Music » Music Stories & Interviews

How to shop for used records

Local record collector shares tips on choosing and cleaning used records


  • Photo by Jim Leatherman

The All Vinyl Garage Sale will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 21-22. It will not occur on Sunday, Dec. 23, as originally printed in this story. We regret the error.

One of the area's best record sales happens semi-regularly out of a backyard in College Park – the All Vinyl Garage Sale. The record collector who puts it on is Garry Postell, who knows every thrift store within a 100-mile radius and goes through 1,000 records weekly to uncover the handful of gently used treasures buried all over Central Florida. Here, Postell offers tips on how to buy a used record for the music lover in your life.

Approach the bin and quickly sort through it, pulling out every title that interests you. Step to the side, so other browsers can go through your rejects. Next, inspect the cover. Is it damaged? In many cases, the glue has given out on the seam of the record. You can easily repair this using double-sided tape or Elmer's glue.

After that, remove the record from the cover. Are there deep scratches or noticeable warping? Ditch it. It's not worth your money. If not, find the best lighting in the room and tilt the record at an angle until you see a sheen on it. Look for light scratches or subtle warping.

If there are light scratches, very carefully run a clean finger over the scratch. If you can't feel the scratch, the record will likely play. Finally, set the record cover on a flat surface, then place the record on top of it. Lightly tap on one side of the record. If the other side rises, it is too warped to play.

OK, so it doesn't have scratches or warping, but it is filthy. What now, Garry?

Many records are dusty from neglect or seem to be covered in a film that looks difficult to remove. Don't worry. Common dishwashing detergent is the best and cheapest solution, according to Postell.

Just mix the detergent with enough lukewarm water to fill your sink, but keep the water low enough so that you can dip the record in vertically without getting the label wet. Rotate the record gently in the water, using a soft sponge or cloth to remove the dirt.

For difficult, dirty records, Postell recommends mixing isopropyl alcohol with a little bit of distilled water to spot-clean. For serious collectors, you may want to invest $400 in a record vacuum. (Disclaimer: If you're not feeling comfortable cleaning the record, leave it to a professional.)


9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday and Saturday,
Dec. 21-22
46 E. Steele St.

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