Vinyl 101: How To Care for Your Records
As a DJ, your most important tool is your hearing. However, your music is the second most important thing – and you want to make sure you always offer the best quality sound at your gigs. And if you’re an old-school DJ who prefers vinyl over anything else, you need to know how to care for your precious records. It goes without saying, but vinyl records are pretty expensive and fragile, which is a dangerous combo. Particularly if you have a collection of rares that you’ve gathered over a long period of time, thrifted, found, bought off friends and whatnot – in other words, things that are hard to/impossible to find on the current market. Here are a couple of simple tips on how to care for your vinyl records to make sure they last you a long time:
Always store them upright. No matter the space constraints, try to find a way to store your records vertically, but never stack them – that’s a one-way ticket to warping. (fiy, just in case you didn’t know: warping is the deformation of the vinyl which makes it no longer flat and thus distorts the sound of the record when played)
Keep touch to a minimum. You can’t avoid touching the records when mixing, but make sure you’re holding them by the edges in any other case, including taking them out of the sleeve and putting them back. Skin oils get stuck in the record ridges, which might lead to sound distortion as well.
Speaking of which, dust and dirt can do the same thing if they get stuck in the record’s ridges, so make sure you store them away in their sleeve as soon as you’re done mixing/playing them. It’s best to not leave them around in the open for too long – but if you forgot, you can clean them with a dust pad and special record cleaning fluid.
Keep them away from heat. Ok, this might sound weird, but even fairly low temperatures can cause the vinyl to soften and lead to warping. That’s why you want to make sure that the place you’re storing them in is away from direct sunlight or sources of heat. Only one thing can be worse than a warped record – and that’s a collection of warped records.
Check your needles. Needles accumulate dirt over time, and they also wear out, both of which can scratch and damage your records. Make sure you always clean your needle with stylus cleaning liquid and replace it whenever needed. Yeah, it can get pretty expensive, but it’s probably the best investment you can make for your record collection.
Careful when transporting them. Records are incredibly fragile, probably more so than you can imagine, so please consider getting a record case for carrying them around. And if you’re going on a plane, make sure you take them with you as carry-on luggage – I wouldn’t trust airport stuff with my record collection, even with that ‘Fragile’ sticker on it.
That would be my vinyl record care essential tips – if you have anything else to add, please feel free to add in the comments below.