Organizing Your Vinyl Record Collection (aka How to Be Neurotic)




Introduction: Organizing Your Vinyl Record Collection (aka How to Be Neurotic)

This instructable will give a detailed description of how to organize large selection of jumbled vinyl records. I've gone through this process with my own record collection many times as well as with others.

After completing this process you will not only be able to find any record in your collection with ease, but you will have a firmer understanding and appreciation for the music you have gathered or inherited over the years.

Not much is needed to complete these tasks, just a certain amount of time and care.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Materials

1. Medium to large sized collection of records. There is no point in organizing if you only have 10-20 records in your collection, as you can easily keep them all in one box.

2. Crates. Plastic or wooden crates are needed to hold your records once you have them divided up. Some people have shelving units that work great as well. (DO NOT stack records flat on top of each other, this will eventually cause damage to the disc)

3. Basic to advanced knowledge of the alphabet. This will come in handy when you need to alphabetize by group name. If you need help in this department, consult your local kindergarten teacher.

4. Some knowledge of musical genres and where bands fall into them. This can become difficult if you are organizing records you've never listened to, in which case consult the internet. (Ex. Led Zeppelin vs. Herbie Hancock. What genre is each?)

5. Lots of time...

Step 2: Divide by Genre

This is the first step in breaking down a large collection into smaller more manageable groups.

For the sake saving space it is important to keep your genres somewhat broad.
The general rule of five I use breaks down into:
-Crap I will never listen to

Of course if you have a substantial amount of country, hip hop, or electronica records, feel free to make them into their own group. Some people see these groups as being too broad, as Rock can encompass so many things, but for my collection it works just fine.

An example of this dividing process would be:
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan- Bob Dylan (Rock)
My Favorite Things-John Coltrane (Jazz)
The Doors - The Doors (Rock)
Hot Dawg - David Grisman (Bluegrass)
David Burton reads 15 poems by Dylan Thomas (Crap/Why do I own this?)

Step 3: Alphabetizing

Once you have divided into genres it is time to take those genres and organize them by letter.

When alphabetizing it is important to remember the basic rules of organization.
1. If it is a single artist, file by last name not first (i.e. Jerry Garcia goes under G not J, Miles Davis is in D not M)
2. Do not include the word "The" in your organization (unless you are filing the band The The)
3. Remember to organize in a way that best suites you. If it is easier for you to remember the Top Gun soundtrack by how many Kenny Loggins songs are on it, then file it under L for Loggins.

Step 4: Chronology

This step may seem a bit excessive and is often skipped by many people, but I find it interesting.

Once you have divided your genres into bands in alphabetical order, you can now organize those band's records in the order they were released.

Often times records will have the year they were released printed somewhere on the album, however due to wear and tear or artsy album covers it is sometimes hard to read this date. This is when the internet will become your best friend. You can easily look up any album and find out when it was released and file accordingly.

Pink Floyd's "Meddle" was released prior to "Ummagumma" so it would be filed before it, though "Wish You Were Here" would be filed after both of them.

Step 5: Enjoy!

That's about it.

At this point you should have a record collection divided into genre, organized by artist, and neurotically organized by release date. Be sure to keep your genres separate enough and always remember to re-file your records when you take them out to play them.

The most important thing is that the collection is accessible to you and others, so always keep that in mind when organizing.

Now enjoy and go listen to some vinyl!

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    2 years ago

    So we just finished the prodigious task of organizing over 300 German/Polish/Czech Polka and Waltz albums (yes, I each his own)...lots of obscure groups making multiple albums, often on a different label each time (or independently recorded) and over 50 compilation albums. Once you get that many albums of a single somewhat obscure genre, it's important to know what albums you already have when you are out looking for more. We opened an Excel spreadsheet, and made columns for Artist, Title, label, and a column for any rendition of Beer Barrel Polka (OK, I admit this isn't MY collection, so no laughing too loud). We could then sort it by artist or title. Turns out it was easiest to use sorted by titles. Looking for the intended purchase on the printed out list was easy. We made a separate spreadsheet for compilations. In the artist column, if there were four or fewer more well-known groups, we listed them with commas between their names. The rest we called 'various'. Again, we sorted them by title, and printed them out. We printed the row numbers on the sheets as well. This worked great. Storing them in the list order with dividers at 25 album increments made finding the albums in question easy, and we didn't have to do anything complicated when a new album arrived...we just typed it into the spreadsheet, re-sorted, and shifted the albums on the shelf accordingly. The frustration of getting duplicates has now lessened significantly. Still not sure WHY we have so many, but then I'm not the conductor of a German band ;-D


    4 years ago

    Yeah, yeah, yeah.... All this I've already done... NOW, i'm trying to figure out if it's all from left to right or right to left... Currently I have everything left to right and it annoys me that I always look through my records from Z-A, Newest to Oldest, but I don't think I could live with myself if everything was organize right to left!!!!


    6 years ago

    For someone labeling themselves as "neurotic," this article does a major injustice to the actual infinite nuances of alphabetizing albums. You pretty much offered little to no insight into anything, really.


    9 years ago on Step 5

    nice! good job

    I went through the process too of organizing, I alphabetized my collection and had a section for "Soundtracks" "Jazz & Blues" "Classical" the rest I filled under artist/band.

    I had acquired a collection of 2500 albums nothing was organized... i think it was 25 crates?? I had them all in my garage and sorted them in the garage. Honestly, it took me 3 solid days of organizing i think it was 10 hours each day. The albums i acquired were a bit musty so I bought plastic sleeves to contain some of the smell (and it has worked).


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I've also got the Cars debut album too! I actually have alot of their albums haha


    13 years ago on Introduction

    . Great job. . I recognize most of the covers, but what phono cartridge is that?


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. It's a pretty simple Ortofon Omega cartridge, runs for about $30 at a local record shop.


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    . Ah. I used the Ortofon integrated shell carts (similar to the one on their home page, without the fancy paint job) on my turntable, but that was years ago.
    . A friend and I have 5000+ LPs in storage and neither one of us has a working turntable. LOL