Monthly Archives: May 2014

Proper LP Storage

Once you have started building your LP collection, you must make sure to keep your valued pieces in the best condition possible. While the LP is not as vulnerable to humidity, as other record mediums, they are extremely vulnerable to some everyday conditions. Some of the dangers to your LP include oils from fingerprints, adhesives, soot, cigarette/cigar smoke, and grease in the air from cooking. However, the single biggest threat to your LP is simple household dust. Before storing your LPs you’ll want to properly clean them. Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts for you LPs:
*DO NOT: Clean your LP with rubbing alcohol, lighter fluid, bleach, WD40, Armor-All, or baby oil.
*DO: Clean with distilled water (not mineral laden tap water) or a product designed specifically for cleaning LPs such as those made by the “Nitty Gritty” brand. There are also quite a few recipes for homemade LP cleaning solutions online, be careful to watch for oily or acidic ingredients.
When LPs first hit the market it was common for people to clean them with rubbing alcohol, lighter fluid, or WD40. Now experts tell us that these chemicals actually break down the stabilizing agent in the vinyl. It was also common to wipe an LP down with baby oil, it was a common belief that baby oil made the vinyl more “supple” and therefore preserved it. Now we know that baby oil only holds in and/or attracts more dirt.
*DO NOT: Clean with T-Shirt, dish cloth, or any other material that produces static or lint.
*DO: Clean with lint and static free cloth such as microfiber cloths.
*ALWAYS: Clean in circular motion with the grooves.
There are a few other products on the market to help you keep your LPs clean. The first is the vinyl record brush. You hold it lightly hold over an LP as it spins. These brushes run about $25 each, however some experts complain that after a few uses these brushes create too much static and can actually attract dirt.
The second product is for serious collectors only—it runs about $1,500. Vacuum Machines for LPs are extremely effective at cleaning LPs with no static, oils, acids, and they completely remove all dust particles—as they should for that price.

Now that your LPs are clean you will want to keep them that way. The manner in which you handle your LPs is just as important as how you clean and store them.
*DO NOT: Touch your LP with your fingers.
*DO: Handle just the edges or label part of the LP and preferably handle only while wearing white, static free gloves.
The oils from your fingertips will leave acidic imprints on the LP causing corrosion or attracting and holding dirt particles.
*DO NOT: Expose to air or light any longer than necessary or for a prolonged amount of time.
*DO: Return LPs to sleeves and jackets immediately.
Our environment is uniquely adept at decomposition. Light and oxygen can break down the polymer chains in vinyl rather rapidly.
*DO NOT: Wet play your vinyl records.
It was once a common practice to play LPs while they were still wet from cleaning, it was believed that wet play sounded better, hampered dust particles from interfering with the needle, and helped the needle to “clear debris out of the grooves”. This is actually one of the worst things you can do to an LP. If it’s played while wet, the dust particles will build up on the needle, damaging the needle and effectively turning it into an implement for scratching your LP. This practice will not only seriously damage your LP and destroy the needle, but it can also damage the arm of the turn table itself.
*DO NOT: Place or remove an LP onto or off of a spinning turntable.
*DO: Place an LP on the turn table before turning the table on. When removing an LP, always wait for the table to stop spinning.
Placing or removing an LP onto or off of a spinning turn table causes immediate friction and will scratch the underside of the LP.
*DO NOT: Drop LP into sleeve or jacket.
*DO: Gently slide LP into sleeve and jacket.
As vinyl ages it can become brittle, particularly if it is/was not properly cared for and stored. Any jarring to the vinyl can cause hairline splits or cracks.

