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Freedom 515 - New York

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Buy Vintage Records

Live near one of their stores? Amoeba makes free house calls to evaluate and purchase large collections of 500 records or more. Live out of state? No problem. Amoeba Music will send a rep to wherever you are if your collections contain 1000 or more records. This dedication to vinyl collecting and finding hidden gems is one of the main reasons they are able to keep their large collection of inventory stocked. This is why vintage vinyl seekers come back to them again and again.

buy vintage records

After a twenty year period of relative scarcity and public indifference, sales of vinyl records are back and have been increasing annually for more than a decade. Nearly all new releases by popular artists are now available in vinyl format, as well as in downloadable form or as compact discs.

While sales of new vinyl records are increasing as more people become familiar with the format, buyers are also turning towards vintage vinyl records as a way of adding to their record collections. In fact, there are currently more than five million records for sale on eBay, and most of those are vintage vinyl records.

Any reason for preferring vintage vinyl records over new ones is valid, of course; buyers are free to buy whatever they personally like. For many buyers, however, the main reason for buying vintage vinyl records rather than new ones is the sound quality.

The appeal of vintage vinyl records in this regard is that original pressings of albums were made from tapes that were new at the time the records were pressed. Newly-pressed copies of those same records may be mastered using tapes that are copies of copies of copies.

While vintage vinyl records often included these sorts of interesting extras, most recent reissues do not, usually because of cost concerns. That was also true years ago; many vintage vinyl records that included such things as posters often included them only for a short time after the record was originally released, making them somewhat scarce today.

Album art is another reason why a buyer might prefer vintage vinyl records to new ones. Of course, an album, by sheer advantage of larger size, will provide better artwork than a compact disc, and certainly better than a download, which comes with no artwork at all.

Another example is the 1970 LP Let It Be by the Beatles. That album was originally issued with a gatefold cover, but the album went out of print in the mid-1970s. When it was reissued in the 1980s, the album was released without the gatefold cover. Collectors of vintage vinyl records will likely prefer the original version.

A few years later, after the duo became famous, the album was reissued, but without the gatefold cover. There are many similar examples, and while some current reissues of such albums do include the original cover art, collectors tend to prefer the gatefold covers that often came with vintage vinyl records.

Record companies discontinued releasing albums in both mono and stereo in 1968. Over the previous three or four years, more people had been purchasing stereo turntables and began to show a preference for stereo records over mono records. When sales of mono LPs reached the point where making them as a separate product from stereo records was no longer economically feasible, record companies discontinued them.

Since the elimination of mono records in 1968, most albums that were originally available in both stereo and mono have only been available in stereo versions. There have been a few mono reissues in recent years of titles by prominent artists, but for the most part, collectors who are interested in having albums by their favorite artists from that era in both mono and stereo are going to have to find the mono version by buying vintage vinyl records.

As with any other limited commodity, people collect records, just as people collect stamps, coins, or Picasso paintings. While there are certainly new releases that are collectible, particularly as many new releases are limited editions, most record collectors have collections that consist largely of vintage vinyl records.

Collectors who are interested in those artists and others of the same era will almost always be interested in obtaining original pressings of at least some of those records. Sure, you can buy the entire Beatles catalog, right now, in the form of new, still sealed records.

There can certainly be price advantages to buying vintage vinyl records rather than buying new ones. For the most part, second hand records will cost less than new ones. A new copy of just about any album is likely to be priced at $20 or more, where used records can often be purchased, even in stores, for less than $10, and sometimes for $5 or less, depending on title.

It goes without saying that collectible vintage vinyl records are not going to be less expensive than new ones. A mint original pressing of that Sgt. Pepper LP by the Beatles is certainly going to cost a lot more than a new copy of a current reissue.

But as we have previously mentioned, most vintage vinyl records are priced affordably, and any well-stocked store that sells second hand records will likely have hundreds or even thousands of affordably priced vintage vinyl records.

There are reasons for why people buy anything and that applies to cars, houses and vintage vinyl records. While there are lots of good reasons to buy new ones, there are also a lot of compelling reasons to buy vintage vinyl records.

Over the years I've gained some notoriety for my love of vinyl records. Since I'm often approached for advice about buying vinyl, where to get record players, etc, I thought I should compile some of my advice into a post. This is by no-means a complete guide to buying vintage vinyl. If anyone is interested in some tips for buying new vinyl or turntables/vintage gear, let me know and I can put together a separate post on that topic.

Vinyl- when inspecting vinyl look for scratches that break the surface. Most vintage vinyl will have some surface marks but it's the deeper scratches that will add real noise. Another thing to look for is dirty vinyl. Unless you have a VPI vacuum cleaner, or know someone that has one, then I recommend avoiding dirty vinyl. A dirty record can have no scratches and still have tons of noise. It's amazing how different vinyl can sound after a proper cleaning so find someone with a VPI if you don't want to make that investment (about $400).

