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4.4 - Restoring Damaged Vinyl Records

When a record gets dirty, dusty, or scratched, you will notice issues with its sound quality. Because your turntable’s needle is running through the grooves of a spinning record, any interruptions from scratches or debris will disrupt the smooth, clean playback of the album. Some scratches are so deep and severe that they will render a record unplayable. Others will simply degrade the sound quality, adding unwanted noise and occasional disruptions.

If you are dealing with a particularly dirty or damaged vinyl record, there are special steps you can take to care for it and get it into listenable condition. The first step to take is gently dry brushing both sides of the record along its grooves. Using a dry brush will get rid of any surface debris without further damaging the record. In addition, buffing out small scratches can be accomplished through dry brushing, although larger, deeper scratches will usually need more heavy-duty attention.

For deeper dirt and damage, a record-cleaning solution is your best option. Using a specialized cloth, a small amount of solution can be used to wipe the record clean. This is a good second step after dry brushing and can act as a precursor to heavy-duty scratch removal work.

When it comes to severe scratches that have made a record nearly unplayable, there are only a few DIY options for repairs. Many record collectors have attempted to fix scratches by using a toothpick to dig out debris embedded in damaged areas on a record’s surface. Others will put wood glue on record scratches, then peel it off to even out the surface of the record. Unfortunately, both of these scratch removal methods come with an inherent risk of causing further damage to a record. This is something you obviously always want to avoid, and if you do not think you are equipped to adequately deal with severe damage to a record, it is often best to leave it alone.

Previous article 4.5 - Determining A Vinyl Record’s Condition And Value
Next article 4.3 - Displaying And Storing Your Record Collection
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