New to Vinyl? Here’s a Comprehensive Guide to Caring for Your Records

If you’re new to the world of vinyl or a seasoned collector looking to refine your care routine, you’ve come to the right place.

In an era of digital convenience, there’s something undeniably magical about placing a vinyl record on a turntable, hearing the soft crackle, and witnessing the needle gracefully settle into the groove. Vinyl records not only capture the essence of music but also provide a tactile connection to the artistry behind each note. Yet, to keep that magic alive, one must become a steward of their vinyl collection, ensuring these cherished analog treasures stand the test of time.

In this comprehensive guide, we’re about to dive deep into the frequently asked questions about vinyl record care. From cleaning and storage to handling and maintenance, we’ll unravel the secrets to preserving the fidelity and longevity of your cherished vinyl gems. So, put on your favourite record, grab a microfibre cloth, and let’s embark on a journey to become masters of the groove.

Handling and Cleaning

From mastering the art of safe handling to discovering the secrets of effective record cleaning, this section is your key to preserving the magic of analog sound.

How should I handle my vinyl records?

Always handle records by their edges and avoid touching the playing surfaces. Make sure your hands are clean and dry before handling records to prevent any potential damage.

How can I store my vinyl records properly?

To ensure the longevity of your vinyl records, store them vertically in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Invest in sturdy record storage shelves or crates that provide proper support and prevent warping.

Should I clean my vinyl records, and if so, how?

Regularly cleaning your vinyl records can improve their sound quality and prolong their lifespan. Use a carbon fibre brush or an anti-static record brush to remove surface dust before and after each play.

For a deeper clean, consider investing in a record cleaning kit or using a microfibre cloth lightly dampened with distilled water and a gentle record cleaning solution.

How do I handle scratches on my vinyl records?

Prevention is key, so always handle records with care to minimise the risk of scratches. If you notice a visible scratch on a record, avoid playing it as it may cause tracking issues or affect sound quality.

Consider professional vinyl record repair services for significant scratches or consult with experienced collectors for DIY repair methods.

Photo credit: Mink Mingle

What is the best way to clean record players and stylus?

Dust and debris can accumulate on the turntable and stylus, affecting sound quality and record playback. Use a soft, anti-static brush to remove dust from the turntable and stylus.

Be gentle when cleaning the stylus, brushing from back to front, and avoid applying excessive pressure. Regularly replace the stylus according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Is it necessary to use inner sleeves?

Using high-quality anti-static inner sleeves is essential to protect your vinyl records from dust, static, and scratches. Avoid using paper or cardboard sleeves, as they can potentially damage the record’s surface over time.

Playback Issues and Warping

Time to explore the common challenges that can disrupt your vinyl listening experience and help provide you with practical insights on how to address them. Whether it’s the subtle nuances of vinyl playback or the unsettling effects of warping, we hope you find your answer below.

My record skips when playing, what should I do?

Commonly, improper tonearm weighting can lead to this issue. Adjust the turntable’s anti-skating mechanism, usually a knob or spring on the tonearm’s back, to apply more needle pressure to the vinyl grooves. For turntables lacking anti-skating, an old-school trick is placing a penny on the stylus to add weight.

Ensure your turntable sits on a level, non-resonant surface, ideally separate from speakers. Some records may have dust or particles from the inner sleeve; cleaning them thoroughly can improve performance and reduce skipping.

Photo credit: Austin Loveing

Why does my record play at a different speed than it’s supposed to?

In most instances, your record player is probably configured at the wrong speed. Typically, turntables offer two speeds: 33 1/3 and 45 rpm. Most 12″ and 10″ vinyl records are intended for 33 1/3 rpm, while most 7″ records are meant for 45 rpm, although there may be exceptions (usually indicated on the vinyl sticker or sleeves).

My vinyl is warped, can it be saved?

Vinyl records are delicate and susceptible to various factors like weight, pressure, temperature, humidity, and sunlight, which can lead to warping. Typically, minor warping doesn’t significantly impact playability, but major warping does.

While there’s no foolproof way to completely flatten warped vinyl, you can try to either repair or minimise minor warping. One approach involves placing the vinyl between heavy books for several days. Another option, available for certain record players, is to invest in a record weight. This accessory can enhance playability by securely holding the vinyl against the platter during playback.

Our 10th anniversary ambient future garage album 'X' on 12" vinyl record at Chris Pavey Mastering Studios.
Looking to add to your collection? Take a look at our 10th anniversary album ‘X’, our first-ever 12″ vinyl release! (Photo credit: Chris Pavey)
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