Adventures in Vinyl Records

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I wrote a post a while back about my budding record collection. Since then, my collection has flourished, and has now got quite a few of my personal favourite albums.

If interested in my collection, I now have a Discogs account that I use to keep track of these sorts of things (Not sponsored). I recently purchased Cloud 9 by George Harrison, Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, and ELO’s Sweet Talkin’ Woman (on purple vinyl), so my collection really has grown. The post I made about a year ago mainly discussed how to start up your collection. In this post, I want to go into collecting in more detail, and how I go about it.

Buying New Vinyl Records

Sometimes, there’s an album out that you cannot find an original of, or it is just too expensive to find an original. This happens, and you will need to buy new albums sometimes. To quote my post from earlier this year:

my suggestion is to limit it to the albums you absolutely love… Many new albums are £20 a pop, so it’s best to limit.

BEN ATTWOOD (2019)

I still stand by that advice. And 20 quid a pop is actually a little under. If you shop at HMV, prepare to pay 25 quid a pop for a new vinyl record. Shopping online can find you some cheaper deals, but it is generally more expensive. And typically, I find newer releases to have gimmicks. 180g vinyl, coloured vinyl, half speed mastering, etc. These gimmicks and special features are nice little incentives, but older records don’t have them.

I also find that newer releases tend to go for double albums nowadays, which add to the cost. This, to me, only makes sense if there’s a lot of music on an album. When cut at 33 rpm, vinyl records hold about 22 minutes of music per side, or about 44 minutes per album. One of my newer albums, Little Dark Age, is a double album, and is 44 minutes in length.

This is a downside to the ‘vinyl revival’. Cashing in, with releases that squeeze money out of the unsuspecting public. If you want to buy all new all the time, prepare to dig deep, and don’t. Unless you want to.

Buying older records

There are benefits and disadvantages to buying older albums, which I have listed below:

Benefits

  • Usually cheaper
  • A lot of variety
  • Original albums that you can resell
  • Easy to find online and in shops

Disadvantages

  • Mint condition albums are expensive.
  • Older vinyl is second hand, so generally ‘loved’.
  • May not be the best sound quality.
  • Dirty

The benefits of buying in older vinyl records is clearly variety, price, resale value, and a generally similar level of convenience, to buying new, especially with older music.

The only caveats are that you shouldn’t expect mint condition, unless you’re prepared to pay, and that is really important with albums by big artists. You have to be content, even with wear and tear. Some of my older albums are falling apart, due to age. These albums are generally second hand, and have been loved. Prepare for dirt and scratches (and that will affect playback).

That said, the community, and the market is there and is really good. My experience buying older vinyl records has largely been positive, as long as you do your research. This community is online, and can be found in thrift shops, and market stalls. I make many of my older purchases online, and sellers are willing and able to answer questions about the album.

Caring for your vinyl records

Regardless of age, you need to care for your records. Olders one are dirty, due to age and wear, and even newer ones get their share of dust. My general recommendation is, when you buy any new record, clean it before you first play it. You can do this with microfiber cloths, and even specialist cleaning kits that are inexpensive.

Some records, however, need a deeper clean, and there are methods of doing it yourself, or sending it off to be cleaned. Methods such as wood glue, or using toothpicks to deal with scratches are quite scary. Be advised, though, that some methods can harm your records (such as dealing with scratches), and require confidence to do such things. If you’re nervous about that sort of thing, stick with newer records, or records in good condition, so you only need spray and wipe them.

Conclusion

I said in my last post that vinyl records are an expensive hobby. While that isn’t untrue, it doesn’t have to be inaccessible for you. If you buy older records, look after them, and have decent equipment, then it can be a really good hobby. Following these tips will help you get the best out of your collecting. Happy hunting.

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Ben

Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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