Worst Vinyl Record Collecting Mistakes

Marc HenshallCulture & Industry, New to Vinyl, Record Care7 Comments

As record collectors, we all make mistakes from time-to-time. Particularly when we’re new to the vinyl hobby, there’s a lot to take on and learn.

Even the most seasoned of vinyl hoarders would be hard-pressed to say they never make a mistake or skimp over the details. If not, well, you’re a better man than me!

We’ve rounded up the most common mistakes made by record collectors. What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.

Playing Dirty Records

Let’s start with the basics. Nothing spoils your vinyl listening experience more than excessive surface noise. Keeping your vinyl clean—particularly if you collect a lot of used records—is essential if you want to reap the benefits of music on wax.

Playing your records dirty not only sounds bad, but it will reduce the life of your collection and speed up stylus wear.

There is a wealth of information across the Sound Matters website on how to clean vinyl records, from affordable hand cleaning techniques to more advanced record cleaning machine methods. 

Improper Record Storage

Dirty records are mostly a product of improper storage and handling. Storing your collection correctly will significantly reduce the amount of cleaning required and help protect the condition of both the records and sleeves. 

Storing vinyl records is an entire topic in its own right, but in short, you’ll want to store them vertically under stable conditions inside high-quality inner and outer sleeves.

Extreme heat or horizontal stacking will quickly warp your records, while cheap paper sleeves do little to protect the record surface and prevent static.

Outer record sleeves are a must if you want to protect the artwork from scuffs and wear—particularly when pulling records in and out of your storage cabinet. 

Not Snapping Up Valuable Records When You Spot Them

All too often, I regret the records that got away. Too much hesitation is one of my biggest mistakes as a record collector.

I once spotted a copy of the original Buckingham Nicks record in my local records store. I held back on buying it due to the cost, which, looking back, was a bargain considering its condition and rarity at the time.

If hesitation due to cost prevents you from reaching for your wallet, it’s worth considering what you could cut back on to cover the cost. After all, I’d rather have that holy grail record find in my collection than, say, that extra takeaway coffee. 

Not Checking Used Records Properly

Rushing into your record purchases at the local record store nearly always leads to disappointment.

Take the extra time to inspect the record for defects and damage. Also, make sure the record inside is the correct disc. Records in the wrong sleeve is more common than you’d think, and I’ve been caught out on more than one occasion here because I was simply impatient or in a hurry.

Overpaying for Used Records

Gone are the days when you could walk into countless thrift/charity stores and pick up quality first pressings for loose change. Thanks to the rise in popularity of the vinyl format, most sellers have cottoned on to the actual value of many records. 

That said, this awareness (which you could call hype, I suppose) has also led to many sellers inflating their prices beyond market value. Either through naivety or greed, many used records are very much overpriced.

Get yourself familiar with the Goldmine standard record grading system, and keep a close eye on marketplaces like Discogs to get a more accurate picture of a record’s true value. 

Leaving Records in the Car

Buying records and leaving them on the back seat of a car is a common mistake made by new record collectors. 

On a sunny day, your car will quickly heat up like a cozy greenhouse, warping your precious vinyl haul in the process. 

Even a minor warp can negatively affect fidelity, and you’d be surprised how quality a record can warp to the point of complete destruction. Always take the records with you if you need to drive elsewhere on the same day.

Holding on to Records You Never Play

As far as I see it, records are meant to be played. We are, after all, collecting music here, not trophies.

If you’re not playing a record because you’ve decided it’s not to your taste, sell it—move on and free up storage for records you will actually enjoy.

Many collectors are guilty of holding on to sub-par records or buying too many records just to have a large collection. I say, quality over quantity, every time.

Perhaps there are exceptions here for collector’s pieces, but as a general rule, records are made to be played.

Careless Turntable Operation

Most record collectors can name at least one record they’ve lost due to careless mistakes. The fact is, we’re only human and mistakes happen. 

Whether it be careless tonearm operation, clumsy handling, or adult beverage-related incidents, the occasional record will likely fall victim to our fallible nature. The trick is not to make a habit of it. 

My worst record casualty involved a few holiday drinks and a candle… yea, don’t ask—or read here for the backstory. 

What mistakes do you think we’ve missed? Let us know what you would add in the comments below.

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Mick Ward

Left an original Sex Pistols Never Mind The Bollocks picture disc on the turntable on a sunny day, got badly warped and is now unplayable.

Martin Horvat

Hi Mick, Since 1955 I have fixed this problem by putting the record between two sheets of glass — and putting this in the (not too heavy) sunshine — 15 min to 35 mins (can be checked without doing harm). Almost always works for me. Cheers, Mike

Barry Slim

How about that record that you put back in the sleeve the wrong way? I’ve taken an LP from the shelves before now and in turning it over have seen the album fall out of the inner and so bounce onto the floor! This is because I never did the obvious thing and place it back in so the opening was secured in the upright position… Luckily no breakages as yet, but certainly a couple of near misses!

David

Never loan your albums to anyone else, always replace paper sleeves with either archival sleeves or a better quality plastic sleeve.

Christopher Louis

I was in a charity shop last month and they had a 1980s Beatles Help Lp reissue for £40. It was only in vg condition and I told the staff it was over priced, only to be told it was an original. I pointed out to them the difference between a reissue and a original but they wouldn’t take my word for it. Don’t cha just love charity shops like that.😣

Ray

Funny that, Christopher. Some years back I got the Help L.P. from a pretty well known record shop in Herne bay. It was a mono copy in good condition- the princely sum of 8 quid. I thought it was quite a bargain at the time!

Richard Fowler

Not returning records bought on E-bAy that are not graded correctly, the idea of grading for virtual purchase should give the buyer a very good Idea on the quality of the record