How to Fix a Scratched Record
Listening to music using a vinyl record is an experience everyone should have. Even in the digital age, new audiences are treasuring the way songs sound differently on records. If you don’t know how to store a vinyl record, though, they can easily become scratched. Weather, age, and other factors can all lead to record scratches, big and small. Additionally, the delicate nature of vinyl leaves it susceptible to cracks.
Learning how to fix a scratched record is an important part of preserving the sound. Fortunately, there are ways to repair your records and prevent skipping songs by following a few simple steps.
Step 1: Stabilize the Record
Lay the scratched vinyl record on a flat surface. Gently wipe away any dust from your record with a microfiber towel, drying cloth, or dry brush. Next, with electrical tape, gently press down on either side of the crack to the edge of where the break is on the record. This will help stabilize it as you’re working.
Step 2: Apply Epoxy
Apply a thin line of epoxy or wood glue to the scratched area. Use a toothpick to ease into the crack and allow time for it to seep in thoroughly. If there are multiple scratches, apply glue to the entire record as it spins on your turntable. Place the tip of the glue bottle to the inner label of the record and lightly apply pressure. Stop once you’ve reached the outer edge of the record. This method should create thin, even lines throughout.
Step 3: Spread Out Glue
Take a piece of cardboard and touch it to the other edge of the record while it continues to spin. This will spread the glue out evenly in a smooth layer to cover the record. Once it’s thinly covered, allow it to dry for approximately 24 hours. If it feels sticky, let it dry for a few more hours.
Step 4: Remove the Glue
Carefully lift away the dried wood glue by gradually pulling at one of the edges. If you’re not able to peel it off in a solid layer, start at another edge of the record until it’s fully removed. For smaller scratches, use a toothpick to remove excess epoxy or glue. During this step, it’s important for you to not touch the record directly.
Step 5: Test the Sound
After you’ve removed the residue, play your record and see if the sound is clear without any skips. A little DIY cleaning can help preserve the life of your records for longer. For deeper scratches, it may be time to buy a replacement. Depending on the severity and number of scratches on your record, there are other ways of cleaning and fixing it that you might want to consider first.
Alternative Cleaning Methods to Help Fix Scratches
When learning how to repair scratched records, there are other options besides using epoxy or wood glue. For minor scratches, start by dusting or brushing your record to remove debris or dust that might’ve gotten stuck in the grooves of the record.
Your record could be skipping because it needs a good wipedown, especially if it’s been stored away for a while. A record brush helps to remove dirt, dust, and static from a dirty record. Although this isn’t a repair method for scratches, it can help troubleshoot the problem if your record keeps skipping.
Another option is to purchase a special record cleaning kit. This comes with a liquid cleaning solution and a brush that will help you get rid of dirt, fingerprints, and minor scratches. Follow the directions on the package to apply correctly and allow enough time for drying.
A final option is to make a cleaning solution at home. Simply mix ¼ cup of isopropyl alcohol with ¾ cup of distilled water and a couple of drops of dishwasher liquid in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the record and wait at least 30 seconds to allow the solution to fill in the grooves. Wipe away any excess moisture with a clean cloth. Then, with a separate microfiber cloth dipped in distilled water only, wipe both sides of your record. Allow it to dry fully before testing out the sound. As you clean your records, it is a perfect opportunity to learn how to clean your record player as well.
Preventing Record Scratches and Preserving the Quality
One of the best ways of learning how to fix a scratched record is preventing scratches in the first place. With proper care and attention, you can preserve sound quality and keep records intact without a deep scratch mark or smudge in sight.
The first thing to remember is to handle with care. Hold the record lightly with your palms on the outside edges rather than grabbing the record where your fingers touch the grooves. Additionally, natural oils from your fingers can cause records to skip as much as scratches can. The less direct contact you have with the surface, the better
Second, clean down your records and record player regularly. It’s easy for a thin film of dust and grime to build up on either, which can cause damage to your vinyl and the machine itself. Use a soft cloth on your equipment after use, especially if you only play records occasionally. This will prevent debris from settling into the thin grooves of your record.
Third, add extra protection to your records by using premium quality inner sleeves. Thicker inner sleeves will prevent damaged records and will allow them to slide in and out of their designated album jackets easily. The same protection applies to the outer sleeve casing. Storing your records in a thin, plastic casing that covers the entire record, including the album jacket, helps to keep your records dust- and dirt-free.
Lastly, if you’ve done your best to prevent scratches and tried everything to fix it but nothing works, it may be time to invest in a new one. There’s nothing wrong with having well-loved records as part of your collection. However, if you want a purer sound, find a replacement or shop for a new album from the same artist.
For record collectors who have priceless vinyl in their record library, sometimes it takes the good with the bad for the sake of music history. A few skips may be a small inconvenience to overcome when listening to a rare record.
Tips for Preserving Your Record Collection
The way you store your music makes a difference in how well the records will maintain their original quality. Here are a few tips for storing records properly and protecting your collection.
Create an Optimal Record Player Setup
Make sure your record player is set up on a flat, even floor or surface to prevent skips. When your record player isn’t in use, dust the surface with a dry microfiber cloth. Shut the lid, if applicable, and ensure it’s not bumped. Additionally, keep track of how often you need to replace the needle to avoid damaging your records. You can preserve its shelf life by wiping it down with a carbon fiber brush. However, eventually, it’ll need to be swapped out after a few years of regular listening. If your records seem like they are playing slow, you can learn how to fix a slow record player with a few easy steps.
Use the Designated Record Sleeves
Store your records in their designated sleeves. This helps with organizing to quickly find what you’re looking for by genre or artist. It also serves as a layer of protection from accidental water damage. A shelf, record stand, or wood crate will do the trick by allowing you to store your records vertically and avoid damage. It makes it much easier to track down the record you’re looking for rather than having to sort through a randomly grouped selection.
Stow records as soon as you’re done playing them. Don’t leave them on the turntable or stack any on top of each other. Too much pressure on your vinyl can cause it to crack. Also, a buildup of dust or debris can cause problems when playing your records. In addition to storing in the correct record casing, also pick a special spot for your records.
Pick a Dry, Uncluttered Storage Space
Store your records in a place where they won’t get spilled or stepped on. Protecting the integrity of your records also involves climate control. Keep the records you play often out of direct sunlight and areas where condensation can build up and cause damage to your records. For an extensive record collection, consider a climate-controlled storage unit. It’s a better option than a garage or attic where the heat, humidity, or possible water damage could get to them.
Also, pick a spot for your records without anything else accompanying them. Squeezing them in between books or stacking them with other items will warp and damage your records. It can bend the shape and alter the sound or make them unplayable altogether.
Vinyl has made a comeback in the age of digital music. At Victrola, every record player produces an unmatched, high quality sound. Listening to a record’s clear sound adds creates a special experiences that cannot be achieved with a computer or phone. Fortunately, if your record gets scratched, the steps for how to fix it are fairly straightforward. Plus, there’s also the option of updating your vinyl record collection if your records have seen better days.