9 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Vinyl

It's Record Store Day on Saturday, so in the spirit of good will, here's a few tips for those new to the world of wax.
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It's Record Store Day on Saturday, so in the spirit of good will, here's a few tips for those new to the world of wax.

Only Buy What You Like

This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s easy to jump in with dreams of discovering the reggae LP Peter Tosh used to skin up on in your local Oxfam and whacking it on Discogs for triple figures. If it’s profit you want you may as well spend your money on scratch cards. The more you dig the more you'll learn those nuances which could signal rarity, but until then, concentrate on your own collection.

You Will Arrange Your Records More Times Than You Thought Possible

Alphabetically, chronologically, by genre, by label. You will spend days of your life arranging then rearranging your records. In the end it doesn't matter. Ask a DJ where his favourite record is and the best you'll get is "it's in that section somewhere".

Record Shop Staff Are There To Help

From the outside record shops can look like a house party you haven’t been invited to. Don't let it put you off. You’ll find the people behind the counter are happy to help you find something you like. Some will be rude. That’s just something you’re going to have to put up with in life, but they won’t ritualistically surround you and threaten your life if you ever return like in Eyes Wide Shut. If they do you’re probably in the wrong place.

Chat To People

Lifelong mates have been made and entire movements nurtured within the confines of record shops, and Record Store Day is a testament to those communities. Obviously you don't want to start tapping on people's headphones when they're in the middle of listening to something, but don’t be scurrrd to talk.

Get Your Wording Right

The plural of vinyl is vinyl. Never ‘vinyls’. There are few rules in this game, but if you break that one you’ll get found out quicker than Nigel Farage at a Vogue Ball. Alternatively just say ‘records’.

Music Doesn't *Always* Sound Better On Vinyl

It all depends on how you define 'better'. Old music pressed to vinyl will have that warm analogue sound which you just can't reproduce with digital, but you'll notice the closer you get to the middle of an album the quieter it gets. It's all to do with the size of the groove. You'll also have issues with surface noise, which can add character but also distort some parts, and the state of your needle will also affect the sound.

12'' Singles Generally Sound Better Than LPs

This follows on from the above point. Originally, singles were pressed onto 7" discs and LPs onto 12". Then in the '70s a disco producer called Tom Moulton found that if you pressed a single track onto a bigger record, you could space the grooves out wider and get a better quality sound. The 12" single was born.

Some People Will Tell You Vinyl Shouldn't Be A Trend Or Status Symbol

Don't listen to them. They’re your records, you do what you want with them. If that means rocking out in a beret with a remastered copy of Kind of Blue under your arm just to look aloof in front of someone you fancy, you go for it.

Look After Your Records

In this modern consumer culture we're encouraged to replace rather than protect our things. Ignore that: it’s capitalism that's broken, not your records. Vinyl will succumb to gradual wear and tear but there's no reversing the effects, so get yourself a good anti-static cloth to keep the dust off, keep your stylus in good nick and (without sounding like your mum) make sure you put them back in their sleeves when you're done. It goes without saying but if you're going to skin / rack up, use the sleeve, not the record. You'll be grateful in years to come.

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