How to Build a Record Collection on a Budget

People shopping for new records outside

Building a record collection is definitely a fun challenge. However, between buying vinyl records themselves and the cleaning accessories and storage solutions to keep them in great condition, record collecting for beginners especially can be pretty costly. Read on to see how you can collect records while saving money and get some valuable tips on how to take care of your vinyl records to keep them sounding great.

Record Collecting for Beginners: 5 Places to Shop and Save Money

While you can certainly shop for new releases and rare LPs and EPs in record stores, you can expect to pay the most at these types of specialized stores. To save you money, look to these resources:

Estate Sales

Estate sales offer bargain hunters a wide variety of options, especially if you’re interested in older releases and vintage vinyl records. For beginners, record collecting through estate sales gives you the chance to save money on both records and possibly some good quality equipment as well.

Look through local newspaper ads, online classified ads, and forums to see estate sales in your area. You may get a great deal out of it!

Thrift Stores

Record collecting for beginners usually starts with a visit to local thrift stores. However, you should be aware of the grading system used to gauge vinyl records’ quality.

For more in-depth insights, we discuss that scale in this blog post on upgrading your record collection:

  • Mint (M): This is the highest quality grade a record can have. Mint records have likely never been played. They’re also the most expensive. Typically, record lovers who have mint vinyl never play them in order to retain their condition as valuable collectors’ items.
  • Near Mint: (NM): Near mint records should have no visible flaws. Their sound quality should be excellent.
  • Very Good+ (VG+): There may be minor imperfections or but no obvious warping or anything that would diminish sound quality.
  • Very Good (VG): These will sound alright but their age may be pretty apparent from the overall sound quality.
  • Good (G): These can be played without skipping. However, you may notice poor sound quality and lots of surface noise.
  • Fair (F) and Poor (P): These are the lowest grades, and for good reason. These records will generally sound terrible and have the most wear.

As far as most thrift stores are concerned, you can expect to find records rated Fair and Poor most frequently. Although occasionally, you may be able to find Very Good or Very Good+ grade records.

Second Hand Record Stores

Most cities tend to have second hand record stores that specialize in lower-priced vinyl, especially for widely-released vintage records from the 1970’s and 1980’s. If you can’t make the trip to a physical store, you can also shop secondhand records online.

Online Stores

Independent online stores like Amoeba offer a wide variety of ways to make it easy and affordable for beginners to collect records. Online stores also some of the best seasonal markdowns and sales if you know some fellow record lovers who’d appreciate some great holiday and birthday gifts. Though, our favorites at Big Fudge remain classic brick and mortar shops!

How to Take Care of Vinyl Records

Taking care of vinyl records is easy if you have the right cleaning supplies and storage. We also covered care and maintenance in this blog post on how to take care of your records.

Generally, you should follow a six-step process:

  • Remove all dust and static with a vinyl record brush.
  • Check for warping, scuffs, and marks on a regular basis.
  • Spray cleaning solution only on the problem areas.
  • Wipe records clean in circular motions only, following the grooves.
  • Rinse and dry all your records utilizing a system like the Record Friend.
  • Keep your records in outer and inner sleeves, and in upright positions.

Record collector holding a Van Halen record wearing jeans

Take Care of Your Records

Big Fudge is the best place for vinyl lovers to get the cleaning supplies, cleaning kits, and storage solutions to keep their records sounding great for a lifetime.

Read our blog for more tips and recommendations. Contact us today for help with orders or if you need some advice on storing and cleaning your records.