touching vinyl featured image

Touching your records can be bad if your skin oil and muck get into the playing surface grooves. That’s because it causes audio distortion, needle jumping & groove abrasion. This can all be avoided by proper record handling. And if it’s too late for that, it can be solved by proper record cleaning.


Introduction – Touching Vinyl

Most vinyl fans will already know how to properly hold vinyl records, but if you’re new, it’s essential to get this right. Thankfully it isn’t hard to get it right and, once you’ve seen it, you’ll never forget how to do it properly.

In this article, I’ll discuss the consequences of touching vinyl records. Then I’ll go over how to avoid this, which would be proper record handling. Finally, I’ll also quickly cover what to do if you’ve already been touching the playing surface, which would be proper cleaning.


Issues

Oily Skin

The human skin has a natural layer of oil on it. This grease has many biological purposes and benefits for us, but it’s not so great for our vinyl records. When we touch a surface we won’t just leave a bit of this oil on there. We also leave dead skin cells, bacteria & whatever dirt was on our hands. All this muck has a negative impact on our record player’s performance. The oil also makes environmental dirt and dust stick more easily to our records.

Dirt & Dust

The dirt, dust & all that other muck will influence the audio quality negatively. It will build up in the record grooves which corrupts the audio resulting from the stylus going past. This will cause:

  • Distortion
  • Needle jumping
  • Groove abrasion

Next to that, it’s likely that a layer of filth will build up on the stylus. This will also distort the intended vibrations from the stylus in the record grooves. This will cause the same three things mentioned above. But it will also cause more stylus wear. If you interested in the symptoms of a worn stylus or needle then check out the article I’ve written about it.


Solution

Handling Records

Handling your records properly is the best way to avoid getting filth on them in the first place. You should never touch the playing surface grooves with your hands.

Now, this can be hard when you’re taking a vinyl out of its sleeve. The trick is to not pinch the record but to hold the top of the sleeve with the opening facing downwards. Then guide the record while it’s sliding out and then when the center label is out place a finger on there for balance. It’s hard to describe, so the YouTube video below shows you exactly what I described.

After desleeving, you’ll have to place it on your turntable. This is the easiest part. You’ll use both hands to hold it like the image below and just place it on the turntable.

how to handle vinyl records properly

Then when you’re done listening and you want to sleeve your record again you do the following. Pick it up from the turntable the same way you placed it down, with a hand on each side. Then turn one of your hands in a way to get in the thumb on label position. Then use your other hand to hold the sleeve and slide the record in. That’s it!

Cleaning Records

But what if you’re reading this too late and you’ve been touching your vinyl incorrectly already? There is no need to worry. Vinyl records are pretty durable and some dirty grease won’t ruin them permanently. This stuff can just be cleaned off.

Cleaning vinyl is a very important part of record maintenance. There are a lot of ways to do this. Since it’s quite a broad subject I’m working on a simple vinyl cleaning guide. I’ve already written an article about cleaning vinyl records with alcohol and its benefits and dangers. Check it out if you’re interested.


Conclusion – Touching Vinyl

So touching your records can be bad if your skin oil and muck get into the playing surface grooves. That’s because it causes audio distortion, needle jumping & groove abrasion. This can all be avoided by proper record handling. And if it’s too late for that it can be solved by proper record cleaning.

Hopefully, this article helps you to properly handle your vinyl records. If you enjoyed reading this then I hope you check out my other educational articles.

If you’re thinking about buying a record player then maybe you can take a look at my reviews & top lists. I’ve been able to find some quality & affordable options out there.


Sources

  1. Patriot1776 on YouTube, from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNads3l06MttxIjy7b-_cgA
  2. IllBeatz, April 22, 2013, from https://www.illbeatz.com/

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