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A Guide To Different Types Of Vinyl Records

Have you recently inherited a record collection? Or maybe, like many others, you're discovering (or rediscovering) vinyl records for their vintage charm and distinctive sound. As there are many different kinds of vinyl records and some of the terminology can be pretty confusing, we're here to help. These are the five main types of vinyl records that you may find today.

12-inch Long-playing (LP) Albums

When LP albums were introduced in 1948, they significantly outperformed the then-current shellac 78 records, which were incredibly fragile and only allowed for less than five minutes of playing per side.

PVC (vinyl) was used to create the new LP discs, which were rotated at 33 rpm using a smaller-tipped microgroove stylus. A 12-inch record typically holds up to 26 minutes of music.

Due to the longer playback duration, classical music was initially a popular genre for the LP. In the 1960s, pop and rock groups finally embraced the format as musicians used the extended playing time to produce a more complete body of work.

7-inch Singles

The most popular style of vinyl single is the 7 Inch (or "45").

Due to its relatively lower cost when compared to pricey 12-inch LPs during their heyday in the 50s and 60s, 7-inch records played a significant role in the early years of rock and roll culture.

The RCA Victor company first offered the 7-inch 45 RPM record in 1949 as a more robust and high-quality alternative to the 78 RPM shellac disc.

12-inch Singles

The 12-inch single model initially appeared in the 1970s, at the height of the disco movement.

They are typically cut at 45 RPM, have wider groove spacing, and have shorter playing times than LPs, which, among other benefits, enables a greater dynamic range or louder recording level.

DJs frequently utilize 12-inch vinyl to play dance music in clubs. By the 80s, record companies frequently released 12-inch singles with extended or dance remixes of pop songs.

10-inch Albums

Many of the earliest long-playing microgroove records were 10-inches. Moreover, in many instances, albums were created by grouping together several 10-inch LPs to form a multi-disc album release.

It was once believed that while pop music listeners would be able to tolerate the shorter run time of 10-inch LPs, classical music listeners would require the longer playback time of a 12-inch LP. They were mistaken, and the 12-inch LP ultimately became the music industry's go-to.

Picture Discs

Those eye-catching image discs hanging on the walls of record stores are something we have all seen.

Contrary to popular belief, picture disc recordings have a much older history. The "His Master's Voice" dog-and-gramophone trademark was delicately scratched into the playback surface of select seven-inch shellac recordings by the Canadian Berliner Gramophone Company in 1900, as a countermeasure against piracy.

However, when we think of picture discs today, we think of collector’s items that come with full-color graphics over the surface of the playback.

Are you looking to expand your record collection? Why not make your very own vinyl “mixtape”, by customizing a record with all your favorite songs? We carry 12-inch LPs, 7-inch singles, and even 10-inch picture discs!