Thursday, November 15, 2012

How to clean vinyl LP records the ''RIGHT'' way! [PLUS, restoring and maintaining used turntables]

    There is nothing more satisfying than the sound of vinyl. A format that has been around since it's invention in the 1940's, sadly replaced by the tinny sounding CD in the late 80's Guess what?. Vinyl has made a huge comeback that is actually outselling the digital Compact disc which sales of have now plummeted. College aged kids going through their parent's record collection are largely responsible for the format's resurgence. Not only did they discover better sound,but the fact that the LP contained cover art, posters and inserts at a much larger scale.

    Now some might ask, who are you? Who am I? , Well I'm not Spider-Man ,lol ,but have been a vinyl collector for over 30 years.Have experimented with many trials and errors with record cleaning over that time frame. So think that in itself gives me a lot of tour de force when it comes to vinyl care. I'll tell you another thing. While most kids in my hometown did drugs, I did vinyl, lol. It was an addiction. I would spend most of my paycheck on LP's,and friends would tell you it was my obsession. One of my best friends Rich will confirm this I had to have every Beatle's album including bootlegs, half speed masters, British and Jap imports. I had 6 copies of Abbey Road,5 of The White Album including a white vinyl version. I was also a collector of half speed masters, these were expensive back then. Friday Music has a lot of re released vinyl titles that are beautifully remastered, and sound like half speeds
    I remember in the late 70's while living in northern New Jersey Friday nights I'd spend sometimes  over half my paycheck in Mr. Mucks Record Store often running into friend Craig. Both of us would buy as many as 10 to 15 LPs each in one trip Craig had at least 20 peach crates filled with LPs in his room, I had about 4.

    In the mid 80'swhile working in the record dept in a store called Sound Warehouse in Dallas Texas as floor manager. I also witnessed the demise of the LP. I also discovered  working in the same store that the long anticipated Beatles White Albums Compact Disc sounded flat and dead compared to the LP version. Production of vinyl was halted around 1989. This was NOT because the Compact Disc sounded better, it was merely a marketing ploy to get consumers to buy the format. This is fact!

    I recently did a test of my own. I own all of ABBA's albums. Now DVD audio is better than CD. So compared ABBA's greatest hits DVD to the LP. The result? My middle ages ears could hear details on the LP you could not hear on the digital version,I mean it was substantially better. Vocals were more forward, better channel separation and a more 3d listening experience. I'll tell you,I take my hat off to these kids today,not only do they have great taste, but their the ones responsible for vinyl LP's re popularity.

    Back in the 70's there was a format called Quadrophonic. The LP  required a special stylus as the records grooves were encoded with 4 channels requiring 4 speakers that is pre 5.1 surround as we know today. One of it's final nail in the coffin was the format wars. There was CD-4 ,Matrix H,and Universal SQ to name a few none of which were compatible with each other. There were even special headphones made that had 2 speakers per ear cup. These have to be seen to be believed, lol. By 1978,all of these formats died.
    The Best Of The Doors. This was one of the last Quadrophonic LPs before 4 channel totally died. Quad fell victim to the format wars. Equipment was very hard to set up, and was not without it's headaches. Ironically, once RCA perfected the format, the public was no longer interested

    The point I'm making is a company called DVD Audio  released several albums in 2001 like Frampton Comes Alive, and Fleetwood Mac's Rumors in 5.1 surround trying to capitalize off this 70's craze that flopped  within a year.If you look on Amazon, these now out of print discs fetch as much as $300. DVD audio is superior to the CD as far as sound, but still pales in comparison to the vinyl LP

      One of my most played albums. Now some might ask ABBA?,lol. The group receives a bad rap because their typecast as a gay band [and nothing against gays] .Their is absolutely no credence to this typecasting as none of their songs even elude to the gay lifestyle. Pete Townsend,Elvis Costello and Bono are hard core fans of ABBA,fact!
      http://skepticmystic.blogspot.com/2011/08/how-gay-is-abba.html
      This started from a stage play called Momma Mia with a transsexual cast.
      The reason I'm posting this is to point out that DVD audio is superior to CD. Even the DVD audio [ABBA Gold] couldn't come close to the LP. The vinyl was much more 3D,better channel serperation,vocals were more forward. ABBA did not sell more records than any other band for nothing, and their gorgeous music proves why.I bought this second hand, have played it over 300 times,and see no degrading of sound after that many plays over a 5 year period. The video above show's ABBA has a serious side with this marvelous anti war song called Soldiers


    Vinyl has hundreds of new and re released titles posted every week on Amazon and J&R Music to name a few. Barnes and Noble bookstores are now carrying vinyl. The Beatles entire catalog was re released in Nov 2012.
    The record uses an analog signal superior to the tinny digital sound of the CD. Has a better channel separation and much warmer and livelier sound. One drawback is it's larger format and higher maintenance,plus,you will have to spend around $350 to get a decent sounding cartridge and turntable. Anything less will not give you the full ambiance of the recordings.There is an online war comparing both formats, but vinyl ALWAYS comes on top, and sales prove that.CDs do not reproduce sound as naturally as the LP.  NO contest there.

    My biggest issue with new vinyl is there is absolutely no advantage to pressing a record 180 or 280 gram. This does not result in superior sound whatsoever, nor is it a safeguard against warping. On the contrary, it will just result in a ''stiffer'' warp, and just make your collection heavier. This is just a marketing ploy that plays off the na├»ve, and give the manufacture an excuse to jack up the price. I don't think an album should cost more than $10 Most new release LP's retail anywhere from $19 to $29. Pink Floyd's The Wall will cost $50 I think is outrageous. So would be owning a record at twice the weight of it's original 1979 pressing.  NOW, virgin vinyl is different. This means the new record is free from impurities and inferior ''fillers''
    
    Below is a You Tube video by Joe Collins that is the absolute best explanation on WHY vinyl is better than CD,this is brilliantly worded!


     I've heard MANY people protest,''Well vinyl wears out too fast!.'' These are people usually using dime store turntables and cartridges.  NOTHING will destroy an album quicker than a cheap stylus,worn stylus,or low grade turntable,and only takes a few plays to achieve mass destruction to the record's grooves. Records with proper care can be played thousands of times before their ready to be tossed. I own albums from the 1960's that sound almost like new.


    
    My personal turntable I absolutely treasure.This was made by the now defunct CEC electronics for Radio Shack,that listed for $250 in 1979 called The Lab-500. This in my opinion is the best turntable ever made.When buying used tables,it's important to re lube and grease pivots and gears as it turns ''gooey'' over time,a time consuming process,but labor of love for vinyl fanatics.I had this table in high school,saw it on Ebay,and paid way more then it was worth in a bidding war,lol.

    For a great phono cartridge I recommend the M97XE by Shure. This can be purchased for around $80 from J&R Music from Amazon. The beauty of this model is it it performs as well as a $400.00 cartridge, but at a fraction of the cost, has a damping brush that prevents dust from making contact with stylus while playing record.

    Let me ad another thing about the M97XE. During the 60's,70's and 1980's Shure's V15 series was the most sought after phono cartridge among audiophiles.Now long discontinued this series fetches a pretty penny. On EBay used,as much as $400.00 without the stylus.Aftermarket stylus's are a huge gamble as are buying used phono cartridges. Moving magnets such as Shure employs iron elements that are susceptible to corrosion. If one of these carts were stored in someone's damp basement their now junk. The new M97 is very similar,has the same specs,but at the fraction of the cost,so don't see the point in chasing down something like this that is going to cost an additional fortune replacing it's stylus.Shure even recommends V15 enthusiasts to just replace with the M97. With the V15,Ed Saunders makes the best aftermarket stylus. JICO is another
    Phono cartridges are a matter of pref. Audio Technica also makes a great line,but their cartridges high frequencies can evoke ear fatigue after extended listening periods. Plus, their bass is no where near as strong and solid as Shure. Pickering is no more. Stanton's line is primarily for D.Jing,gone are the triple EEE's,and surprised Stanton hasn't re released these.

    Moving coil cartridges are a fav among audiophiles, but these are expensive, and gets even more expensive when you have to buy a separate amp to generate their very low output

     Don't be frugal with your turntable as this will make a huge dif in the longevity of your recordings. Make sure it has an anti skating device, an essential part that will keep stylus from digging into your records grooves. This device keeps tone arm from freely rocking back and forth against groove walls exerting too much pressure on either side, and is not found on cheaper models. I use a digital jewelers scale to ascertain exact tracking force. 
    A lot of kids give up on vinyl after destroying a brand new $30 album played on a crappy Crosley turntable. There like gee,what happened? What happened is you just chewed the chit out of your record using a cheap turntable
    Another workhorse from Radio Shack. The Realistic Lab-8120. Why do I favor Radio Shack turntables? I'll tell you. During the Electronic store wars of the mid to late 70's like Crazy Eddies, Audio Circus.Radio Shack wanted to compete and be on top of all. This chain made the absolute best quality tables hands down, and they were also unique to all others as the quality was top notch. These tables could also give you a hernia they were so heavy,lol. They did not skimp on materials either. These servo motors used to run these were built to last, and the test of time has proven these as the most reliable line of the 60's 70's to early 80's

    The proper way to set the force on a tone arm is to tweak the counter balance [the dial located on the end of the tone arm]  til it is weightless, you want the tone arm  to basically float on it's own. Now set the dial to 0,and proceed to turn it to the cartridge manufacturers suggested weight.

