CHIRP Record Fair 2011: Photo gallery + Tips for record fair season
While true heads are hunting records all year around, it occurs to me that the CHIRP Record Fair marks a kind of beginning of record hunting season in the midwest. Where, for generations, those raised in a record hunting culture don the well-worn hunting jackets of their forefathers, arm themselves with portable LP players (like a Crosley or Numark) head out in the wilds of thrift stores, estate sales, old radio stations and backrooms of smalltown and suburban areas and hope to come back with freshly stalked sonic deliciousness. This past weekend, TOC hit the CHIRP Record Fair to see the generations of recording hunting people in their wild and wonderful habitat: the record fair. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when heading out for a hunt of your own.
1. Take chances. Buy something with a weird cover, with a name you are curious about or from another country. It might be awesome. Dig in a cheap bin. Ask a seller for his B grade stuff.
2. Come with a want list—however obscure it might be, but don't stick to it if you are so inspired. Live in the moment.
3. Inspect the product. Check for scratches that will affect play. Check to see if the label info matches the sleeve information—a newer record could be slipped into a vintage sleeve, for example. If you are allowed to listen to a potential purchase on a turntable as reputable record stores allow, do that. Also, look for pressing information in small print. For example, that British EMI Beatles mono you just bought? It could easily be from the ’80s—and probably says so right on the sleeve.
4. If you're not a collector, but prefer to play records for kicks you have an advantage—Sleeve condition is not that important if you just want something to listen to, right?
5. Handle the product carefully as you flip through stacks. If you piss off the seller, they're not going to be up for cutting any deals.
6. Buy records you like or were always curious about, not things you just think are valuable. If you overpaid for something, but love the music, you're still a winner.
7. Don't get too caught up in the thickness and overpay for thick records. Some thin vinyl sounds fantastic—some thicker records don't sound so great—this can be as much a matter of the mastering, pressing, or original recording as the quality of the raw material.
8. See if the seller will let you bundle multiple items.
9. If you have some killer records you want to trade up, it can't hurt to bring em and keep in the car/your bag. You might meet someone who wants to trade.
10. Oh, bring a big, strong bag or box that will protect your vinyl treasures. Don't wanna wreck that original copy of Flex Your Head by jamming it in your messenger bag, do you now?