We have covered how to clean and handle your new LP collection, but you will not be listening to each one all day every day, so how should they be stored in the interim?
*DO: Store your LP collection exactly vertical.
*DO NOT: Stack your LP collection.
LPs that are stacked are guaranteed to warp with gravity; however, like the great arches of Rome, the curve of the LP will retain its structural integrity.
*DO: Place spacers every 4 to 6 inches to keep your LPs exactly vertical.
*DO NOT: Mix and match LP sizes in storage.
*DO: Store LPs with other LPs of the same size.
When a 12” LP is stored next to a 7” LP, the smaller of the two can leave imprints on the larger, this can happen even if your LPs are properly stored in their sleeves and jackets.
*DO NOT: Allow LPs to hang over shelving.
*Do: Store LPs on metal shelving rather than wood shelving because wood will expand and contract affecting the angle of the LP.
*DO: Remove shrink wrap from jackets immediately to release static.
*DO: Store LPs in polyethylene inner sleeves.
*DO NOT: Store LPs in PVC or paper sleeves.
It is best to store LPs in the polyethylene sleeves because they absorb static, do not interfere with the chemical makeup of the vinyl, and they do not break down. PVC sleeves have a similar chemical makeup to the vinyl and can fuse with the LP. Paper sleeves deteriorate and leave oils and residues on the LP.
*DO: Store LPs at 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit for in home or short term storage.
*DO: Store LPs at 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit for long term storage.
*DO: Store at optimum humidity (RH) of 45-50%.
*ALWAYS: Store LP in sleeve with open end facing down into jacket to protect from dust.

With all collectable or valuable items, preservation is very important and that includes making sure these items are properly stored. Here at Iron Gate Storage we have a variety of storage unit sizes and amenity options. For information on our storage options or any storage questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our office to speak with one of our storage experts.


Collecting The Vinyl

In 2011 vinyl record sales jumped 39.3% over the previous year, causing the music industry to officially claim a resurgence of the LP. In fact over the past five years vinyl record sales have continuously increased while CD sales have continuously declined. It has been speculated that the LP may even outlive its digital counterpart simply because music in digital format can be accessed and stored in more efficient ways than a relatively fragile disc; whereas the sound of the analogue LP is simply not authentic when reformatted in digital form. Simply put, you can get the CD sound on any computer, phone, or digital music player and you can only get the sound of an LP from an LP.
The LP resurgence has been attributed to the specific sound of the analogue music format found on LPs, and the nostalgia of the album covers and sleeves. In fact many of the most collectable LPs are so popular because of the sleeve or cover they were originally sold in. Do not be misled though, both the LP and cover must be in good condition to fetch top dollar. Many record labels are now releasing LP versions of brand new albums accompanied by an online digital version. David Bakula, Nielsen SoundScan’s senior vice president of client development and insights in an interview with the New York Times, says that his company alone sold 4.6 million LPs and is on track to sell 5.5 million this year. However, the majority of the LPs sold in the United States are not new albums or even re-released albums, but the re-sale of original and highly collectable albums. Some of the most collectable albums can fetch tens of thousands of dollars.
As of October, 2013 the top 13 most expensive albums are:

*The Cure, “10:15 Saturday Night/Foxy Lady Cover”: Valued between $1,000-$2,000
*George Harrison, “Love Comes to Everyone/Soft Touch” (alternate sleeve): Valued at $5,000
*Led Zeppelin, “Led Zeppelin” (alternate cover): Valued between $5,000-$7,000
*The Misfits, “Horror Business” (black vinyl edition): Valued between $2,500-$10,000
*David Bowie, “Diamond Dogs” (alternative cover): Valued between $2,500-$7,500
*Bob Dylan, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” (withdrawn version): Valued between $20,000 and $30,000
*Pink Floyd, “The Wall” (orange vinyl version): Valued between $1,500-$3,000
*The White Stripes, “Lafayette Blues/Sugar Never Tasted So Good” (white vinyl edition): Valued between $5,000-$15,000
*The Rolling Stones, “Sticky Fingers” (mono version with orange sticker): Valued between $2,000-$4,000
*The Smiths, “Hand in Glove/Handsome Devil” (negative sleeve): Valued between $1,500-$3,000
*Depeche Mode, “Music for the Masses” (withdrawn cover): Valued between $3,500-$7,500
*The Beatles, “Ask Me Why/Anna (promo single, only 6-10 copies believed to exist): Valued at $25,000
*Nirvana, “Love Buzz/Big Cheese” (first single released, only 1200 copies ever made): Valued at $2,000
*The Velvet Underground and Nico – “The Velvet Underground and Nico” (US Album Acetate, in plain sleeve, 1966 with alternate versions of tracks from official release) Value: estimate $25,200.
There is one LP that is considered the most interesting LP to own while not being the most expensive to purchase. With only 10 copies ever made “the blood LP” is not the most sought after LP, it is not the most expensive (sold for a modest $2500), it is not even the most known LP, but it does harbor a great secret. “Heady Fwends” by The Flaming Lips features Ke$ha, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Chris Martin of ColdPlay, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and Sean Lennon. The LP itself contains samples of blood from some of the featured artists that participated in the production of this LP, including all of those named above.
Not every LP is worth thousands of dollars, but most original LPs have appreciated in value since they were released. So head up to your attic, down to your basement, or out to your self-storage unit, and dig up your old punk albums or peruse through Mom’s old album collection and see if you have a few that might equal a small fortune. Happy LP hunting.



