SCRATCH—something you don’t want to mark your face nor your vinyl records. But with all the debris lying around (and probably your toddler mistaking it for a Frisbee), abrading your album is not far-fetched.
When a vinyl is scratched, there may be unnecessary hisses, noise, clicks, or snaps. You wouldn’t want a romantic Michael Bublé music to randomly include a crackling noise in the background do you? It ruins not only the song but also the ambience itself. That’s like having a slow dance with your partner with some occasional farts in between. Yikes!
How do you then avoid such mishaps to happen? Well, just like your skin, vinyl records can be protected in several ways.
Think of SSS. Sleeves, shelves, and storage.
Aside from sunscreen, what else do you protect your skin with? Sleeves! That’s right. It guards our epidermis against the harmful effects of Mr. Sun or the freezing impacts Queen Elsa blows our way. But unlike our skin that heavily relies on the length or thickness of the sleeves, vinyl records highly depend on the material.
There are three primary types of inner sleeves: paper, paper/plastic, and plastic. Among these three, which do you think should be crowned “The Great Keeper”?
Let me show you an equation:
- Paper = electrostatic
- Electrostatic = dust magnet
Hence, applying what your logic teacher taught you in high school—if A=B and B=C then A=C—paper is practically a dust magnet!
Here’s another one:
- Plastic = non-electrostatic
- Non-electrostatic = non-dust magnet
Again, applying what you learned in logic class, plastic sleeves do not attract dust as much as paper does.
How is the paper-plastic combination different then? Well, doing the math, that combination is composed of two materials. And the more materials used, usually, the thicker and the more expensive it is. (It’s a logical fallacy of hasty generalization, but you agree with me, don’t you?).
So who deserves the crown? If your answer is 100% plastic, congratulations! You have learned really well.
Let us now move on to the outer sleeves.
Have you noticed how your skin loses its moisture and suppleness as you age? Some parts of you may have been wrinkled and blemished or discolored.
The same goes for the vinyl records’ outer sleeves, especially the ones that are purely made of paper. They become wrinkled, blemished, and discolored over time. Luckily, you can change the outer covers of these records.
Rumor has it that the best outer sleeves for vinyl records should be soft, roomy, and not the heavy gauge plastic sleeves. Another rumor says Japanese resealables made of Mylar are the best choices.
So there you have it. Put the vinyl record in an inner sleeve (check!) then put it in the best outer sleeve (check check!). And oh, when you handle your records touch only the edges or the inner label (check, check, and check!).
I had this habit of piling my books on the shelf instead of stacking them vertically. Putting it that way is very easy until I need to get one that’s at the bottom of a sky-high pile. What would happen is that I had to remove ALL the ones on top for me to get to what I needed. It takes a lot of time and effort. And don’t get me started on putting them back!
Sounds familiar? I know.
The same applies to keeping your precious vinyl records. Do not put them on top each other. Not only is it hard to find one record in the future but also you are slowly yet unknowingly obliging them to be warped. And that is one heartless, heartless thing to do to a lifeless item whose sole purpose is to play you your favorite music when you ask for it.
So, when keeping your vinyl records on a shelf, arrange them vertically. But do not compress everything in one shelf. Give them enough space. Otherwise, they may lean on one side then collapse. You may also give them the support from metal brackets. You know. Just like how pizza supports you when you’re down.
#3 Storage Environment
We know that temperature and humidity affect us as much as they do our vinyl records. They determine whether we will go out with a T-shirt on or whether we will eat ice cream or some hot soup. They also have a significant impact on how our skin looks like. They instruct our epidermis when to open up those pores or when they should get dry and scaly.
In a similar manner, these two may slowly but surely warp your beloved vinyl records if stored in extreme temperature and humidity. Direct sunlight can also fade the jacket. It could be what Old Sand Mill is warning us: “Don’t be cooking up trouble with too much sun.”
One thing more, please keep the storage clean. Go ahead keep your room unkempt, but please not the shelves.
So there you have it, folks. The three S’s you need to remember to protect your vinyl: sleeves, shelves, and storage environment. Protect them records the way you protect your skin—may be even better.