Category Archives: Advice

Vinyl Blogs To Love: Vinyl Record Architect

I tend to share about fellow vinyl bloggers based on my discovery of them–the first time I find ’em and get excited about reading them, I wind up passing them along here. Paul Rosenblatt’s excellent Vinyl Record Architect is no exception. I found this blog recently and got hooked right away thanks to his post detailing a visit to Pittsburgh’s Sound Cat Records.

It reads a lot like our own Vinyl Road Rage posts, so I was naturally happy to see someone else detailing their record shop experiences, turning the rest of us on to new-to-use places to dig through the crates.

Rosenblatt’s bio on the site reads (unintentionally) a bit like a superhero About Us page–by day, he works as an architect as the head of Springboard Design. By night he’s a vinyl blogger and definitely in love with LPs and has plenty of good intel on Philly record shops and more.

Without gushing too terribly much, I highly recommend this vinyl blog–my only gripe is that I wish there was 2000% more of it. But it’s a damn fine read, whatever the length. He seems to post a bit more frequently than Dust and Grooves, but the posts are every bit as enjoyable. One to be bookmarked, for sure.

–Joe Wallace

How To Start Collecting Vinyl Records

Seems kind of pointless and stupid for a blog post, right? But stop for a second and ask yourself what got YOU into collecting vinyl?

Some people think that vinyl records aren’t made anymore (hah!) and some feel “it’s too late” to start collecting from scratch. Still others believe you can’t buy a new turntable anymore (double hah!) and don’t feel up to the challenge of finding a used one.

Let it be known, that all three of those notions are myths. New vinyl is being cranked out so fast you can’t keep up with it all–both brand new titles and reissues.

New turntables are available for as low as $99 and have USB connections for those who want to digitize and convert to MP3s. And you CAN find an old-school quality turntable without spending a fortune. Personally I’d avoid pawn shops and stick to Craigslist, yard sales, thrift stores and record shops. Do you need a turntable to start collecting record albums? Not REALLLY. Some people collect LPs and picture discs for the artwork alone, and I personally have purchased vinyl recordsĀ  on the strength of the covers or artwork alone. I love displaying them as well as listening to ’em.

I got sucked into collecting vinyl because around 1996 I got interested in building a collection of obscure new wave music, and there is a LOT that never made it to CD or digital files–and possibly never will. I decided to take the plunge after attending the Austin Record Convention and finding an LP by a new wave band called Amoebas In Chaos. The track “Lude Behavior” cinched it for me–I had to start collecting these albums!

Buy one vinyl record that you’re really lusting to hear and you’re probably hooked. It’s that easy. If there’s a genre obsession of yours that’s full of rare or obscure bands that never made the jump to digital, you’ve got ages of fun ahead of you. There is nothing in the world like discovering a band you’ve never heard before that’s in the same musical zip code of other groups you like…one you’re sure you’d never have heard otherwise without that serendipitous record store excursion. Can you really afford NOT to be collecting vinyl?

–Joe Wallace

Turntabling Reader Questions: How Do I Grade A Used Vinyl Record?

Turntabling gets plenty of questions about vinyl, record collecting, album titles, etc. A lot of them come when the Turntabling booth is set up at shows like Horrorhound Weekend, Cinema Wasteland, Capricon, etc. but from time to time the questions do come in by e-mail or the comments section.

One recent question had to do with grading vinyl records. How does a newcomer to record buying and selling accurately judge the quality of a record or get a good idea of the record album’s condition as described for sale on eBay, or Etsy?

An Introduction To Vinyl Grading


Many record sellers use the Goldmine standard or a variation of it. Basically, Goldmine standard grading runs from Good, Very Good, and variations of VG (Very Good Plus, VG++. etc.) to Near Mint, and Mint.

Grading applies separately to album covers and the vinyl records themselves–or at least it SHOULD.

Some use an alternative system of vinyl grades like “Clean” or “Exceptionally Clean”, but some of us in the vinyl collecting and selling community distrust such descriptions because they seem to be trying to hide something.That is obviously not true in every case but for some buyers it can be a red flag.

No matter–nobody forces you to buy vinyl without inspecting it and if you’re uncomfortable with a seller’s grading system, don’t buy unless you can inspect.

Mint condition records are generally those that have never been played or seem to have never been played. A conservative grader is your friend when it comes to buying records on line, and those who claim that a vinyl record is “Mint” are usually saying it’s never been played or played once.

That does NOT mean “still sealed” but obviously sealed records are in Mint condition unless there’s been poor storage and handling.

