Vinyl Collecting Guide For The Middle Schooler – Technique

Of the many retro hobbies that are making a comeback lately, vinyl collecting is perhaps one of the least accessible, especially for college students. New vinyl can cost anywhere from $20 to well over $50, and that doesn’t even cover the record player to play it on, which can also be an expensive investment.

Although a high-quality record player can cost several hundred dollars, it’s best to start simple, especially before you’re completely sure you want to continue collecting vinyl.

Starter record players can be found at mass retailers, such as Amazon and Target, costing between $30 and $50. As for setup, find a shelf or caddy large enough to hold vinyl records, at least 15 inches, and place your new record player on or near the shelf.

It is also useful to buy a small cleaning kit, including a brush and a cleaner. These sets are usually inexpensive and can go a long way in preserving both your vinyl and your player.

Once you’ve finished your setup, it’s time to find some recordings for your collection. Start small. You don’t need to own all of your favorite albums right away; that’s what makes collecting so much fun. It’s often a treasure hunt, and when you find a good price for your favorite record, the feeling is unmatched.

Popular record stores around Atlanta, such as Criminal Records, have lots of new exclusive deals, but are expensive with their prices. Wax ‘N’ Facts in Little Five Points and Ella Guru in Decatur are great places to start with their extensive offers of used vinyl at great prices.

Whenever possible, buy used for better deals, but be sure to check the drive briefly for any scratches or other damage before buying. There may be a reason the price is under $5, and unless you’re buying the disc for display purposes only, there’s no point in owning something that doesn’t play well.

Discs are notorious for being brittle, cracking or scratching easily. When handling vinyl, avoid touching the surface of the record as much as possible. It is generally best to handle the record carefully using the edges of the record. Either way, burrs are always likely to occur.

To clean a record before use, spray your record brush with cleaner and place the brush on the record. Move the needle slightly so that the turntable begins to spin, moving the brush across the record. Do not spray directly onto the record or manually spin the brush over the record as this may damage the record. When the record is finished, carefully put it back in the sleeve to prevent dust from settling on the vinyl.

Once you’ve settled into basic vinyl maintenance, you can expand your collection and customize your setup. There is an extensive collection of accessories, including “while playing” displays to place the record cover while the vinyl is playing. Despite the amount of work it takes to start and maintain a collection of records, it can pay off big time. While a whole world of music is accessible through the Internet and streaming sites, it can be a fascinating experience to hear your favorite songs through a record player. With the gentle hum of the machine and the crackle of the needle, some heartwarming songs were just made to be played on vinyl. Trips to antique shops and record stores, while sometimes expensive, can become a weekly scavenger hunt to wind down after a busy week.

Between projects and exams, sliding a record on a turntable and gently applying the needle can remind tech students to take a break and enjoy the little things in life, even for a few moments. Good hunt.

Jack L. Goldstein