How long do vinyl records last?

It seems like a digital world these days. And this could not be truer when it comes to music. But even with cheap songs and cloud storage, what could top listening to those clean vinyl sounds? After all, there’s a reason records still exist these days. Yet, with this in mind, there are a few questions that you’ve undoubtedly thought. For starters, how long will your vinyl records last? And more than that, how many times can you play vinyl records? Surely, you don’t want to overplay them and lose that vinyl sound. But not to worry, as we’ve found the answers to your top vinyl record questions today!

So, How Many Times Can You Play Your Records?

Okay, so this seems easy at a glance. But sadly, no definitive answer exists. In fact, the amount of plays you push out of your vinyl will depend on a number of factors, including care and setup.

But even with that said, remember that vinyl is a diminishing good. So every time you play a track, the record will receive some damage. However, the actual amount of damage varies heavily. Thus, it’s important to take care of your vinyl records. Seriously, some TLC will make the difference between a few plays to a few thousand pays before you’ll ever hear any damage. So care and set up go a long way here.

The Turntable Makes All the Difference

So, how do you care for your records? Well, setting up your turntable is a good start.

First of all, the quality really does matter here. It doesn’t even matter if you set up a cheap and crappy turntable correctly. Some turntables will damage your records. Also: always, always, ALWAYS, check the quality of your needles. Bad needles will also damage the grooves of your records. In turn, this will reduce the number of plays you’ll get out of said record.

Now, after you’ve set up your turntable, it’s time to level. Make sure the platter that holds your records is never tilted at any funky angles. Otherwise, you’ll damage the grooves on your records.

Pay Close Attention to Those Tone Arms

Once you’ve leveled your turntable, it’s time to set your stylus and tone arms. Starting off with the stylus, you’ll need to set the right pressure. Too heavy or too light, the stylus will fall outside the grooves of the record. You’ll know when this happens too since you’ll hear a splash noise. Unfortunately, this sound becomes permanently engrained in your vinyl. So avoid damaging the record in the first place by setting the stylus to the right range. In most cases, the correct pressure range is listed on the cartridge. You can even buy a stylus pressure gauge if you want extra accuracy.

Moving on to the tone arms, you’ll want some good quality here as well. In most cases, you’ll find metal cartridges to be pretty reliable. From here, it’s as simple as ensuring you change out your cartridges from time to time.

The next step is ensuring your tone arm is level with the record. For this, you can use inexpensive washers if you need help getting it right. Either way, this step is pretty easy and shouldn’t require any more than a few minutes of your time and attention.

Lastly, you’ll want to prevent tracking errors as much as possible. But don’t worry, with some practice, this step becomes pretty easy. All you’ll need to do here is ensure that your cartridge is always positions correctly inside the turntable’s head shell. It can be a bit tricky since the tone arm is not a straight and linear object. But again, with some practice, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. You can even find online protractor templates to get the alignment just right. So it’s pretty easy and quick to figure out as well.

Proper Vinyl Record Care

Once you’ve set up your turntable correctly, you’ll need to provide proper care for your records. So this includes constant maintenance. Everything from cleaning your records to storing them correctly is critical here. But you won’t need to stress too much about this part. We created a guide to make this as easy as possible for you. So be sure to check it out to keep your records playing for years to come.

Records Built to Last

At the end of the day, remember that records are often made from PVC. And keep in mind that there’s a reason your plumbing equipment is made from this same material. In other words, this stuff is pretty strong and durable. It’s not unheard of to see pipes lasting for decades. And this is considering the water, rust, and particles constantly slamming around your pipes. So imagine how well PVC works for your records when they don’t face near the stress.

Of course, you’ll want to take care of your records to keep them lasting for decades to come (same story for the pipes in your home as well). But the bottom line here is that PVC is a very reliable material when properly cared for.

Make Copies

Do you want to know a quick hack to listening to your favorite tracks for years to come?

Here’s quite possibly the easiest fix to that question. It simply involves making copies the instant you purchase your vinyl records. If your fine with a digital sound, simply save a recording to your PC. But if you opt for that analog sound, you can still buy cassettes for the purpose of recording as well. So whichever sound you prefer, you can keep your songs safe by simply making copies. In that sense, you essentially get infinite listens of your songs.

Final Thoughts

All in all, the lifespan of your vinyl records is dependent on how well you take care of them. If you do a good job of this, you can listen to your favorite tunes for the next 50+ years. No exaggeration.

But there’s one massive piece of advice for your records that’s often overlooked: enjoying your vinyl. Yes, you’ll want to care for your records well. But unless your goal is collecting these records for the sole purpose of displaying them, listen to them! With proper care vinyl won’t let you down. And at the end of the day, you buy vinyl for that vintage sound that no digital medium can replace.