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How To Store Your Vinyl Record Collection

Women sat next to a large record player against a background of rock and roll pictures

Storing your Vinyl Record Collection

How you store your record collection can make the difference between records in mint condition and dirty, dusty, warped albums that have only sentimental value. Those 7 Inch, 12 Inch and LP records have been hard to acquire, the challenge is to keep them safe.

It doesn’t take much time to set up a good storage area for your vinyl, and as time passes, you’ll be glad you did.

Here Are Some General Rules For Good Record Storage

  • Always store vinyl records in an upright position, on their edges. Records stored horizontally eventually bend and warp.
Records Stored In An Upright Way
  • Never place records in direct sunlight or heat; this too will cause them to warp
  • When moving your records around, never leave them in a hot vehicle
  • Keep records in a cool, dry place (not the basement or garage, which tend to be moist and damp).
  • Ensure that your storage area is clean
  • Use anti-static record sleeves to reduce dust accumulation

Vinyl is incredibly heavy, never underestimate how much an accumulation of vinyl can weigh.

Consider carefully the type of shelving you will be using. Shelving units weigh approximately 35 to 45 pounds per shelf and feet, while 78s weigh even more. If your shelving isn’t sturdy, vinyl records can easily cause shelves to collapse. When choosing shelving for your collection, pick a material that won’t bend, like steel or oak.

Storing Record With Strong Shelving

Your records should never be stored in high temperatures, ideally never let your collection get above 22c or around 70 degree fahrenheit. Try not to let temperature fluctuations in your storage area be too wide and extreme. Look for no more that 5 to 10 degree movement in the temperature variation.

Try and avoid humid environments and humidity generally. Your records will last longer the more temperate the environment that you provide for them.

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How To Play Your Records

Picture of a record player on a dresser with pink floyd record next to it

Playing your records is part and parcel of keeping your record collection in the best possible condition while learning to appreciate the incredible collection that you have accumulated.

Learning to handle your records with care is the primary starting point to looking after them. Whether you’re into 12 Inch or 7 Inch or both, no self respecting collector would ever want to inadvertently damage a record.

Handling Records

Handle the vinyl by the edges or the label only—with clean hands, of course.

Once you’ve finished playing a record, put it back in its sleeve and cover. This will eliminate dust accumulation on the record, as well as unwanted fingerprints or scratches. Remember, the less you touch a record, the cleaner it will be (and if it’s a rare record, the higher its potential value). So hands off!

Dust Cover On Your Record Player: Off or On (Up or Down)?

This is mostly a matter of personal preference. Playing records with the dust cover down may prevent dust from settling on the turntable or the record, but some believe that leaving the cover down ruins the sound of the record. My suggestion is to try it both ways to see which you prefer.

The dust cover pictured above is the extreme of how how far people will go – remember dust is your enemy. Keep them away from it to achieve the best possible playback.

Below is a graphic demonstrating the typical record player setup

How do turntables work?

When a stylus moves through a record’s grooves, an electric signal is created. Compared to signals emitted from CDs and cassettes, though, it’s very weak. Older amplifiers compensated for this by having phono channels that boosted the signal, making it possible to listen to records. Since it’s not needed for CDs and cassette tapes, many modern amplifiers don’t have this channel. As a result, the record’s electric signal is too weak to be audible. By purchasing a pre-amp, though, you can give the signal the extra boost it needs before reaching the amp—and your records will sound great. 

How to avoid scratching records

To limit the risk of scratching your records and LPs during playback, keep your dust cover down or closed. Try also to ensure you use the tone arm when lowering the stylus, don’t just drop that needle!

Alway put your records back in the sleeve with a sleeve insert. Never leave your records lying around.