You know that their warm, tick- and crackle-textured sound is superior to that of digital downloads. You know the cover art of a record is right up there with the music itself when it comes to creating a concept album. And you know that, if handled correctly, a record collection can be passed down to future generations. Which is where this article comes into play. Take care of your records, and they will take care of you -- when you're having a rough day, when you want to celebrate with friends, or when you're feeling like some solitude and introspection. Here are some tips for keeping your latest record shop haul looking and sounding brand new.
Keep them clean
Although there are a million different techniques, gadgets, and solutions for cleaning records, most record collectors can agree on a few simple principles. Basically, your objective is to remove dust, grime, and debris from the record grooves. Not only does this icky junk compromise sound quality, but it can also actually make your vinyl deteriorate over time. It's also bad for the record player's stylus because needles can collect dirt and dust from inside record grooves. If enough gunk collects on your needle, it may damage your records.
It's always a good idea to gently dust your record before you play it. But if you bought a used record (psst, Mushroom New Orleans offers vinyl for sale or trade), you should definitely give it a thorough cleaning before setting it on the turntable. Start by gently whisking it with a dry microfiber cloth. Move the cloth in a circular direction, going the same direction as the grooves. Next, take a cleaning solution of your choice, spray it onto the microfiber cloth, and wipe the record down again. Clean the needle, too, with a soft, fine-tipped brush.
Now your record should be good to go!
Give them a cool, dry home
Records are kind of like pets -- they need occasional baths and a safe place to live. To that end, keep them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Always store them vertically, not stacked. Records are heavy, and uneven weight distribution can cause warping and ring wear on the jacket. Give them room to breathe on the shelf; don't pack them too tightly. Most records come with a paper inner sleeve to protect the record and a plastic outer sleeve to protect the jacket. If yours didn't, then order some sleeves online -- they are a great way to prevent dust from getting inside and harming the record.
Handle with care
Some wear and tear comes from the environment (sunlight, dust), but some of it comes from uninformed music fans. The naturally occurring oils on your fingertips can build up on a record. Don't touch any part of the record that has information -- specifically, the circular grooves. Handle it only by its edges. And try not to leave your records out when you're done listening to music. Put them back in their jackets as soon as you turn off the turntable. Yes, it requires some discipline, but the quality sound is well worth it!
Follow these steps, and you should be well on your way to a beautifully preserved record collection. New to crate digging? Stop by New Orleans' longest-operating independent record store to check out our vast selection of new and used records for sale or trade.