More than a digitally perfect CD, and way more than a compressed audio file downloaded to a portable device, a vinyl record is a record, if you will, of an artist or genre at a particular moment in time. From the pantheon of 1950s jazz to the Psych records of the 1960s, vinyl records in their original jackets deliver sound as well as sensibility. No wonder contemporary artists like Pearl Jam and Radiohead insist on releasing their new work in a variety of media, with vinyl at the top of the list.

Vinyl records were not the first form of analog sound recordings. Cylinders came first, invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. Edison did a great many things right, but his phonograph cylinders were bulky and expensive to produce, so in 1887, Emile Berliner invented a gramophone that could play flat discs. By 1929, the cylinder was dead.

The earliest records were not even made of vinyl. Some were fashioned of hard rubber but most were pressed out of shellac, which was a mixture of resin and fiber (cotton was commonly used). Shellac records had their drawbacks (they were so brittle that if you dropped one it was likely to crack or shatter), but the format lasted until about 1950 when vinyl finally took over.

The first vinyl records had actually been manufactured by RCA many years before, in 1930. Those discs were 12 inches in diameter and meant to be played at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute, or RPM. Although vinyl records generated a lot less playback noise than shellac, the Great Depression was no time to be introducing a new entertainment product with limited manufacturer support, so vinyl didn’t catch on then.

In 1948, Columbia introduced its trademarked 12-inch, 33 1/3 LP (for Long Play). RCA countered with a 7-inch, 45 RPM EP (for Extended Play) disc. For two years, consumers faced a format choice that caused phonograph manufacturers to equip their devices with both 45 and 33 1/3 playback speeds (many companies also added 78 since that format was still quite popular). As we now know, vinyl 33 1/3 LPs prevailed, while smaller, 7-inch vinyl 45s were used for singles.

Vinyl records had numerous advantages over shellac, with durability and sound quality being the top two. But vinyl was hardly a perfect medium. The discs warped when subjected to high temperatures or improper storage, and they tended to acquiring a static charge, which meant they attracted a lot of dust. You could wipe the dust off the disc, but you had to be careful because the discs were very easy to scratch. In most cases, this use caused hiss; in some cases, a record’s groove would be so damaged that the needle would keep skipping back, providing the source for the phrase "broken record."

So why collect imperfect vinyl records when CDs offer the same music but without the background noise caused by a needle moving through vinyl grooves? Many people believe the sam...

DJs like vinyl, too, because it gives them more control over the music they are playing than if they were spinning CDs—it’s like the difference between driving an automatic versus a car with a 5-speed manual transmission.

Beyond these differences, there is the fun of collecting itself. In some cases, as with early pressing of the second and third Grateful Dead albums, the vinyl versions are the only way to hear what those records sounded like before they were digitally remastered.

Album art is another reason to collect vinyl. For the Rolling Stones’s "Sticky Fingers," artist Andy Warhol created a cover that featured an actual working zipper; some years later, artist Robert Rauschenberg designed a clear plastic cover for the Talking Heads’s "Speaking in Tongues." The Who’s "Tommy" came with a booklet filled with art and lyrics, and if you want a copy of The Beatles’s infamous "butcher" version of "Yesterday and Today," you’ve got to go back to the original vinyl.

Also collectible are the 45s. Motown 45s features artists from Michael Jackson to Stevie Wonder, and few logos in popular music are as iconic as the crowing rooster on the yellow Sun Records label, especially if the name of the recording artist at the bottom of that label is a guy named Elvis Presley. Finally, thanks to their retro-looking labels, 78 records are appealing, regardless of who was recorded.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas pays homage to international female opera singers of the LP era. Chronicling more than 800 singers, the… [read review or visit site]



Despite its mysterious title, 317X is plain and simple—an online gallery of vintage LPs, with a 1950s vintage fee… [read review or visit site]

Jesse Barron's collection of Beatles 45s, picture sleeves, magazines, books, and memorabilia. Browse singles and al… [read review or visit site]

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

This great site, from the Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors, offers detailed background information an… [read review or visit site]

