45 Record Guide – Size, Value, Prices, Worth and History Of 45 Records
45 Records have a huge following, massive history and many names. As is the case with so many products exchanged across the Atlantic Ocean the countries who enjoyed them developed their own language to talk about them. This is certainly the case with 45’s as they are affectionately referred to in America, while across the pond in Great Britain people call 45’s Seven Inches. We’ve produced a definitive 45 Record guide here to help the uninitiated and plain old interested amongst you to the get the full skinny on this much loved piece of music history.
What Are 45 Records?
Put simply a 45 Record is a vinyl disc which holds your favourite music for playback. Now clearly a 45 is much more, let’s dive in.
First released by RCA on March 31st 1949 the 45 Record was an act of sheer design and product development genius. The discs were ten years in the design process and were developed under a veil of secrecy. They were produced on vinyl, a durable and hard wearing material. The 45 Record came in at seven inches in diameter, light, compact and ever so cute. They were designed to be technologically superior to the 12 Inch and 10 Inch heavy shellac records of the time. 45’s were a great leap forward and in many respects caught the buying public and industry off guard.
45 Records were a highly refined product, cheap to produce with massive sales potential built into the format. The storage capacity of a 45 Record is 5 minutes per side with a maximum of 10 minutes of playback available when you include the B side. With a music storage capacity of that size the birth of the music single was nigh. This was a huge driver of consumption and collectability for the format and was perfectly suited to align itself to the stellar consumerism of Fifties America and the Post War World.
In many ways 45 Records spawned an early format war with the United States opting for a 1.5 inch opening for the centre of a 45 Record and the UK preferring a 0.25 inch hole. The larger hole on the US version allowed for Jukebox machines to receive the drop of the records consistently and accurately while also allowing for “changer-only” playback machines to be sold into the buying public.
Are 45 Records Worth Anything?
Now inevitably we’ve arrived at the question of money and frankly I can’t help it, so……what price or worth do you put on the price of happiness itself? I say this, as for many a 45 collection is happiness itself, they are collecting 45’s because they hold a nostalgic element in their life which they simply can’t put a value on. For others collecting 45’s is a counter cultural manifestation, in essence its a two fingered salute to the streaming platforms and the march towards a totally controlled and monitored life. 45’s are an act of rebellion that goes a lot deeper than money. Trends have come and gone but the 45 is still with us despite every effort at times by the music industry itself to wipe it out.
With the above as a backdrop it’s far easier to discuss the monetary value of 45 records and in some cases they are literally eye watering. Emotion is a powerful driver of value and 45’s are dripping with emotional sentiment.
Let’s look at some of the big ones to kick off this analysis of sales values:
- Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen – A&M AMS7284 sold 02/06/2006 for £12,675. Yes, that’s right folks, Punk, it might have a ring through its nose but original Punk goes for big money even when stored on the tiny 7 inches of a 45.
- The Beatles Love Me Do Demo 1st Original sold 12/09/2017 £14,014. Now, when a British invasion gets going like a Beatles invasion clearly it brings with it a lot of gold. Astonishing.
- Rolling Stones Street Fighting Man LONDON with Picture Sleeve sold 29/11/20 for $18,100. The British invasion continues with those Rolling Stones blowing up the gates of the fort.
- Northern Soul 45 Junior McCants KING Promo sold 5/10/08 for £11,324
When looking at those sale values it really is difficult to imagine another 7 inches of real estate ever being more valuable than that of a 45 Record. Completely remarkable. Much of the driver is the qudos that surrounded many bands like the Stones, Beatles and Sex Pistols. They were are literally legendary and represent a piece of pop culture and rebellion which is unlikely to ever be repeated. To own an original 45 from one of those bands is to own part of the mystique itself. Powerful stuff.
Now I don’t want you to run away with the view that every 45 out there is going to make you a fortune. They won’t, obviously. Many 45’s trade for pennies and cents. But, and this is a big but, many 45’s go for reasonable sums of money, anything from a few Dollars and Pounds, to hundreds and thousands. Original 45s are highly collectible and should not be underestimated as a value store.
As a final roundup on 45 Record values, never dismiss the weird and innocuous. You’ll have noticed from the extreme sale values we talked about above that a Northern Soul record sold for big money. Now this record is pretty unknown to the uninitiated, and with Northern Soul a complete anathema to many music enthusiasts, you could easily imagine this 45 being brushed over while rifling through a thrift store collection. Northern Soul is though of course a highly collected genre of 45 Record and values have literally gone stratospheric. The moral of the story is, after a while of collecting and being around 45’s you’ll get to know the common artists and labels. After building your knowledge, should you ever spot anything obscure or unknown to you, always pause and check those values – you might just get a nice surprise!
