Hobby Focus: Record Collecting

Hobby: Record Collecting

Cost: Low to very expensive

Time required: Completely up to you but you may find that time flies by if you’re enjoying it

WG got me started on records. I’d been accompanying him to the record store for quite some time but I would check out the CDs while he was looking at records. They play music in the record store, and one day there was an album playing that really caught my attention. It was Bad Habits by the Monks.

I tried to get it on CD but had no luck through the regular channels. The record store even tried to order it for me but they weren’t able to get it, either.

One day, WG asked if I wanted a turntable. He had an old Sony turntable in the shop to get fixed and said if I wanted it, all I had to do was pay for the repairs. I agreed on the spot and was excited to get my hands on a couple of records. I didn’t know what kind, I didn’t know how many, but I wanted to listen to stuff that isn’t played on the radio every day.

So, with a newly fixed and adjusted turntable and an amp from WG (thanks again!) I started my record collection.

I like many kinds of music, and found that the dollar bin holds all kinds of neat records and is a great window back into the past – to a time where there were record labels everywhere and they would press ANYTHING to make a dollar or two. You just can’t get a lot of this stuff anymore. Another good thing about the dollar bin is that I don’t need to listen to a $1 record a hundred times to get my money’s worth.

Record collecting can be an adventure. Since vinyl is making a comeback, lots of cities have record shows that you can sometimes find decent deals or something really different. Thrift stores often have a pile of beat-up records that may contain a gem or two. Even people who used to listen to records but don’t anymore may be willing to part with their collections – once my folks found out that I had a turntable and was actually using it, they gave me their collection (thanks!).

Another nice thing about vinyl is that some songs just sound better with the hiss and pops of an analog recording. A good example of this is “King of the Road” by Roger Miller. Lots of the old stuff just sounds… right.

Many currently popular artists (and lots of unpopular ones) are putting out vinyl records when they release a new album. These are typically pretty expensive – I’ve seen them around $30 to $70 for a brand new unopened copy. Like I mentioned earlier, I prefer the dollar bin.

There are also a lot of records out there that are significant in some way. A lot of the really old electronic music (played on a Moog) opened the doors for the synthesizer sounds of the 1970s and 80s. Albums featuring the Hammond organ are often cheesy (especially anything that ends with “a gogo”) but are full of the kind of music that can make you tap your toe and smile.

If you’re going to buy a record, check the following things:

  • Is it mouldy or very dirty? If so, skip it.
  • Is it scratched very badly? If so, skip it.
  • Is it scuffed or scratched lightly? If so, see if you can try it out in the store before buying it. Lots of records that look like they’re in bad shape are actually still listenable.
  • Look at it edge-on. Is it warped? If so, try it first, but if it’s warped to the point where you can see it, it’s probably no good.

Some people collect records for the covers, and I can’t blame them – some of them are really cool. I’ve got two covers framed and hanging on the wall because they’re pretty neat.

I enjoy collecting records a lot and am up to about 250 of them. I’ve got music from many genres – folk, country, pop, rock, metal, punk… WG has been very helpful in expanding my repertoire, and J has been very patient with me as I slowly fill up shelves with records.

One last thing – I find that going to look for records is a good way to get out of the house for a little bit. Dr C and Dr W have both suggested that the more I keep moving and get used to going out more, the faster my recovery will be.

Stay safe!

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