With the record breaking heat, you're sure to be breaking records. That is, if you're not taking care of them correctly. The recent upswing in vinyl production has more newcomers purchasing the classic format. But first, here's what happens when you leave records in the sun on 103 degree days:
Disclaimer: No functioning records were hurt in this article. All heat warped records were already busted and headed for the dumpster.
Old school collectors probably already know this information, but there's nothing wrong with a little refresher. We talked to Vintage Vinyl co-owner Lew Prince, who also provided us with our unfortunate test subjects, about what will keep your vinyl collection going for the long haul. So, here we go kids... taking care of your records (with or without the heat):
Storing Your Collection:
Always store records in a cool, dry place. NEVER stack your records horizontally. The best way to store them is "standing up, spine out, like books," says Prince. The pressure of horizontally stacked records eventually leads them to warp. So find a nice book shelf and treat them just as sweetly as your copy of On the Road.
There's no problem with keeping your records in crate as long as its sides are two-thirds the way up the record. Short crates cause warping over time.
Debates continue over the proper way to place sleeves. But Prince says to turn both the inner and outer sleeve up. "Never place [the inner sleeve] down because then [the record] will just fall out when you remove it," says Prince.
The main goal of the sleeve is to protect from dust, so having the record covered on all sides is a good idea. Don't be lazy and angle all sleeves at the case opening. It may make access more convenient but your time enjoying the record will be limited.
Handling the Record:
Remember the way you handled your first DVDs back in '97? Think of your records the same way.
Never put your fingers on the record's grooves. Pull it out by the very edge and then use the label to pull. "What ruins records is dirt," says Prince. "The reason to keep fingerprints off records is because fingerprints are grease to which dirt will stick."
When placing the record on the turntable, use your palms to hold the edges and gently set it down.
To cue up a track without scratching, "be as light as possible," says Prince. Turntables with hydraulic arms make this act a bit easier. All you have to do is line it up and let the machine do the rest of the work.
Cleaning those Groovy Grooves:
Always have a record cleaner around. Prince recommends a Columbia, Missouri company called Diskwasher. Apply a small amount of solution to the brush. Swivel around the vinyl until all dust is removed. Do it before each play.
"If you are serious about your records, you keep them really clean. That means you don't allow the diamond needle to drive pieces of dirt into the soft plastic," says Prince.
Never use alcohol to clean your record. Alcohol breaks down polymer chains... and that's exactly what your records are made of.
For a heavy duty cleaning job, especially with old 78's, you can use a touch of dish washing soap and warm water. Rub a finger's worth around the record and rise. Dry with a hand towel (no need to get terry cloth on that freshly cleaned track). If your record is damaged:
Sorry. You're out of luck. "Wear is wear," says Prince.
The two biggest destroyers of vinyl records: dust and water. We've already taught you how to avoid that dust at all costs. And if you're following the storage rules, your records won't get wet.
However, in case of a disaster, immediately remove the record for the case and dry it off. Throw the case away. Wet cases develop mold and "mold ruins records, period," says Prince. "Any record that has mold on it, or has had mold on it is finished, it's done, it's never going to be right."
So there we go, Vinyl Care 101. Preserve that Jack White album with love and maybe, just maybe, you can pass it down to your grand kids with a statement along these lines, "Back in my day..."
Today's RFT public service announcement was brought to you with a message by John Hartford.
Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Special thanks to our friends at Vintage Vinyl.
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