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How to start a record collection

Our resident expert offers some common sense (and occasionally not so common) advice on how to kick off your vinyl vault
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Well, you just start, don’t you?

In fact, if you’re reading this, you probably have already. There’s no magic formula, after all, or set of rigid rules and guidelines you need to follow. A collection is whatever you’ve collected, and whatever you decide to keep going with. Or not. Some people allow their collections to lie dormant for years. Others feed them on a regular basis. It’s completely up to you.

That said, there are a few things that it might help for you to pick up, if you really are planning to take things “seriously.” A rough guide to “what’s out there,” for example.

If you collect Rush albums, it is useful to know their names; and, from there, to have an idea of their values. It is easy to walk into a Main Street antique mall, browse through the LPs in their cardboard boxes, and pay $20 for something that, with a little more research, you could have got for $5 including shipping on Discogs.

And, unless you regard the hobby purely as an investment vehicle (in which case it doesn’t matter what the music sounds like becaue you’re certainly never going to play it), if you’re going to collect The Beatles, start with the records you can readily afford, as opposed to breaking the bank for a first state Butcher cover.

Yes, you’ll probably make your money back when you sell it, but there’s few things more heartbreaking than starting a new collection and discovering, halfway through, that you really don’t like half their records. Especially that one with “She’s Leaving Home” on it.

A subscription to Goldmine is a good place to start, for a bi-monthly digest of both old and new collectible artists, and a website packed with fascinating features, reviews and helpful advice. Plus some excellent advertisers.

Another key purchase would be one of the price guides that Goldmine produced on a regular basis since the early 1990s, and which covered everything from specialty volumes on the British Invasion, Christmas and Jazz, through to the ultimate bible, covering literally tens of thousands of records from across the spectrum.

Generally regarded as the gold standard of U.S. retail values, these guides are just that — they show you the amount of money you can expect to pay for a Near-Mint copy of any given 45 or LP released in this country between the early 1950s and late 1980s. Not every release by every artist is featured, but you will need to delve deep to find the omissions. Remember, however, that these are selling prices… if you’re looking to sell a collection, these are not the sums you can expect.

You shouldn’t stop there, though. A good record collection is often complemented by a good reference library. We’ll be looking into a few suggestions for that in a future column. But, for now, let’s move onto the next key essential… you’ve got the records. Now what are you going to play them on?


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