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Becoming A Great Record Collector: Vinyl Collecting Guide

There is something about the history of vinyl that plays to our Romantic sentiments. After years of being relegated to the loft and beneath the bed, vinyl is being dusted off and brought back to life. Here we have some tips to help you start your collection. 

(Can’t) Be Moved

One of the first things that you need to consider when starting your collection of vinyl is where you will be when you are listening to the music you purchase. It may seem obvious, but we will remind you that vinyl is not a portable form of music! Unlike the CD walkman or cassette players that your parents may have ditched their vinyl players for, record players are only used in the room you store them in. Therefore, make sure that the room in which you locate your turntable has suitable acoustics and vibe. 

Collection of Vinyl

Keep your records clean

Along with keeping your record player clean, vinyl also needs the right care. We like to keep in mind a little motto when sourcing and collecting vinyl – buy dirty, keep clean. Keeping your purchased vinyl clean is crucial if you want to be able to enjoy (and show off) your collection. Get yourself a good, professional cleaning solution that has been specially formulated for vinyl – there are plenty out there to choose from. However, when it comes to bagging yourself a bargain at car boot sales and record fairs, look out for records that are a bit grimy and dirty as they often look like they are in poor condition but careful and thoroughly clean, and they will play perfectly well. 

Dusty Vinyl

What’s your type?

This is one of the questions that you need to ask yourself as a beginner, and the answer will not only dictate how you browse in record shops but will also guide the purchases that you make and the nature of your collection as it grows. Ask yourself whether you are looking for high-quality vinyl from a range of different artists (you will find yourself not all too fussy about the music but more engaged by the sound and play quality), or whether you prefer to have a narrow range of artists that you collect and are open to any of their work, regardless of the quality of the vinyl and resulting playback. Both approaches make vinyl collecting fun and rewarding, but having a clear strategy makes it easier to find what you want the most. 

Novelty value

Another avenue when it comes to collecting is the novelty record. You may be dead set against any of these entering your collection, you may be willing to accommodate the ones that take your fancy, or you might even have a whole separate collection dedicated to vinyl such as DJ mixes, Christmas number ones, or even the repeated sound of the beating human heart – yep, totally true!

Remove the blinkers

Whilst we have just expressed the need to have a strategy for creating your collection, we also know that being open-minded and open to the odd surprise can add some real gems to your collection. Even if you are entering a record shop to look for a particular item or focus on completing a unique collection, it does not hurt to look around and be open to making a purchase that you had not planned to make. It is so often the case that new interests and ideas come in surprises and unplanned purchases. Setting up your collection on an agreed budget makes a little space within it for such purchases. 

Support independent record stores

Some online marketplaces and apps are available for the buying and selling of records, and we would highly recommend that you get yourself signed up for these. However, when it comes to the vinyl buying and collecting experience, there is nowhere more satisfying and memorable to frequent than your local record shop. As well as having a great selection on offer, record shops will also provide you with a place to meet like-minded people and get some expert advice. Moreover, supporting independent business is always a good thing to engage in – never more so than in our financially troubled times, and there’s nothing more authentic than buying a second-hand vinyl

Invest in storage

Vinyl Record Storage

Once you start collecting vinyl, you will realise that your collection has grown a lot quicker than you had anticipated. To keep your vinyl safe (and maintain their value if you are reselling them), you need to think about storage before letting your collection grow. Look out for a retro storage unit that will house the vinyl and the turntable. If you’re a dab hand at DIY, you could even make something yourself. At the very least, invest in some lidded boxes so that you can rest assured that your prized purchases are safe and sound (good).  

Buy to listen

They may look nice, all arranged alphabetically in your storage unit, but the point of buying vinyl is to listen to them. If you have any in your collection that you don’t listen to, then you should consider selling them on to someone who will appreciate the music. 

Related read: What shall I get a vinyl & music lover?

Enjoy the hunt

Vinyl Record Collecting

Like so many things in life, when it comes to collecting vinyl, the pleasure is as much in the journey as it is in the destination. There is plenty of joy to be found in browsing record shops and finding long lost records that you imagine the lives of as you turn the faded card sleeve over in your hands. The people you meet along the way will become your friends and traders, and the music you discover in your search for that ‘must-have item in your collection will take you on wonderful and unexpected journeys through the history of music. So, enjoy the hunt, and you will enjoy the prize all the more. 

Related read: What size vinyl should I buy?

We wish you luck and joy as you start on your journey to becoming a vinyl collector, keep this advice in mind, and you will soon find yourself being asked for tips yourself. 

Alex, a dedicated vinyl collector and pop culture aficionado, writes about vinyl, record players, and home music experiences for Upbeat Geek. Her musical roots run deep, influenced by a rock-loving family and early guitar playing. When not immersed in music and vinyl discoveries, Alex channels her creativity into her jewelry business, embodying her passion for the subjects she writes about vinyl, record players, and home.

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