Collecting Vinyl: A Beginner’s Guide To Buying Records

Above: Tiny Record Shop in downtown Toronto
Above: Tiny Record Shop in downtown Toronto

Collecting vinyl just might be the hottest trend these days. Thanks, in part, to the hipsters’ love of all things nostalgic, vinyl sales have been soaring. According to Nielsen Music Canada’s year-end report, 2017 set a record for the highest vinyl LP sales in 20 years. Sure, call it a fad. But perhaps, these collectors are onto something. Collecting vinyl can be quite profitable but more importantly the act of collecting, caring and playing vinyl seems way more fulfilling than hitting shuffle on your electronic device. Maybe it’s time to pull out that record player; the sound is better. Trust us.

If aren’t already collecting, here are some tips on how to get in the action:

Buy what you love:
This may seem like an obvious suggestion but don’t get swayed by someone trying to sell you a great original that every collector should own. If you don’t like the music, why own it? Collecting vinyl should be about a personal collection not just a collection worth some great coin.

Pull it and inspect it:
There is an art to selecting good records, and we don’t mean by title, but by the quality and condition of the vinyl itself. It’s quite simple, pull it out and visually inspect it. Look past the dust for deep scratches or particularly long ones you can feel with your finger as you run across the grooves. If you’re just not sure, ask to borrow a turntable and headphones to see if the copy is going to be clean enough for you.

Bootlegs vs re-pressing vs originals:
Thanks to the surge in collecting vinyl, many record companies are re-pressing some original releases. Urban Outfitters has been at the forefront of working in collaboration with them to get some exclusives in their stores. But be weary, sometimes re-pressings will sound different than the original. As Trevor Larocque, of the Tiny Record Shop, explained, the original pressings were approved by the artists themselves. And there is just something about listening to a record as they intended that makes a few scratches better than a mint re-pressing. But be warned, there was an era in the late 90s to early 00s where not many records were being produced, so you may have to settle for a re-pressing.

Also be on the lookout for bootleg versions of records. They’re usually the really cheap ones, and they can be awesome or they can be terrible. If the price sounds too good to be true it just might be. But you should always try to give it a listen for yourself before buying where possible. You may even like it. And as any collector will tell you, there is nothing wrong with having a few of these in your collection.

Get to know your record store:
This might be our best tip, a knowledgeable and friendly store is your ticket to building a great collection. After a few visits, they will probably even get to know your tastes and be on the lookout for new arrivals just for you. And when you visit a new city, check out their selection. Every city seems to specialize in its own favourites. And what could be a better souvenir than a great record? Our favourite stores from coast to coast:

Halifax: Taz Records in the largest (and oldest)record shop it Atlantic Canada. Loads of selection. 1521 Grafton St.

Montreal: Aux 33 Tours is Montreal’s largest record store and holds an impressive collection ranging through any and all genres. There staff is very knowledgeable and prices are on point. 1371 Ave Mont-Royal

Ottawa: The Record Centre‘s knowledgeable and friendly staff will make you feel like you’re at home chatting with friends about vinyl. They have a rich collection of good condition and affordable vinyl (new and used). 1099 Wellington St West.

Toronto: Tiny Record Shop is one of the best in North America. It may be tiny but it packs a great punch with one of the best curated selections around. There is not need to dig to find gold here – it’s everywhere. We love that it stocks lots of quality original recordings and Japanese pressings. 804 Queen St E.

Winnipeg: Don’t be fooled by the non descriptive building and strange location, the Winnipeg Record and Tape Co. is one of the best we have stumbled upon in the country. It is worth the out of the way trip. 1079 Wellington Ave

Vancouver: Not only is Neptoon Vancouver’s oldest independent record store, they also carry more new and used vinyl than any other store in town. This is a store that’s passionate about collecting vinyl. 3561 Main St.

Christian Dare

Christian Dare

Christian Dare spent much of his formative years working in the fashion industry as a Visual Manager before pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Design. He is the Principal at Christian Dare Creative, the co-founder of Stylist Box and runs a successful men’s lifestyle blog, Christian Dare Edited,focusing on menswear, interior design and craft cocktails. You can find him online at www.christiandareedited.com or follow him on Twitter @christiandare but he is more fun on Instagram christian_dare. 

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