We already know vinyl records are awesome.
It has been attracting not just the older generation of music lovers but also the ones from the younger ones. If you go to Tiktok, there are millions, maybe even billions, of videos presenting vinyl records collected by both young and old, new and seasoned record fans.
If you’re still starting out on your vinyl collection, then here are things you need to get ready for to ensure that your records are well taken care of and will sound brand new for as many playbacks as you want.
HOW TO STORE YOUR VINYL ALBUMS AND KEEP THEM IN GOOD CONDITION
When taking care of your vinyl collection the first thing you have to keep in mind is to have them in an environment that helps you not get your vinyl record in more trouble.
You need to maintain the good condition it is in, if it is in a good condition, and you must improve their condition if it’s not.
To be able to do this, the first step you need to do is to make sure that they are stored in a place where there is a minimization of dust collection and the records’ warping.
TIP #1: MAKE SURE THERE ARE INNER RECORD SLEEVES
Before anything else, you need to make sure that the vinyl you have bought has an inner record sleeve.
If it’s a new one, there will surely be one. But if it’s a printed inner sleeve better buy another one which will be the sole purpose is to protect your records from dust.
This also helps keep them in place inside your jacket to avoid damaging its insides.
It would be better if you choose to buy anti-static inner sleeves for your vinyl. Static is created when you pull a record in and out of paper inner sleeves, which attracts dust into the grooves.
With anti-static sleeves there won’t be any static created thus lesser dust inside your records’ grooves. Additionally, paper sleeves can apparently damage records chemically. “The only safe sleeves are plastic sleeves.” –David Richard
TIP #2: BUY OUTER RECORD SLEEVES
Outer sleeves are clear thin plastics that encases the whole vinyl album. It’s another layer of protection for your vinyl records to ensure that dust is kept farther away from their grooves.
It’s also a protection that will help preserve the artwork of your vinyl jackets. It will help protect your vinyl jacket from dust accumulation and scratches.
TIP #3: HAVE YOUR OUTER SLEEVES OPENING AT THE TOP
If you do not mind handling your vinyl’s jackets everytime you want to listen to a certain album then it would be best to have the opening perpendicular to the opening of the actual jacket.
This tip will help you avoid having your vinyl records slipping out and dust having easier access to your record.
Also, when you horizontally pull your record from a shelf, you won’t have a hard time pulling the whole set, the outer sleeve and the jacket.
TIP #4: PUT THE VINYL RECORDS VERTICALLY
This is common knowledge when you’re growing your own vinyl collection.
Stacking them up will be very detrimental to both your vinyl record and vinyl jacket.
There will be uneven pressure applied to your records that will cause warping of the record and ring wear on the jacket. It would also be better to give it some space instead of having them jam packed together.
TIP #5: STORE THE RECORDS IN A DRY COOL PLACE
Last on the storage part is to have them situated in a dry and cool place. Subjecting these records to heat and too much humidity will cause distortions and warping and we need to avoid that.
They should also not be put directly under sunlight to minimize exposing it to unmonitored heat. Additionally, humidity can affect the artwork printed on the jacket.
HOW TO HANDLE YOUR VINYL RECORDS WHEN YOU THEY’RE OUT OF THEIR JACKET AND SLEEVE
When you want to listen to your vinyl records, there are also tips on handling them since as you can already pick up, vinyl is a fragile format.
It’s a format susceptible to warping, distortion, and degradation when not taken care of in every stage of its life.
TIP #6: HORIZONTALLY PULL AND PUSH THEM FROM AND TO THE SLEEVE
When you’re pulling out and pushing in the vinyl records from and into their inner sleeve, you should do this horizontally.
If you do it vertically, there is a possibility that you would be pinching the edges when pulling them out, and dropping them to a surface when putting them in.
Both acts can damage the vinyl record and its sound quality.
TIP #7: HOLD THEM ON THE EDGES AND BY THE CENTER LABEL
While the records are not in the comfort of their inner sleeves you must bear in mind to never touch their grooves.
While horizontally sliding them out you will have to hold them on the edges and by the center label, making sure that you don’t get any oil or dust on the grooves.
Remember that oil can cause the dust to accumulate and stay there and that dust greatly affects the playback of a record.
TIP #8: DON’T LET YOUR RECORDS BE OUT OF THEIR SLEEVES FOR TOO LONG
Remember that the air has a lot of dust particles, if you’re done listening to a vinyl record, it would be best to return it to its sleeve and jacket.
