Top Tips on Buying Vintage Vinyl

vintage vinyl
TLPhoto: Travel and Leisure Asia

The trend of nostalgia coming back is not new, and among this is the love for vintage vinyl, especially in Asia. The art and science of choosing and purchasing a vintage vinyl is often more difficult due to the different types of vinyls produced in different countries and across generations, but here are some general guidelines.

Grading it Visually 

Vintage vinyls and their covers are often graded according to mint, very good or good. Although looking at vinyls with your naked eyes to assess them can be a good first step, but it cannot tell you that it is sure to be a good vintage collectible. It is best that you listen to it on an appropriate vinyl player, or check with an expert who can help you.

One rule of thumb – if you are searching for original recordings, do some research first on the artist’s total number of recordings done – as high profile artistes can have complicated portfolios, and some had releases that were reissued again years after with different covers or photos.

Look also at the colour of the grooves, which might be grey and not rich black, indicating that this vinyl might not have been cared for properly. Check also that the record is flat by putting it on the table or holding it straight up, and look for spindle marks around the label, which can reduce its value.

Look out for cut outs, drill or bullet holes on the cover, which can reduce vastly the value of the record. If unsealed, check the grading of the cover, and see if it is yellowing or fading in colour – often a sign of poor storage conditions over the years.

Purchasing Vintage Vinyl Online

If you are in the midst of purchasing any vintage vinyl online, do ask the seller any questions you have. If the seller is professional and attempts to answer you in a honest way, then it is all good. If you do not receive a response or you do receive a response which is not clear, be suspicious and do not bid for the product.

When purchasing online, reputable sellers will offer refunds if you are not happy with your purchases, so make sure you see this clause on the seller’s page when bidding on the product. Also look out for reviews of the sellers, usually the number of reviews will determine the seller’s reputation and honesty.

If in doubt, it is also a good idea to post the picture of the vinyl you want to purchase in vintage online forums – more often that not, experts there will be able to advise you.

One last note on buying online, especially from sites such as eBay, it will be advisable to wait until the bidding is down to the last day, as this is when the activity will be the strongest, if at all. Do not be caught and overbid in a frenzy attempt to win the product, just bid whatever you are comfortable with.  Also, avoid these bids with expensive shipping and handling charges as when they add up, it might not be worth it to purchase.

Fake Vinyls 

One sure sign is covers that had been printed poorly, and the print is usually inferior to the original ones. Most of the bootleg vinyls are found in Asia, especially Bangkok and China. As more and more countries are cracking down on illegal pressings, note that both buyers and sellers will be guilty of the offence if they are found to be transacting or in possession of such copies.

With the advent of music apps such as Spotify, what is amazing is that audiophiles are still looking for vintage vinyl records, and especially in Asia, such old vinyl records are still highly sought after and shops are sprouting up to cater to such demand. Some of the more valuable vinyls now include the first Led Zeppelin album pressed in England in 1969, the first pressing of The Beatles’ Please Please Me, valued at an astonishing US$3,000, and more recently, David Bowie’s records.

You can get valuable and good quality antique vinyl in Asia, and worldwide, according to Travel@CNN, some of the best places to get them includes Dusty Groove in Chicago, Passa Disco in Brazil, Lian’s in Jakarta, Indonesia, Drum & Bass in Osaka, Japan, Groove City in Hamburg, Germany and Minton’s in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Meanwhile, have fun searching for some of the best collectable vinyls out there!

Photos: Travel and Leisure Asia

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About Bei

60s music advocate. Bacon aficionado. Unapologetic web geek. Collects everything from Star Wars and PlayMobil to matchboxes. Scared of cats and roller coasters, in that order. Connect with her at hello@vxotic.com.

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