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Old 11th August 2015, 05:32 PM   #1
Eric is offline Eric  United States
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Default How picky are you with used vinyl?

There are a number of places around me where I can pick up used vinyl for $1-5 for a used LP. Trouble is, many of them are contain multiple scratches. What I have learned so far (I'm relatively new to vinyl) is that if I can see it, I will hear it - causing to me skip nearly any album with any visible scratches or scuffs. I have found a number of albums that I would love to have purchased, but left them behind due to their condition. Clearly, scratching varies greatly in severity. Some appear to be small/light scuffs, others are actually deep gouges into the surface.

So, how picky are you when buying used vinyl? What level of scuffing/scratching is too much for you and will cause you to leave a desirable title on the table?
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Old 11th August 2015, 05:59 PM   #2
Noise is offline Noise  Denmark
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You have to be picky when buying used vinyl. But the idea of scratches being audible as soon as they are visible is not true.

Some scratches are only surface scratches that don't go all the way into the groove. And they are usually not audible. Those very shallow scratches come from simply taking the album out of it's cover and putting it back in it's cover. You can avoid making those scratches by using a good inner sleeve. But many people didn't use inner sleeves and that's why many old LP's have small scratches.

When I look at used vinyl, I always gently touch the scratches with my finger, if I can't feel the scratch, then it's most likely not audible. But of course any kind of scratch will be a reason to pay less for the album.

And a another good advice is to clean all used albums with a good record cleaner. After a lot of years lying around, there will be plenty of dust in the grooves. Dirt and dust can be much more audible than small surface scratches.

Happy hunting :-)
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Old 11th August 2015, 06:35 PM   #3
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Hi Noise,
I live in the US. I think that the 60's Generation in the US would buy a wonderful selection of music and never play it. I went to a tag sale that had many shelves of records in boxes and boxes. The newer carts seem to run deeper in the groove an scratches do not always create noise. You do need a good cleaning system plus the old Diskwasher type of brush. If one tenth of the populist new what was on the old vinyl they would be amazed. It could be that the long winters in Denmark took a toll on the stuff that you find. Americans are quite lazy, it is too much trouble to change a record.
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Old 11th August 2015, 06:58 PM   #4
Eric is offline Eric  United States
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Noise: The only album I purchased with a ton of surface markings that were inaudible was one that molded in the old paper jacket. The surface looks like a mess and I was sure it wouldn't play, but it plays flawlessly. With other albums, I'm surprised how audible tiny scuffs seem to be.

I agree that cleaning is a must. ALL albums receive a trip through the yellow-trough spin-clean that seems to work reasonably well (though, not perfect) and then get a new mobile fidelity inner sleeve. Plain original sleeves get tossed, ones with lyrics and other printing are kept along with the new sleeve.

I'm contemplating a 1-gallon shop vac with a modified wand as a cheap vacuum method of cleaning. The spin-clean works well on older, thicker albums, but some of the thinner ones don't contact the velvet pads as firmly. The spin-clean seems to leave some noise behind from time to time...
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Old 11th August 2015, 07:01 PM   #5
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I find the scratches put into records that would sell to children and adolescents, are usually annoyingly audible. Most pop/rock used records are overpriced anyway, and hence a visible scratch makes them usually not worth it to me. Also kids usually had trashy players with 5 g ceramic cartridges, that wiped all the highs out of the groove in the second play. Those pop and rock albums, I seek out old CD's, on which scratches can be repaired. Some 45's and LP's are quite rare and artistic, and I will sometimes keep them for that reason, but not because they are particularly listenable.
Classical and easy listening were more likely to have been played on a good turntable with a 1 -2 g magnetic cartridge. Often those will still have the highs intact. A mag phono needle, even when the anti-skate lets it get away, doesn't scratch very deep. These category albums are usually quite listenable and usually don't sell for more than $.25 to $.75 at the charity resale shops. A bigger problem on these categories is mold and water damage from storage in basements and attics. Some records I have washed the vinyl disk with soap and tap water to get the mold or deposits off, and thrown the cardboard sleeve away because it stank. I use Palmolive dish soap under the spray and my hand to clean usually, ending with a water rinse. Particularly valuable albums, like Mercury Living Presence by Mr. Fine engineer, or some RCA dynagroove LP's, I give them a DI water rinse.
I do throw some vinyl away after listening because the sound is so bad. Also some artists are not who I thought they were. $.50 out on the curb in the bin, no great tragedy. I've picked up 1000 or more of the albums and 45's in the last 8 years, a cheap hobby requiring very little maintenance of equipment to enjoy the media. VHS tapes by contrast, I can't seem to keep the **** decks running, even the ones I salted away new and unused in the box, for this day 10 years after purchase. Rubber deteriorates and lube goes dry, no matter if the VHS deck is used or not. My 1980 BIC turntable just keeps spinning and the diamond on the 1980 Shure M97 cartridge seems to be fine, too. Marvelous technology, the vinyl record.
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Last edited by indianajo; 11th August 2015 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 11th August 2015, 07:01 PM   #6
Noise is offline Noise  Denmark
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It does look like it's easier to find good records in the US. Over here it is getting harder all the time. And the stuff I find very often has been treated badly.
The price also has gone through the roof lately. Sometimes people ask between $10-15 for a single LP in rather mediocre condition.
The most common way to get records over here is to buy whole collections and take the albums you want, and then sell the rest again. Buying them in shops or at tag sales often gets too expensive.
I think it might be because people over here live in rather small buildings. So when the LP went out of fashion, people threw out their old records, instead of putting them in the attic or basement. LP's are simply more scarce over here. Sadly... because I love that old stuff.
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Old 11th August 2015, 07:42 PM   #7
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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Not picky, I guess. I used to buy them by weight.
Agree with what Indianajo says about types or records and the condition. Almost all the cheap ones I buy are dirty, but very few are so scratched as to make them unlistenable.
I found a Spin Clean record cleaner on sale and bought it. It works wonders for the filthy old vinyl I buy. Really amazing. It's a used record's best friend.
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Old 11th August 2015, 07:58 PM   #8
benb is offline benb  United States
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I've bought many LPs inexpensively, between thrift stores and yard/carage sales. If it's significantly scratched and it was popular enough that I've perhaps seen several copies and I'm likely to see more (think Michael Jackson), I won't buy it.

If it's something unusual, it's something I like or "must have" that I don't see much of or may not have seen a copy before (early electronic music, some early progressive rock), I'll buy it in any condition, and if it doesn't play well (after a good cleaning as others said) I'll hope to find a better copy later. But at least that way I've got SOMETHING to listen to, and there's software that can effectively clean up a lot of ticks and scratches.

I want to get Elvis before he leaves the building, even if he's not dressed well.

The problem with this approach is my collection numbers in the mid 4 digits.
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Old 11th August 2015, 08:12 PM   #9
sreten is offline sreten  United Kingdom
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The worst case scenario cannot be ascertained by visual inspection.
That is distortion due to mistracking damage of a worn stylus.
(Or records played on really cheap / old crap.)
Said damage is permanent, and the most annoying, always
negotiate a return period to allow you to check it out.

rgds, sreten.

If your a regular buyer, most shops would at least credit note.
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Last edited by sreten; 11th August 2015 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 11th August 2015, 08:25 PM   #10
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Like Pano, I'm not picky. I typically pay very little for vinyl (thrift stores, etc.) so as long as it looks "OK" I'll buy it.

I do certainly get excited when I find "mint" condition stuff, though. Often I'll buy it even if I don't particularly love the music.

I do need a good, easy record-cleaning system, though.
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