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Static Electricity & Your Vinyl Records

Updated on February 15, 2018
Miles Davis "Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet" Prestige Records PRLP 7200 12" LP Vinyl Record 1952
Miles Davis "Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet" Prestige Records PRLP 7200 12" LP Vinyl Record 1952 | Source

What is Static Electricity ??

Simply stated static electricity is the charge which results from the friction between non-dielectric ("non-conductor") and another. The purer the material of which this dielectric is composed, the longer it will hold its static charge. Shellac records or old 78s and early LPs were composed of a variety of materials many of which were impure. As a consequence, the problem of static electricity was of little or no importance, since these records did not hold a static charge. However, in recent years record companies have gone over the pure vinyl materials in an attempt to increase quality and reduce surface noise. Unfortunately these pure materials are now much more prone to static charges and hold a static charge longer. Static has now become a major problem.


Whats Next ??

Benny Goldon "Just Jazz" Audio Fidelity Records AFLP 2150 LP Vinyl Record
Benny Goldon "Just Jazz" Audio Fidelity Records AFLP 2150 LP Vinyl Record | Source

Now That We Have Static Electricity

The obvious solution is to devise a method which would allow us to restore and or maintain our records in a non-charged state. If we can remove this charge or prevent it from occurring, we will have gone a long way toward solving our record cleaning problems. Our findings become particularly significant when we also realize that the ability of records to acquire and hold static charges varies according to the humidity in the atmosphere. A relatively high humidity tends to inhibit the formation of static electricity. in general, no cleaning device should ever be applied to a record in a dry state or static will be automatically generated. With the single exception of the washing process for contaminated records, any fluid applied to the record surface is potentially harmful, and if any sign of wetness appears of the surface of the record under treatment the cleaning device is too moist and should not be used in that condition. We must adapt our record cleaning procedures to suit individual circumstances, i.c., relative humidity, record playing equipment and local atmospheric conditions. What will suffice under one set of circumstances might be inadequate in another.


How Do My Records Become Charged ??

Static charge can be induced in a variety of ways. For example, it may occur during the pressing process when the record is being made or when using a dry cloth to clean a record, even removing your vinyl record from its sleeve is enough to induce a static charge under certain conditions but it can also result from simply playing the record. Once the static charge is formed it acts like a magnet and will attract airborne dust and dirt, as well as small solid particles from anything within the immediate vicinity of the record. Static charges occur when the plastic material of the record becomes negatively charged, that is, when it gains electrons as a result of the friction between it and the cleaning cloth, stylus or record sleeve. Since the vinyl material from which the records are made is a dielectric or non-conductor it will tend to hold and maintain this charge and thus attract dust and dirt.


How Vinyl Records Are Made - P1

How Vinyl Records Are Made - P2

Grease, Gels & Anti Static Fluids

Older record cleaning techniques overcame the static problem by applying various anti-static fluids to the surface of the record, usually by means of a sponge, spray or impregnated cloth. They had, and still have their uses with higher tracking forces 5 grams or more. These substances so applied were often viscous, such as grease or gel, and they performed a useful function, in that a film was produced which limited the external field of that static charge and therefore reduced its power to attract airborne dust and dirt. It did not however discharge this static. An added advantage of these anti-static films was that they acted as a lubricant between the grooves of the vinyl record and the stylus thus reducing record ware with the higher tracking forces being used. However, with lightweight tracking forces the stylus is no longer able to go through this film or push it aside but rather rides over it resulting in improper tracking with distorted reproduction and a new kind of surface noise. In addition, an anti-static film will, with repeated applications result in a sticky or smeary condition which produces a holding or bonding action within the grooves of the record making subsequent removal of dirt and dust is much more difficult. The Ultra-lightweight tracking of today's high compliance pick-up cartridges with their greatly reduced tip and moving mass can only be accomplished if the grooves of the record are almost antiseptically clean, uncontaminated even by micro-dust or pollution of any kind or by any film or deposit of anti-static substances. Once we understand these factors we are in a much better position to do something about it.


Nitty Gritty Record Cleaning System

Win the Fight Against Static Electricity

The Nitty Gritty record cleaning system has been accepted by professionals and enthusiasts alike in that it produces the desired result which is clean records. The Nitty Gritty cleaning system is able to rid your record's surface of film, grease, residue, and dust while eliminating static electricity leaving behind a purified vinyl record. Records cleaned on a Nitty Gritty system reproduce all the music stored in their grooves without the interference and masking of record pollutants.

In my opinion the Improvement in sound that a Nitty Gritty cleaning makes is so dramatic that the benefit of upgrading one component of a hi-fi system is less significant in comparison. the Nitty Gritty record cleaning system has established itself as an essential component in every hi-fi system. Clean vinyl is not only better sounding vinyl, it is longer-lasting vinyl as well. All kinds of contaminants can end up in the grooves that will not only impede playback but may also cause long-term damage even if you don't play your records.

Nitty Gritty Record Cleaning Demonstration

In Closing ...,

Since a combination of static electricity, dust, dirt and other pollutants are the arch enemies of proper record care, we must do everything we can to eliminate or minimize their effects.


P.S.

B.B. King "Live In Cook County Jail"

Howlin' Wolf & Eric Clapton

Copyright Disclaimer

I make no copyright claims on the video content or images of drawings, paintings, prints, or other two-dimensional works of art contained with-in this article, the copyright for these items are most likely owned by either the artist who produced the image, or the person who commissioned the work and or their heirs. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

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