Pacific Northwest Bands

The Pacific North West, specifically Washington State, is known as the “Grunge Music Capital” of the world. Perhaps it is our long grey winters, the majestic beauty of our landscape, or the contrast of the two that draws out the musical creativity in a great deal of tremendously talented individuals. No matter what the common denominator, one must admit that the Pacific North West fosters a great deal of musical talent, and it is not all “Grunge Bands” either. The PNW has been fostering great musicians since the 1930’s, long before the term “Grunge” was a musical genre.
*Bing Crosby was one of the best recording artists of the 20th Century, and was considered a Jazz and Pop artist. Crosby was named as the inspiration for Frank Sinatra and performed his vocals from the 1930’s through the 1950’s.
*The Fabulous Wailers, 1950’s-1960’s, are from Seattle WA and were the first Rock ‘N’ Roll band to be labeled a “Garage Band” and are considered the Fathers of Seattle’s Music Scene.
*In the 1960’s a Tacoma WA band named The Sonics hit the mainstream music scene. Dubbed “Proto-Punk” this band was named as an inspiration for both Nirvana and Bruce Springsteen.
*Also in the 1960’s an extremely talented electric guitarist from Seattle WA hit the scene soon after leaving the military. Jimi Hendrix is considered the single most influential electric guitarist in music history despite the fact that he was a mainstream performer for only four years before his death in 1970.
*Heart was most popular in the late 1980’s, but the band began performing in the 1960’s in Bothell WA. Heart is a folk/rock band that has seen many member changes over its 30 plus years but its two constant members have been the bands founding members, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson.
*In the 1980’s the very first “Grunge” band developed in Aberdeen WA. Nirvana would only perform one international tour but would go on to be named the most influential band of modern music history. Nirvana dissolved in 1994 with the death of its founder and lead vocalist Kurt Cobain.
*The Foo Fighters was founded by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl soon after Cobain’s death. The Foo Fighters’ first performance was in Portland OR and they have gone on to record seven successful albums, four of which have won Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album.
*Queensryche is a Heavy Metal band out of Bellevue WA. Their 1988 album “Operation: Mind Crime” is considered one the greatest concept albums of all time.
*There are only two really successful Rap artists to come out of the Pacific North West, the first was of course Sir Mix-a-Lot. Sir Mix-a-Lot is a Rap artist, MC, songwriter, and music producer. His first single “Baby Got Back” went double platinum and won the 1993 Grammy for Best Rap Solo.
*The second and most successful of the two big Rap artists to come out of the Pacific North West is Maclemore and his partner Ryan Lewis. The duos first single “Thrift Shop” was the first to reach the #1 spot on Billboard’s top 100 without a record label, since 1994. Macklemore and Lewis made history when their second single “Can’t Hold Us” also reached the #1 spot.
*Pearl Jam was founded in Seattle WA, helping to launch the Grunge Music movement in the early 1990’s. Pearl Jam and the bands lead vocalist Eddy Vedder have become known the world over for his unique voice tone and song lyrics. Eddy Vedder is still an active member of Pearl Jam but also has an equally successful solo career.
*Sound Garden is another extremely influential Grunge band from the late 1980’s, though they did not obtain national popularity until 1994 when they released their album “Super Unknown” and won Grammy Awards for singles “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman”. The band dissolved in 1997
The Pacific North West was also home to many other successful music acts such as The Presidents of the United States of America, Alice in Chains, and Earth. We boast some of the world’s best song writers, vocalists, and arguably the world’s single best electric guitarist. While Grunge Bands are certainly not the only talent to come out of Washington State, they are our bread and butter in the music industry. There is no denying that Washington is to Rock Music what Tennessee is to Country Music.