    A problem some turntable owners run into, although this is not very common is the counterbalance for your model may be too light weight to hold a heavy cartridge like a Stanton. One trick that was used in the 70's was too tape a nickel to it's back of the counterbalance. You CANNOT do this. Instead, you may have to either purchase a super expensive carbon head shell, which is almost feather light, or abort some of the weight off the one you already have by removing it's handle and or clipping off some of the sides of it's frame, but not too much. A lot of the frame is just to hide the head shell's wires. Another option is to use carbon nuts bolts for the heads hell
    NEVER,I repeat, NEVER tamper with the 3 screws that mount a tone arm to the turntables base, you do not want to try removing this unless you know what your doing, sorriest mistake you'll ever make as getting this back on is next to impossible.
     
    Pictured above are head shell wires. It's a great idea to replace these if you purchase a used turntable that comes with a cartridge/head shell. I use oxygen free copper cables that cost around $11 for the set. Don't be frugal with these as buying good cables with make a huge dif in your cartridges performance. I wouldn't waste your money on $ 40 cables, unless your tone arm is wired the same ,your just throwing cash out the window. NEVER use solder on these [believe me, it's been done] Use small needle nose pliers and lightly crimp the ends. You can also use eyebrow tweezers. Make sure you line these up by color code on your cartridges pins
    

    Buying a tracking force scale is a wise investment
    Setting the dial too light can do just as much damage to the record as having it too heavy

    The best place to look for pre owned table is on EBay, but, bear in mind, used turntables do need to be re lubricated especially older models as the oil and grease in and on the gears turns hard and gummy over time. Gears need to have the old grease removed which will turn dry and brittle with age with denatured alcohol and a cosmetic cotton pad and replaced with white lithium grease. DeoxIT can be used on all the turntables pivots to loosen up gummy oils that get gooey with age. I use Singer sewing machine oil for most of the pivots, but oil used for guns and rifles is much better as it's more lightweight. You do NOT want to use 3 in 1 as it's too heavy .For scratched dust covers I use a plastic scratch repair kit made by Novus,this stuff is a miracle in a bottle. I've tried Maguire's used for plastic headlights, and is not as effective. For severely scratched turntable dust covers you may need to wet sand with an ultra fine wet sand paper ,but make sure you wet paper while doing this. Gradually go to a finer grit paper. This method can get a dust cover looking like new again,it just takes time and patience
    The ONLY thing you want to use WD-40 on are the turntables dust cover hinges, do not use this to lube any other parts under any circumstance.




    To lube your turntable, start by removing the platter. After removing the rubber mat you'll notice 2 holes, with your thumb and forefinger pull if up to remove. There should be gears and pivots on some models. Start by using a plastic spoon to scrape off as much dry lithium grease as you can, than wipe off excess with denatured alcohol and a cosmetic cotton pad, use Deoxit on anything that pivots, this will remove gummy oils. Any gears use white lithium grease, pivots use Singer sewing machine or gun oil. On belt driven tables, you'll need to oil the spindle, just place about 5 drops and let it run down into the bearings.

    DO NOT USE ANY TYPE OF PETROLEUM BASED GREASE ON PLASTIC GEARS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. LITHIUM GREASE ONLY!!!!!!

    NOW, the bottom. With the dust-cover still on, flip the turntable upside down and use the dust-cover as a support, make sure you place this on a padded surface and have the tone arm secured. Do NOT try this with the platter still on as it will fall off and crack the cover.

    Remove the turntables feet, take off the bottom cover and use the above procedure for the gears underneath. The pitch control circuit board [for turntables with strobe pitch controls] can be cleaned with Dioxit as well, or use a circuit board cleaner. Their may be a ground wire on some models, just remove it's screw to open bottom cover
    The Realistic Lab-400 made for Radio Shack in 1978. When people think Radio Shack,quality usually doesn't come to mind .After the 80's,I agree. Before that they offered some of the finest turntables money could buy. Just look at the gorgeous wood veneer finish. This is the second best turntable they ever produced the first being the Lab-500. When looking for turntables, I highly recommend this gem. You''ll see them on EBay quite often.I'm buying another myself

    Back in the late 60's and 70's Radio Shack carried some prime audio equipment. Their Turntables and audio receivers were top quality, the same however cannot be said about their  audio speakers that sounded like the singer was singing through a wet towel. They [ the Tandy Company] were also the innovators of mini speakers and receivers calling their line ''Realistic''.

    Realistic made some of the absolute best vintage turntables even joining with Panasonic [Technics] and CEC [one of the top turntable manufacturers in the world] All of the turntables I've owned were Realistics,and never had a problem with 1. The one posted above is my own,is almost 35 years old,and still runs like clockwork. The ''Shack'' also carried a full line of Shure cartridges merging with Shure. The store now is nothing more than a shell of it's formal self.
    One of my neighbors we called the Rickeller'' who was also a former Scranton Pa. DJ sold me on Radio Shack
    Radio Shack's massive 120 watts per channel STA 2100D circa 1980. Some vinyl enthusiasts are also discovering that the old analog receivers of yore also sound better than modern digital receivers for vinyl listening. This isn't a placebo effect at all, they do! I'm tracking this beauty down at the time of the writing. . Though the signal to noise ratio [the amount of hiss] on these archaic beauties may be a bit of getting used to to young listeners as modern digital receivers are practically silent.
    When looking for vintage receivers, Radio Shack again is my top fave. When RCA bought Radio Shack in the mid eighties,their audio equipment was for the birds . Just take a gander at all of this magnificent piece of equipment's ''bells and whistles'' You should see this lit up in a dark room, absolutely gorgeous!
    If your looking for vintage receivers Realistic is my fav,Pioneer,Luxman,and Kentwood were the top sellers in the 1980's



    Pioneer and Technics are also fabulous. Try bidding on a used Technics top of the line,you'll usually have 20 other EBay bidders even if it's as old as 1974.

    If your looking for an owners manual,go to http://www.vinylengine.com  you can find almost any turntable manual as far back as the 1960's on the wonderful site absolutely free
    Shown above DeoxIT D5 This is the most amazing product to clean dirty speed turntable switches and contacts  Also works on strobe pitch control knobs. Older tables speed and pitch controls can and will corrode causing erratic platter speed. You can also use this on your receiver pots. Never,I repeat never use WD-40. DeoXIT will also clean corrosion on the turntables RCA jacks,or use an ultra fine emery cloth sandpaper rolled into a cone to clean the inside of the plugs.
    Note,this stuff is expensive,but a little dab l do ya!

    Try to avoid bidding on or buying turntables that have broken or missing dust covers as these are super expensive to replace as high as $50-$100.  You will not find a new turntable for under $300.00 that won't destroy your records. Anything under this price is going to be a cheap belt driven with a cheap tonearm and cartridge. Tables with built in pre amps are usually going to be the worst, that is why I recommend E Bay. You can find some great deals there, but avoid P mount tone arms, very hard to find new replacement cartridges for those tables.
    The turntable pictured is my own I bought off EBay and restored myself. It was made by CEC  Electronics in 1979. The best turntables to look for are Realistic [my top fav] Technics,Marantz,B.I.C and Pioneer
    If you buy a used turntable that has a factory set speed control setting that is spinning either too fast or slow, there's a way of rectifying this. Get yourself a can of Dioxit D5,and spray into the speed control knob [33/45] This will usually correct the problem.

    [I will be shortly posting diagrams of how to lube turntables, stay tuned]

     
    
    Pictured here to the right is the round knob called an anti skating device.This keeps the tonearm steady,and prevents stylus from swaying back and forth against the records groove walls like a mini Texas tornado.The knob at the back is called a counterbalance,this exerts the proper stylus pressure,having this set too lightly can do as much damage as too much weight. Both dials are usually set at the same settings.

    

    Shure's incredible M97XE. Cart comes in an aluminum box equipped with mounting screws,screwdriver,protractor and stylus cleaning brush. There's 2 ways to upgrade this. A JICO stylus at a now whopping $300 OR with LP Gears Vivid replacement stylus at $80. Both employ hyper elliptical tips that dig out details quite remarkably
    . I just wish Shure re released their M95 HE,second to the V15 line,the best cartridge ever made. Setting the proper tracking force on this can be frustrating as the instructions that come with it are terribly enigmatic. You first want to balance your tonearm while setting the tracking force gauge to 0. With the damping brush in the up position set tracking force at 1.57 grams then place brush down. 1.25 if your playing with brush up .Then set anti skating to the same weight. I would never exceed this weight or set it at 2 grams as many advise. You'll not only be going through new stylus's like no tomorrow,but put a lot of wear on your LP's



    A great alternative to the outrageously priced JICO . LP Gear's Vivid Shure M97XE hyper elliptical replacement stylus. At $80,a great bargain. This will also outlast the elliptical tip

    Update 1-27-17
    The Nagaoka MP-100 is said to out preform all carts in the $200 range including the Shure M97XE..I'll keep you updated as soon as I receive it. This can be purchased for $120. This includes  out preforming the Vivid line stylus on the M97 cart
    The soundstage this cart reproduces is said to be phenomenal

    Re update:
    The Vivid LP Gear stylus smokes the Nagaoka. Here is one sound comparison
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW96q0D8uaQ


    Now let me go for the jugular,cleaning your LP.

