Tips for buying vinyl records

J Action Pat gives three tips for where to buy vinyl records, and how much to spend

April 09, 2010

CDs were the new vinyl. Then, mp3s were the new CDs. These days, vinyl is the new mp3.
At many dance nights around Baltimore, DJs are increasingly spinning vinyl 45s instead of CDs or mp3s. Patrick "DJ Action Pat" Griffin, who regularly plays Save Your Soul at Lithuanian Hall, has been collecting vinyl for the past 10 years. His collection, which numbers about 4,000, is heavy on soul, R&B and rock ‘n' roll from the ‘50s. Over time, Griffin has developed strategies for where to find the most obscure records, and how much to pay. Here are his tips for aspiring vinyl collectors.
Where to buy:
Go to everything from thrift stores to flea markets to record stores. I go to the Arbutus Record & CD Show every month, and record fairs in Allentown and Austin if I'm on that side of the country. Go to different dealers and collectors' houses and dig through what they have, and trade with people online. Those are the main places to look.
What to search for:
Look for labels that put out early soul, R&B and rock ‘n' roll in the ‘50s and ‘60s, especially labels like King or Federal. Those are some of the big ones. Also look for subsidiaries of those labels. Carry a portable record player with you and quickly listen to a snippet of each of the songs. You can tell what you like and don't like from that.
How much to pay:
If you're buying from an online dealer or eBay, you're going to pay top dollar, because you're dealing with people from all over the world who are looking for that same record. If a record is worth $300, you're probably going to end up paying $300. If you're digging through antique stores and flea markets, you're going to find a lot less of what you're looking for, but when you find it, it's going to be at dirt cheap prices. Last year when I was in Texas, I found a $1,200 garage record for $20. That doesn't happen very often though.
Sam Sessa

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