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How To Tell If Your Custom Vinyl Records Are High-Quality

Welcome to Freestyle Vinyl, where we create the highest quality custom vinyl records for our incredible customers (35,000+ and counting!)... check out our custom vinyl products, and read on below for advice on your vinyl quality...

Whether you are a vinyl record collector or a “newbie” just starting out, it’s an incredibly useful skill to be able to tell good quality vinyl records from poor ones, whether you're purchasing new vinyl records or used ones from flea markets.

The great thing about custom vinyl records is that they are made to order and will always come in unused condition. So, our vinyl records have a great track record of high-quality audio playback. For the rest of your collection, here are 10 pointers to keep in mind when identifying good custom vinyl records from bad ones.

Assess How it Looks Overall

Take note of the record's first impression before giving it a closer look. How does the record look? The album should have a glossy appearance rather than a dull or gray one.

Check Whether the Record has Warps

You should definitely also verify whether the vinyl record has any warps, as part of your preliminary inspections. There are warps that are easy to spot and others that are more subtle.

The record must be held at eye level while being examined from the side along the record's surface. A warp is present there if you notice a wave that is either upward or downward. Some warps can be unwarped, while others may be beyond repair.

Closely Examine the Record

It is now time to micro-inspect the record after the initial macro-inspection. Look for dust, hair, dents, and other minor damage. Some might be apparent at first glance, but some might not be. We advise you to scan surfaces repeatedly and with great care.

Check for Heat-related Damage

Warps and heat damage are similar, however, heat damage occur on a smaller scale. They provide a "whooshing" sound during playback but prevent the needle from skipping. Remember that warping may accompany heat damage, so carefully inspect them.

Scan for Scratches

Check carefully for scratches on your record. Most records contain scratches because they are particularly prone to them. However, you must first verify whether the scratch genuinely interferes with playing. 

There are certain marks on the record that either have no effect at all or have a minor impact on how the record sounds as it is spinning on a turntable. Examples include scratches that do not cross the banding between tracks and shallow scuffs that can range in size from 1/16" to 12".

The scratches that you should pay particular attention to, are those that run diagonally, almost in parallel with the record's grooves.

Play the Record

Finally, give the record a test run. Listen to a complete run of it if you're still unsure about whether the album is in good condition. Hearing it for yourself is the best method to verify its quality. Most record stores will let you spin a sample before you purchase.

We've reached the end now, and we hope these pointers were useful to you when looking for vinyl records! Get yourself a 12" custom vinyl record that is made with the utmost care by Freestyle Vinyl today. If you're looking for a more affordable option to test out the quality of our custom records, the 7" single custom vinyl is a great option to consider as well!