Music Connection

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Before You Purchase Used Records: 3 Things to Inspect

Playing a vinyl record through a turntable is an audiophile’s preferred method of listening to music. Although the world is slowly becoming more digital than ever, these analogue listening devices have received a resurgence in recent years. Unfortunately, these devices and vinyl records don’t exactly come in low prices.

Although people used to buy vinyl records with their lunch money, that’s no longer the case today in the age of streaming. Vinyl discs are either modern luxuries or hard-to-find antiques. This is why many people prefer looking for hiding gems through the latter by crate digging in boutique stores.

How to Snatch a Hidden Gem Among Used Vinyl Records

Unless your purpose of buying a vinyl record is to display it on your walls, you need to ensure that your finds are still in pretty good condition. When crate digging, you must be vigilant with your eyes before making a purchase. This is because used records generally have some form of damage that affects their playback quality.

If you don’t want to take home an unplayable second-hand record, here are three things to inspect:

1. Damaged Sleeves

A Vinyl record’s sleeve should give you an idea of the album’s general condition. If it’s damaged or opened in any way, there’s a good chance the record inside may have some physical issues. If the corners are dog-eared or partially split, it can still partially protect the record. However, stay away from pieces with signs of water damage or missing inner sleeves.These records are generally unsalvageable and tend to have poor playback quality.

2. Warping on the Record

The playing area of a vinyl record should be generally flat. If it’s bent even slightly, it can lead to poor translation of its recording. Bent records can sound warbly or cause disturbing pitch shifts during play.

Using a clear light source, hold the record at eye level and inspect its general shape. Some slight bumps are ignorable and can be tested by listening at the store. If these records aren’t looking their best, you should expect several tracking and playback issues with your purchase.

3. Scratches, Cracks, and Dents

Second-hand vinyl records will typically have scratches to show signs of use. However, you need to determine if the product you’re holding is still in good condition. If it has a sheen reflection of light, it’s a sign of an unopened and unused record. Over time, blemishes will affect its reflectivity and be a sign of being worn out.

Since it’s almost a miracle to expect pristine records, you should look for minor damage present in your purchase. For example, small patches of dirt may seem problematic but can be easily removed with a soft brush and cleaning solution. Shallow scratches may seem unsightly, but they are a hit or miss if they affect the record’s actual playback quality.

The actual red flags you need to consider are scratches that run parallel or diagonal to the grooves. This can cause your turntable’s needle to skip or return to a loop. Keep in mind that severe cracks and deep cuts on records can no longer be saved, so it’s best to stay away from these items.


Even new artists are riding the wave of producing limited copies of their releases on vinyl records. However, nothing beats the nostalgia of listening to the classes through these older formats. Thankfully, there are still numerous hidden gems you can find for a low price. You just need to know where to look and how to inspect your prospective purchase.

Music Connection is a music store in Manchester, NH, that has a wide catalog of new and previously-loved CDs, DVDs, 78s, Cassettes, vinyl records, and more. Contact us at (603) 644-0199 or email us at if you’re looking for a specific product from our archives. 

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