Taking Care Of A Classic

While mp3 players and music downloads continue to grow in popularity, many are reverting back to the timeless sounds on vinyl. With these easy and efficient tips, you’ll be able to keep your vinyl record collection in pristine playing condition without breaking the bank.

Think Vertical When Storing Records

If you think the term “a stack of records” is to be taken literally, think again. Stacking is the absolute worst way to stow your vinyl albums—and it’s even worse for 78 phonograph records, which were cut on hard shellac. In addition to being unsightly, stacking is a surefire way to cause distortion in the grooves, warping, and other serious problems. The only proper way to store records is to keep them standing upright on shelves, preferably not at floor level because they collect dust much faster there.

Don’t Get In The Grooves

All LPs, 45s, and 78s need to be handled properly in order to prevent contamination and other types of damage. Putting your hands on the record’s grooved surface will leave behind oils or sweat that, in turn, can attract dust or promote mold growth. When removing an LP or 78, tilt the sleeve so that the record’s edge slips into the inside of your thumb and lets you place your middle or ring finger on the center hole. (You can place your thumb in the center hole of a 45, however.) Hold records with both hands, fingers along the edges, when positioning them on the turntable.

Take Off The Shrink Wrap

Be sure to remove all plastic shrink wrap from the outside of your LPs. The wrap will continue to shrink over time and will eventually warp the record inside. If you want to protect your album covers, a far better solution is a protective outer sleeve made of clear polyethylene or acid-free paper.

Replace Old Sleeves

Although those old paper record sleeves can often evoke a sense of nostalgia with their images of ancient albums and promotional offers from bygone eras, they are usually not made of acid-free paper and will eventually disintegrate. The resulting dust will invariably wind up in the grooves of your records, where it could impair playback or cause other problems. A  better choice is antistatic, polyethylene or HDPE (high-density polyethylene) inner sleeves; prices start at about $12 for 100. You can also replace them with plain-white acid-free paper sleeves, but steer clear of any sleeves made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC); they emit gases that can adversely react with vinyl records.

How To Clean Your Records

Cleaning your records not only ensures you the best possible playback; it’s also an essential step for keeping your records playable in the years to come. (Some experts even recommend a second cleaning after playback to prepare the record for “dust-free storage,” although this is probably most effective when a new inner sleeve is used as well.) To clean a record, first place it on a dry bath towel. Then take a soft, lint-free cloth and gently move it in a spiral motion on the record, going in the direction of the grooves. Start in the center of the record and work your way out to the edge. A camel-hair paintbrush can also be used to remove any visible dust particles.

Dust Off Your Turntable Mat

Why go through all the trouble of cleaning off your records only to be undermined by a dusty turntable mat? Be sure to wipe down the mat in your record player with a dry, lint-free cloth each time you get ready to play a freshly cleaned album. Some turntables use felt mats, which are considerably more challenging to clean. They should be vacuumed off, if possible, but never use water!

Using these great tips to care for your vinyl collection, you’re sure to save yourself from having to purchase – or download – their new versions. Rather, you’ll continue to experience the music the way it was originally intended.

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