Instructables
loading
loading
Picture of Bring Ruined Records Back to Life
P1060943.JPG
If you're an audiofile purist, don't read any further. What follows is not for the faint of heart and beyond anything you've seen before. If you decide to continue, please don't comment about how you think it will ruin records until after you try it. Then, if you still feel my method is flawed, I'd love to read your critique.

If you follow my instructions, you'll have to work hard to screw things up. It's really not that scary once you get into it.

I've spent an entire career designing, developing and patenting metal, engineered plastic and vinyl products. I know plastics, their strengths and weaknesses. I also know how to fix things. This is one of those fixes.

I'm also not responsible for any disasters that might befall you.  If you try this and somehow manage to screw it up, don't blame me. Use caution and common sense. It works for me and that's all I can attest to.

That being said... Let's begin:

Hopefully, most records you pick up at yard sales, Goodwill and flea markets can be brought back to new using standard cleaning methods. This is only for those discs that still have elevated levels of pops and clicks due to physical damage due to accident, neglect or abuse.

The record in the first photo is one such case. When I pulled it from the jacket, I could see immediately it had gone through a rough life. Under the microscope, the grooves were embedded with crud and the lands (the space between the grooves) showed signs of extreme wear with hundreds of vinyl "deflections" along the edges of the grooves.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
1-40 of 121Next »

Is this record saveable? Will sanding help?

20150505_203928.jpg
bfk (author)  tansy.bailey.922 days ago

I've never attempted to sand a 45rpm record nor had a mold issue to deal with (mold might be the bigger problem) so I'm not able to answer your question. Theoretically, for the scratched part, if the record is vinyl, there should be some improvement by lightly hand-sanding. If you have a similar record that's not as important to you, sanding that one will 1) show you what happens and 2) give you experience doing it.

This 45 was unplayable, what you can see isn't mould it's pitting {lord only knows what it's been through). I did cover it with glue which came off filthy and it actually played afterwards, I was very surprised, just waiting for the 2nd dose to dry then I will see if there is any further improvement, if there is I may skip the sanding. I do have another 45 that the B side looks completely worn down and plays with more noise than music, glue hasn't helped with that one so I may try sanding that one. Thanks for the advice.

MichaelC391 month ago

In answer to your question about how long an LP's groove is,

Well, that depends on the specific album, because an album with a three minute side will have a much shorter groove than one with a twenty minute side.

SebastiánP33 months ago

Hi, I have an vinyl record that is priceless to me and my family (like a family musical treasure) and it sounds really amazing but it has scratches( just 2)that can not see and I'm afraid that if I do this procedure (sanding) I'll make it them worst. Should I be scare of making this steps on my album? Or this procedure is 100% efective and there's no risk at all? Please be honest, we'd really like to restore this record.

Thank you!

The best way to find out if this method will harm your priceless vinyl record is to try using it on a record that isn't so important to you first. If it works to your satisfaction, you'll know what to expect when you use it on your family's vinyl disk and give you some experience and confidence when you work with the good record.
psp1101 year ago
Hi, I don't know if this has been answered before but I have a copy of good trouble by reo speedwagon that I bought off ebay for $3 with free shipping(yes I said free shipping. great deal if I do say so myself) and It skipped on the last track. So I tried the method where you put pressure on the needle cartridge and it wasn't fixing it so I ran it over the scratch a lot lot of times and it wasnt fixing it. so I played it without the pressure on the needle and found out that maybe I had ruined the grooves at the end of the track I was working on which by the way is the final track. Whenever I play the song at the point of skip the needle gets to a point and completely skipps over like 2 or 3 grooves and skips part of the track. After that the song plays fine but the sound goes in and out of perfect and quieter sounding. Next thing i did was try the sandpaper method. First I tried it out on a really crackly album and found out that it does in fact work. Next I try sanding the Reo speedwagon album that is messed up. after that I played it and got nothing. so I sand a little bit and play and repeat. Then eventually the sound started to sound better in some spots but the needle keeps skipping over the grooves.

Is there any way for me to fix this. Because I don't want to have to buy another copy of this album.

You can fix it by replacing the needle you ruined by smashing it into the record.

And then never use sandpaper on a record again.

frumpyandy3 years ago
i've heard from multiple places that water erodes records and you shouldn't get them wet. i was just wondering what you think of this and what sort of drying method you used after you were done sanding/rinsing your records.

#1 Water does not erode records.

#2 You need to specify what type of record. Vinyl or shellac.

With shellac or vinyl, you need distilled water,as most tap water has mineral deposits in it that can get into the record grooves. With shellac, you need to be careful not to soak them,or it will either swell up and warp, or remove the label.

Never immerse or soak them in water. Never put them in the dishwasher. Leave them air-dry overnight, flat on a table.