The Remington Site

The Remington Site

Since 1999, the Remington Site has offered classical music collectors a glimpse into Remington Records, an independ… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon Lp 1973 Uk 1st Press 100% Complete Posters EtcJack White World's Fastest Record Lazaretto 7" Rare & Historic!!!Jack White The World's Fastest Released Record Store Day Lazaretto 7" Tmr Rsd AaNorthern Soul 45 - Cashmeres - Don't Let The Door - Hem - Mp3 - Rare!Shirley Lawson - One More Chance - The Star Eddie Holman - I Surrender - I Love You Death - The Sound Of Perseverance 1st Press Lp Nuclear Blast Near MintPearl Jam - Binaural - Vinyl Lp - Double Set - First Press Epic Usa - Near Mint2 Of Fat Mike Of Nofx Personal Lps Original Sealed Lib Animation & Signed HofxRare Orig. Uk Lp The Pretty Things "s.f. Sorrow" B/black Columbia Stereo Ex!Dissection - Storm Of The Light's Bane Lp Nuclear Blast 1998 Limited Blue Mint !Rush - Self Titled S/t Moon Records! Mn 100 Very Rare Lp First Press Hard RockThe Beatles - Yesterday & Today - U.s. Stereo 3rd State *peeled Butcher* LpJack White High Ball Stepper Promo Vinyl 7" Third Man Records White StripesLed Zeppelin 1 Plum Press Uk Turquoise Mint Rare Repress Top Audio Complete~~~~~Death - Symbolic 1st Press Lp Roadrunner Near Mint ConditionsThe Middle Class-out Of Vogue 7'' Ep Germs, Avengers, Weirdos,kbd Punk 1st PressNorthern Soul 45..sam Fletcher..i'd Think It Over On Tollie ...hear Northern Soul: Joanie Sommers ~ Don't Pity Me ~ Super Rare Wb Promo Vg+ Hear!2006 Pearl Jam Avocado Double Lp Vinyl Album New Sealed Rare!! 2000 CopiesLp The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers Rare Uk, Zipper, Ex+R.e.m. Mtv Unplugged 4xlp Vinyl - Record Store Day Rsd 2014, New + Sealed, RemJack White Dead Weather Cut Like A Buffalo Haloween Tmr 007 Third Man RecordsNirvana Love Buzz B/w Big Cheese 7" Sub Pop 1988 Ltd#1000 Original Kurt CobainNofx Stoke Extinguisher Fat Wreck Store Chords Edition Vinyl Record Color 7" Wax'56 Classic Rockabilly Wayne Walker All I Can Do Is Cry Abc 9735 Nice Stock CopyPearl Jam Vinyl Bundle Sevens, Vault, & Free RideRare Orig Gianni Mazza "la CittJack White World's Fastest Record Lazaretto 7" Historic!!!!3 Copies - Pearl Jam - Ten - 2xlp - 120 Gram Coke Bottle Clear Vinyl- Sold Out!Cake Vinyl Limited Boxset Rsd 2014Minor Threat In My Eyes (red Vinyl!) First Press Dischord Black Flag NecrosPatto - Hold Your Fire - Uk 1st Press 1971 - Stereo - Vertigo Swirl 6360 016Jack White Dead Weather Cut Like A Buffalo Tri Color Tmr 005 Third Man RecordsNirvana Bleach - ** Test Pressing ** - Waterfront - 12" Black R.e.m. - Unplugged The Complete 1991 & 2001 Sessions - Record Store Day 2014 RsdPearl Jam Binaural Vinyl Lp 2000 Epic Epc494590-1The Atlantics Come On Rare 1966 Aust Sunshine Label 60s Punk 45 Ex ConditionUltrarare Uk Beatles White Album Export Lp 1968 Y&b Parlophone Ppcs P-pcs Weldon Irvine ~ Time Capsule ~ Rare Og Private Sealed Funk / Jazz Lp Holy GrailDeath - Individual Thought Patterns 1st Press Lp Roadrunner Near Mint ConditionsNorthern Soul- Fortson & Scott- Pzazz- Sweet Lover / My Dreams Of You - Listen Tea & Symphony An Asylum For The Musically Insane Lp Orig Uk 1969 Mint Harvest R.e.m. Unplugged: The Complete 1991 And 2001 4lp Vinyl Rsd 2014 Rem Jack White World's Fastest Record Third Man Records Rsd 2014 LazarettoPearl Jam - Lost Dogs - Vinyl Lp - Triple Set - First Press - Near MintBlossom Toes - If Only For A Moment 1969 Uk Lp MarmaladeJerry Garcia "garcia" 12" White 180gram Vinyl Lp Rsd Record Store Day 2014Fairfield Parlour - Kaleidoscope - From Home To Home Very Rare Vertigo Spiral LpTim Maia Racional Vol.1 Lp Original 1974 Seroma Super Soul Funk Breaks Amazing!!Led Zeppelin - Legendary Classic Records 45 Rpm Road Case 10 Lps On 48 DiscsBeck Sea Changes 2 Vinyl Lp Set Sealed Ltd 1000 Pink Vinyl 180 Gram #281The John Dummer Blues Band''blue''spiral Vertigo Die Cut Sleeve 1st Press Ex Cake Box Set Rsd Exclusive 2014 Record Store Day 8 X 12" Colored, Only 900 Pearl Jam - Riot Act - Vinyl Lp - Double Set - First Press - Near MintBeatles - Let It Be - Apple - P-r 5833 - Export Issue - Mega RareRem Unplugged Record Store Day Exclusive (sealed) Rsd 2014 4 X Lp BoxTiger B. Smith Tiger Rock Lp Orig Ger 1972 Mint Swirl Vertigo 1st Press +poster R.e.m./rem Mtv Unplugged Clear Vinyl 4lp Record Store Day Rsd14 Box 1000 OnlyPatto - Patto - Uk 1st Press 1970 - Stereo - Vertigo Swirl 6360 016

