Getting Into the Groove: A beginner’s guide to vinyl record collecting

Photo+by+Noah+Hausmann%3A+Greg+Sandell%E2%80%99s+personal+record+stash+and+turntable.

Photo by Noah Hausmann: Greg Sandell’s personal record stash and turntable.

Noah Hausmann

Those bins of colorful album art catch your eye. You wonder what it’s like to rock out to the acoustics of analog grooves, and you feel the appeal of music without ads or buffering. You’re eager to start, but you’re scratching your head because this is your first time collecting vinyl. Here’s some friendly advice with help from local record enthusiasts Jon Teichman and Greg Sandell.

 

What to look for

The most numerous type of vinyl record today is the 12-inch long-playing disc or LP, which tends to hold an album of eight to 12 songs. You can also find singles, called SPs or 45s. Most of these will be used records, but contemporary artists like Taylor Swift and Twenty One Pilots do offer songs on vinyl for a price.

Records are priced anywhere from 10 cents—for scratched and common albums—to hundreds of dollars for uber-collectible items. But most often, a $3 used LP won’t disappoint.

“Go after what you like and don’t get caught up in collectability and collector’s prices,” Teichman said. “Stay within budget. There’s a smart way to go about it.”

 

Where to look

You can find vinyl at thrift stores as well as retail and online. The site discogs.com is a vast database of record collecting info as well as a worldwide marketplace.

“Some people think that this stuff is outdated, that it’s trash, but the reality is it’s built to last,” Teichman continued. “You can unearth something from an attic that hasn’t been played in 40 years, and it’ll still play great.”

Ask relatives if they still have turntables and records gathering dust.

“The beauty of this is you may have a great record collection in your family and not know it. Ask your grandparents, aunts and uncles. Sometimes they’re willing to let them go,” Teichman added.

Marquette County offers several record stores. There’s Gitche Gumee Café & Records on Third Street in Marquette, Mostly Music on Washington Street, Vinyl Destination in

Ishpeming, as well as Teichman’s own Vintage Vinyl inside Irontown Antiques in Negaunee. Plus there’s popup record sales on campus and at Ore Dock Brewing Co.

 

How to listen

One rather problematic element for a first-time collector is getting a sound system to play the music. You can get a suitcase-style record player with builtin speakers for $50 online—which does work—but the traditional and higher-quality method is to connect a turntable, receiver amp and speakers. This is where you either have to fork out the big bucks or get thrifty. You can search eBay, Amazon and Craigslist for turntables, receivers, preamps and parts. Don’t be afraid to channel your inner MacGyver.

“Two speakers works best,” Sandell explained. “For speaker wire, you can even cut up a lamp cord—it’s the same stuff.”

 

Who to talk to

Teichman is the adviser to NMU Vinyl Record Club, a group that welcomes folks of all ages and genders.

“There’s no shame. Whether you’re passionate about Barbra Streisand or Black Sabbath, they’re all welcome at the turntable,” Teichman said. “And we all help each other out.”

For Sandell, vinyl is a love he grew up with and never gave up. He’s thrilled to see when new people get into record collecting too.

“Get advice from someone who knows,” Sandell suggested. “That’s always, always good.”

“Rock, country, blues, ska—they all started on vinyl,” Sandell reminisced. “It’s experiencing music the way the artist intended.”

 

Tips for Caring for your records:

Never play a dirty or scratched record— it can damage both the vinyl and your needle. Clean even new records. Scratched vinyl can still sound decent, but avoid hurting a good turntable with a junky record.

Touch records on their outer edges only. Never touch their grooves with your bare hands because your natural body oils will transfer onto the record, attract more dust and impede sound quality.


Be careful when placing the playing needle by hand. You don’t want to scratch the grooves.

Never place or pick up a record while the turntable is still spinning. Always wait for the turntable to come to a complete stop before touching the record.

Don’t drop records into their sleeve or jacket. Hold it horizontally and carefully slide the record in.

Don’t stack records on top of each other, whether it’s in their sleeves or not, because the weight can cause them to warp and crack. Store them upright like books on a shelf.

Keep records in a temperate room. Heat and sun exposure causes vinyl to melt and warp.

Get a specialized record-cleaning brush, the older style the better. Otherwise, a lint-free cloth for cleaning eyeglasses can work too if you’re gentle. Wash with liquid record cleaner or with distilled and deionized water. Err on the side of caution when cleaning vinyl.

Get started this weekend at the UC

By Jamie Glenn / staff writer

Photo by Noah Hausmann: Jon Teichman and Greg Sandell present one of Sandell’s records sitting in his basement where his other collection, his instruments, surrounds them.


Record dealers from near and far are coming together for the upcoming Vinyl Record Sale that will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m on Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Peter White Lounge of the University Center. New, used and collectible vinyl records will be up for sale and trade, along with plenty of music and pop culture memorabilia.

One of the event organizers, Jon Teichman, adviser to the NMU Vinyl Record Club since its beginning two years ago, looks to find community in the Marquette music scene.

“There’s a community of collectors throughout this whole region, and it’s gotten increasingly more popular over the last couple of years, so we’re really excited to have another great event,” Teichman said.

In addition to records, vendors will offer CDs, DVDs, vintage video games, movie and concert posters and comic books. Local music enthusiast Greg Sandell will DJ the event, filling the Peter White Lounge with turntable tunes.

“It’s like a pop culture celebration,” Teichman continued. “I mean, vinyl records are really where it’s at, really something for everybody. [Sandell] plays a whole set of eclectic music during the entire sale, and he brings in a lot of interesting stuff, exotic instruments. He’s got a whole display going.”


Raffle prizes will be drawn throughout the day, and attendees are also welcome to bring records that they would like to trade with record dealers and other vinyl collectors.

“People who want to bring in a record to trade for something else can go to each individual dealer and see about trading in their records,” Teichman said. “Really, it’s just a fun event. It’s a must-attend kind of event. I mean, a lot of this stuff is currently available online, but the chance to be together with a community of music fans and collectors is really what the event is about.”

This is an opportunity for both young and old to come together and learn new things and meet new people.

“It’s a chance for everybody to get together and celebrate music and learn about music and just embrace those passions that you share. It really is a chance to meet people from all over the state,” Teichman added. “I think that every event that I go to I always learn something new. I like the look on someone’s face when they see a record, it’s about the whole experience, these physical media are touchstones for people.”