    I want to start by adding a word of warning especially to new vinyl collectors. 

    As the vinyl revival is flourishing ,so are new record cleaning methods you'll find on You Tube and audio forums. Some of which are the most bizarre and idiotic you'll ever encounter.

    Most of these rocket scientists are assuring us there's no harm done. Are they basing this on what their hearing after playing ? Are any of these geniuses taking the time to examine the record's grooves under a high powered microscope  to see all of the deposits some of these substances can leave? 

    How about the chemical reactions some of these house hold cleaners have on PVC as far as long term?. Did you know that using woodglue can actually leach out binding agents used to process the LP?. It can also permanently bond to certain vinyl. This test I've proven myself
    I'm reading a lot of ideas,but hearing few back up their claims. Bear in mind,if you don't do your homework you can destroy your entire record collection

    Are those that swear by steam cleaning proving to us there's absolutely 0 deviation to a groove's wall after the record is caused to warp wildly under intense heat? Haven't heard ONE come forward yet! 
    See,what they try to sell us on is a record can heat up to 500 degrees as a stylus friction rides a records groove. This is an old urban myth that had been dis proven many times. My point is,if your enticing people with your technique that can result in thousands of destroyed records,only fair to back up your claim.

    These cleaning techniques will also often be headed with 'A cheap way to clean records'',or ''for those on a budget'' or ''for those who can't afford commercial cleaning fluids'' Are you going to jeopardize your entire vinyl collection some of you may have paid over $3000 for on someone else's guesswork?

    Another thing I get an absolute kick out of is 98% of these advisors will state MIGHT, MAYBE, It doesn't SEEM to cause harm. In other words their not sure. Alcohol is the cleaner of choice to a majority. The web is a war zone to collectors who like me swear against it while others see no harm. Let me illustrate something. A Japan dryer is a chemical used to quicken the drying time of oil based paints and varnishes. It works by evaporating the petroleum distillates found in paints. When using 2 part epoxies, There's what's called a hardener. This speeds the drying by again evaporating the epoxies chemicals.
    The same can be applied to alcohol on vinyl. Alcohol can act as a hardener by evaporating the vinyl's chemical components including the most imperative..petroleum

    Let me just emphasize something else. I hear a lot quip that if they rinse after using tap water with distilled, they've saved the day!

    First off, why aren't you washing with distilled as well? It only takes a split second for water additives from your faucet such as chlorine to act on vinyl.

    One guy came up with a real brilliant solution . Just use Jetdry. This guy deserves a noble prize for stupidity. Better yet, don't use tap water  period so you don't further destroy your LP with a dish-washing rinsing agent to remove mineral deposits that shouldn't be on there to begin with

    Don't have any record cleaning fluid? Before you use something meant to clean toilets here's a great idea. Warm up some distilled water in a microwave. Dip a very soft terrycloth in the water and wipe record in a circular motion. Dry with a separate cloth and place in a dish rack and let completely dry before returning it to it's sleeve. The warm water will break up most of the dirt and grime

    Let me just interject something while I'm thinking about it. [Jan 26,2016] Anytime you wet clean a record whether it be via wet vac or cleaning fluid. Make ABSOLUTELY sure LP is completely dry before placing it back in it's sleeve. A record may look totally dry after running through a vac rinse, yet still have traces of water at the groove's bottom. It only takes a small iota of water to form mold.Use a dish drying rack and wait at least one hour. You can buy one at Wal Mart for $5

    ALSO, don't listen to these featherbrains who wet play an album and tell you it's safe to do the same. You can't fix stupid on this idea, nor the damage this will cause.

    Another point. ANYTIME,I repeat ANYTIME you spot clean an LP with a cleaning pad, you are forcing some of the crud to the grooves bottom.Spot cleaning NEVER completely cleans an album

    With all due respects ,some of these forum and You Tube advisers couldn't even clean their rooms let alone a vinyl LP. Once a record is damaged by some of these brainless methods, that's it! Tap water alcohol and vinegar are 3 of the most destructive substances to a vinyl LP. Tap water will irreversibly destroy a record quicker than you can whistle Dixie. Sink cleaning is one of the most popular methods going right now. 
    I can't stress enough how much damage this procedure will cause. Alcohol is another, and whether this should be used or not is one of the highest debated topics among audiophiles. Allow me to give you my view. I am not selling anything, trying to bash other products or put down others record cleaning ideas, I'm just trying to save you the heartache of a destroyed record collection. One also needs to be careful about record cleaning products reviewed in Hi Fi and audio magazines,you don't know how much these reviewers are being paid off to laud these products, sorry if I sound cynical, but this does happen in some cases, but not all.
    The holy grail of phono cartridges. Shure's V15 Type IV. Shure discontinued this series due to a rare element used in it's manufacturing These can go as high as $400 on Ebay,and that's without the stylus.I do not recommend buying used phono cartridges for several reasons. One is aftermarket stylus's that can go as high as $100. Moving magnet cartridges such as Shure uses require iron that is highly susceptible to corrosion.If the former owner stored it in a damp basement,it can cause extensive damage ,or become a piece of junk

    The sad thing of it is,there's no telling how many priceless records have been irreversibly destroyed by some foolish cleaning procedure like Spray and Wash,and one of the stupidest,The Magic Erasure method. I get headaches from people emailing me that are convinced that sink cleaning works just fine,and get on the defensive when I tell them just how much damage it does.
    Look at it this way.If you own an old Beatles,Moody Blues or Bing Crosby album,original pressing ,your owning a piece of history you want to preserve. Some of you reading this may have paid over a hundred dollars for these records,each. You don't want to use something as knuckle headed as Glass Plus, Simple Green, lighter fluid or a carpet steamer thinking your saving a buck. Most commercial cleaning fluids like Nitty Gritty,and Disc Doctor are available for under $25,and will clean a few hundred LP's. Keith Monks has a fluid and brush that requires no vacuuming, as does Disc Doctor. The Keith Monks kit is super expensive, but cleans several LP's

    There's one You Tube video where a guy that swiped my vacuum idea is advising owners to clean with a substance made from Papaya,I'm serious,combined other Citrus fruits he allows to ferment for a month. [like that will really make this stupid formula preform better]

    He then scrubs record with a stiff nail brush, after pouring this sticky chit on a 50 year old Jazz LP.You can actually hear the damage he's doing with the brushes stiff bristol's scuffing the record. My main concern isn't so much this feeble minded method,it's all the thumbs up he gets from  viewers. You can't fix stupid




    Alcohol is a definite no no,it is too harsh and promise despite what experts have advised will damage your vinyl collection. Alcohol releases plasticizers from the record as well as the essential oils and stabilizers used for processing the vinyl. Alcohol has been proven safe by many vinyl fanatics, but, with all the contingencies and disputes refuting this, are you  still willing to take that risk?
    
    The best record cleaner on the market in my opinion. This is a great alternative to Discwasher as it contains 0 alcohol. Bottle runs about $20 and comes with 3 applicators.Another advantage this has over Discwasher is the white pads  can be easily rinsed in distilled water to remove dirt it picks up from the LP  It also removes mold release,a lube record factories use to keep records from sticking to the pressing plates. For those who don't want to vacuum,this is a great product. For LPs that are really filthy, here's an idea I came up with to get the best use of this product. Dampen a soft towel with distilled water after using this cleaner and wipe both sides of your LP,then use another soft towel to dry.OR use my pump sprayer idea shown below. This product has a wetting agent, so the pump sprayer will get the rest of the crud the applicators may have missed then towel dry. For those who don't have vacuums or don't want to vac,this is a great and safe alternative.


    To prove this point there was a well sought after record cleaning brush and fluid called Discwasher I found to be absolutely worthless. First of all the brushes angled ends were way too fat to fit into the records fine grooves, the fluid which contained alcohol did a fine job of removing fingerprints but at the cost of leaving you with surface noise after applying due to the alcohol's residue and drying out the vinyl. Alcohol can actually harden the vinyl
    An example of a mid grade turntable,and not knocking the brand,but this will tear the absolute ''bejeebus'' out of a records grooves in no time flat.It's using these type of players leaving people with the complaint ''records just don't last very long''. Make sure you purchase a good quality turntable


    Another bummer about this product is if the pad came within contact with a very dirty album,the brush used to clean pad that came with package would not be adequate enough to remove absorbed dirt,and as a result,you'd just be re-
     introducing contaminates to the next record you clean. Discwasher has since went under [wonder why?].  RCA purchased the company, their version of the pad is even worse, it looks like a scrap of corduroy pants used for the cleaning pad. 

