Collecting Vintage and Classic Records

Vinyl 33 1/3 LP Record
Vinyl 33 1/3 LP Record

Technology may keep advancing and cassettes might get replaced with CDs, but the old vinyl LP’s won’t ever go out of style! For many people the sound of the old records just can’t be matched by anything else!

Collecting vintage and classic LP’s started for many when they were still teenagers. From buying the newest release when they first came out, to scouring yard sales, flea markets and thrift stores, those collections have continued to grow through the years!

Elvis Presley Vinyl
Elvis Presley Vinyl

For those that love LP’s there’s just nothing that compares to dropping the needle down on a record and listening to music the way it was meant to be! LP’s were big in a time when there was very little else to do, our minds hadn’t gotten taken over by video games and high tech toys!

Vinyl records came in several sizes and were aptly named by the number of rotations they made each minute. The 78 rpm was 10″, the 33 1/3 rpm was 12″ and the 45 rpm’s were 7″ round. And, each one came in it’s own paper sleeve similar to an album cover!

Unless you’re an avid collector you might not even know that there was also a 33 1/3 rpm record that was 16″ round! These monstrous records were mostly used to record entire radio shows during the late 40’s. The whole show could be recorded on just one side of the LP!

Johnny Cash Record
Johnny Cash Record

Record plants were literally capable of producing any size LP. The smallest one ever commercially produced measured at just 2 1/2″ inches, it contains The Lord’s Prayer and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records!

The first vinyl record that was widely available was the 78 rpm, 10″ size. They were introduced in the early 1900’s and were made from a really thick layer of shellac. The fast speed of the 78’s was a trade off, it was so fast that each side could only hold a couple of songs. They were also quite expensive and very bulky.

As more space was needed on the records, the 12″ 33 1/2 records began appearing in music stores in the late 40’s. There was also a 16 2/3 rpm record that was produced around the same time, these are very rare today!

About the same time that the 33 1/3 rpm’s became popular, the idea of combining commercial radio and music became popular! The 45″ came out in 1949 to meet the needs of a smaller, cheaper record that would be used for the hit of the day. It was actually even designed to be a disposable record!

Much like the single CDs of today, there was only one song on each side of the 45 records. It gave people the choice of owning their favorite song from a band without having to buy the whole release. These 7″ vinyl records were still being produced up until 1990.

The very first record albums made from thick shellac that was brittle and heavy were generally 3 or 4 times thicker than the later vinyl records. They had to be sturdy to hold up to the steel needles that were under heavy pressure from the heads on early record players.

Once newer needles were developed with diamond tips, not only was the sound quality better, but vinyl became the material of choice in manufacturing records. The materials and the processes that were used in the 40’s to produce records hadn’t changed much at all.

While some records are worth hundreds of dollars, some collectors wouldn’t part with their vintage or classic LP’s for any amount of money. They may be old and vintage, but if they have been taken care of properly, vinyl records still sound as good today as they did when they were the only choice of music!

Written by Connie Corder, Copyright 2008

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