Please cite these multiple places. To answer your question in a general practical sense - no Water will only destroy certain labels on a record. And temperature plays a part in destroying vinyl. Too cold - shatter - too hot, warpage. Other than that - Water is your friend. Just don't PLAY a vinyl LP wet. While this is common practice with DJ's in Jamaica who have to constantly spray their records to keep cool when out in the hot sun spinning.. not a good idea for the collector. Washing your records and drying them effectively is fine and recommended. If your vinyl was trapped at the bottom of a water fall - over time , just like the rocks they will be broken down.

bfk (author)  frumpyandy3 years ago
If what you heard is true, then there are hundreds of thousands of vinyl sided homes, outdoor signs, toys and cars that are in deep trouble:)

There may be chemicals in tap water that may erode vinyl, but it wouldn't be enough to do enough damage to your records in your lifetime, your children's lifetime or your grandchildren's lifetime... Unless there's something seriously wrong with your water.

Minerals may be present that could possibly damage your records if they were allowed to stay there when they're being played. I always brush my records with a carbon fiber brush and a disc washer brush with fluid every time I play them. If some hard mineral were to be left in a groove, when the needle runs over it, the heat may be enough to partially melt the vinyl around the obstruction and embed it into the record. This is what happened to a Peter, Paul and Mary album I picked up. All of my methods to clean the grooves couldn't get a fair amount of the embedded stuff out of the grooves. I just wood-glued the surface and that seemed to get 99.9% of it out.

Your other question about drying will fit in here: After washing, I blot my records with a micro fiber cloth then lean them up to dry. When dry, I run the micro fiber cloth over them again, which seems to help.

Now this is me, but after I get them as clean as possible, I spot check them out with the microscope, just to know what's going on.

btw, you'll only have to do this extraordinary power wash, block & bar, sanding, and/or wood glue work once for the records.you pick up. After they've been restored, they'll last forever with no additional "deep" cleaning. Disc washer should be all you'll need if they're well cared for.

Before I play my albums (every time), I simply run a carbon fiber brush around them and then disc wash them. A few seconds of work that may not be necessary, but it seems to fulfill a deep need for some indefinable satisfaction.:)

The other photos are before and after sanding of my wood glued PP&M. You can clearly see the nicks and bumps along the edge of the groove in the before photo. The record is impeccably clean, but all those potholes make for a lousy listen.

I sanded PP&M, power washed it once more and ran my block and bar cleaner over it. You can see the black vinyl sanding dust on the blue tack in the photo. There are still two or three random clicks, most likely from stuff the glue didn't get, but those can be checked with the hand held microscope and worked on individually. Otherwise, the record sounds great.

Thanks for your questions. I'm not an expert, but the techniques I've developed over the years work very, very well for me.
Screen shot 2012-01-29 at 1.40.06 PM.jpgScreen shot 2012-01-29 at 1.39.46 PM.jpgScreen shot 2012-01-29 at 1.41.09 PM.jpgScreen shot 2012-01-29 at 1.40.25 PM.jpg
leandropc3 months ago

Hi, I am new to this technique and I am beginning to try it with a 1500 fine grit. Can anyone update on the using of finer grits? Thanks!

To answer your question - we would need to know how the particular record was mastered before you can calculate. You can fit varying degrees of information on an LP depending on if you are playing at 33.3 or 45. Even that known, some companies have tried to squeeze more grooves on a record. Thinking of those K-Tel records with some over half an hour on each side.

bfk (author)  eye wander the goat8 months ago
Don't forget Monty Python's double grooved record. You never knew what you were going to hear when you played it. Each track would be half as long. I remember the album but not how long it played.

Ha I don't think I have that one - but I do have a few Python LP's - which I should really check! - The one record I know I have which has the double groove - is by De La soul - a hip hop group from the late 80s - they put out a limited ed. single called Me Myself and I - with what they term '

Oblapos Mode' for the doubled groove. It wasn't the best thing for when you wanted to cue something live - but you reminded me of this cool little vinyl gimmick ! It is a 12" single itself - not an album - and plays 6 minutes for the one track and 3 minutes for the other on a whole side. The other side is a single track.

There is also a rare LP by Rush called Rush 'N Roulette that had 6 grooves on either side of the record.

http://www.discogs.com/Rush-Rush-N-Roulette/release/3772080

danubiusdan5 months ago

Hi,

Firstly, I want to thank you for this great material. I was searching for something like this for more than a year. I'll give it a try as soon as I will be able to find the proper sand paper. I would like to ask you a few questions. What kind of paste should i use to make my records shine again after the sanding process ? One other thing is setting my anti-skating mechanism on my turntable. From my searches, I think i need a blank vinyl but i don't know where I can buy one. Can you help me in this matter. Thanks a lot.

You can get much finer sand paper a any auto paint supply store.

You can get much finer sand paper a any auto paint supply store.

MattH28 months ago

Question: How much mileage do you get out of single sheet of 1500 grit sandpaper.