If you’d like to check more sale prices of records and 45’s try https://www.popsike.com/. They aggregate much of the auction sales data for vinyl records. A useful tool for gauging the value of records.
How Big is a 45 Record?
It’s not all about size you know, it is what you do with it that counts, sorry…….I couldn’t resist. If you have though not yet figured this out, a 45 Record is, yes you’ve guessed it, 7 Inches in diameter or 17.78 cms if you’re thinking of joining the EU.
How to Clean 45 Records?
There are more potions, lotions, creams and cloths to clean 45 Records available to you as a 45 Collector than you can shake a stick at. The market is literally awash with machines and advice. In many ways the cleaning process you adopt comes down to your budget, level of fanaticism and your willingness to engage in the process.
If you’re a moderate collector and care for your records our advice would be to invest in some antistatic clothes, some pure alcohol, distilled water and pure soap detergent. 45’s are best cleaned with a homemade solution of distilled water, alcohol and pure soap. Use a very small amount of alcohol and soap within the water solution. Try not to get the paper label at the centre of the record wet and dry off quickly if you do. It really is quite simple and not rocket science as many would have you believe. You don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment. It’s almost as easy as washing the dishes.
We’ve posted a video below which demonstrates the record washing process. Only thing we’d add is don’t use tap water if you live in a hard water area, definitely invest in some distilled water. And try, if at all possible, not to get the 45 Record label wet.
The simple answer is you can play your 45s on a record player. They need to be played at 45 RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) play speed. You can find the speed selection option on your record player. Most players have the option to play at 33 RPM and 45 RPM with some players having the options to play at 78 RPM. The 33 RPM speed is reserved for 12 Inch records the bigger brother of 45’s. Many believe the faster play speed of 45 RPM to deliver a superior sound quality which we’ll discuss later.
One of the beauties of 45’s is their compact size which allows for a dedicated 45 record player that only plays 7 Inch size records. The stacking arrangement systems are a work of design brilliance and allow for quick fire playing of your favourite 45’s.
Increasingly popular are reconditioned Jukebox machines for playing 45s. They are stunning pieces of pop culture nostalgia with epic levels of style and counter culture chic.
When Did 45 Records Come Out?
45 Records were first released in 1949 in the United States. Arriving into the music buying market like a meteorite RCA’s design sent cold shivers through the competition. The buying buying public were initially confused by the format but soon warmed to the design realising its obvious advantages of size, low price, quality and durability. Within five years of its market release 200 million 45s had been sold.
What is a 45 Record Adapter?
A 45 Adapter is a little piece of kit that sits inside the 1.5 inch hole in a 45 allowing the record to be played on a turntable with a 0.25 inch pin. The device takes up the space between the record and central pin or LP Size spindle of the record deck.
45’s were eventually issued with “knockouts” or “spiders” which take up the space in the 1.5 inch hole achieving the same outcome as the 45 Record Adapter. Buyers then had the choice to knock out the centres on the records or leave them in place depending on their playback preference.
UK manufactured 45’s or Seven Inches often come with solid centres when the records were intended solely for the UK or European Markets.
The UK Didn’t start selling 45’s or Seven Inch Records until 1952. Britain was though well aware of the product when it did arrive and launched into a frenzy of buying supported by the take up of the format by acts such as The Beatles.
45s were unquestionably supported by the new found rebellion of the Teenage generation keen to throw off the shackles of the post war world and embracing a new found individualism. Rock and Roll, Beat Music, Surf and Soul fuelled this fire driving 45 sales into the stratosphere.
Do 45 Records Sound Better?
And now folks for a bit controversy. Sound quality. Do 45s really sound better? The laws of Physics says yes they do. It all comes down to storage and speed. On a 45 Record there is more of the waveform stored on the disc as 45’s by their nature travel faster than 33’s or LP records. The additional speed of the 45 record allows for more waveform to be featured and read on the disc.
Turns out speed beats size on the vinyl record measure when it comes to sound quality. As a modern day comparison with a 45 record you’re getting a far higher kilobytes per second playback than the equivalent 33 record. In essence a 45 record might be small but the pages of data it can playback are far superior to that of a 33.
The result of all this is 45’s sound crisper and are a closer representation of the original intended sound than of a 33. With a 45 you get it harder, faster and in more detail.
Wrap Up and More
We hope you’ve enjoyed our 45 Record guide as a treat we’ve featured some of our 45 Record videos for you to taste the awesomeness of this moved loved Record.
If you’d like to buy some 45’s checkout our 45 Record Collection here.
Like our guide to 45’s? Try our History of the LP Record, UK Capitol 45 Record Labels and Sleeves Archive From 1953 to 1983, What Vintage Vinyl Records Are Worth Money? or Collectors Guide To Building a Vinyl Record Collection.