How can I keep my records in mint condition?

Like anything you own, your records need a little care and attention if you want them to be at their best. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to keep your records in tip-top condition and, for most people, it is even an enjoyable part of the whole experience of listening to vinyl.

The key things to remember are to keep everything clean, store your records well, and make sure you use decent kit.

 

Keeping it all clean

This isn’t about the shiny good looks of your vinyl — although that’s a positive side effect — but about avoiding damage to your records. Having dust and dirt on your records risks it damaging the needle and vinyl as it spins on your turntable. Although the scratches this causes may be minuscule, they will affect sound quality and, over time, the effect can be profound.

You can, of course, buy a record cleaner like an Okki Nokki, but generally a wipe with an anti-static brush or cloth before playing will be enough. Occasionally using a spray will be an added bonus and will maintain your vinyl’s sheen. Think about the needle too and use a stylus cleaner to make sure that isn’t letting the side down. You can get everything you need in the AM Clean Sound set from our shop.

 

Store it well

Proper storage is vital, and it starts with the record. We use anti-static rice paper inner sleeves. These help keep the dust away (by preventing the record developing a charge) and will reduce the need for brushing when you take it out.

We also use Blake outer sleeves. These protect the record and cover but are super clear. This means you get the extra protection, but don’t have to miss out on the artwork as a result.

Finally, stacking your records risks warping and even cracking, so make sure you store your records vertically, just as you do books. Invest in some decent storage. Whether you love or hate IKEA (or just tolerate them for Swedish meatballs and jam) their KALLAX range really is the gold standard for LP storage.

In good sleeves and shelves (as long as you’ve put them together properly!) you can feel confident your records will come to no harm.

 

Use decent kit (and use it properly)

There’s a big difference between being cheap and being good value, and there are countless stories about cheap kit damaging records. The resurgence of vinyl has seen turntables sold almost everywhere, often marketed more as a novelty. But while you might be grateful to that Crosley briefcase turntable for (re)igniting your love of vinyl, your records won’t be grateful if you keep using it. These units are often cheaply made, meaning lower quality sound, and usually have a much heavier arm, meaning more wear on the records.

If you are serious about vinyl — and if you are reading this, then you probably are — upgrade your kit as soon as you can. This needn’t be expensive, entry-level turntables from TEAC or Audio Technica offer impressive quality and can be cheaper than the novelty turntable you are replacing.

And, as well as using a good turntable, make sure you use it properly. Always let the turntable stop before placing or removing a record to avoid scratching the bottom surface. And never manually place the arm, since this can result in accidental scratching, always use the turntable’s need drop function.

And, finally, make sure your arm is properly balanced. It takes a bit of time and trial and error, but you will learn a lot about the sound of vinyl and how your set-up will affect it. The vinyl factory has a great guide on how to adjust the balance.

Once you are set up, that wipe with an anti-static cloth, and browsing through your shelves of LPs, will soon become an enjoyable part of the experience, and you won’t even realise you are helping your records enjoy a long life.

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