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How-To Start A Vinyl Record Collection

Updated on February 23, 2016

Starting a vinyl collection is as easy as it simply just start buying vinyl. Here are just a few things you can do to end up with a cohesive and valuable collection.

You've either just been given, or have rediscovered a box of old vinyl. You've decided that you want to start collecting, but most of the records you've been given are by artists you and your friends have never even heard of... Creating and keeping a vinyl collection that is worth it's weight (literally) in both emotional and actual value is easy. Here are a few tricks to keeping your collection tuned and organized. And don't worry, I'm not going to tell you to take your Dad's old records to the pawn shop. At least not all of them.

The Collector's Motive

Collecting vinyl, like collecting other types of media, is about keeping a hold of what you really value in the album, book, or movie you are paying for. With vinyl, there is a substantial amount of work that is involved in producing a record, coupled with actually owning a hard copy of an album or piece of music, that is not always present in collecting other types of media. That being said, it takes time to figure out what you would like to own, and helpful to keep a list of items you want in the future, all the while keeping an eye out for the best deals and new releases.

Hidden Gems Are Everywhere

There's no shortage of places to buy vinyl. Flea markets and thrift stores are great places to find good, used vinyl. Some places will tailor their selection based on what people might be looking for, while others will sell large stockpiles of vinyl for a flat price. I like to buy vinyl at flea markets and thrift stores because there is no end to what people may have picked up over the years. Check these places every so often between trips to the record store or ordering online.

Alphabetize From The Get-Go

The most basic first step in getting a record collection in order is to alphabetize. It's a good way to see what you have and how it all relates together. Some people choose not to alphabetize and instead organize by color or date. These are also good ways of organizing, as it's not always easy to decide where you want a specific album to sit in your collection. If you run into trouble figuring out how to organize a particular album, just relax and find the place that feels right to you. We'll talk about how to deal with outliers and subcategories later.

Setting this preference in how you organize your own collection will serve as a basis for what kind of albums you will be looking for in making purchases, what's the right price to pay etc.

Buy Everything You Love. Sell What You Don't.

In the game of buying and selling vinyl, you are only going to want to buy albums you really love, or in the case of the seasoned collector, items that are very valuable. Keeping vinyl that you don't listen to, or that you are keeping just for sentimental value, is only going to take up space. This is the part where you might want to go through that box of vinyl your Dad gave you thoroughly to see what you actually like and is worth keeping. This will also give you a good basis for what you like to listen to and what a piece of vinyl is really worth to you. If bellbottoms aren't your thing, then you might want to consider selling something to the record shop up the street.

Reissues Make Great Collector's Items

Very successful or popular vinyl will sometimes be reissued for a second pressing, or an anniversary pressing. This is great for collectors who may have missed out when the album was actually being produced due to the large generational gap between when vinyl was first introduced and now when it has regained popularity. Vinyl will typically be reissued after it's ten-year anniversary or longer, and typically comes bundled with other collectable items relating to the record.

I once went looking for a particular vinyl long after it had finished being run. I did an Ebay search, and found that a copy of Medeski, Martin & Wood's album 'Combustication', which had stopped being printed in 1999, was being sold for $599.00 -- an outrageous price for an album -- although the rarity at the time did justify the seller's high price. After just giving up hope and moving forward, I received an e-mail from Amazon informing me it had gone on tenth anniversary reissue! And I was able to order a direct replica of the original at the easy price of $22.99. You can always find the value of a record by doing a quick Ebay search, or looking up the price on or

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Buy A Record Shelf

Keeping your records neat and readable is the essential part of being a vinyl collector. But records are real objects that you have to take care of to preserve what's written on them. Keeping your records in sleeves is the best way to maintain their value and condition. Another good investment is a record shelf. Having a record shelf is like having a bookshelf, but typically record shelves tend to be low quite longer than bookshelves. A shelf is a great addition to a home or office, or wherever you intend on listening to your records. I recommend the 'KALLAX' shelving units from IKEA. They have a variety of sizes and styles, including horizontal and vertical shelves, perfect for keeping records.

The website 'IKEA Hacks' gives great step-by-step instructions for creating this record player table/shelf.

© 2016 Ian Weber


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