Ok, for some reason you have taken an interest in vinyl records and now you want to get started. Where do you go first? How do you start? What do you look for? Keep reading for some basic tips on how to start vinyl record collection.
Determine what you want to listen to.
Do you have a favorite band or artist? That is where I would start. If you have a favorite group or artist from the 1970s or 1980s then records from those two decades will be easier to find that records from the 1990 or beyond. The reason for this is that by the 1990 the vinyl record format was being replaced by the CD and record production was tailing off so there were simply less vinyl records being produced starting about 1990. That trend is beginning to reverse now as more and more groups/artists are releasing some vinyl now.
Let’s say you are a fan of The Rolling Stones or Fleetwood Mac. I would visit thrift stores and start thumbing through the records they have available. You find a Stones record! Take it out of the jacket and look over the vinyl closely. Is it all scratched up? Look like it has been used for a Frisbee? Pass on it if that is the case.
If the record has some minor scuffs that you cannot feel with your fingernail then it is probably worth buying. Even one or two small deep scratches might be OK for now as you can always replace it when you find a better copy. I have some records that only side one is playable so I only play side one to avoid stylus damage but I am keeping my eyes open for another copy that is in better condition. I don’t let the damaged side two keep me from enjoying the good side. Look for bad warping as well. A little warp is alright but if too severe it will not play properly.
Keep an open mind when thumbing through the records. Don’t focus solely on the groups you are looking for or you might miss some very good music. If you see a record in great condition by someone you are unfamiliar with use your smart phone and pull up Spotify or whatever music app you use to stream music. You can usually find the record online and at least play a short sample of some songs and decide if it is worth a buy.
Records in a thrift store are usually pretty cheap so for a buck or two it might be worth a gamble. You might discover some great music! Some thrift stores are open to negotiation. If you find 10 records and they are marked at $3 each take them to the manager and ask if you can get a better price for buying all ten. Some stores are happy to move them out to free up shelf space. I’ve gone in some thrift stores and found maybe 200-300 45 rpm singles in several boxes that are marked at .69 cents each. I’ve gone to the manager and asked “what would you sell me all of these 45s for”. Last time I did that I walked out of the store with almost 400 45 rpm singles for $19.95!!! So, it never hurts to ask.
Join A Record Club
You could join a record club and be sent new records in the mail every month. There is one club called vnyl.org that has several plans to choose from. I think the basic plan cost $39 per month and they send you three records each month. You can specify your genre or enter your musical taste and the records you receive each month are chosen based on your “vibe”. I believe this club has free shipping if you live in the United States as well.
There are quite a few other clubs out there so you just need to do a search and read the offerings and terms of each one but if you live in an area where you have no record stores this is a good option.
There is also Amazon, Soundstage Direct and other online places to buy new records online that have a huge selection to choose from.
If you would rather buy used records there is Ebay and Discogs to name a few. In fact if you are searching for artists or groups from the 70s or 80s then used is probably your best bet for finding these records. You can still find sealed, unplayed copies of older groups but you will pay a premium price for these. I cover buying records in a previous post you can find here.
What About a Turntable or Record Player
Before I go any farther I will emphatically say right off the bat DO NOT BUY A CROSLEY record player, it will ruin your records. I won’t say anything more about that except DON’T.
You don’t need a turntable to begin collecting but you will want to get one soon. The temptation to buy something cheap so you can start listening will be great but you will be far better off by saving a little money and getting a decent turntable is a far better choice than going heap and ruining your records. You can pick up a decent turntable for around $300. You will also probably need an amplifier and some speakers but I will go into that in a later post as this post is focused on buying records.
Check HERE to read some suggestions when considering your turntable selection.
Before you do actually play a record you will want to clean is good, especially if it was bought used from a thrift store or garage sale. I have a post here on how to give your records a good cleaning. For every play maintenance of your records you will also want a decent record brush to use before each play. I review a good one here along with an affiliate link where it may be purchased.
You also need to properly store your recordsl. Do not stack them flat as that will cause warping. I have a few record storage ideas on this blog post.
In A Nutshell
Well, in a nutshell that’s it! Just get out there and start shopping and buying. You will discover just how fun it can be. The thrill of the hunt looking for that one record you are missing to complete a list. Or finding a rare record by your favorite band. I can spend hours in a record store thumbing through the racks and I’m sure once you begin it will be the same for you. Use Spotify or whatever to listen to bands and artists you have not heard before then you can decide if buying a vinyl record by them is worth it to you. It’s a great way to discover new music.
If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and I’ll be happy to answer all that I can.
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