It’s that time of year again, when we all turn ourselves into sentient pretzels, tied up and consumed with what to buy the people in our lives to show them that we love them, care for them, tolerate them at work or got forced into buying something for them by our wives. I can’t help you if you’re trying to buy something for the Avatar obsessed weirdo who works in a cubicle two rows over, but I can help you find a gift for the Experienced Vinyl Collector in your life.
Experienced Vinyl Collectors™ are a hard group to shop for, because despite you knowing exactly what their hobbies are — vinyl records and uh, other vinyl-adjacent things — they think they have everything. It’s your job to find things they might not have thought of, or didn’t buy for themselves. I hope that these eight things fit that bill.
If the experienced record collector in your life has reached the point in the collector’s journey when they’re searching for crate digger classics that are not easy to find in record stores, they’re also going to run into records that have seen their better days long ago. In a lot of cases, a good cleaning will make them play like they used to, but for records that have been misshapen by time, a Record Weight Stabilizer will come in handy: It clamps down on your records in the middle, and makes sure that your stylus can handle any bucks or warps and keep on playing. This is a relatively cheap stocking-stuffer item that will come in super handy.
I’m definitely biased here, since I’m the schmo responsible for picking these records now, but if you have a record collector in your life who thinks they have all the best records already, get them a subscription to Vinyl Me, Please Classics, which delivers classic albums restored and their stories retold. Each Classics album — either a jazz, blues or soul title — comes packaged with a booklet that tells the story of the album, allowing you to go deeper on each one. Each album has been remastered from the highest quality audio source, and the jackets have a classic tip-on style jacket. It’s a record subscription service for the record collector who thinks they have everything.
One of the hardest things about having a larger record collection is just keeping things organized so that people who visit you don’t think you’re on the verge of being a hoarder, with stacks of loose records everywhere. The Flipbin is the best solution to this part of being a collector: The metal display/storage solution allows you to keep your listening area organized and clutter free. Plus, their model for 7-inches is the best storage solution for those available. Get one for both record sizes.
Once you reach a certain collection size, you start realizing you’ve sunk a lot of your disposable income on slabs of plastic, and want to start protecting that investment. The easiest way to do so? By putting your records into plastic sleeves, which protect their jackets from dust and scratches. The most experienced collectors turn to Sleeve City for their sleeve needs; grab your collector a giant box of 12-inch sleeves and protect their records.
One of the major problems affecting vinyl playback on stereos of virtually every price point is the user not setting it up properly. With a more high-end turntable, there’s more calibration, and more that can go wrong: If your stylus isn’t properly set up, it could make your records sound bad, or worse, ruin them. There’s an easy tool to more properly setup your turntable though: A tracking gauge, which will help you determine if your stylus and turntable are level, and determine if your stylus is hitting your records at the proper force and angle. You can get them fairly cheap for a tool that can improve your setup so easily.
I’m already on the record as believing Ikea Kallax shelves are the best possible record storage solution, and I think your collector will too. They come in increasingly absurd sizes with more cubes, but start with a 4x2 at least.
By now, your experienced collector definitely knows to have a slipmat on their turntable. But do they know the benefits of a cork slipmat? Namely, it cuts down on static on your records, meaning less chance your record will pick up a scratch. Might I suggest this VMP-branded cork mat that cuts down on static and looks cool even when you’re not playing records?
Andrew Winistorfer is Director of Music at Vinyl Me, Please, and a writer and editor of their books, 100 Albums You Need in Your Collection and The Best Record Stores in the United States. He’s written Listening Notes for more than 30 VMP releases, co-produced multiple VMP Anthologies, and executive produced the VMP Anthologies The Story of Vanguard and The Story of Willie Nelson. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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