BTW I've seen up to 4000 grit paper available for the "polishing" you mentioned. and a quick eBay search found a 6 sheet pack 1x1500,2000,2500,3000(Wet or Dry) and 2x4000(Light Wet or Dry)Grit for $5.50 delivered. (5.5"x9" sheets)

or 7 sheets 1x1000,1500,2000,2500,3000,5000grit(Wet or Dry), 4000grit(Light Wet or Dry ) for $7 delivered

MattH28 months ago

Rather than holding the sandpaper with your hand would it make more sense and be more effective to wrap it around something flexible which can conform to the any cupping that the record may have? Or it the visual dulling that reults from the sanding sufficient to show "low" areas that didn't get sanded much?

I've buffed out surface scratches with a dremel tool . Then you can use a larger tool such as car polisher wheel to make the surface shine again. In my experience, you don't need any chemicals. The sandpaper is a good idea - then just buff the surface if you don't like the texture left behind.

bfk (author)  eye wander the goat8 months ago
I like your Dremel and buffer concept. Personally, I'm not concerned about an album's aesthetics, but there's been a lot of talk, here and on other sites about the desirability of shininess if the record is going to be sold. I have mixed feelings about that.

What we're doing here is reconditioning the record. I hope people aren't trying to pass them off as new.

Thanks for your intelligent comments. I never considered buffing.

Thanks alot - it's all about sharing - right? But I have redacted the comments about tools I use for now as I have thought about your concern and it's an issue to me if people use these techniques to pass off used vinyl as new.

bfk (author)  eye wander the goat8 months ago

I'm not losing any sleep over it and neither should you. There'll always be people who choose to emulate the taker, not the giver. And able to rationalize their deceit while believing they're good people in the same way everyone believes they're a good driver. I suppose a person's ethics primarily depends on the ethics of his or her parents. So let the buyer beware. The world is what it is. I truly enjoy your comments and admire your thought process. Keep doing the creative work.

Help! I've got a record that won't play the first track. It was skipping very badly to the point it wasn't even worth listening to. It had what appeared to be only surface scratches, so I power washed it. That didn't work so I tried sanding the track with 1500 grit. I'm concerned that I used too much pressure because now it skips over entire sections of the first track, however, I used this method on another record and it worked fine. After sanding I tried playing the track and putting a little pressure on the needle to see if I was able to hear more of the track. I was! I'm willing to try whatever anyone can suggest to try to fix the record because at this point I've got nothing to lose and I don't care what the record looks like if it will play. If all else fails I'll go buy a more expensive copy at the record shop downtown! :)

skajam663 years ago
One

is the loneliest number that you ever saw

bfk (author) 9 months ago
RyanF2:
Wow! That sounds like an incredible machine you have there. Have you made an instructable of it yet? It'd be interesting to conpare results between your machine and hand sanding. I'd bet your invention would produce consistent results. Great comment and keep up the good work. Please add some pictures.
RyanF29 months ago

I used an old direct drive AKAI turntable and converted it into a record sander. First step was to remove the governor and get more torque out of the motor. allowing me to manually control the speed. Second was a small PIC controller and a stepper motor, that i currently control manually but plan on shifting every 3 rotations. The business end is basically taking the place of the cartridge. Its a very dense sponge cut to accommodate a sanding pad.Weight is the total weight of the tone arm the sponge and the sandpaper. The sandpaper I used was 800 fine, wet on contact and the platter was running at a fairly high speed 100-150rpm roughly. I used car soap and vinyl polish mixed together during the sanding process and after a through wash and dry I popped it onto my regular turntable and was astounded how it sounded compared to the condition I found the record in.

There is only one groove on a 12" record.
bfk (author)  strongsong21 year ago
True, but in one of my comments, someone brought up the fact that many years ago, Monty Python made an album with 2 grooves on a side. The idea was, whenever the record was played, the odds were 50/50 the listener would hear one track or the other. Pretty funny.
twocvbloke bfk1 year ago

Just out of curiosity, you wouldn't happen to know what Monty Python record that was would you? I wouldn't mind trying to find it just for that rather novel feature... :)

bfk (author)  twocvbloke1 year ago

Matching Tie & Handkerchief

twocvbloke bfk1 year ago

Cool, thanks!! :D

mafields1 year ago

I just did some math based on very loose estimates and came up with the groove length on one side of the album to be 4480 ft. Probably way off, haha.

bfk (author)  mafields1 year ago
This question is more than 2 years old and I'm glad people are still getting a bit of joy out of it... And you're correct about one thing... You are way off. The published length for a 22 minute album is between 1,500 and 1,700 feet. That averages about 72.75 feet per minute, so an album a bit longer than 30 minutes on each side could be in your wheelhouse if both sides are considered.

I'll consider your answer to be close enough and I haven't given anything away lately, so I'm sending you a 3 month pro membership just because you did the work and brought a little joy into my life. Thanks for the comment.
snowgoat1 year ago
Interesting idea. I've got an old Grand Funk Railroad that I'll try it out on.

BTW, I think the length of a groove is about 2181 feet.
bfk (author)  snowgoat1 year ago
A 22 minute album is about 1,500-1,700 feet. Let me know how Grand Funk turns out.
1-40 of 121Next »