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Zen and the Art of Vinyl Maintenance

Vinyl records were once the only way to enjoy music and now they’ve once again soared in popularity despite the availability of digital content. Unlike some other forms of music players, records must be stored following specific rules as well as be regularly cleaned to achieve longevity. Here’s everything you need to know, from storage and cleaning to choosing the right turntable, to extend the life of your vinyl collection.

Store Your Vinyl Records Properly

Storing your vinyl appropriately is absolutely necessary to the longevity of your records. This includes storing your records vertically without too many shoved into one space. When your vinyls are vertical, they are less likely to bend as a result of the weight of another object or simply as a result of gravity.

Even if you store your vinyl vertically, they can still be damaged if you overfill your vinyl storage. A good rule of thumb: If the record doesn’t easily slide out of its spot, then you need to expand your storage area.

Avoid Sunlight Like a Vampire

While natural lighting may make your record collection look Instagram worthy, you should avoid exposing your vinyl to all sunlight and heat lamps. The heat from the light will cause the record to warp, bend and melt, so place your record player far enough away from windows that no sunlight can reach it.

The rule also applies to moisture like humidity. If you live in a humid climate, it’s a good idea to keep your AC on or use a dehumidifier in the room where you store your vinyl.

Dust is the Enemy

You may find yourself more worried about dirt and grime building up on your vinyl from your fingers, but dust can be just as damaging to your records. When dust gets on the vinyl, it causes scratches and divots in the record as it’s played. This also wears downs the needle which can cause damage to your other vinyl as well as expense to change out the stylus.

Avoid any dust and dirt damage by regularly cleaning your collection. Every time you want to play a record, prepare the vinyl by cleaning it with a dry cleaning brush or cloth. You’ll want to use the dry method again before you return the record to its storage location.

Occasionally, you will also need to clean your vinyl with a specially designed liquid. You can do this yourself or you can purchase a machine that will clean your vinyl for you. If a cleaning machine is outside of your budget, you can easily clean your vinyl without a professional machine.

Choose the Right Turntable

A big aspect of increasing the life of your vinyl is the type of record player you choose. The two most important decisions you need to make revolve around the motor and tone-arm type.

Record players can be purchased with two different motor types: belt and direct drive. A direct drive motor is common among DJs, allowing them to pull the vinyl back to add auditory effects. For playing vinyl at home, a belt motor is the best choice. The belt serves as a shock absorber, preventing any scratch inducing vibrations.

You also need to be selective when it comes to the tone-arm which is where the needle is located. A manual tone-arm requires you to move the arm over to the record to begin play while an automatic tone-arm does this with a press of a button. Since the automatic tone-arm is programmed to apply the perfect amount of pressure, it’s much less likely to cause any damage to the record because of too much pressure on the needle.

Increasing the Longevity of Your Vinyl

Extending the life of your vinyl collection can be accomplished by taking a few simple precautions like avoiding sunlight and choosing the right turntable. Combine these precautions with simple cleaning tools and you can prevent unnecessary costs and heartache.

By Jessica Kane

Jessica Kane is a music connoisseur and an avid record collector. She currently writes for SoundStage Direct, her go-to place for all turntables and vinyl equipment, including VPI Turntables.