10 Oct Vinyl Record Maintenance and Storage Best Practices 101
Vinyl Record Maintenance and Storage
Arguably, even more important than the upgrade to high-end turntables is making sure that your vinyl stays in tip-top shape. Firstly, storing your valuable record collection properly is the first step of vinyl record maintenance to increase longevity and play-ability of your music collection. There are 4 simple guidelines. Start with stacking your albums vertically. Never lay them flat. Laying them flat, even for a few weeks or less, can cause warps. The temperature in your storage location should never exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit and should stay above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. So attics and garages would likely not be good choices for long term storage of a collection that you may not be listening to currently. The final guideline is related to dust and other contaminates. Even the outer jackets of your records should be kept dust free. Dusty jackets will lead to dusty vinyl surfaces, which is quite undesirable from a vinyl record maintenance standpoint, as the sound quality and longevity of your prized vinyl collection may suffer.
Now let’s address the surface aspect of vinyl record maintenance. Routine cleaning before you play a record side is mandatory. If you skip this step, the dust and debris that is located in the grooves will end up on the tip of your stylus. You may not be able to see the dust on the records surface, but it is surely there. So a carbon fiber record cleaning brush is essential. The brush is used dry, (fluids are not desirable). Place the record on your turntable and get it spinning. But before you cue the tone arm down to the first groove, use the brush. The brush should be held so that one end is near the center paper label, and the other is at the outer edge. Light pressure is all that is required, and let the record revolve about 6 times. After the 6th revolution sweep the dust that is built up on the brush off to the outer edge of the record.
A more effective vinyl record maintenance protocol would include a professional or enterprise grade record cleaning machine. The best machines include a very specific cleaning fluid (that is safe for records and evaporates without residue) and a vacuum and suction system, to remove the contaminated cleaning fluid from the surface of the record. These machines are essential to maintain larger collections and for folks that are looking for the least amount of surface noise when listening to better quality music systems. Each record in your collection (both brand new and older ones) need only to be cleaned once by the machine, and then routinely with the carbon fiber brush, just before play.
Additional enhancements include replacing the older paper sleeves that are contaminated by dirt, with brand new rice paper sleeves. Clean records need clean sleeves.
Valuable recordings need to be stored in sleeves that won’t scuff the surface of the record as you slide them in and out. And finally if you choose to invest in a record cleaning machine, then also consider investing in a record preservative product. LAST is the foremost record preservative product. LAST fluid can be applied easily to the surface of your perfectly machine cleaned record. The best time to apply LAST is as soon as you have finished cleaning the record. Then it will be ready to play. Don’t use LAST with just the dry brush cleaner. Your record must be perfectly clean prior to applying LAST.
Now that you have your vinyl record maintenance down, it is time to listen to music minus the snap, crackle, and pop!