Rather than take the time to run down the entire list of possible record conditions and hope it’s been communicated properly (we WILL do that in another post, this is a GETTING STARTED guide) there is an easier way for you to begin learning what record grading is all about.

Find a record store that sells used vinyl and lists the condition of that vinyl on a label on the sleeve. Study what that record store considers to be a “Good” condition record. Records in Good condition are often anything but.

Now compare what that store considers to be in Near Mint condition. See the vast difference? Once you get an idea of what the extremes are–again, according to THAT STORE–have a look at the Very Good condition records and compare them with the Near Mints.

You may begin to notice less difference in some cases between Very Good or Very Good Plus and Near Mint.

That’s because every record grader, like it or not, has their own pet peeves. Some will decide one vinyl LP that is considered Near Mint by one grader is actually Very Good Plus album because of a certain type of scratch, nick, or other type of wear.

Conservative record album graders–the fussy ones, the people who don’t give away Near Mint status very easily–are your best friend when it’s time to buy online. Near Mint records are not always pristine and perfect, but Very Good records aren’t always scratchy or obviously worn, either.

What you’re after is a better idea of the range of tolerances in your own purchasing and/or selling habits.

What does Very Good or VG+ mean to you the buyer when you play the record? Do you care if the album is NM or NM-?

Some do and some do not. It’s all down to personal preference. In another blog post (several, I expect) we’ll tackle the more in-depth complexities in record grading. In the meantime, the more records you study yourself, the better you’ll get at determining condition and whether you’re personally comfortable buying an album in the specified condition.

Don’t forget that this is NOT an exact science and your preferences have much to do with how you interpret the grading system. I’ll be writing much more on this subject in the weeks to come.

–Joe Wallace

Turntabling Reader Question: How Should I Store My Vinyl?

by Joe Wallace

I get asked questions about turntables, DJ gear, vinyl records, and such all the time, so I figured it was time to start sharing the answers here in case it might help out other people with the same burning questions.

And since there’s no such thing as a stupid question–only stupid answers–I figured I’d begin with one of the most common, basic questions that I do for some reason get asked more often then I’d like to think about.

“How should I store my vinyl records” is a typical new collector type question but you can’t sneer at the person asking for being ignorant of the best way to store record albums. For starters, there are plenty of mixed opinions. For example, one guy I know is quite adamant about his refusing to stack more than X number of albums side by side without a wooden divider between them and the next batch of LPs.

One reason I have so much patience with this basic question is because of the ungodly number of people who should know better–I’m talking to YOU, record store owners and record show booth renters–who stack big piles of records HORIZONTALLY for whatever damn fool reason.

Folks, it’s my own personal preference and choice NEVER TO BUY from record sellers who stack records in the manner you see below:

My reasoning is that A) Stacking records like this is bad for the vinyl–the weight put on the records in the center and bottom of the pile could make them start to bow and B) You have no idea how long those records have been sitting there just like that.

So I just don’t buy from people who stack like that for any reason. If I see it, chances are good I’m moving on. Putting a few records down horizontally for a moment or two won’t forever destroy your albums, but more than a small number and longer than a moment or two? Let’s say I’m not a fan.

Call me unrealistic. Call me judgmental. But I personally have big record nerdy problems with this sort of thing…my damage.

Back to the original question–how do you properly store vinyl records? Here’s my own personal preference. I store my vinyl vertically and try to minimize tilting albums as much as possible. I try to avoid pressure in the stack that’s the result of too many records crammed into a single cubbyhole or cubicle space, and I like to keep my records away from heating vents and other sources of warmth as much as possible.

When dampness and humidity are a factor, a dehumidifier might come in handy but keeping a steady temperature is also helpful. No, I don’t have a climate controlled room or anything, but I do try to avoid turning off the AC or heating in the appropriate season, I try to keep the temperature more or less consistent. Temperature wise, I’m a bit more anal-retentive than the average collector so you should take this with a few handfuls of salt.

Also–I avoid storing my records in the path of direct sunlight. Heat is only one factor, fading album cover colors is another.

Storing records vertically, spines out, without too many packed in, and kept out of direct sunlight is the short answer. It’s how I personally do it. As long as you’re protecting the vinyl from pressure, heat, and damp you’ll be OK.

Ask Turntabling by e-mailing editor (at) turntabling (dot) net.

Crosley Vinyl Record Album Crate LP storagethe Crosley Vinyl Record Storage Crate holds up to 30 record albums.