    Still doubt my veracity? Then try this test. Take a pad dipped in alcohol, now rub it over your skin a few times, and see just how much oil that little sap sucker just zapped out of your flesh. NOW just imagine what it will do to a delicate vinyl LP. There is actually a large online used record dealer that uses strictly alcohol, and am one customer that won't be buying from them, another just uses plain dish washing soap and a sink, they even admit it, another dealer I avoid like the plague.
    For light cleaning I use a product called LAST # 3 all purpose record cleaner that contains 0 alcohol. The bottle comes with a funky looking applicator that's quite effective.
    One thing I've learned from experience is that any stain like old fingerprints that is tenacious enough where it has to be removed with something as harsh as alcohol or the even more idiotic steam cleaning method has already become a part of the vinyl. This is why it is important to keep fingerprints off your record as the oils will actually harden with time and become permanently bonded onto the vinyl. If you get a fingerprint on your record,or a piece of foreign matter and you don't have any cleaning fluid. Warm up a teaspoon of distilled water,and used a Q-tip to wipe it off,then use the other end to wipe the area  dry

    During the Carter era there was a huge oil shortage, this effected record pressing plants immensely because of it's high cost. As a result,many plants were recycling returned records by throwing label and all into melting vat, this is no urban myth,I promise you! The result? During the years 1975-79,albums were horrible quality, hence petroleum is an imperative ingredient in a records processing, that's why it's important NOT to use anything that would dry it out.

    This wasn't true with all albums during this era but most. I think the worst sounding LP was Chicago's Greatest Hits, I'm talking about it's original pressing in 1975. So it's label Columbia comes out with a CBS Masterworks series half speed master in 1980. The sound of this LP can't be described in words, I mean it was beautiful. Horns were like you were there. WHY didn't they master the original release like this? Answer, more money as this album cost $12,a lot of money back then as most albums sold for $6

    I remember buying records back then that were so cheaply pressed, pieces of vinyl would be seen on the edge or top of the record, this is why the superior Japanese pressings were so sought after at this time.

    Now, let me take you on a tour of a stylus's function
    A stylus is sort of a miniature microphone that pics up vibrations from the records grooves. Vinyl is very flexible and has a certain amount of give with each records play, and does NOT heat up to high temps from the stylus's friction as some are led to believe, the platter is spinning too slow for this to happen
    


    As a stylus rides a record's groove it can take along with it some undesirable hitchhikers like lint,hemp [I'm not being factious,pot smoke and it's oils will cling to vinyl due to the discharge of static electricity,so an old Donovan record you own may have it left over from a 1967 wild party] nicotine, kitchen grease, dirt and various other contaminates get steam rolled from the stylus if you will into and onto the records groove wall, forcing it deeper with each play. A stylus with a damping brush found on models like Pickering,Stanton,and Shure pick up a lot of this before it can reach the stylus. This is why it is important to always keep dust cover down while playing your records

    Some records may require a second cleaning to dislodge some of this grime by leaving fluid on the record for a few min as was the case with a Grand Funk album I own and love .Dawn dishwashing detergent added to a product like alcohol free Nitty Gritty [just one drop]record cleaning fluid is ideal for this purpose!
    There are several new record labels re issuing LP's. Buying these can be a hit or miss. Most labels aren't clear where that got their source to remaster with. The result?. If they used a digital source,you have nothing more than a 12 inch Compact Disc. The most trustworthy labels are Sundazed Records and Rhino. Both of these lables use the original analog tapes and state it clearly  with a sticker on the shrink-wrap. The Monkees HEAD soundtrack and Love's Forever Changes from Rhino and Simon and Garfunkel's Bookends from Sundazed sound absolutely phenomenal, Pink Floyd's The Wall above is hands down the absolute best sounding re issue I've ever heard.[This is the 2016 remaster,NOT the 2012. The 2012 re issue of The Wall sounds terrible,trust me] Almost 0 surface noise,I mean it sounds almost flawless. You can tell the vinyl used in it's pressing is high quality. Friday Music,another label sometimes gets a bad rap because it's claimed the re productions on some titles are poor.I have yet to hear one bad re issue from this label

    Another feeble minded method is the wood glue technique. This procedure involves coating the entire LP with a thin layer of wood glue, allowing it to dry, then peeling off the sheet of dry glue that does absolutely NOTHING to remove deeply embedded dirt, mold spores, or removing oils from finger prints, and invites the danger of leaving a trace of hardened glue in the records groove that can pull the diamond tip right off the delicate stylus.
    What's even more pointless about this method is you can only treat one side at a time, because the glue takes at least 6 hours to dry,an arduous process for those with large LP collections. The ''wood gluers'' as I call them need to understand that there are no surfactants or detergents in glue to break up grime which makes this lame method all the more absurd.

    [NOW, wood glue may be helpful in pulling out loose slivers of vinyl. This is a problem especially with new records. If  record plants do not change their pressing plates [these do wear out after so many records are pressed, and these do get scalding hot] or, the mold release,a lube the record manufacturer uses to keep records from sticking to the plates is not applied after so many records are pressed, the result will be loose pieces of vinyl in the groove walls that will result in skips. A lot of The Beatles 2012 remasters had this problem. This was a result of Capital and EMI over impetuous about getting these into stores by hiring independent record plants resulting in poor quality control. Another way of rectifying this problem is with a toothpick, if you have a good eye, you can see groove deviation, and spot where the piece of vinyl is.
    If using glue, just use in in the area of the skip, let dry than pull off
    Band On The Run 25th anniversary 180 gram vinyl LP from 1999.I was fortunate to buy this limited edition from a very nice EBay dealer, and talked him down to $18. Now out of print, this was released a few years before the vinyl revival. I LOVE this record, and play it often. It comes with a studio outtake LP and original poster, and man this record is heavy,lol

    Gently pick out the loose vinyl with a wooden, not a plastic toothpick. This same technique can also be used to resolve what I call record groove dingleberries,lol
    Sometimes when a hot record is placed in a paper sleeve at the factory, fragments of paper will get lodged in the grooves, do not use your fingernail to pick these out, use the tip of the toothpick]

    One also needs to bear in mind that glue is way too thick and heavy, and like water, will NOT reach the very bottom of the fine ''V'' shaped groove wall, will only go about halfway down. Another danger of using wood glue is it can actually permanently bond to certain vinyl
    I've even heard of one guy using WD-40,another who seemed to lack cognitive attributes Spray and Wash. Great way to destroy vinyl. There's an online dealer that sells a similar glue like substance by the gallon, my advice?. Save your money.

    Disc Doctor's Miracle record cleaning fluid, without a doubt, the best cleaner on the market. Bottle costs around $ 25,but cleans several LPs with the vacuum system I suggest below
    Now, what about the popular steam cleaning method? There are people that swear by this half baked technique. You Tube is flooded with record steaming teaching videos. I get an absolute kick out of how most of these armatures become experts with their precarious cleaning suggestion's assuring us there's no harm done with suggestions ranging from Windex to even bleach. Think again! As I stated above, most of these greenhorns couldn't even clean their rooms and many have a lot of time on their hands as well, but it's these ideas that keep these forums going.
    Nitty Gritty Pure 1,another incredible record cleaning fluid with 0 alcohol. A bottle this size will run you around $18 and cleans several LPs. I have several people ask me what a wetting agent is. A wetting agent breaks the waters surface tension  already found in products like this .I don't see the point in making damaging home brew record cleaners specially one that uses alcohol when cleaners like this and disc doctor will clean several LPs safely

    Let me start off by saying not only is this method completely and totally stupid, but will cause extensive damage in a number of ways. Read on!.

     When you apply intense heat to a vinyl LP, your altering it's chemical components permanently, your changing it's molecular structure. It's like boiling a chicken to get the fat out. You WILL leach out essential ingredients used in it's manufacturing ,PROMISE! Also note that the LP has micro fine ridges above it's grooves that can easily be seared or singed off under this intense heat you won't be able to see with the naked eye.

    I'd like to challenge LP steaming advocates with this test. While steaming next time, take a whiff. Your smelling vinyl being heated similar to burning rubber. NOW, your not going to smell that unless something is not being burned off in the process, see my point? Want scientific proof? PVC has a melting point at 176 degrees F,the water temp at boiling is 112-114 degrees F,that means a total meltdown at that range. The fact that the record is warping should tell you your causing distortion to the LP. Steaming enthusiasts will be quick to refute there's no damage being done even while the record is severely warping, I'm proving with more than enough evidence how it indeed can!, and this method has spread like wildfire.

    The object is to use a hand held steamer to dislodge stubborn dirt from the record's grooves, the record will warp wildly and in the process what is actually being done is heating the record so hot, your welding the debris your supposed to steam out permanently to the now softened vinyl groove walls once it cools let alone the leaching out of  binders, plasticizers and stabilizers this intense heat will cause, by all means skip this process. Yet another risk is when the water over boils it will spit out blasts of steam that will indeed cause groove damage.

    Steamers love to defend their turf with an old urban myth that vinyl heats up to 350- 500 degrees as friction from stylus rides the records grooves. Not only is this absolutely preposterous, but if were true the groove walls would totally dissolve. It only takes 176 degrees to melt PVC. The hottest heat a record has ever received is when it came off the factory pressing plate.

