Used Vinyl Records: What To Watch Out For With Pre-Loved Vinyl
Remember that old saying when you were a kid learning to cross a street, “Stop, Look, and Listen?” Turns out, the same philosophy can be applied to vinyl shopping, especially when digging through the used and preloved record bins at your favorite local shop!
As you know, we’re dedicated to helping our customers and our community to get the best listening experience out of their records as possible, so here are a few things to look out for when shopping for used vinyl records:
Check the Packaging
A diamond in the rough in the used records bin is one that is both in a plastic bag and contains the paper envelope within the sleeve that houses the record. If the vinyl isn’t in the paper inner sleeve or something like it and is bouncing around against the heavier outer jacket, it puts the vinyl record at risk of scratching or dings.
The record jacket can also contain some telltale signs of some negative wear and tear. If there are any tears, dings, or discoloration on the jacket, it may be indicative of further damage to the wax itself.
Look for Warp
If the sleeve checks out, take a look at the vinyl flat at eye level to see whether you can detect any warping or bends in the record. Warping can contribute to shifts in pitch and, in more severe cases, can harm your needle so if it’s bending pretty significantly, you may want to put it back.
Inspect the Record’s Surface
Usually, record stores have pretty good light. If you’re able to, take the record out and hold it up at an angle so the wax reflects the light to see whether there are any patches of dust or dirt on the record. Some dust is okay and can be easily removed when you clean vinyl records with a special vinyl record cleaning solution and brush. You may also see some fibers that look like pet hair on the album if you take it out of the sleeve - if it’s encased in the inner paper sleeve, that’s normal - some static electricity is generated when the record is taken in and out of the jacket, so some fibers from the paper may stick to the record.
You should also look for scratches on the record. Minor ones usually won’t cause any issues with playback; a good way to test the severity of any scratches you see is to very gently run your fingernail across the scratch. If you aren’t able to feel it with your nail, you most likely won’t hear the issue when the needle runs over it. Anything you can feel, though, will likely cause issues when it’s on your turntable.
Additionally, pay attention to the direction of any scratches that you find. If the scratch runs perpendicular to the grooves and you can feel it with the nail test, that will likely cause a pop during playback. If the scratch runs parallel to the groove, the needle may catch it and cause it to skip or get stuck, causing that section of the song to repeat in a loop.
Ask The Ultimate Question: To Buy Or Not To Buy?
We know how hard it is to walk away from a used vinyl record you’ve been hunting down for a long time when you see a couple of telltale damage signs. One thing you can consider, though, if the damages are minor enough that they won’t cause any issues to your turntable, is whether or not you’ll be bothered by any surface noise that may occur. If you’re listening to a loud rock record, you might not be able to hear the pops or blips in the audio. However, if you’re listening to a softer album, any surface noise or scratches may detract from your listening experience, but ultimately, it’s up to you!
Learn about how to clean vinyl records with our handy guide, if you’re buying for a friend how to ship vinyl records, even check out our product recommendations. And stay tuned for more information about how to keep your vinyl records in tip-top shape!Want to expand your new vinyl record collection? Shop more records online or join our monthly vinyl club today!