How to Collect Vinyl

Girl in a vinyl record store.

Collecting records is both a passion...And a pursuit.

The path to collecting might begin with with inheriting a collection or being gifted a few records for a friend. From there, the memories of great songs, favourite bands and the good ole days kind spur us on!

Re-discovering that old favorite album can be so soothing, so comforting, that it’s no wonder that vinyl sales of all kinds are growing rapidly worldwide.

Here, we talk about some of the top factors to consider when collecting records. Whether your collection contains 20 albums or 2,000 albums, applying a few guidelines can help shape your collection into a thing of beauty that maximizes both your enjoyment, and the value of your favourite pursuit.

Vinyl record on a turntable.

1. Find Your Strategy

Will you keep all your favourite albums and sell or gift the ones that no longer fit? Will you buy an an album and then replace it with a better copy whenever the opportunity arises? Or, will you subscribe to the “twofer” theory? That’s where you keep two copies of each of your favourite albums - one to play and one to store.

Will you pursue the entire catalogue of a few favourite artists or just certain albums? Will you focus on certain genres or dedicate yourself to specific decades instead? Maybe your collection will be a random as the day is long. Everything from Doris Day to Motley Crue? While it might be difficult to determine at the outset, you’ll often find emerging patterns in your collecting and soon enough you may be able to define the direction that best fits.

2. Condition, Condition, Condition!

While many factors determine a record’s worth, not much is more important than condition. Folks new to collecting might not mind a few scuffs and indeed, that’s just fine. Those scuffs generally don’t impair the enjoyment you may get from playing that record and can help you build a nice library at a much more reasonable cost. However, it’s important to note that when it comes to collecting, the condition of a record, its labels, inserts and cover are directly related to its worth. And, playable and collectible are not always the same thing, and for lots of folks, that’s just fine.

Close up of grooves in a vinyl reord.

 

Sometimes however, the sheer joy of having vintage vinyl can simply outweigh issues around condition. Or, if speed metal is your thing, then a few cracks or pops aren’t really a thing. As someone who’s made the move from enthusiast to collector. I subscribe to the ideal that to hear an album as close to the sound as the artist intended (at least as much as I can, within reason) is just the best. There’ are not many things more thrilling than acquiring, cleaning and finally playing a mint or near mint 60-year old record and literally hear it sing like the day it was made. Amazing. That being said, if the only copy I can find of an album has a few miles of it, I’ll still play it and enjoy it very much… No snobbery here!

Another thing to consider… Rough records are hard on your equipment. Beginning with the stylus and ending with the speakers.

2. Is Version Important?

Will you want to get fussy about where your best records are sourced from? Will you focus on early presses or make take it easy and purchase a re-releases from Amazon? Is the purity of Japanese vinyl your thing? Will you be more partial to audiophile presses of your favourite albums?  While these special presses have always been enticing, they’re never been more sought-after than in today’s market…. (See: bring cash). Is it worth it? That’s up to you.

4. New or Used?

Which is better? Maybe it depends on who you ask, but the difference between buying vintage or new vinyl is HUGE in my option. Here’s why:

a. Materials

Vinyl was sourced differently back in the day and has a certain quality that cannot be matched by the garden variety records produced today. Just because its’ purple doesn’t mean it’s going to sound better (but it will look pretty sweet on your table).

b. Workmanship

Most if not all of the craftsman who ran and maintained the original record presses are no longer available, and sadly, many have passed on.

Man inspecting a vinyl record.

c. Technique

Today, music is typically be filtered through a digital process at some point to create new releases. It is no longer a true analog process. Analog equipment either no longer exists, is not cost-effective to run or more likely, no one’s left to operate and maintain it (see point 2).

d. The Cool Factor

Hey anybody can click the Buy button, BUT it takes far more dedication to seek out “The Real.” In my humble opinion, an early pressing of any record that’s in great shape and has been well prepared to play (see: cleaned) marks the difference between what the enthusiast plays and what the collector enjoys. The pursuit is real…When sound quality, value and cachet matter, go vintage Baby!

5. Ok, Sometimes There’s No Choice

The resurgence of vinyl has meant that many of today’s artists release albums as well as stream their music. Events like Record Day have pushed the awareness and appetite for new vinyl, and the re-release of classic titles. Many artists now release special editions of certain titles to coincide with Record Day and often mark those albums with special stickers. If you have to buy new (and sometimes you do) I recommend looking for the record in a special edition with 180g vinyl or at least a cool colour. Invest, rather than just purchase whenever you can!

Vinyl record bin at a Record Store

8. But Do You Really Need it in Vinyl?

If you’re chasing just one song on an album, maybe you don’t need it in vinyl at all? I humbly submit that that’s where streaming shines. And while it doesn’t provide quite the kick that dropping the needle does, streaming certainly has its place in any music-lover’s library. 

7. Can’t Buy Em All… Trust Me

How large do you envision your collection to be? What kind of storage can you provide? Cool temperatures, no exposure to heat, and low humidity keep records and their sleeves in a happy place. Expendable cash is an obvious consideration. What works for you?

A word to the wise, it’s easy to become obsessed with records. When collector becomes hoarder, it’s not pretty. Keep your hobby healthy. It’s helpful to understand the size and scope you envision for your collection.Do you imagine 20 to 50 records, 500, 5000? Larger local collections can be 15,000 pieces and larger! That’s a lot of vinyl. How do you choose what to play? (Now there’s a great Question of the Week)! We all just have two ears that there’s only 24 hours in a day…Choose wisely an you’ll enjoy your precious listening time so much more.

A stack of vinyl record albums

In Conclusion

Seriously folks, there are just not many other hobbies that are easy enough to grow, enjoy regularly, and that increases in value with just a modicum of care.

Collecting vinyl is one of the only pursuits where you can collect something that you can enjoy of a regular basis, share that joy with others (who doesn’t love playing great tunes for your fav peeps) and, it typically grows in value.

We often start collecting in earnest by buying the records that bring back recollections of the glory days. We are in essence, buying memories. With just a few guidelines it’s easy increase the enjoyment of the exhilarating pursuit of your favourite vinyl.

Questions? 

Find your favourite vintage vinyl for sale now at Vinyl Pursuit’s Store where new titles are added daily… Cheers!

1 comment

  • Great article!
    I’m new to vinyl and feel I have become quite obsessed rapidly. Reading this was interesting and enjoyable.

    Gary Burandt

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