Vinyl is making a comeback, especially amongst younger music lovers. But is this generation ready for the warping and scratches which come from everyday use? Here are some tips and tricks for repairing any damaged records, from a listener who picked them up the first time around.
Disclaimer: The following tips and tricks are provided ‘as is’. Please do not contact me with threats of physical violence if they result in the unintentional destruction of your prized copy of ‘That’ll Be The Day’. Also, these tips are not, under any circumstances, to be used on your Michael Bolton back catalogue. Those albums, along with his hair, should be allowed to die with dignity.
There is little in this world as annoying as a skipping record. Perhaps, the inexplicable popularity of Scottish singer Susan Boyle, but apart from that…
The LP, twelve-incher, the humble record was much-loved by audiophiles for it’s quality, but it had a propensity for suffering apparently terminal damage when entrusted to the wrong hands. Women, I’m talking about you. Many a copy of ‘The Wall’ would be returned after the end of a relationship, the surface sullied, leaving the needle to bounce across the surface like a randy kangaroo. Worse still, those gate-sleeved dwelling copies of ‘Dark Side of The Moon’, left on the windowsill in the summer sun, sent back as a black, plastic fruit bowl.
To the consumer generation, those defects may be enough to see an album consigned to the wheelie bin, but twenty years ago, it was more a case of mend and make do. Professional help is around for those valuable pieces in your collection, but a few simple tricks can cure the more common problems associated with vinyl. Below are some suggestions for getting your records back up to ’scratch’.
Finger prints and traces of Mars Bar aren’t just the CD’s natural enemy – they can ruin your records, and record player, too. However, vinyl is delicate, and shouldn’t be cleaned with anything caustic. Use a weak treatment of washing up liquid and water, making sure that you avoid any paper in the centre of the record. Rinse well with clean water, and dry with a microfibre cloth, working clockwise. This should remove all traces of dirt that have accumulated in the grooves, leaving your album playing like new.
A surface defect in a record, usually caused by dragging a needle across it, will cause the album to skip, making some tracks unlistenable. To fix a scratch, you must first determine where it is. Watch the record as it plays, and wait for the jump – you’ve found the location of your problem. Next, turn off the record player, and place the needle just after the scratched section. You should then rotate the album backwards manually, repeating this process several times. As the needle goes over the record’s grooves, it should smooth out the scratches, although this may take some perseverance.
Warping is usually caused by leaving a record in a warm place, namely in view of the sun. But the problem is also the solution. To cure a warped record, place it between two sheets of glass and sit it in the sun. This should only take a short amount of time, but should not be attempted in the kind of heat that will turn your record into a sticky black pool.