It recently struck me that I spend a lot of time writing and talking about collecting and looking after vinyl records, but rarely do I ever share my experiences more directly. Particularly given the past year’s events, it’s important to converse with others as a global music and vinyl fanatics community.
Music is such a huge part of what makes us human. It’s a powerful social lubricant, and there is perhaps no greater nostalgia machine than music. In fact, many forward-thinking Alzheimer studies have shown the power of music in trigging moments of clarity for those suffering from the disease. We’ve all experienced the transformative power of music and its ability to take us back to particular times in our lives, and I’m sure we can all name the albums and tunes that evoke memories of our youth. The short of it is, music is powerful and an experience best shared with others.
Record stores are the epitome of shared music experience, of course, along with live music. For today though, we’re going shopping on Discogs, the online music market place.
In the video below, I walk you through my weekend record buying experience, and I’d love you to share your own experience of buying vinyl on Discogs.
Starting with the Wantlist
When shopping for vinyl on Discogs, I highly recommend creating a wantlist. You can use this feature to keep tabs of all your “holly grain” vinyl wants and desires. It makes it quick and easy to check prices and you can also receive email alerts when an item on your list comes on the market.
I typically start my browsing from the wantlist before moving on to other searches. In this case, I was checking the status of Tyrannosaurus Rex Unicorn. To regular readers, It might appear I am somewhat obsessed by this record, and in many ways, you’d be right. My parents, and particularly my Dad, are big T-Rex fans. I grew up on the music as a child and have a huge affinity for many classic 60s and 70s records. Between my Dad and I, Unicorn is the only early T-Rex record that we don’t own on the original Regal Zonophone label.
There are two versions I’m most interested in: the Regal Zonophone mono copy and the Regal Zonophone red label copy in stereo. I checked the mono version first of all, but the price is just a little too steep for me. As much as it would be nice to own this rare beast, the best copy I can find is from a great record store in London called Flashback Records for £106!! Maybe another day…
The condition is listed as Very Good, which in my experience, can be risky. Very Good Plus is usually a safer bet, but for a rare 1969 pressing, I suspect this is still a fair price, just not one I can stomach just yet.
I moved on to the red label stereo copy where there was much more choice and the prices just a little more achievable. In the end, I used a combination of price, condition, and description to settle on a copy for £60.
Checking the Sales History
Discogs has plenty of tools to help you navigate the market, and perhaps one of the most useful in this instance is the sales history. Here you can gauge what the highest, lowest, and average prices are for any particular pressing. If you want to dig deeper, you can even see specific transactions with the full condition and description details. This feature will help you determine if you’re paying a fair price for the record or even if you’re looking at a bargain. At the end of the day, it’s all a balance of what you’re willing to pay, verse the condition and scarcity.
Other Records Featured
You can watch the video for further details on how I chose two further purchases during my online shopping, but it’s safe to say these were much easier choices to make as the prices were far lower.
I picked up a copy of Neil Young Harvest to replace my worn-out copy. I’d picked up this album from my local record store some time back, and I was always disappointed by the quality. The record was clearly very well-loved, and unfortunately, it sounds like it’s playing under a pillow despite several cleaning attempts.
I even attempted to clean this record using GrooveWasher’s new, stronger G3 fluid, but sadly this record is just too far gone. No amount of record cleaning will restore a worn out or damaged record, so in this instance, it’s best just to buy a replacement. I bagged a copy for £20 in Very Good Plus condition.
Lastly, I searched for a copy of Brian Eno’s Apollo, a fantastic atmospheric ambient record. The original LP was released in 1983, and I’d once passed up a copy from a record store due to lack of funds some time back (what can I say, these are the struggles of a record collector). I settled on a copy in Very Good Plus condition for £40 and decided to conclude my shopping at this point; that’s quite enough money spent on records for one day!
Share Your Experience
We’d love to hear from you. What are you collecting at the moment? Have you found any particularly good deals recently? How do you find Discogs? Let us know your experience and share your holly grail pressings in the comments below.