Recent News: Records

Source: Google News

Vintage Vinyl manager no longer facing drug charges, April 17th

The shop, Vintage Vinyl and Hemp Emporium, and a private residence in Regina were the focus of police raids in March of 2013 that led to a number of people facing charges related to marijuana production. The store's manager, Colin Middleton, was one of ...Read more

Vintage Vinyl: Debating Billy Joel's best songs
USA TODAY, April 17th

Our Vintage Vinyl experts take on the Piano Man: Jeffrey Lee Puckett: Only the Good Die Young is a perfect song on a near-perfect album, The Stranger. It's a celebration of youth staring down authority; you just know Virginia is going to pick bad boy...Read more

New Guelph music store taps into vintage vinyl
Guelph Mercury, April 16th

The Guelph entrepreneur has opened Royal Cat Records, selling used vinyl albums in a Carden Street store shared with Meow! the retro clothing store run by his wife Kara. The store specializes in rare, vintage and new vinyl. Where else could you buy a ...Read more

Record Store Day in Tampa, St. Pete means bands, beer and rare vinyl, April 16th

Record Store Day in Tampa, St. Pete means bands, beer and rare vinyl. Mojo Books & Records is participating in Record Store Day April 19. TBO.COM FILE PHOTO. By Christopher Spata | Published: April 16, 2014 | Updated: April 16, 2014 at ...Read more

Vintage Vinyl debates best Billy Joel songs
USA TODAY, April 11th

Check out your photo or video now, and look for it in USA TODAY online, mobile, and print editions. View Your Contribution. Oops! Your submission didn't go through. Please try again. Verifying your credentials... Please wait. Uh oh! We're experiencing...Read more

'Vintage Vinyl' takes on Billy Joel
The Courier-Journal, April 2nd

Billy Joel takes his turn in the basement as Jeffrey Lee Puckett and Tom Heiser discuss their likes and dislikes of the Piano Man. Video by Scott Utterback. Jeffrey Lee Puckett, 12:27 p.m. EDT April 2, 2014. billyjoel.jpg...Read more

EPICA Announces Acoustic Set And Signing Session At VINTAGE VINYL

Vintage Vinyl in Fords, New Jersey will host vocalist Simone Simons and guitarist Isaac Delahaye of Dutch symphonic metallers EPICA for an in-store acoustic performance and signing session on Monday, April 7 at 7 p.m. The acoustic set will include ...Read more

'Vintage Vinyl' plays hail to the Queen
The Courier-Journal, March 26th

We lost a great one when he passed in 1991. This week on "Vintage Vinyl," hosts Jeffrey Lee Puckett and Tom Heiser pick their favorites from the band's classic period, 1973-1980. Let us know about your favorites by visiting at more