We’ve looked at caring for your stylus, using static-free inner sleeves, and protective outer sleeves. We also took at a look at how to properly pack a record to ensure it arrives safely to its destination. Now let’s take a look at how to properly store your precious vinyl records. There’s little worse in your record listening life than to remove a record that last played wonderfully, only to find it now plays like shit.
You can do everything as you should in every other aspect of record care. You can clean the stylus regularly, clean your records, put them in nice Mobile Fidelity sleeves, and use an outer sleeve to protect the cover. But if you don’t store them properly, you may be causing irreparable damage.
The proper way to store records is simple: upright on a shelf with the spine facing outward. Just like books. Pack the records tightly so they don’t lean.
Leaning records warp records, especially those that support other records. But don’t stuff them to the point of you struggling to remove a record.
Do not store the record flat!
Even worse, don’t set anything else on top of a flat record… especially more records. You’ve all seen it. Records stacked halfway to the ceiling, leaning like that tower in Italy.
This is not good.
Ring wear on an album cover is an indication that the record sat flat with some serious weight on it. Although I have no scientific evidence, I imagine records stored like this for an extended period of time are permanently damaged. Based off my experience, when I see ring wear, I predict the record is going to be a frustrating listening experience. I would wager that 99% of the time, the record will have serious surface noise… and no amount of cleaning will get rid of it.
Maybe all that pressure on the record fucks up the grooves. Regardless, it’s not good practice to stack records on top of one another.
Besides removing a record when they are upright is much easier than removing the bottom record from a stack. Records stored properly are easier to categorize (alphabetize) and if you use protective outer sleeves, they slide on and off the shelf with ease.
Also, don’t leave a record on the turntable for an extended period of time. It’s tempting to leave something you’ll listen to tomorrow, but the truth is leaving a record exposed allows it collect dust. Although the record may look pristine, the result is the dreaded surface noise. Sure you may have a dust cover, but really, is your precious vinyl worth the risk?
If you’re not listening to it, be safe… put it in a sleeve, in the cover, and store upright. I use these cubes from Amazon. (The pictures in this post are of my collection — except for the records stacked outside(!))
These cubes are perfect for records. They have the right amount of depth for vinyl. They assemble easily, can be stacked, and are relatively cheap.