Minimizing Wear When Playing a Rare Vinyl Album

As with visual forms of art, certain memorable songs endure the test of time. Most of the popular songs from the 1960s through the 1980s were originally made available on vinyl albums. Owners of rare vinyl albums can take specific steps to ensure that there is minimal wear on their albums as the songs are played once again.

Record albums of earlier decades consisted of a vinyl disc that contained a purely analog recording. The entire recording is etched in a continuous spiral groove, starting near the edge of the disc and ending near the center. As the album is rotated by a turntable, the analog data encoded in the groove is converted to electrical signals.

A slight amount of wear occurs to a vinyl album each time it is played. Whether you are playing an album for personal enjoyment or for transferring the content to a digital format, there are several actions to take beforehand.

Dust removal

Any accumulated dust should be removed from a vinyl album before it is played. Water on a soft cloth is a suitable cleaning solution. Normally, you should handle a vinyl album only by its outer edges. For cleaning, lightly wipe the disc in the same direction as the circular grooves. After the album is free of dust, mechanical adjustments to your turntable may be beneficial.

Condition of the stylus

Alongside the rotating platter, turntables contain a tonearm to read the analog signal. A stylus needle at the end of the tonearm rides in the continuous groove of a rotating album. The stylus is contained in a replaceable cartridge and is the component most subject to wear. Once you are satisfied that the stylus is working properly, the tonearm may need attention.

Tonearm adjustments

As an album is played, the tonearm rides in the groove with a light amount of downward pressure. Before the specific pressure is adjusted, the tonearm must be leveled so that it is parallel to the turntable platter. A counterweight on the end of the tonearm, opposite the stylus, is used to level the tonearm. Once the tonearm is level and parallel to the platter, turn the counterweight to achieve the downward force specified by your specific turntable cartridge.

The natural inclination of a tonearm is to move toward the center of a rotating turntable platter. Another adjustment is necessary to prevent this skating action. The typical turntable has an anti-skating adjustment dial which is set to match the downward pressure of the tonearm.

Vinyl record albums should be stored on their edge in a vertical position. The original protective sleeve between the album cover and the disc can be replaced with a more durable polyethylene sleeve. Contact a seller of rare vinyl albums such as Everybody's Records for more information.