In celebration of Record Store Day this Saturday April 21, we spoke to Adelaide record guru James Freeman about his top tips for curating a quality collection, and where to go to find them. Over to you, James…
So you’ve just bought a turntable or been given one by that uncle whose birthday you always forget, and now it’s time to put together a record collection. But where do you start?
Taste. You know what you like best, so the best place to start is there, but don’t ignore that intriguing cover, band name or album title. If its cheap, give it a go. Some records I’ve bought on a whim have become favourites, while others ended up in the recycling. You never know. It’s all part of the curating adventure. Be brave, be adventurous.
But where do you find these hidden gems?
For the records on your must-have hitlist, the internet is your best friend, or record stores (bless them). There’s also second hand stores or markets and occasionally op shops. A word of warning – if you’re going down the op-shop route, be sure to check the condition…and please don’t pay $15 for a copy of Olivia Newton John’s Greatest Hits. You might end up out of pocket for something of lesser value, so don’t be afriad to haggle, within reason. No, the crackles and pops do not add to the nostalgia value.
Garage sales do yield the odd record, but be careful. Just like op shops and some second hand record stores, over pricing can be common and bargains are getting harder and harder to find. Be persistent and, time permitting, you’ll find yourself with the beginnings of a collection before you know it.
So now you have some records, how do you look after them?
Good question. First step, get yourself a good quality record cleaning brush. Use it before and after each play. It only takes seconds. It will keep your vinyl a lovely listen for damn-near forever. Once you’ve played your record and brushed it, put it back in its (hopefully anti-static) inner sleeve, then back in the cover. Place the whole record in a plastic outer sleeve to protect the cover, too.
Then what? Storage.
Ever seen piles of records lying flat next to peoples record players or in op shops? Probably. Ever seen records in piles like that in good record stores? No. Wonder why? It ruins them. Don’t do it. Not even ‘just until you get around to buying a shelf’. It will wreck them. They will warp and skip and jump and true believers the world over will despair. It’s best to stand them upright on a shelf like a book. Just like books, records don’t like to be so tight they make a sucking sound as they are removed, nor do they want to be so loose they lean over looking sad and neglected. It’s a fine line, but it’s worth it for these vintage beauties.
Look after your record player, too. The happiest record player is dust-free, so keep the cover down when it’s not in use. Clean the stylus (needle) and replace it regularly – some say every 150 hours of playing, others 200 hours, but this can vary depending on the brand. Some top-end styli claim to go to 1000 hours, so it’s best to check with the manufacturer. If you’re not sure, try using a magnifying glass to examine the stylus when you first buy it as a guage. As soon as it doesn’t look like this anymore, it’s time to get a new one. If the stylus is damaged, it will damage your records, so don’t let it.
So there you have it…there might be more to record collecting thing than you thought and you’ve only just begun. The road goes on forever, and but so does the music. Vive la vinyl.
Top record stores to visit…
Here’s a list of some of my fav places to buy records. In no particular order.
Mr V Music 115 Semaphore Rd, Semaphore
Porthole Records 85 Commercial Rd, Port Adelaide
Big Star 160 Magill Road, Norwood
Rocktherapy 536 Goodwood Rd, Daw Park
Streetlight Adelaide Shop 2/15 Vaughan Place, Adelaide (Behind the Exeter)
There are so many more that deserve a mention, so don’t be afraid to search around, and don’t forget the record fairs. There can be some great finds there, too.
Happy crate digging.
James Freeman has had a life long passion for music and has been collecting vinyl since he was eight years old. He has a particular passion for early South Australian bands and can often be found at record fairs trying to find a bargain.