ON THE TURNTABLES: A beginner’s guide to vinyl

Web - Vinyl Fair 2 - Cory Correia

Vinyl records are not just for audiophiles and your parents anymore; there is a revival in vinyl thanks to contemporary artists like Jack White, Arcade Fire and Lorde making their music available on LPs, or “Long Play” records.

The resurgence of this medium which was thought departed could also be due to a digital generation that is looking for something more fun to engage with.  Record-collecting is like a treasure hunt, searching for that elusive album or getting surprised by an unknown entity.  Also, something missing with the experience of buying music files is the corporeal experience of having a record in your hands, looking at the liner notes and hearing the rich sound of an analog recording.

Whether it is a more authentic experience you seek or a desire to try something new, there are many avenues for you to explore the joys of vinyl records.  Now, with the flood of decades’ worth of records on the market and so many more experienced record buyers out there, it can be daunting jumping into collecting.

Fear not though, because the following introductory guide will brief you on the elements necessary to get you and your vinyl collection started.

Web - Vinyl Fair - Cory Correia

Condition

From Mint to Marred, the condition of a record can mean the difference between the worth of a box of Timbits or a $20,000 windfall.  That being said, mint condition versions of highly sought-after records are extremely scarce.

What you do need to know is that the scale runs from Mint to Near-Mint, Very Good, Good, and, finally, Poor.  Generally, the price of a record is halved by every step down in condition.

Richard Privett, the founder of the Main Street Vinyl Fair, told Link Magazine that new buyers should begin their hunt at a local record fair and look for best-of albums, which will feature a ton of the songs you may be looking for.  These albums will likely be in good to poor condition, but they will be cheap.

Pressings

Records are made in batches or pressings, some small and some large.  The idea is that the smaller batches of pressings are worth more because of the limited quantity.  And although there is a difference in the quality and cost of pressings, Privett advises new collectors not to be concerned with this distinction which is only discernible to an expert ear.

Pricing

Thanks to a plentiful supply of best-of albums, and other popular records with thousands of copies pressed, the cost of breaking into the record-collecting arena is not too cumbersome.

While it is nice to have a limited release album in pristine condition, the trouble with treasuring an album too much is that you will not want to play it.  Privett explains that “it’s like having a really expensive car, you have to park it way out in the boons, […] I’d rather have one I can play and not worry about scratching or anything like that.”

So if you are longing for something tangible with a bit more character than the latest digital disposable pop, then check out one of the fine record establishments around the city, or catch the next Main Street Vinyl Record Fair on May 17 and 18.