    If you have a record that is very dirty, instead warm up the cleaning fluid in a microwave, but just warm not hot, and leave cleaning solution on record for about a min to soften up sludge, then vacuum. One needs to understand that a record may look impeccably clean to the naked eye but still evokes a lot of surface noise, this isn't necessarily dirt or mold it can also be groove damage from a worn or cheap stylus  from the previous owner

    Just imagine if you will what's actually happening below.
    This guy is spraying his ''jungle juice'' as he calls on to this unfortunate LP. NOW, distilled water reaches a boiling point at 212degF. He's water blasting under intense heat all the chemicals, alcohol ,and goodness only knows what else he mixed in this bottle permanently into the vinyl walls. Anyone with a brain can deduce that.
     As I stated above, alcohol alone is damaging enough, but BOILED alcohol? Also note how the water is ''beading'' on the LP even after he steamed it. Why is this? Because water is too heavy even at a boiling point to reach the LPs very fine groove's. Another risk is groove distortion, a complaint many ''steamers'' have made.
    Steam is great for cleaning hubcaps and carpets, but certainly not for records. It's methods like this, and people that post them I put in the category ''The idiot's guide on how to destroy vinyl''
     He might as well ad a little starch while he's at it

    [Video has been removed]

    You see there's no harm being done! Let these same rocket scientists prove this by showing us a before and after pic of the records grooves under a microscope to show there's no deviation to the grooves after a steam. You'll hear this on almost every record cleaning video or forum. I yet to hear one come forward and prove this

    The same applies to tap water advocates who claim the record looks all shiny and new after washing it under a sinks faucet,I'll tell you what they WILL find. calcium crystals, small etches from the waters chlorine and fluoride,I PROMISE! And this is permanent.







    NEVER! EVER! use Glass Plus, Simple Green, Goof Off,Goo Gone, lighter fluid, Windex or ANY type of window or glass cleaner whether it contains ammonia or not. [Ammonia is like cyanide to vinyl, you will do more damage than you can shake a stick at. Records can actually turn white as the ammonia reacts to it's PVC and plasticizers] Fantastic ,409,alcohol [denatured or otherwise],dish washing detergent [with the exception of Dawn] ,JetDry,Cascade, [dish washing rinsing agents contain harsh water softeners and powerful acids] toothbrushes for scrubbing out dirty grooves, A Magic Erasure [NOW! this simpleton method gives me the most laughs. The box clearly tells you NOT to use A Magic Erasure on gloss surfaces, yet this is still accepted as a safe alternative among st greenhorn audiophiles. This is like using fine sandpaper on your LP. You  can literally erase'' your records groove ridges right down to the quick using this numskull idea].

    Do NOT use Scrubbing Bubbles!!!! This lame brained idea is all the rage. This product contains ammonia,along with several other corrosive ingredients. I hate when these cleaning ideas are headed with a CHEAP way to clean records. Get yourself an alcohol free commercial cleaner and save your collection 
    Let me give you a heads up on this moronic cleaning method. See, users are reading ''safe to use on plastics including PVC''. A PVC vinyl LP is made up of different chemical components than PVC used for plumbing pipes or lawn furniture. Folks,do your homework. This product will not might destroy your record collection

    For you Simple Green enthusiasts soak a hardened paintbrush in diluted Simple Green, NOT only will it eat the paint off  the brush, but will dissolve the brushes bristles as well. Try it for yourself and see.Hobbyists use this to strip paint off model kits by soaking the painted model in a pan of Simple Green, left in there too long will also dissolve the plastic, amazing for a chemical that's non toxic. Some people think their safe using the popular ammonia free glass cleaner method.Think again! Glass Plus and other non ammonia glass cleaners contain 3 solvants.Methoxyisopropanol [found in nail polish remover], ethanol and propylene glycol, this will destroy your records!


    I recently bought these from an EBay dealer for $30,and is my greatest vinyl find to date. These are all the original pressings almost in pristine condition. Grand Funk though may sound archaic to todays young listeners were the pioneers of hard rock paving the way for bands like Bon Jovi,Pearl Jam [Pearl Jam sounds a lot like a louder version of GF] and Van Halen. GF broke The Beatles Shea Stadium record by selling out in 1 day. When buying vinyl from EBay Always check the seller's rating, some offer free shipping. I cleaned these and added LAST preservative. They sound fantastic for 40 year old records

    What about Lighter fluid? Lighter fluid will make a record look like new while slowly dissolving the groove walls. Lighter fluid also contains harsh petroleum distillates ,another moronic cleaning suggestion. Pour some lighter fluid into a thin plastic cup and wait the next day. It will eat the bottom right out. Simple Green will do the most damage believe me and know a guy that uses this. Amour All is another, and this idea receives the hair brain of year award. NEVER I repeat NEVER use ANY type of vinegar to wash or rinse an LP no matter how much you dilute it under any circumstance!.
    This technique is one of the most featherbrained of all. Vinegar is highly caustic, corrosive and acidic and like dish washing rinsing agents WILL etch the vinyl walls on top of the fact can leach out phthalate ester plasticizers and is a perfect catalyst to create mold. Vinegar mixed with baking soda is powerful enough to eat off hardened mineral and calcium deposits from shower heads, another reason you do not want to use this to clean a vinyl LP. The same applies to Kodak's photo flow which also contains alcohol, this is very caustic to vinyl on top of the fact it's highly toxic.  409 is fabulous for cleaning album covers, I PROMISE, and will NOT damage in any way. Just use a cosmetic cotton pad, dampen with 409,and gently wipe, this will remove crayon marks, dirt. I used it on my Beatles White Album, took all the dirt right off without damaging the cover in any way.DO NOT use Fantastic or any other cleaner for this,as it will eat the ink right off album otherwise. This trick is proven to work, and is not my idea, just do a small test area, and do NOT spray directly on record cover.

    [Pictured below are just a few of several dangerous ideas to clean records. Though starch or sizing may be quite useful for people stupid enough to use steam. If your going to ruin your vinyl, hey!why not ad a little starch as a finishing touch?,lol]
    At the risk of sounding redundant, let put everything in a nutshell. Sink washing an LP will NOT,I repeat NOT clean an LP,PERIOD!.   Tap water will not get down to where most of the dirt lies, at the grooves very bottom, it WON'T even go as far as halfway down. It's surface tension is too heavy. This can be debated all day, and will still draw the same conclusion. Tap water or sink water will also inundate your LP with calcium and mineral deposits

    The same applies to methods like Glass Plus, Windex and Simple Green. Without a vacuum, all the sediment will just be forced deeper into the grooves including residue left over from using these cleaners,period,promise! You cannot rinse this stuff out with tap or distilled. It will NOT reach the grooves bottom You CANNOT towel dry an LP to get to the bottom of the grooves, using a towel will only aid in forcing surface sludge back in again

    One album I'm surprised hasn't been reissued. This 1972 masterpiece contained the hit Day After Day. Badfinger also wrote I can't Live that was a hit for Mariah Carey. The band's lead singer Pete Ham succumbed to years of mental illness that took his life. A greedy manager took almost all of their earnings. George Harrison can be heard on lead guitar on Day After Day. I'd also love to see the album ''No Dice'' [1971] re released
      Everyone holds their own opinions on how a record should be cleaned. The homebrew cleaners have all kinds of ideas, some absolutely ridiculous. Many have asked me what a wetting agent is. A wetting agent or flowing agent breaks the waters surface tension so it can seep into the records grooves. The ONLY product you  can use safely is Tergitol,NOT Kodak's Photo flow. If your going to use Photo flow you might as well just use rubbing alcohol, because Photo flow is mostly made up of alcohol, plus this stuff is highly toxic


    Playing a dirty record will do irreparable damage. Imagine if you will the tip of the phono stylus riding through dirty record grooves, it is acting like a miniature steam roller welding debris to the vinyl walls, the dirt also acts as a sandpaper expediently lowering the life of the stylus. 

    What about warped LP's? This is another debated topic you'll find in vinyl collectors forums, I'll tell you what NOT to do. Using the oven method, NEVER do this!

    This procedure involves placing the warped LP between 2 sheets of glass and placing in your oven. Here's the problem with that. Not all ovens are created equal. Some ovens set to 112 degrees could actually heat up to 200,the result will be a melted black mess. PLUS you have to have a flat round piece of stiff thin cardboard cut slightly smaller to fit inside the records outer ridge,or it will not press down completely flat.



    The best way to do this is with something Mother Nature offers, the Sun. Place LP between 2 sheets of glass and leave in direct sunlight placing a sheet of heavy paper over the label to keep it from fading. Wait til record completely cools before removing it from the glass sheets, I'd wait overnight to give the LP time to retain it's shape. This will not work for records that have crinkle or crease warps, these are now trash.


    You will also read the sink cleaning method quite frequent and will give you SEVERAL reasons why this will not work. Tap water is way to heavy to reach the records fine grooves and will just ''bead off'' because of the surface tension, so all sink water will do is clean the surface, and amplify surface noise by spewing out calcium,copper,magnesium,iron and iron deposits, chlorine, fluoride,bromate,lead, dirt and various other contaminates onto your LP from your sink's faucet. NEVER use any type of paper towel for drying [way too abrasive!], instead use a very soft rag. There is actually a commercial sink cleaning record machine made out of PVC pipe that sits in your sink and attaches to your faucet I won't name, but looks like something Rube Goldberg designed, is ridiculously overpriced, and if only buyer knew how much damage kitchen sink water can do to their LP collection from this ripoff,they'd think twice.

    [Below is a quart of Tergitol,hands down the best chemical to clean vinyl lp's as it contains a wetting agent that breaks waters surface tension and detergents. Problem is this stuff is expensive and has to be mixed with just the right parts of water so see no point in buying this as most commercial cleaners like Nitty Gritty and Mobile Fidelity already contain it and at a huge fraction of the cost]

    Another issue to consider about this contraption is it blasts water at high pressure into the records fine grooves along with all your faucets contaminates including fine dirt which in turn becomes a miniature sandblaster,PLUS,water that has been forced into the grooves is too fine to remove by towel drying so all the contaminates will dry and weld to the record permanently, as in you will never be able to remove them.

