listening to vinyl and collecting is a passion. And the “black gold” is currently pretty popular again, despite streaming and digital formats. Admittedly, the hours spent in the record stores have always been a highlight of everyday DJ life, especially when there were no DVS systems.
After my personal vinyl hit the hundred mark in my teenage years, at a time when you could still make a real impression with a great record collection, the question arose at some point:
How are the precious treasures supposed to survive the next few years unscathed?
Well, if there are only 20 pieces in the phono trolley/rack, storage is rather unproblematic. But when a three, four, or even five-digit number of discs comes together over the decades, it looks completely different. Don’t forget about cleaning.
8 Rules For Caring For Your Vinyl Record Collection
Yes, a record like this exudes a certain magic: analog warmth, melancholy crackling, and rustling – stop? Does it really have to be? No, it doesn’t have to. And that brings us to the middle of the topic: 8 golden rules for dealing with vinyl records.
Store the record in a cool, dry place
Extreme heat and direct sunlight – this applies not only to storage but also to summer outdoor locations – can lead to deformation of the vinyl in the form of waves, dents or bumps. Who wants that? A shady spot prevents here.
Moisture, on the other hand, sometimes causes mold to form on the record covers. If a cover, for example from a second-hand purchase, is infected with mold, it is best to replace it directly with a blank model. Unprinted cardboard covers cost around 50 cents and are better invested than if the spurs were to devote themselves to the rest of your collection.
Records belong in a cover
This is best lined because the inner coating causes less wear on the vinyl than some scratchy hard covers or paper sleeves. If there is too much dust inside the inlay, it makes sense to replace it in good time.
When returning the record, make sure that the opening of the inlay is facing upwards so that the disc cannot accidentally fall out (down, back, front) the next time you take it out. Admittedly, this is quickly forgotten in the hustle and bustle of hanging up.
Opening of the inlay upwards.
So store it as vertically as possible on the shelf, as inclined storage can lead to the vinyl bending in the long run. And then? It has always helped me to place the affected pane between two smooth surfaces and to weigh it down sufficiently. With record cases, for example.
Do not store standing up and lying down.
Stock up with protective sleeves for the cover
Transparent sleeves cost around $10 in a pack of 100 and protect the cardboard covers from damage. Should you be a thorn in the side of old stickers during the visual inspection: Getting rid of them is very easy!
It is best to carefully soften the adhesive with a hairdryer (remove the record beforehand). After a while, you can pull off the unwanted object or troublemaker. In any case, act carefully so that there is no crack in the cover. In the case of price tags, this can still be done quite easily.
However, I remember a club music collection that I once bought from a disco inventory. There were actually hand-sized stickers on some covers, labeled with genres, notes, and BPM, sometimes several of them. That was quite a drudgery to get rid of everyone. But it was really worth it for some of the collection’s gems.
Protective cover: It’s better!
Touch, but don’t touch
When removing the record, always hold it on the label and on the side so that it is not littered with greasy fingers – even if the forensics department could sometimes really enjoy it – or even grease deposits get into the grooves. So you can save yourself some cleaning processes. It also looks better.
Remove dust from the record before playing
To remove dust from the record, use a cotton cloth that does not tend to fluff or, ideally, a carbon fiber brush, as this can easily penetrate the grooves to track down the unwanted small grains.
It hardly costs $10 and ensures that the needle does not jump over potential grains of dust or dust and cause distortion in the sound as a result. To do this, simply place the record on the turntable, switch it on and gently place the brush on the vinyl so that the dirt sticks to it.
In an emergency, the only thing that helps is washing. There are special vinyl record washing machines with substructures or fully automatic systems. The prices range from just under $50 to four-digit amounts for the fully automatic machines. The washing machine in the picture below is not an adequate solution.
However, you don’t have to dig deep into your wallet, you can use a special cleaning fluid and an absorbent cloth to remove moisture. As a teenager, after many a flea market visit, I also used lukewarm washing-up liquid to clean the bargains and then dried the window with a soft towel.
Clean the pickup
Most professional pickup systems come with a special needle brush, but if you want to try out your grandfather’s loft find, for example, you can do this with a brush or just blow hard against the needle.
Don’t use a toothbrush to clean …
Back in the cover
Once the record has run, take it off the turntable and stow it properly on the shelf again. If it remains on the record, it is likely that it will collect unnecessary dust. Even if you have a lid, which is often attached to the turntable itself: the valuable treasures are better kept in the cover.
Finally, a tip: If you have a few particularly exquisite copies or rarities among your discs, try to digitize them in high quality with a good pickup system and an audio interface, then be on the safe side in case they scratch or should break.
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