After learning that it was International Pets Day yesterday, I’m no longer astounded by the notion that there is a day for literally everything. And, as it happens, tomorrow is Record Store Day. So, vinyl record stores across the country will be opening their doors and offering lots of deals on new and used vinyl. Here are some of the things to watch out for.
Buying vintage records
Buying older records can be tricky.
Barcodes: If someone you’re buying from is trying to convince you that the copy of Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles is real and the cover has a barcode on it – you’re being lied to. Barcodes didn’t appear on records until the late 1970s. But depending on the country of origin it may be as late as the mid-1980s.
Condition: Look carefully for signs of water damage, tears that have been repaired and other signs that a record cover has been mistreated. If the cover has had a hard time it’s a fair bet the record inside hasn’t had an easy life. And if the cover looks great but the record isn’t, or vice-versa, then it’s possible you’re being sold a reprinted cover or a more recent, non-original pressing.
New pressings aren’t always the same as originals: You might be tempted to buy a new pressing of an old favourite. While that’s OK be aware that the new pressing is unlikely to come from the original master using to create the original pressing. More likely, it will have come from a CD. So, you’re effectively buying a recording of a CD. Depending on how much of an audiophile you are that might matter a lot.
If you’re in any doubt as to when a particular record was released, or you want to know more about it, Discogs is the place to check.
If you’re planning to start a vinyl record collection, as I did last year, you’ll need a turntable. In my case, I wanted something that would work in with my existing home audio gear – a couple of Sonos Play:5 until and a Sonos One. As the Play:5 has a line-in socket, my plan was to buy a turntable (actually, ask my wife to buy me a turntable for my birthday) with a built-in pre-amp.
If you don’t do that, then you’ll need to stump up for an amplifier and speakers. Which does add to the fun but would have added more clutter to our lounge room.
You can spend anywhere from $70 to thousands on a turntable. But you can generally find something pretty good for between $200 and $300.
Finding a record store
The easiest way to find a record store that supports Record Store Day is to head over to the event website.
If you hit the link for news and check out your city, you’ll find out what’s going on in your neighbourhood. Or you can enter your postcode in the record store search and find what’s local that way.