    Below is a video I made to demonstrate just how futile the sink cleaning and use of regular water proves. To the left of the line I applied distilled water. Notice how it just ''puddles'' or ''rolls'' around the LP even while trying to spread it out with a pencil?. To the right I applied distilled water with a flowing agent. Notice it absorbing into the vinyl's groove's, and while spreading it out with the same pencil, it seeps in even deeper. Here's a test you can try at home. If you have an eyedropper or syringe with a narrow opening take the top off and try to fill with tap water. What happened? It's not filling, why? Because the water's surface tension is too heavy so it's just running off the rim. NOW, you can understand how it's just going to just bounce off an LP with even smaller micro fine record grooves.

    Let me also add that towel drying a wet LP whether it be cleaned by steam or sink washing will NOT reach the bottom of the grooves leaving sludge at the grooves bottom left to dry, promise! You will only dry the very surface.

    In order to clean a record properly you will need a wetting agent, no IFS'', ANDS'' or BUTS'' about this! A wetting agent is lighter than water and will get down into the bottom of the grooves lifting sludge and grime out. Water alone is WAY to heavy to get into the grooves and will just bead off .  NEVER use Kodak's photo flow, even Kodak warns users not to use this for record cleaning yet people still do it and destroy their records in the process, why? because it's too acidic and extremely corrosive. The proper product is a detergent made by DuPont called Tergitol,this is what the Library of Congress recommends and uses for cleaning their own archives, problem is it is expensive and has to be mixed at just the right parts with distilled water SO here are my recommendations.

    

     Disc Doctor miracle record cleaner,Nitty Gritty VPI cleaning fluid [without alcohol, they sell 2 formulas],or Spin Clean record cleaning fluid, but do NOT recommend using the Spin Clean cleaning machine. All this does is embed dirt deeper into the grooves. If you choose to use this make sure the rollers which excerpt quite a bit of pressure are free from grit as you can and will scratch your collection as a result. You want to get the crud off of your album, not squeeze it back in. Also note with the Spin Clean machine if your cleaning a real dirty LP,the filth left in the pan will just ''spin'' onto the next record you attempt to clean so would advise you use a separate pan with clean distilled water for a final rinse, or use a pump sprayer like the one I posted below, though I think their cleaning fluid is fabulous!
    
    One album you must hear before you die,lol. It'll Shine When It Shines by The Ozark Mountain Daredevils is an overlooked and underrated masterpiece. One of if not my favorite album of all time. What makes it special is it's not repetitive,each song is unique.I coin this The Beatles Abbey Road of Southern rock. The song Lowlands has a chorus that's almost Angelic. Kansas you Fooler has the best backround vocals I've ever heard. Tidal Wave will get your Grandma up to dance. This deserves a Mobile Fidelity half speed release These Missouri boys would have made it to the same rank as Skynyrd had they chose to do larger tours.Containing the hit single Jackie Blue this is Southern rock at it's finest from 1975.It also contains a booklet with lyrics.I had the CD version that was a grave disappointment. Compact Discs will often lack details as noted in The Beatles 2010 CD remasters






    Disc Doctor is a miracle indeed. I've cleaned records with this outstanding product I thought were hopeless, but much to my surprise it can get a record once full of snap'' crackle'' and pops'' sounding almost as quite as a CD. The only quam I have with Disc Doctor is you want to rinse ASAP as it will leave a slight haze if allowed to dry, this isn't an issue with Spin Cleans fluid, my second choice, but does not affect sound in any way. They also make a cleaning product that requires no rinsing via vacuum I've never tried, but heard laudable reviews on it's results. Disc Doctor comes with a smaller empty bottle to fill with cleaner, I add 2 drops of Dawn dish washing liquid to this and shake thoroughly



    This is one album I'd love to see re released on 180 gram vinyl. Decade is ranked as rocks absolute best completion album. Released in 1977,this 3 record set covers Neil Young's best songs from his solo, Buffalo Springfield and Crazy Horse days . Also contains 2 songs that were never released. One thing I hated were record companies that resorted to these cheap plastic sleeves that would crumple up when you tried to slide them back into the jacket. I'm replacing these with new ones. This is an example of poor grading from Amazon dealers. The dealer graded cover as a VG+,when it's really a Good-,it looks like Cortez the Killer got a hold of it,lol.I let it go because the records were pristine but $15 was a bit high.
    NOW, the water section. Don't buy into the idea that you have to have lab grade distilled water, this is hogwash! Some vinyl enthusiasts will go as far as to use car battery water as this is the purest form on the market, not necessary. Kentwood is just as pure you can buy for 80 cents at Wally World. but you HAVE to wash and rinse with distilled. Use of tap water will leave all kind of nasty's behind including calcium deposits you will NEVER get off once it dries.
    Let me repeat that once more. If you wash an LP with tap water, you will NEVER be able remove dried mineral deposits. Imagine tiny clear barnacles that have permanently etched the vinyl. Are you familiar with water stains or spots on glass?. Well those are calcium deposits that are strong enough to etch hard glass. SO, just imagine what it will do to soft vinyl? DO NOT USE FILTERED TAP WATER,this is not the same as distilled.
    One of my favorite completion albums. This 2 fer double album contains both of Skynyrd's Gold and Platinum releases. I bought this prestine from an E Bay dealer for $15. Skynyrd and Black Oak Arkansas were the kings of Southern Rock

    For those who insist on the sink cleaning method allow me to teach you a safer alternative.

    Go to Home Depot or Lowes and buy either a 1 or 5 gallon empty pump garden sprayer. Make sure you rinse with about a quart of distilled water to get any contaminates out. Fill with distilled water pump about 10 times and use that to rinse your LPs using a label protector. The water pressure will be a lot finer and will gently blast most of the dirt out of the grooves,but bear in mind this will not work as well as vacuuming, just a LOT safer than using tap water.[NEVER use a container that was previously used to spray chemicals!]

    One guy recommended using a dish washing rinsing agent, NEVER do this!, I repeat NEVER!  This idea makes me want to absolutely cringe and is almost as bad as steaming. Rinsing agents like Cascade and JetDry have harsh water softeners and acid added,are made for glass not plastic.  Another question you might ask, should new records be cleaned as well? The answer in some cases is an emphatic yes, you want to remove the mold release I described below as this will slightly inhibit sound though this isn't imperative.
     My copy of Heart's masterpiece ''Little Queen'' from Friday Music,this company makes the second best LPs paying close attention for details.I purchased this from J&R Music in New York via mail order brand new a few years ago..

    Dawn dish washing detergent is another often suggested cleaning solution,and surprise!,I DO recommend this provided a wetting agent is used along with it, otherwise it will just lay on the surface. If you decide on Dawn, make sure it's the blue liquid with no perfumes. Dawn leaves no residue which makes it a great cleaner, but only use 3 drop per cup of water and stir well. Environmentalists used Dawn to clean the oil off of birds during the BP oil spill quite effectively, the detergent is mild enough to where it didn't burn their eyes. Do not use Ajax,Joy,or Palmolive.As I stated, records HAVE to be vacuumed in order to get the best possible results, but most commercial  LP wet vacs will set you back from $ 300.00 up to $ 5000.00,way out of most peoples budgets, so my suggestion below is just as if not more effective as you have better control over suction. Make sure you clean brushes in distilled water before and after use to keep contaminates from getting on your record.

    [Below, a few more optional tools. A garden pump sprayer to use in place of sink or tap water. Fill with distilled water, pump about 10 times, and wash and rinse LP. The beauty of this idea is you won't destroy or even pit your records grooves from harmful chlorine and other nasty's spitting out of your sinks faucet. You can also use this as a final rinse if you use The Spin Clean record cleaning machine. I can't seem to convince a few obstinate people that tap water WILL ruin your records, period! Using the pump sprayer is Almost just as good as vacuuming as the water pressure is strong enough to reach the groove's bottom,PLUS,you don't have to worry about contaminates that settle to the bottom  and drying there as distilled water is pure leaving no residue

    Also shown is LAST's record cleaner and preservative, a level, and a tracking force gauge both manual and digital, and Free's self titled album,lol]

    Mold is another enemy to vinyl. Mold cannot always be seen with the naked eye but will cause extensive surface noise. I bought an old Melanie album [female hippy singer known for her hits Brand New Key and Candles in the Rain] the record looked pristine before I paid 50 cents at garage sale, but when I played it it was inundated with surface noise until I cleaned it. Moisture can penetrate through heavy cardboard covers over time, specially records that have been stored in damp basements. Another way mold forms are from vinyl owners that wet clean an album with products like Dicswasher or Audio Technica's cleaning fluids and return them to their sleeves before they let them thoroughly dry. This will in turn form mold spores as these fluids also contain water..

    Here's the tools you''ll need.2 soft brushes, one for cleaning another for rinsing. An old turntable, a jar with 2 holes drilled in it's lid to house 2 tubes, use silicone caulk around the tubes and the jar lid holes, cleaning fluid recommended above and a vacuum. One tube will be used for suction,the other will attach to the vacuums hose via duct tape or a vacuum hose size reducer coupling. The jar will collect dirty rinse water and prevent liquid from getting into your vacuum's motor. Also a bottle for distilled rinse water.

