Practical tips for new record collectors

Rick Olivares

Posted at Jun 20 2021 08:29 PM

MANILA -- You have gotten into an expensive hobby such as record collecting. Your collection is now accumulating and now you’re wondering about storage and how to protect your discs.

Here are simple and practical tips from decades of record collecting. 

Display those works of art

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One such appeal of vinyl is the album art. Your collection is like having your own record museum version of the Louvre. All right, that is an exaggeration because nothing compares to the Louvre. But I am sure you get my drift -- storing them or putting them on display is part of the fun.

The square dimension of records and their album art make them best displayed rather than locked up in some mega-plastic box.

There are square crates that cost anywhere from P1,200 to P2,000 with each crate holding about 70 to 100 records. These are readily available at certain shops like the Grey Market, M.E. Records, Vinyl & Collectibles Online Store and some others all of which are on Facebook.

There are also cabinets that can be purchased anywhere from P2,000 to P7,000 that are actually bookshelves and collectively can hold anywhere from 750 to 800 records. What makes the number of records vary is the kind of records you have. The 180-gram records are thicker that usually come in gatefold jackets. Records pressed from the 1950s up to the early 1990s are thinner; hence, you can include more on your shelf.

Your records are placed sideways and are readable by the titles on the spine of the jacket.

And, of course, you can custom your record racks. I know people whose racks resembles those in record stores where you can pull each tray out with the front of the jacket facing you. It’s nifty if you ask me. 

Save these works of art

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Records all come in shrink wrap. But some music fans remove them because one cannot enjoy the interior art or liner notes that are sometimes placed on them.

This is an anathema to some collectors who feel that removing the shrink wrap devalues the record.

Do you collect because you are a fan or are you a collector who looks to sell them later on when the title’s value has gone up and you’re looking to make some extra bucks? Whatever floats your boat.

There are generic looking jackets in black or white with a doughnut hole in the middle. This works well with your second-hand records whose original jackets could be falling apart. That or they have come without them.

There are also plastic wraps to replace or add to the shrink wrap.

My rule of the thumb is: if it is a second-hand record and the shrink wrap is dirty and ageing, I will remove and replace with newer outer plastic for better protection. When the shrink wrap is ageing, it’s chemicals seep into the record jacket and create drop outs.

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There are two types of outer plastic for the jacket -- the resealable and the non-resealable. Even then, there are two other variants -- a thinner outer one and a thicker one.

Let’s backtrack. The resealable, well, it’s nice if you aren’t playing your records again. Because repeated opening and resealing causes the plastic to lose its sense of pristineness for those who are OC.

Me? I prefer the non-resealable and thick plastic. 

Then there’s the inner plastic for your records. There is the anti-static that is expensive and your ordinary plastic. I keep all mine is the latter. If you insert them in their paper sleeves, they get scratched.

Now, to prevent ring wear (which is what happens when the disc’s shape imprints itself on the jacket and destroys the outer album art and jacket) from appearing on the jacket, I place the records in their sleeves outside the jacket but both within the outer thick plastic.

You can purchase these outer and inner plastics as well as cardboard jackets (for seven-inch and 12-inch records) from Lahn’s Vinyl, Treskul Records, and others. Check out their Facebook pages.

Give those records some shine

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Francis Dewey Santos has concocted this excellent cleaning solution that I highly recommend called Dooo-Weez-Ooze.

Back in the 1980s, if you couldn’t afford the imported record cleaners, you settled with this local cleaner that came in what looked like a medicine bottle. But this was a scary solution to use as sometimes, it literally melted the vinyl!

Santos’ Dooo-Weez-Ooze comes in a kit (P650) that includes a micro-fiber towel to clean records, a rubber mat to protect the disc, and a spray bottle to spread the solution.

I highly recommend this (Santos supplies many of the local independent stores with this cleaner) and you can look him up on Facebook.

And lastly, catalogue them -- your way

There are many ways to do catalogue your records -- by genre (which makes the most sense), alphabetical, or by era. 

By cataloguing your records, it makes for easy referencing and pulling them out as you know where they are.

Personally, I catalogue my records by genre -- Jamaican music (reggae, ska, rock steady, and dub) on one shelf, New Wave in a couple of others, punk and hardcore in a couple, heavy metal, shoegaze/dream pop in one, one shelf has contemporary jazz while another features the old-time greats, and so on.

I do have others that stand out on their own. My Beatles records as well as the individual efforts of all the members are in one rack. My Original Pilipino Music records are spread across three shelves – those released from the 1960s to the early 1990s, those released from 2000-onwards, and those released by Filipino bands based abroad. All my Record Store Day releases are in another. Ditto with soundtracks. 

You can get creative with your own filing system. It adds to the listening experience.