Have you been considering vinyl record collecting? Even though vinyl records have been around for decades, this remains a hobby that is quite popular.
It’s perfect for music lovers, it’s fun, it’s decorative, and it can even be lucrative (some consider vinyl record collecting to be an investment).
If you like vinyl records, what more can you ask?
The records we know today started out as basic phonographs (which were wildly innovative for their time). These played phonographic cylinders, which were around from about 1877 to the early 1880s.
In the late 1880s, records came to be made of all kinds of materials, most notably rubber. These were followed by shellac records, in 1895.
Vinyl records were invented in the early 1959s and remain ever popular. They require a vinyl record player.
Records are a storage media for music primarily, but you can also find records with poetry, presidential speeches, nature sounds, etc.
If you’re into vinyl records, then you’ll probably find collecting them to be quite fun. When you discover a valuable record or one by a favorite artist, you’ll likely experience a bit of a thrill.
Especially because finding certain records can be a bit tricky - it takes determination and skill.
You can find vinyl records at flea markets, rummage sales, garages sales, second-hand stores, and thrift shops, even some music and bookstores that are old-school.
Since most people are not experts on records, they may not even know that what they have is valuable (but you will!).
Have you ever seen a place decorated with vinyl records? Perhaps a classy cafe, or a friend’s house? If you’re considering vinyl record collecting, you might also consider making your records part of your decor.
They have warm, nostalgic vibes, and many also feature very cool artwork. The cover art is a large part of why vinyl records are so highly sought-after.
Vinyl records can give a room life and character.
In the kitchen, it can set the ambiance for a meal. And where better to display your records than the room with your record player?
Vinyl record decor is also a great conversation starter.
You can find vinyl records on eBay at an average of about $15-$50 each. For some records, the value will go up over time, however.
This means that you could potentially purchase a record for, say, $20, and in even just a few years, they could go up a great deal.
Depending on the record, some bought at $20 could become worth as much as $200, or more! This means that collecting records is not just a music lover’s hobby, but it can be lucrative, as well. Or even just pay for itself.
The most valuable records right now are Bob Dylan, The Free-Wheelin’ Bob Dylan, 1963; the Beatles white album, 1968; David Bowie, Diamond Dogs, 1974; Hank Mobley, Blue Note 1568; 1957, and more….
Vinyl records are made of polyvinyl chloride (also known as PVC), carved with an intricate series of grooves.
These grooves are literally the physical manifestation of sound waves. This creates an incomparably pure sound quality - one which has made many music-lovers avid fans of vinyl.
Who can collect vinyl records? Anybody, as long as you know how to keep them in good repair. It is best to keep your records in their sleeves, or some sort of case, as dust can cause them to not work as well.
It’s also advised to touch them as little as possible, so your fingers don’t leave behind dirt or oil (detritus will also stick to the oil).
And of course, you’ll probably want a record player. While vinyl records make great decor alone, nothing beats listening to them on your own record player.
Is vinyl record collecting best done alone, or in a group? Well, that depends, do you have friends who share your interest? If so, it can be an enjoyable social activity to go on a record hunt together. You can bring home your finds to listen to, decorate, etc.
Or it can be a hobby that is more personal. You can collect your most favorite artists, listen, and decorate on your own. Taper the vinyl collection to your individual music tastes, art style, etc. Either or.
Record collecting is as expensive - or as affordable - as you make it. If you’re a serious collector, you may find yourself willing to shell out some cash for a particularly rare record.
If you’re more easy-going about it, there are plenty of records sold at rubbish sales, garage sales, second-hand shops, etc. You’re sure to find a good deal.
Some records are exceedingly rare and can cost as much as a hundred dollars (or more).
There are those who consider record collecting an investment, however.
Like many old collectibles, records will increase in value over time, and they can be quite lucrative to resell.
Vinyl records, made of PVC, are carved with grooves in the form of sound waves. When the stylus of a record player gently presses into the grooves, it causes vibrations that make the sound waves to emit (in the form of electrical signals). This is the lovely, high-quality music that we hear.
Vinyl records come in three standard sizes: 7-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch. Why? In order to engrave longer songs, records had to become bigger. Your average record player will almost certainly play 7-inch to 12-inch records, but those capable of playing 10-inch records are more unusual. During your vinyl record hunt, this is important to remember.
There are three vinyl record speeds: 33 ⅓ RPM (rotations per minute), also known as 33 RPM, 45 RPM, and 78 RPM.
How does speed affect sound quality? The higher the RMP - the more rotations per minute - the greater the amount of information that the stylus receives at once, which makes for richer audio feedback.
Most vinyl records you can find will be a solid black. There are also some that are a solid color, some that have pictures or designs, and some that are clear.
The weight of a record will directly affect its volume and sound quality, and it is better for them to be heavier rather than lighter. This is because it makes the record more stable, with more vibration control. The stylus can press into the grooves more deeply, for playback that is smoother.
Most records weigh between 100 and 200 grams, making those in the upper 100s some of the most highly sought-after.
Record grading goes as follows: M (Mint), NM (Near Mint), VG++ (Very Good Plus Plus), VG+ (Very Good Plus), VG (Very Good) AKA E (Excellent), VG- (Very Good Minus), G+ (Good Plus), G (Good), F (Fair) or P (Poor).
In order for a record to have real value, it must generally be VG+ or above. They sell for about 85% less when they are only VG or below - and unless it’s exceedingly rare, you may not even want to purchase a Fair or Poor.
You will definitely want to know about vinyl care if you are going to be a serious vinyl collector. This will keep their condition from deteriorating, so the sound remains loud and clear.
To clean your vinyl records, you will want a vinyl record brush. Use this to gently remove dust, static, etc. Or buy a cleaning kit online like this one from Amazon.
If there are any fingerprints or other smudges, spray a gentle cleaning solution and wipe with circular movements, following the grooves.
Rinse the record with water and wipe dry with a soft cloth (so it does not cause micro-scratches or lint).
Maintain your records by storing them properly when they are not being played on your record player.
Do you need lessons to get into vinyl record collecting? No, it’s pretty straight-forward; there are some things you will want to know, however.
Be sure to educate yourself on things to look out for (good and bad), and you can easily become a top-notch vinyl record hunter and collector.
Record players are known as turntable record players, and there are three kinds available: idler wheel, belt-drive, and direct-drive.
Idler wheel turntables are named for their idler wheel, a rubber wheel which a motor's shaft rotation to the edge of the record player platter.
As you’ve probably guessed, belt-drive record players used a belt to rotate the platter.
Finally, a direct-drive turntable simply refers to those that have a motor (rather than a belt).
If you like the rating aspect of vinyl records, perhaps you’d be interested in comic book collecting or card collecting, as well! You can hunt down the top-rated ones and similarly display them - properly encased in plastic - as decor.
Or, if it’s the music aspect of vinyl record collecting that appeals, you could collect a more modern music medium, like CDs.
So, what do you think? Is vinyl record collecting the hobby for you?
Go on a record hunt, decorate your home, listen to your favorite artists (or someone new).
Save them to resell when they increase in value, and, last but not least, enjoy the old-fashioned but incomparably pure audio feedback!