How To Tell If A Record Is Warped

How to tell if a record is warped — if you are new to collecting vinyl records, this is important for you to know. Vinyl records are delicate items, so proper care is essential. But before you can do that, you need to know how to check if there is warping on your record.

The simplest way to know if warping on a record is to hold it flat at eye level. This way, you will see even the smallest warping on the vinyl. Sound distortion when you play the vinyl will also be present if there is enough warping on it. (source)

Vinyl records are sensitive, so you need to know what factors can cause them to warp and get damaged. Apart from that, you also need to understand how to care for them to keep them in good condition.

Vinyl 101: How To Tell If A Record Is Warped

Regardless of the modern advancements that happened to the music industry, there is no denying that vinyl is here to stay. The reason is that there is no replacement for the warm, high-quality sound that a vinyl record can provide.

Unfortunately, audiophiles who are new to vinyl may accidentally purchase a warped record, preventing them from enjoying the crispness of the vinyl experience. Some of the vinyl problems caused by warps are:

  • changes in tracking force
  • mistracking
  • harmonic and pitch fluctuation
  • vertical tracking angle

That said, you need to learn how to tell if a record is warped.

The easiest way to see warping on your record is by holding it flat at eye level. A perfect vinyl record will look utterly flat on your vision. But if it is not, you will see even the slightest apparent warping.

Variations in the wow and flutter are also indicators of warping.

On the other hand, you can also play the vinyl record to inspect if it is warped. A warped vinyl will have a distortion of the audio and a skipping sound.

Fortunately, most vinyl record sellers will check their items for damage before selling them to the public. If you want to avoid buying a warped record, choose a shop that has a good reputation or reviews from other buyers. (source)

The Causes of Vinyl Warping

In most cases, the cause of warping on vinyl records is improper storage. Considering how sensitive vinyl records are, warping can be a cause of various factors.

That said, it is not enough that you know how to tell if a record is warped. Instead, you also need to know the possible causes of warping so that you can avoid them.

Improper storage

Not knowing how to store vinyl records properly can cause warping. For instance, stacking your records on top of each other can cause pressure, negatively affecting their shape.

You might think that horizontally laying your records will keep them flat. But in reality, this method of storing can lead to warping and damage.

For this reason, it is essential to store your records vertically. You should also not cram too many vinyl records together in storage space as it will also expose them to pressure.

If you are keeping your records in a box, do not pack them too tightly. The container needs to be a perfect fit for your records as too big boxes will cause the records to move too much.

Exposure to extreme temperatures

Vinyl records become soft when you expose them to high temperatures. Since they are already soft, any amount of pressure will cause them to warp.

A vinyl record starts warping at approximately 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, it will begin to melt at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, it is ideal to get a wooden shelf for your records.

Wood does not heat up quickly, so it is the safest material for you to store your record. Plastic storage materials trap heat, so it is not ideal for vinyl records. On the other hand, metal storage moistens when the temperature changes, so it can also damage your records.

Moreover, do not place your vinyl records near a place where it has direct contact with sunlight, such as windows.

If you know how to tell if a record is warped and you know are aware of the causes of warping, you will be able to take better care of your vinyl record. (source)

How To Fix A Warped Vinyl Record

Record warping is one of the most dreaded problems of vinyl collectors. Unfortunately, there may come the point where you have to face this problem, so it is a good thing that you know how to fix a warped vinyl record.

However, it is essential to note that the remedies to warping will not fix your record perfectly. TO simply put it, a vinyl record will rarely become perfect again after it is warped.

Still, it is a good thing that you know how to fix them.

Sandwich the vinyl record between two heavy objects

Get two objects that are heavy enough to apply pressure to the record without causing it to break. The objects need to be wide enough to cover the entire record. If you have two large books, they will work perfectly for this process.

Before starting with the process, make sure that everything you will use is clean.

Place the first object on a flat surface where there will be no disturbance. Before placing the record, it is ideal to cover it with a soft cloth on both sides to prevent scratching.

Next, place the vinyl record on top of the first object and cover it with the second heavy object. This method will not show immediate results. It may take up to work, so make sure that you place it somewhere undisturbed.

While this method can be time-consuming, it is also the easiest and most effective one. Still, it is essential to note that it will not always work.

Apply heat and pressure

After knowing how to tell if a record is warped, the next thing you need to know is all the possible methods to fix it. On

This process requires you to have:

  • two glass panes.
  • your warped vinyl record
  • an oven
  • hot pads or oven mitts

Preheat your oven to approximately 175 degrees Fahrenheit. The preheating time can take about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven.

While the oven is preheating, place the record between the glass panels, ensuring it is in the center. Take note that those two panes need to cover the entire vinyl record. Once the oven reaches the right temperature, you can place the vinyl record and glass panes stack onto the oven rack.

Make sure that you are not pushing the record and glass pane combination too far to be easy to remove later on. The record should sit in the oven for less than three minutes.

You need to keep your eyes on the oven while doing this method. If you smell anything or hear noise from it, take the vinyl record out immediately.

After less than three minutes, get a hot pad or oven mitts and remove the vinyl and glass panes from the oven. Put them on a table or any flat surface, and place a heavy object above it until the glass cools. After that, you can remove the vinyl record from the glass panes to see if the warping is gone.

You already know how to tell if a record is warped. So, you can repeat this process if you cannot fix the warping on the first try. (source)

Call for a professional’s help.