    
    Shown above is The Spin Clean record cleaner. This is a huge seller that has been around since 1975,but let me warn users about this before purchasing. Make sure the pads are free from even fine grit before spinning your LP as the scratches that WILL result will be difficult to see while the record is wet. The pads which exert a substantial amount of pressure are basically just squeezing the crud deeper into your records grooves along with soap residue that HAS to get a final rinse for best results. With this system, your just using dirty rinse water. ALSO, and this is a no brainer. If you spin'' a real dirty LP,the filth it left in the pan and on the pads will just spin'' onto the next LP you clean. One needs to understand that the wet pads are absorbing most of the crud from each LP,so every time you spin a record the dirt will just leach out onto the next, so here's an idea reader Ken e mailed me with. Use the garden pump sprayer shown above to rinse after spinning with fresh distilled water. The pressure the pump sprayer produces will be adequate enough to reach the bottom of the grooves like gently water blasting, and remove sludge, dirt and detergent residue. You just don't want to towel dry a record with soap residue this will leave behind. I would only reserve this for flea market and garage sale find LP's,I would never ''spin'' my valuable Mobile Fidelity half speeds or Beatles original pressings in this. I'm not trying to deter readers from buying it, but just note that this machine is more of a novelty


    Records have to have the fluid vacuumed out, otherwise fluid that has settled will dry and leave residue. This cleaning method is just as effective as using a $2000.00 Keith Monks or Nitty Gritty Vacuum machine, but my machine only costs around $20.00 to make excluding the vacuum. It's advisable to place cleaned records into brand new sleeves as you may re contaminate after cleaning placing them back into their originals.

     Records are mold mongers, and give off a strong static charge that will attract airborne kitchen grease, dust and dust mites and cigarette smoke like a fly to ointment over time. Any moister will leave mold spores in groove walls causing excessive surface noise. I bought a Simon and Garfunkel album off of EBay that was surface noise city, but after cleaning with my method suggested, it was absolutely free of pops and clicks, almost like new.  One of my all-time favorite albums is Paul Simon's Hearts and Bones. It was great hearing this after a thorough cleaning bought in a used record store.

    
    Here is the grime at the bottom of the jar after 9 records.
    What about record preservatives?  Good question. Back in the 70's there was a product called Sound Guard. The way this was applied was with a spray bottle and buffing pad, a definite record destroyer. Not only did it leave gunk on your stylus, but required firm buffing with applicator pad leaving hairline scratches galore. Another product,Gruv Glide,that is still available has mixed reviews, will set you back about $ 40, leaves a fine film on LP in order to lubricate stylus riding the records groove path, I would ONLY reserve using this for real dirty records. Lastly LAST Record Preservative has rave reviews. It assures user that record will not lose it's quality even after 200 plays, an audacious promise that has been backed up,but this stuff is expensive, evaporates almost instantly, and will not leave any film on groove walls. I use it myself.

    

    To apply LAST do not use the syringe and applicator that comes with the kit,by the time you spend releasing the liquid to the applicator half the product will already evaporate,instead use a fat cotton swab. Dip the swab into the bottle and quickly let it ride across the LP's grooves keeping your finger over the bottles rim. Make sure you cap the bottle in between treatments. You have to work fast as this product evaporates almost instantly. I used this on a 40 year old Grand Funk album after cleaning.It not only quieted surface noise,but actually brought out the highs substantially. This stuff  does work! I just do not recommend their product Stylast.

    Their all purpose record cleaner [#3] is superb for removing mold release,this is a lube used on the pressing plates at the record factory so the vinyl bisquit doesn't stick


    Here is a now discontinued disaster in a bottle called Sound Guard.You would spray liquid on LP,use the blue pad to spread,then with the blue handled brush,polish the record almost like shining a shoe leaving nasty fine surface scuffs and swirls on the record,plus gum up your stylus,lol.

    Place record on old turntable set at 33 speed,place about a tablespoon of fluid and spread with brush letting brush ride on the entire the LP  excluding it's label for about a min,take tube turn on vacuum and suck off fluid starting at the beginning of the record and slowly moving to the label area til all fluid is removed,you'll see the dirt removed in the jar,then with rinse water,use another brush and repeat process. Record will be cleaner than ANY other method used. I also ad a mold release cleaning fluid made by LAST to the first process. Record plants use mold release to keep the record from sticking to the pressing plates,sort of a lube that does leave a film on a new record. I PROMISE you,this is the ONLY way to clean a record without damaging your entire collection.

    Don't be too concerned about removing all the fluid from the first rinse as it's actually conducive to keep a trace of fluid behind to break the water tension from the rinse water.
    Even Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs has taken advantage of the vinyl revival. Here is a recent release of The Car's 1979 masterpiece Candy O pressed at half speed from the original master tapes.This lists for $30.00,but is worth every penny as no Compact Disc could come close to replicating this albums incredible details.

    Now, just a final note. Make sure your turntable is level, very important! When installing a cartridge on a tonearm that requires a headshell,make sure you use a cartridge protractor to assure proper alignment. Shure's M97XE as recommended above has one with the cartridge as an added bonus.It's also important to change out old headshell wiring. Keep album covers in plastic sleeves to prevent ring wear as well as cover wear. [pictured below are the Koss Pro 4 AA headphones designed in 1970,the demand for these were so great Koss has reproduced them,and without a doubt the best sounding cans for analog use for under $ 200.00,these sound just as good if not better than a $ 400.00 pair of Grados. The Pro4AAs are bulky and the baby puke green color may not appeal to everyone but be rest assured you'd have to step up to electrostatics to get better sound. Most of the negative reviews these phones receive are people using them for I Pods with complaints like ''these don't have any bass'',well duh!,lol,thier not made for I pods,you need a separate amp ].

    Make sure you use a good quality phono stylus. NEVER buy generic or aftermarket as the shafts on these are stiffer than an overdose of Viagra,lol,and have little if any flexibility. I prefer Shure because of their elliptical diamond shape that is the most contiguous fit in a record's groove that gives it superb tracking, these last anywhere from 800 to 1000 hours before wearing out. 

    2 of the best cartridges ever made were Shure's N95 ED and HE long discontinued . You'll often see aftermarket replacement stylus going for $14. Buyer beware. These are often poor quality elliptical tips. The HE used a hyper elliptical tip that resulted in not only superior sound,but better tracking. You will not find a quality aftermarket stylus for under $80


    To clean your stylus use 50/50 alcohol water with a soft small paintbrush, but be careful about applying too much to the tip as it could ''wick'' up the shaft and damage your cartridge. The Magic Erasure idea you''ll hear often I would be very cautious about trying,the idea is to tear a small piece off the erasure and run it under your stylus,the idea is a hit with most audiophiles,but proceed with caution.
    Another method  is using a  Q-tip. One needs to be careful with this approach so you don't snag the stylus tip off by pulling too fast . Dip the Q-tip in alcohol and move slowly in a back and forth motion.Use the other end to dry Never go side to side. Back in the 60's and 70's it was advised never to use undiluted alcohol because it could soften the epoxy used to glue the stylus tip. Epoxies today are much tougher,so would not be concerned about this. The beauty of a Q-tip is it will reach all sides of the stylus,but again,move it slowly

    Yet another precarious way to clean LPs.
     This PVC device is called The Gem Dandy,the price? Ridiculous,so are the results. If you'll notice on your sinks faucet,there's a round screen [I was a plumber too,serious] Unscrew this and take it off just to see the nasties this thing collects including small pieces of wood,sand even small stones.This is on here to keep foreign objects from your water supply reservoir  entering your drinking water. Turn off your main water supply,wait 10 min Now turn it back on. You see all the black dirt coming out? NOW just imagine  what your blasting into your delicate vinyl with this contraption.. This blasts water at high pressure forcing it into the grooves including calcium,lead,magnesium,bromide,fluoride and other nasties including fine dirt and sand into your record's groove that will weld permanently to their walls,I mean as in you will NEVER be able to remove [at least the label is protected,lol] NOW.If there was a way to force distilled water into this,it would be perfect. Reason being?. Because this would force out grimes oils and various other crud out of the grooves.If anyone can figure out how to get compressed Distilled water into the machines faucet tube,you have yourself a great piece of equipment. If you can't ,by ALL means,skip it!. You see,most of these do it your selfers will always head their techniques with there's no harm being done.Oh really? I'm waiting for one to come forward and prove this,specially the carpet steamers who are destroying hundreds of records every day



    Here's a tip on when to know it's time to change your stylus. Shure advises the M97 last anywhere from 800-1000 hours of play.Some claim to have gotten as many 2000 hours,this is possible if records are clean and well cared for. If you start hearing distortion [also know as inner groove distortion] specially in vocals that will make a shhhhh sound when S's are pronounced it's time to replace.Also frequent mis tracking.If you have the M97XE you''ll notice gray dust on the damping brush,this is shaved vinyl or your stylus tip starts to gunk up frequently,time to change.[a stylus will accumulate occasional gunk,this does not mean it's worn.It's when it happens frequent.