This will ensure that there is minimal dust on the surface of your record.
TIP #9: MAKE SURE YOUR TURNTABLE PLATTER IS CLEAN AND IN GOOD CONDITION
If it is worn out or damaged, it should be replaced before you use it for record playing.
It should also be clean from any dust or debris to make sure that they will not be in contact with your vinyl record’s grooves.
TIP #10: GENTLY DROP THE NEEDLE ON YOUR RECORD
Dropping the needle hard on your vinyl will cause damages and distortions to the grooves and you wouldn’t want that.
To gently do this, you have to use your pinky finger as some sort of stand to stabilize your hand. Move the needle arm forward and then gently drop it onto the groove.
TIP #11: PLAY YOUR VINYL FROM THE VERY BEGINNING
Another good way to avoid messing your grooves up is to play your vinyl records from the very beginning as much as possible.
You know how records are already turning when a needle is dropped.
If you drop the needle in the middle of a record, it can cause damage to the dropped area since the needle will need to have time to adjust to the spinning before it can follow the grooves.
TIP #12: NEVER REMOVE THE NEEDLE ABRUPTLY
Abruptly removing the needles will result in pops and clicks in due time.
They will be the result of some deformation on the grooves due to your impatience, and that would be too bad.
It would be better to wait it out until the whole side is done before you flip it to the other side and drop the needle again.
TIP #13: WAIT FOR THE TURNTABLE PLATTER TO COMPLETELY STOP
After listening to a record, you will need to press the stop button to stop your turntable from spinning.
In doing this you must wait for it to completely stop before removing the record from the platter.
It is a must that you do this or the other side of the vinyl would face the consequences.
TIP #14: CLEAN YOUR RECORD PLAYER’S NEEDLE
As time passes by, needles will be accumulating dust after playing records.
To avoid them being damaged easily and affecting the grooves of your record, it would be best to clean them.
After playing, you can let the needle rest for a while then use the designated brush for it, to clean it. It should also be replaced when it has already been worn out or your records will suffer.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR VINYL RECORDS AND PRESERVE ITS SOUND QUALITY
Last section is the tips on how you should clean your vinyl records.
Since there will be no way that your vinyl records will be staying inside their jackets forever you will definitely have them exposed to dust.
This dust can accumulate and that will be the time when you have to clean your records.
It would also be great if you do surface level dust cleaning before and after you play a record to ensure that there will be no dust before playing and storing.
TIP #15: BUY A VACUUM CLEANER
This is the best way to have your vinyl records cleaned.
This way you won’t be worrying about putting too much pressure while wiping the solution down.
Additionally, you won’t have to do so much since the cleaner will be the one to do everything, that is if you have the money.
It’s a bit expensive.
TIP #16: BUY THE APPROPRIATE CLEANING TOOLS
When we clean we need tools to aid us in having a successful cleaning session. For a fragile format like vinyl records they have cleaning tools that are just for them.
There are anti-static brushes and microfiber cloths that help avoid the creation of static, when they are brushed or rubbed on the record.
Also, there are solutions that help in the deep cleaning of a vinyl record.
TIP #17: CLEAR THE SURFACE OFF OF DUST FIRST
Before starting the deep cleaning, you should remove the dust on the surface first with the use of an antistatic brush.
This is the dry cleaning technique, this is to ensure that when you do the next step, there is less dust that would interact with your records’ grooves.
This should also be done before and after playing, even for new records.
TIP #18: DON’T PUT PRESSURE WHEN CLEANING
After the dry cleaning is the wet cleaning. This step is when you use the solution and the microfiber anti-static cloth.
After applying the solution on the surface, wait for it to spread for a little while then with the use of the cloth you gently spread it around the grooves in a gentle motion.
Remember to keep your actions light to not put pressure on the record and avoid burying the dust on them.
TIP #19: NEVER PLAY YOUR RECORD WHEN WET
Last tip is to not clean your vinyl record while it is playing. This is under how to clean because, this is an attempt to clean the record and remove the pops or what during playback.
When you wet your record while playing, the dust causing the pop will surely have been even more buried in the grooves and that would be really bad.
After all these tips I hope you get to have a good experience collecting and taking care of your vinyl records.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll have them for a lifetime.
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD, custom vinyl records and merch company in LA.