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Recording Preservation Tips - 78rpm Records

  • 78rpm are made of a wide array of materials. The one thing they have in common is that all 78's are very fragile: they will peel, crack, mold, warp, shatter, and suffer just about any type of damage due to improper handling or storage. So the first tip is: Handle all 78's with EXTREME CARE. 
  • 78's should not be stored in their original packages. Each recording should be rehoused in acid-free liners made of 35 pound kraft paper. The original wrapping should probably be kept for the historical information it contains. A more sophisticated wrapping consists of four layers of different materials laminated together: the exterior layer is kraft paper, followed by polyethylene, aluminum foil, and a final layer of polyethylene. The polyethylene and foil act as vapor barriers, while the polyethylene inner layer protects the surface of the record from abrasion and damage.
  • About cleaning: be very careful what cleaning solution you use. Most cleaning solutions that are used for vinyl contain some form of alcohol (or other solvent) that will dissolve your 78's! Do not use ANY cleaning solution that is not specifically made for 78rpm's.
  • Pure water is also BAD for 78's. I know of collections that have been ruined only after a brief exposure to water (a flooding, the records were immediately dried, but in time they were all destroyed).
  • Mold, mildew and fungus KILL 78's. The damage is irreparable (the little fungus fellers actually eat the grooves. The record becomes whitish, and you can't feel the grooves any more because. . . they ain't there! They have been eaten). Therefore, you must avoid conditions that favor mold, mildew and fungus: heat and humidity. you must store your precious 78rpm's in a climate and humidity controlled room.
  • Be very careful what needle and weight you are using. There are many types of 78rpm's and what may work for one type of record may not work very well for another. Do your homework and find out what works for your specific record. Otherwise, even one play with the wrong needle can create irreparable damage to the record.
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