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COLUMN: How to take care of your vinyl records



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Used vinyl records from the late 70's and 80's are stacked inside inside the Radio-Active Records store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on May 9, 2012. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald/MCT) Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service Buy Photos

It may seem obvious, but correctly handling vinyl records will ensure the life of the record well past its purchase date. 

Easy fixes, like trying to touch the vinyl as little as possible, are simple enough, but here are a few more tips you can try to keep your vinyl sounding brand new throughout its life. 

Tip 1: Don’t stack records horizontally 

Obviously, the logic here is weight distribution. By stacking vinyl horizontally, you increase the weight on top of each subsequent record. This can lead to warping of the vinyl itself, and circle imprints being left on the jacket and sleeve. Instead, store records vertically. This will ensure each vinyl has room to breathe. Be sure to not store them too tightly, though, as this can result in similar consequences as stacking them horizontally. 

Tip 2: Holding the vinyl 

Where you hold the record can make a big difference over time. Hands have dirt and grease on them which can get into the grooves of a record. Try holding the record from the inner label or the edges of the record. Take it a step further and close the lid of the record player while it plays to prevent dust in the air from landing on the vinyl. 

Tip 3: Before and after playing

You can find brushes online for cleaning between the grooves of the record, but a microfiber cloth works just fine. Give the vinyl a quick, circular wipe before and after playing to get out dirt and debris. You may be inclined to use a T-shirt or cloth, but this drives dirt further into the grooves and can cause further damage. 

Tip 4: It’s the little things 

Imperative to hearing the music but often overlooked, the needle (or stylus) also requires maintenance. Like the record, giving the stylus a quick brush after each play will extend its life and help maintain the quality of the vinyl it touches. However, no matter how well you maintain the stylus, it will eventually require replacing. A well-maintained stylus will generally last anywhere from two to three years. If not maintained properly, you may want to replace it sooner. 

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