Grading- if you start buying records you will start to encounter grading. This can be especially important if you are buying online. Since you can't inspect the record in person, and condition is critical in determining what you will pay for a record, you will have to rely on trusted sellers that adhere to standardized grading. Most sellers follow the Goldmine grading standards which you can find here. In general I would recommend only buying records with a VG+ or better grade for the vinyl and then relying on the pictures and description for the jacket. Still, always assume what you are buying is probably a grade lower than what is listed. VG+ means the vinyl looks and plays well. Not like new but pretty close.

This can be a real problem for the beginning buyer- how much should I pay for that Beatles record I want? To some degree the only real answer is- whatever it's worth to you. But here's an equation to consider: price= (scarcity + demand + pressing) * condition. I realize there is no way to really plug numbers into that equation but it's roughly how I look at it when I inspect a record and consider its value. Some helpful examples- expect to pay $5-25 for most vintage Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones (expect original 60s pressings in great condition) records, $10-50 for Beatles vinyl that is 60s or early 70s pressings in VG+ or better condition, $1-10 for really common and/or low demand artists (not that they aren't worth having) like James Gang, Yes, Aerosmith, Genesis, Fleetwood Mac, etc. There are many exceptions even to these rough guidelines. I recommend you use or whenever possible, they are a great resource for finding out what a record is worth. Discogs is a great place to buy, sell and catalog your collection. I am in the process of uploading my collection to Discogs. You can see it here if you are curious. I'm almost into the "Ds" as of January 2016.

You will spend years collecting vinyl and still have trouble determining a true "first" press. But over time you will build a sense for pressings. If the album is originally from the 60s then the original vinyl was pretty thick, the record label looks nicely dated, might even have a street address, the jacket is thicker cardboard (unless UK/Europe then it will be really thin and glossy), the sleeve will show albums from the same time period (if the sleeve has stuff from the 70s then chances are it's a re-press from the 70s). If it is mono then it is almost always an original or early pressing. Mono wasn't regularly pressed except for AM radio after 1968 or so. One really simple rule of thumb is- vintage pressings (pre late 70s) will NEVER have a bar code on the jacket.

Earlier pressings are generally more valuable for a few reasons. They sound better, they "feel" better (the heavy vinyl, etc) and they often have details to the artwork that later pressings dropped for reasons of expense, etc. For instance, the original pressings of Neil Young's "Harvest" and "Tonight's The Night" albums have jackets that are soft and almost furry and have a big inside lyric sheet (as do many of his original vinyl releases). Later pressings are shiny and don't always have that big lyric sheet. When you compare those two records, visually and sonically, you can really appreciate the original and that's why it costs more. The further you get from the source, generally speaking, the less authentic the experience.

There are roughly 5 ways to buy vinyl and sometimes a 6th option appears. The first is your local record store. Chances are you are going to pay a little more to buy from a local store. But the trade off is that you can inspect the vinyl, possibly return it and most importantly, build a relationship with the store. This way you might get early access to new inventory and they are almost always interesting people worth knowing. Also, having a local store that goes out it's way to buy and stock quality vinyl should be rewarded for their efforts, regularly and repeatedly. You can use the website/app Vinyl Hunt or Yelp to find local record stores. The second way is thrift stores- Goodwill, etc. There was a time in the 1990s when you could regularly find pretty good records at thrifts stores. I've found Neil Young, Beatles and even the Stone Roses at thrift stores. I know people that have found killer records at thrift stores. But most of the time it's total crap. The third is Half Price Books. They usually a very nice selection of vinyl at good prices. The forth is online, there are many good sites out there including eBay, InSound, GEMM, Discogs, Amazon and others. On eBay I like to save searches for wish list records and then I will usually let a few pass me by before I start to be more aggressive. I find this way you get stuff at the right price or a little below. In general most collectors think of eBay prices as equivalent to what "book" prices were 10+ years ago. As I mentioned above there is a great site,, that is a searchable database of all vinyl sold on eBay over the last 10 years. Recently I've relied more on Discogs for online buying. The fifth is garage sales. You can find some amazing stuff at garage sales. Just head out on a beautiful weekend and hit 4-5 garage sales. I would be surprised if you don't come across some decent vinyl at some point. The sixth way is buying collections. This is my favorite way. Sometimes you will hear of a family member that has a collection, or a friend is moving, etc. Once people know you are collecting it's surprising how many opportunities can come your way. Pick the stuff you want and sell the rest to friends or a record store or throw it in a garage sale. Sometimes you can get some absolutely amazing records in a collection as long as you deal with a bunch of Dean Martin records as well. If you have a collection and want to sell it please let me know. 041b061a72


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