    Yet another great cart. Shure's M95HE. In my opinion the second best sounding phono cartridge ever made. You can buy this new for $200,but it's an aftermarket brand. The replacement stylus alone will run you $80. It originally retailed for $19 in 1980.[the stylus]Here's the problem with buying second hand cartridges. First off,there's no guarantee they work.It would be a huge headache in itself buying an expensive replacement stylus to find Ebay sold you a dead cartridge. You would end up having to return that and hope seller agrees. Then bid on another,and run into the same problem while stuck with an $100 to $300 aftermarket stylus you may not be able to return. Second. Buying a replacement stylus specially for discontinued Shures and Stantons can cost you a small fortune. Stantons are very tough to find as are Pickerings. Ed Saunders were the best aftermarket replacements for Shure,but Ed retired a few years ago and is now in the hands of another dealer. Reviews are now mixed



    Before replacing stylus,make sure the problem isn't a dirty record] As the walls of of both sides of the stylus begin to wear this will force the weight of the tracking to force the tip deeper into the bottom of the grooves which accounts for gunk buildup on it's tip. This is worn vinyl and debris it's lifting from the grooves very bottom.
    It's always prudent to keep a spare stylus on hand. Also,purchase a small jewelers microscope to examine the tip
    These are NOT Compact Discs but a 3 LPs from the Disney film Frozen. This goes to show that LPs are gaining more popularity every year. This 3 record set will cost you $124.00.[ridiculous, who does Disney think can afford this?,lol] The single LP from Back to Black costs around $30
    http://www.backtoblackvinyl.com/

    Seeing stylus wear is difficult without a high powered microscope,so here's a rule I go by.If you play 4 albums a night both sides like I do, replace every year. 5 albums a night every day replace every 8 months. Better safe than sorry.
    Stylast,a product that has been hyped up in many vinyl forums is very expensive and a waste of money in my opinion. The circumference of a stylus is too small to be able to hold this little dab of product that will just ride off after one LP play and can increase the danger of cartridge damage by wicking up the cantilever and entering your cartridge's housing as this stuff does cause buildup. Another thing that will speed up wear of a stylus is playing 45's due to the speed and friction. Keeping stylus tip clean is another way to cut back on it's wear as well as the LP.

    Update:

    It is quite possible to get up to 2000 hours of play with a good quality stylus. This is provided your records are clean. Nothing will wear a tip quicker that playing a filthy LP. Manufactures use the 800 hour rule so they can sell more replacement styluses. As stated, vinyl is tenacious. Playing an LP with a worn stylus won't do excessive damage if caught early. This does not apply to one that is chipped. The signs of wear are quite obvious.



    When buying a replacement ALWAYS examine the tip. I had one that was used sent to me by a reputable dealer. Users can switch out their old styluses and put them in a new package for a return. For M97 XE owners. Replacement styluses can go as high as $60. I use B&H Photo who sells it for 40


    I wouldn't be overly concerned about extensive damage to your records if you catch stylus wear early [I'm sure I'll get a lot of protest from this statement,lol],this does NOT apply however to a stylus that is chipped

    [Shown in the video below is another vacuum less method using a product by Keith Monks.  For those who can't afford vacs,this alcohol free product though expensive is quite remarkable,just very hard to obtain here in The States]

    [Below is the 2012 re release of Love's Forever Changes from 1967. and a photo of it's creator Arthur Lee Remastered by Rhino Records for the best sound,this was Arthur Lee's masterpiece,and is now ranked as rock's finest LP. The song You Set The Scene I consider one of the absolute best songs ever written. Sundazed Records has released most of Arthur Lee and Love's LP's,but I prefer Rhino Records 1990's re releases]

    Being Afro American during the 1960's race riots,Lee was not allowed to tour with his band as his fellow band mate Johnny Echols was also black. He is now being recognized even by Zep's Robert Plant as Rock greatest

    ''When I was invisible
    I needed no light
    You saw right through me, you said
    Was I out of sight?''
    [Arthur's brilliant lyrics from She comes in colors]

    For those who want a quick lesson on the history of 60's rock,before Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison,there was Arthur Lee who were both musicians greatest influence,Morrison practically worshiped him.With Hendrix,if you heard one song,you heard them all,not so with Arthur. Lee singlehandedly created almost all forms of modern music including punk with his song 7 & 7 is. His song A House is not a Motel was written about the horrors of war. Arthur also penned the trippy Andmoreagain,and the masterpiece She Comes in colors and Alone again or. 2 of the former band members were know to hold up Donut Shops with water pistols for drug money,this is no urban myth,lol.

    Lee even created Folk Rock 1 year before The Byrds,and was the first to wear colored lense granny glassed before Lennon and Roger Mcguin.


    This Afro American genius is one of my greatest idols. Lee passed away in 2006

    Look this weekend for my Arthur Lee/Love blog bio]
    One of the best albums you never heard
        
    Arthur Lee circa 1967. Lee was coined the first Black Hippie


    Buying used records online can be risky. When buying from EBay dealers always check sellers rating. Amazon can be the worst as dealers tend to exaggerate records true condition, also the shipping costs can be more than the record is worth. Two of the best stores I know of are The Sound Exchange in Wayne New Jersey. This store has been open since the late 70's and has an incredible inventory.  The Music Factory here in New Orleans is another. Located on the second floor of the store is the vinyl section both old and new with prices you can't beat. I've never bought an LP there I had any trouble with or had to return.
    You''ll notice on some used records a hole punched in the corner of the cover, this is called a ''cut out'' that also looks like it was shot with a BB gun, this was done by the dealer. A cut out is also manifested by the corner of the cover cut off or what looks like a notch cut with a saw. This is not cut in the vinyl so they are completely playable.
      The link below shows favorite record company. Look at all the new vinyl releases they have available. Though not as great as Rhino records, their very close.
    http://www.fridaymusic.com/


    My favorite cans on earth.I've owned these since 1978. Now some might think your an old man,what the heck do you know?,lol. I challenge you to compare these to new pair of $600 AKGs,Skulldaddy's or Grado's and come back and tell me these didn't sound better,and these were invented in 1970.If you don't like them,Koss will give a full refund.If you break them,drop them in your toilet Koss will replace them for free no questions asked,even if their 7 years old. No other headphone company offers this wonderful guarantee. The bass these things generate has to be heard to be believed

    Below I posted a DIY record vac video that is the absolute most ingenious design I've ever seen I did not make,my concept is the same,only without the tonearm.The beauty of this design is it does not involve velvet coated wands that would just re contaminate the record unless rinsed or switched out between cleanings,PLUS,the smaller circumference of the tube means more suction per area,this would cost around $200.00 to build yourself.
    Another look at my Koss Pro 4 AAs. I wish they had leather ear pads as the vinyl pads can sweat after extended listening. These were once filled with mineral oil that either leaked or hardened up as it aged. These are the best for analog listening as modern headphones are more for digital audio that can make vinyl sound dull and lifeless. The Koss Pro 4AAs were the biggest sellers of the late 60's to early 80's,and were used in almost every recording studio. Here's a review written last year. These phones are before my time,but the sound quality is almost too good to be true for headphones you can purchase for $80 [and no,I do not work for Koss,lol,so am not profiting for promoting them]   http://www.cnet.com/news/back-to-the-future-koss-pro4aa-headphones/?_escaped_fragment_=#! They just recently started selling them with the metal ear brackets that were omitted when they were re released in 1988. Listen to The Beatles Abbey Road with these,Ringo's drumming sounds just like your in the Abbey Road studio, acoustic guitar strings are another amazing sound

    [Below is a re release of Grand Funk's We're An American Band as it was in 1973 including stickers but brand new. Many might think colored vinyl is inferior in quality, not true as there are fewer impurities. The same however does not apply to picture discs. Grand Funk and Free [formed by Paul Rodgers] are my all-time fav rock bands This is one of my most played albums. Pink Floyd's new Dark Side Of The Moon also contains all the posters also released the same year. Try getting these goodies in a tiny CD jewel case,lol].


     I have a patton on this idea I didn't create to sell,but looks like someone already swiped my idea,and is selling his version on EBay,I'm not filing suite because it's somewhat different design.
    Thank you for reading,and hope I didn't come off as ''snooty'' to any of my reader's,just trying to prevent you from destroying your entire record collection that can never be brought back to it's original glory once damaged. If you have any questions or comments,feel free to ask me. My You Tube video has received several thumbs down,lol,but guess to err is human.If people want to use carpet steamers,Windex,and Magic Erasures to destroy their vinyl,it's a free country,I'm not stopping anyone!. Most of the slack I get are from people using sink water and dishwashing detergent,hey,go for it!,lol Others may be mad that they already ruined their vinyl,and didn't read this sooner,lol

    For you Alice Cooper/ David Bowie fans. I also dispelled several myths about these 2 rock icons

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/paul-davison-artist/alice-cooper-and-david-bowie-urban-myths-dispelled-by-paul-davison/10153851490323119

    For you fans of the TV series EMERGENCY
     https://www.facebook.com/EmergencySquad51Fans/
    KMG-365



    I hope you''ll take time to view  my Facebook art page at the link to the above left of this blog.


    The Wilson sisters [Heart] painted by me. Be sure to visit my Facebook art page.I'm not selling anything on there either,lol
    https://www.facebook.com/ArtistPaulDavison



    Happy listening!
    Paul Davison
    

    
    Here's The Beatle's Magical Mystery Tour vinyl LP from the 2012 release [from my own collection]..
     

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