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Advice on Buying Used Vinyl

Used Records: What You Need to Know 

While it’s always a great experience to pick up a sealed, brand-new record to enjoy, visiting your local second-hand vinyl store is worth the trip. Even if you tend to favor newer music, every vinyl collector should shop around at used record shops at least once. It’s a rewarding and enriching journey, and it also helps you support local businesses. Plus, you’re bound to find at least one or two hidden gems to add to your collection while you’re at it. 

So, what does it take to successfully go shopping for used records? Keep reading to find out.

First Off: Why Buy Used? 

There are several key points that may convince you to add some pre-owned records to your collection. Below are just a few. 

You May Find Rare and Unique Records.

Many veteran vinyl enthusiasts have plenty of stories about times they struck gold while digging through a bin of pre-owned records in a flea market or antique shop. Many people even donate their records to thrift stores – often without knowing how valuable they can be. 

Some vinyl collectors pride themselves in lining their shelves with exclusively pre-owned records that they hunted down at thrift shops and antique malls. While this might not be a hobby for everyone, it’s undeniably rewarding to look long and hard for a record and find it for a few dollars at a local hole in the wall.

It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination.

Even if you go to multiple record shops and don’t find anything you like, you can still enjoy the experience of browsing. Used record stores tend to be full of an eclectic blend of genres, eras, and styles. Not buying a record doesn’t mean that your excursion has been pointless – sometimes, it’s just as fun to look at records as it is to buy them.

Going to Record Stores Can Be a Relationship-building Experience.

Visiting your local second-hand record shop with someone you love can be a great form of quality time. 

It’s also an excellent means of introducing a vinyl newcomer to everything the format has to offer. If you are a parent hoping that your kids will take an interest in vinyl, you can introduce them to the joys of record collecting by showing them the process of buying used albums.

Buying Used Records Can Sometimes Save You Money.

If you tend to have a taste for vintage albums, buying older pressings of your favorite records may prove to be cheaper than buying reissues. However, this is not always the case – many older pressings of vintage albums are rarer than their reissued counterparts. If you have a specific record in mind and are attempting to find it used, check to see if the album will be cheaper new. While this might sound counterintuitive, the rarity of some older records can increase their monetary value. 

With so many reasons to buy used records, it’s easy to see why the practice has become increasingly common among fans of the format. 

Buying Used Records: 3 Tips You Need to Know 

If you’re in the process of building a vinyl collection by picking up used records, more power to you. However, to avoid headaches and the disappointment of choosing the wrong pre-owned record, follow these three tips as you search for your next vinyl. 

Tip #1: Inspect Each Vinyl 

One of the most important aspects of successfully shopping for used vinyl is fairly self-explanatory – condition matters. If a record is in terrible shape, it is likely to produce terrible sound. Warping, scratches, and other issues can cause distortion and noise at best and make a record unplayable at worst. In addition, many people donate records to thrift stores and other outlets, not knowing that their vinyl collection is in poor shape. 

Whenever you are looking through a stack of used records, make sure to carefully examine each of the records themselves. Look for signs of improper use, bad storage, and damage from drops and scratches. You can usually quickly tell whether a record is in good shape by simply running your eyes over the surface of each side of the vinyl. Remember, scratches and damage may be present on one side but not the other, which is just as problematic for a record collector as both sides being blemished.

Tip #2: Check Online for Prices 

In some cases, shopping for used records is a great way to save some money. If you’re a fan of pre-owned goods and don’t mind some light wear on your vinyl, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars over the course of your record collecting journey by going pre-owned. However, it’s important to note that used doesn’t always equate to cheap

In many cases, used records may be overpriced or simply valued much higher than you might think. Rare used records can be worth hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars, but you’re not likely to find many of these at your local pre-owned record shop. These gems are often the centerpieces of private collections.

While it isn’t too common to find extremely rare and valuable records in the bins at a used vinyl shop, you’re far more likely to run into the opposite – low-value records being sold for too much. That’s why it’s essential to rely on reputable websites for an accurate appraisal of a record’s real worth. 

If you’re interested in a pre-owned album but aren’t sure if you are paying too much, Google can help. Check online to see what copies of the album in similar condition are selling for. As long as the price of the record you have your eye on generally follows the trends for prices, you should be good to go.

 Tip #3: Quality Over Quantity 

Used records are virtually everywhere – but good used records are much harder to find. The bargain bin at any thrift store is likely to yield a few 25 cent albums that you’ll never listen to, but these should be passed on for the sake of better things. While you might be tempted – especially if you’re a new record collector – to grab every vinyl you can find and add it to your shelf, you will be much better off when you focus on the quality of your records, not the quantity.

Shelves filled with countless vinyl records can certainly be aesthetically pleasing, but the records that you own should be albums you love, not cheap filler from your local thrift store. Plus, the cost of inexpensive “bargain” records can add up quickly. Plus, if you never end up listening to these albums, it’s even more fruitless to pick them up.


Buying used records can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience. It’s an adventure that can take you to some interesting places – thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales, and the far corners of internet auction sites. However, it’s essential to keep your wits about you throughout your journey through the world of pre-owned vinyl. As you’ve learned, there are plenty of pitfalls and obstacles that can stop you from getting the most out of the record collecting experience. 

To learn more about record collecting, make sure to visit the Sound of Vinyl blog. There, you’ll find a wealth of information about turntables, vinyl, cartridges, preamps, speakers, and everything in between. The blog also features helpful articles with tips for newcomers to the world of vinyl collecting.


20 Amazing Benefits of Thrift Shopping You Probably Never Expected | 

How to Start, Build, and Preserve a Perfect Vinyl Collection | Digital Trends

The World's Best Basic Record Collection | Texas Monthly

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