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What you should know before getting into collecting records

So, you’ve decided to collect records?  You thought about stamps and mused over porcelain thimbles before turning your tractor beam onto collecting records.  Good thing about records is that they look nice, like books, but pop them on a turntable and they will start producing waves of sound that go down into your ear holes and make your brain feel all nice.  Try doing that with a stamp or porcelain thimbles and you’d be gifted with a trip to hospital. Whether you have a small collection of records already or none at all, we’re here to cover everything you need to know before starting a record collection.

Firstly, and perhaps the most obvious thing to do is to buy some records.  Quite a few people pointed that out when I asked some friends what they thought one should consider.  Oh, how I laughed when it was suggested for the fourth time. But seriously, it is the most important place to start, I can’t stress that enough.  You can’t have a record collection without records, that just doesn’t make sense. A good place to start is by buying some of your favourite albums on vinyl.  You already know what it sounds like, so this is a low-risk first move. Put together a wish list and distribute to your friends and family so that when your birthday and Christmas comes around, you’ll get something you actually want, rather than a pair of socks or an ergonomic keyboard (if that’s not your kind of thing).

Once you’ve established your collection, i.e. more than one record, you’ll certainly need something to play it on.  Invest in a decent turntable, a poor quality one could damage your records. Shop around, ask some people you know what brands they would recommend; you can spend a relatively a little to a serious amount of cash on one.  It’s pertinent to place your shiny new or second-hand turntable somewhere where it won’t be subject to any kind of external vibration. I’d say the top of your washing machine is a bad idea. A quiet corner somewhere will do just fine.  It’s also a good idea to check turntable speeds. It’s no use getting a deck that spins at 33 1/3 or 45rpm when you’ve just bought a load of 78s. Read our ultimate guide to buying a turntable here.

Space is also a consideration.  Let’s say you’ve been bitten by the record collecting bug, but have you got enough space to house your new collection?  Remember to store your records vertically to keep them in good condition and you’ll thank yourself in the future. Record collecting is also a physically heavy hobby, so some flimsy shelves is not going to cut it.  Something like a storage cube shelving unit is a sensible place to start and have a think about areas of your home where you can spill out into once your collecting reaches that critical point. Also, I hope you’re not planning on moving house anytime soon.  Moving a large record collection is back breaking work.

Read more about vinyl record storage in this article: The Fundamental Guide to Vinyl Record Storage

Now you’ve built yourself a little collection, probably some brand-new records and a couple your Gran gave you.  Invest in a record cleaning brush to keep your vinyl in tip-top condition. If you’ve got something a little more than grubby, get a GrooveWasher or Spin Clean and clean away to your heart’s content.  Berthold Auerbach said that “music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”, look after your record collection and in turn, it will look after you.

The best piece of advice though is to buy records you love and spend time finding new records to fall in love with.  There’s nothing like the ritual of putting on a record and letting it fill your home with your favourite sounds. Take a leap of faith and buy a record just because you like the artwork or because it’s got coloured vinyl.  And that’s okay too, to buy something unknown to you because you like the look of it, they are pieces of art after all. You may play it and really love it, that’s the thrill right there. If you hate it, frame it and adorn your house with it or turn it into a quirky chip bowl, a bit like using old CDs as coasters or things to keep cats away from your vegetable patch.

Finally, records are for listening to, not to be kept and never played for fear of damage.  Once you’ve amassed your collection, it will give you hours of pleasure whilst also just looking nice as well.  After all, your record collection will be a reflection of you yourself. Buy records you love, buy records you’ve never heard of, but start somewhere, start small and always be on the lookout for more.

Have advice or questions about getting into record collecting? Leave a comment below!

Growing up in the North East of England, Jasmine spent her teens writing live gig reviews for the local paper.
She got her undergraduate degree in Politics from Northumbria University and now writes freelance for Halopygian.
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