How to Start a Record Collection

If you've ever wanted to amass a ginormous record collection (à la John Cusack in High Fidelity), but don't know where to start, peep the advice of Steve Jansen, New Times' resident record nerd, on journeying into the vinyl frontier.

Q: How do you create a collection?
A: Get stuff you enjoy first. The way I buy records is I'll pick an artist and score as much of their discography as possible. Like if you're into Led Zeppelin and you want all their albums from the '70s, which aren't hard to find. Then start getting really nerdy, like finding original pressings of records.

Q: What else?
A: Every record nerd should specialize in a certain area. I specialize in a lot of Impulse! label jazz from 1964 on, free jazz, and avant-garde jazz. You can show off your prowess when someone asks if you have a certain album on vinyl, especially if it's the first printing.

Q: What are some records that any collector needs to have?
A: Depends on what kind of music you're into. For jazz, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme; for rock, Beatles records or Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, because it's an amazing album and was recorded unconventionally in an analog fashion.

Q: Where are the best places to shop?
A: Eastside Records is probably the best because they mix new and used together, and they go from death metal to punk to rap to jazz/blues to world, and so on, and everything's reasonably priced. Rockaway Records is good, too; they're pricier, but have a good selection. Stinkweeds also has a good selection, but with more of an indie rock flair. Memory Lane and Tracks in Wax have some good choices as well.

Q: What about equipment?
A: Buy a quality turntable and needle, and not some obscure player that you can't fit the needle into, 'cause then you'll be more picky and get nice used records that aren't warped or scratched.

Eastside Records
217 West University Drive, Tempe

Memory Lane
1940 East University Drive, Tempe

Rockaway Records
1916 West Baseline Road, Mesa

12 West Camelback Road, Phoenix

Tracks in Wax
4741 North Central Avenue, Phoenix

Gilgongo Records
A traveling record store, run by Valley musician James Fella, that's occasionally set up at local gigs and venues.
Different mail order stores out of Chicago, NYC, and Southern California (respectively) featuring "amazing selections" of used records.

All Music Guide
Good for looking up artists and their complete discographies.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.