Good question.. and a timely one! I just had someone commenting on the Facebook page about how he is amazed how cleaning a record can rescue a piece of vinyl that looked fit for the bin!!
The thing is they are often not as bad as they look.. think of a record as like a Petri dish (remember the ‘agar plate’ or whatever it was they were going on about at school? I don’t remember much from school – to be honest it was like a scene from ‘Kes’…)
Anyway.. I’m drifting. Think of a record like it is a Petri Dish.. And one day in 1981 someone has a fried Spam sandwich then wipes their hands on their Wranglers and puts a copy of ‘Jailbreak’ on the trusty Garrard..
That fingerprint is organic material.. skin/spam/oil/other stuff (?!) and after a few years the record finds itself in a warehouse or garage with quite a high moisture content and varying temperatures and slowly over time all the fingerprints and whatever else turn manky. I have pulled records out of sleeves that you wouldn’t turn into a fruit bowl, but when cleaned they come up like new.
That is only part of the story, even if a record looks ok there is usually some crap deep in there somewhere that genuinely does affect the sound – and not just for the golden eared! I would say get a record cleaner. Either a manual one like the SpinClean on the site here or on the eBay store or buy something more serious if you are a serious vinyl nut. I have to say, I have cleaned literally thousands of records with a SpinClean with amazing results – and fast! I liken it to chopping wood.. it is a manual task but you have greater control and it can be a lot faster than using an electric splitter.
I’ll give you another tip while I am here… if you chop wood using an axe, put your ’round’ (log!) in an old tyre – that way when you split the log you don’t have to keep bending down to pick up the pieces..
Keep tuning in for more vinyl and woodcraft tips!!!