In recent years the number of people buying and collecting vinyl records has been steadily increasing. People are buying records to add to or start their own record collection every day. Those just starting to jump into collecting may have a lot of questions. How do I keep them clean? Is there a correct way to hold a vinyl? Do I even need to do any of this? Here are a few tips every record collector should know.
Storage is important when it comes to keeping a vinyl collection.
The first thing every person starting a record collection should consider is the storage. You don’t want your vinyls to be any place where they will be either too hot or too cold for a long period of time. They also should be kept in relatively dry areas.
“I used to have them stored near my heater, and after the fall and winter seasons some of my records were ruined because I didn’t know I had to take temperatures into effect,” said Chris McGowan, an avid record collector. Records are more sensitive to damage than CDs, so be sure not to stack anything on top of them because the pressure can break them.
The upkeep is very important when it comes to having a vinyl collection.
If you are unfamiliar with the size of vinyl records, you may not know the correct way to hold one while attempting to play them or put them away. If you look at a vinyl, you will see the edges are a lot darker than the rest of the playable surface of the record. That is the best place to get a grip on the vinyl. To correctly hold the vinyl, only grip the edges and the very center.
3. Cleaning Tools
A cloth is ideal for cleaning records. Photo by John Melegos.
It will be impossible to keep your vinyls from getting dirty. Over time, they will collect oil and dust from use or a long period of being stored. To combat this, you’ll want to be sure to clean the records after using them and clean the records that go unused once a month.
Many online sites sell special brushes you can use to wipe down records. These brushes can get into the grooves, wiping away dust without leaving any bristles or damaging the record. Websites and stores also sell record cleaning solutions to use as well.
“Personally, I use CarGuys Plastic Restorer to clean my vinyls,” McGowan said. “It’s only like $10 and you can really see a difference every time you use it.”
4. Cleaning the Vinyl
Cleaning your records will help keep them in good shape for future listening.
To actually go about cleaning your records, you don’t want to just wipe them away like you were dusting any other object in your house. First, you’ll want to spray your solution on the record if you have it. Next, whether you have a vinyl brush or a microfiber cloth, you’ll want to clean gently following along the circular surface of the record. Just rubbing all around can mess up the surface of the record. Be sure not to use alcohol or regular tap water, as these can do more harm than good to the surface.
5. The Needle
Up-close photo of an ideal clean needle. Photo by John Melegos.
Something obvious that you may not even think to watch for is potential damage to your actual record player. The needle of a record player is what allows you to hear the music. Over time the needle will begin to deteriorate, especially if you’re not careful with the placement or your turntable.
You don’t want anything surrounding your player closely, and if you have a cover on it, do not put anything on top of it. If you still have the needle cover from when you purchased your player, it is a good idea to put it back on when not using your turntable. You can also buy another for a low cost. A broken or damaged needle can do significant permanent damage to your records.