If you are unsure if you can do the two methods mentioned above correctly, hiring a professional to help you can be your last resort. Calling a professional is always the most excellent option. Not only do they know how to tell if a record is warped, but they also know what they should do to fix your warped vinyl record.

Many record shops have a heat and press machine that will bring your record back to its flat shape.

How To Take Care Of A Vinyl Record To Avoid Warping

A vinyl record requires more care than CDs and digital music files. And if you know how to tell if a vinyl record is warped, you should also know how to take care of it properly. This way, you will be able to avoid problems in the long run.

In addition, taking care of your vinyl will help you make it last a lifetime.

Dry clean your vinyl record

When dry cleaning a vinyl record, a carbon fiber anti-static brush is the best tool, such a brush allows you to get into the grooves of your record and remove dust and dirt without scratching it. In addition, an anti-static brush will help you clean your record without ruining its audio quality.

To clean the record correctly, spin it on a turntable and rest the brush lightly on top. After spinning the record for a few seconds, slowly and carefully drag the brush off of the record.

Be careful with wet cleaning.

You will need a mild cleaning agent when wet cleaning your vinyl record. Make sure that the cleaner you will use does not have any harsh chemicals that can damage the surface of your record. If you damage your record surface, it will not be enough that you know how to tell if a record is warped. Instead, you will also need to find out how to fix a scratched record.

You will also need a microfiber cloth to help you remove any dirt, dust, and fingerprint from your vinyl record. The cloth will also give your record a more thorough cleaning.

For this method, simply spray your cleaning solution directly on the record and let it sit for a few seconds so it can seep into the grooves. Next, wipe the record with a microfiber cloth, following the grooves around.

Keep your vinyl record in a cool and dry place.

Vinyl is a type of plastic. For this reason, heat can quickly soften it and cause it to be out of shape. Such is the reason why you need to know how to tell if a record is warped. But apart from that, you need to know the factors that can warp your record so that you can avoid them.

In addition, keeping your record cool and dry will help you preserve it for a long time. The reason is that storing your record in an area that is too hot or humid will make it prone to bending, warping, and surface damage.

Avoid touching the surface of your record.

All the musical information in a vinyl record is stored in the grooves. So, anything that touches the surface of your record can ruin its audio quality. Meaning even your hands can affect the sound quality of a vinyl record.

If you want your vinyl record to have the best possible audio quality, the right way of handling your record is by touching only the inner label and outside edges.

Place the vinyl record inside the record jacket right after using it

Every vinyl record has a jacket where you need to place it after using it. Leaving your record out of its cover for a long time will allow dust, dirt, and other particles to stick into its surface. These buildups can damage the surface of your vinyl record as well as its grooves in the long run.

If that happens, the audio quality of your record will decrease significantly. (source)

Avoid Warping: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Vinyl Records

New vinyl record collectors might not know what they should and should not do with their vinyl records. They may think that learning how to tell if a record is warped is enough to keep vinyl in an excellent state. However, that is not the case.

As mentioned, vinyl records are sensitive. For this reason, there are a lot of things that you need to avoid doing if you want your collection to last a lifetime. Similarly, there are things that you can do to keep them in good shape.

Do clean your records before playing them.

If you know how to tell if a record is warped, you will be able to fix your vinyl records when they acquire damage. However, preventing the records from getting damaged is always better than fixing them. That said, knowing when to clean your records is one of the best ways to keep them in good shape.

You need to clean your record before using it. While it may sound a little pedantic, cleaning your vinyl record is essential. Such can be as simple as wiping the surface of the record before putting it on a turntable.

Don’t let the damaged stylus touch the record grooves

Your stylus will acquire damage in the long run. If you have poor upkeep of your stylus and play your record on the turntable, the record will obtain scratches, which is irreversible damage.

For that reason, it is not enough that you know how to tell if a record is warped. It is also vital that you take care of your record player and change the stylus once it gets damaged.

One method to keep your stylus in excellent condition is to reduce the static charge of the records before playing them. Vinyl records consist of PVC, which is prone to static electricity buildup. So, using an anti-static brush will help you prevent any damage to the stylus.

Don’t lift the vinyl record from the turntable before it stops.

It is essential to wait for your turntable to stop completely before taking off the record. If you remove the record while the turntable is still spinning, you will scratch its underside and ruin the grooves. Scratches are far different from warping, so you will not be able to use your knowledge about how to tell if a record is warped once your vinyl record obtains scratches.

Don’t wipe your record using a towel or a shirt.

Never use a towel or a shirt as a record cleaner regardless of how soft or clean it is. These materials can easily scratch the surface and damage its ridges if you put too much pressure on it.

If you want to dry clean your vinyl record, you should instead use an anti-static brush and microfiber cloth.

Don’t use shaky hands when cueing up a record.

When skipping a song from the record, make sure that you are not using shaky hands. Your hands should be as stable as possible when you cue up the lever and lower the needle to your record. The reason is that cueing the lever with shaky hands and abruptly picking up the needle will cause your vinyl to make popping and ticking sounds in the future.

If your record player does not have a cueing lever, make sure that you are resting the base of your hand on a steady surface. Next, use two of your fingers to carefully lift the tonearm without gouging the grooves of your record.

Make sure that you are carefully cueing your tonearm as your knowledge about how to tell if a record is warped will not help you once you scratched it. (source)

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