Vinyl records can lose shape. This is referred to as ‘warping’. It may be due to a poor storage position, warmth or just age. Warped records can limit the tracking of the turntable stylus over the surface of the record, as the undulating surface can cause the stylus to jump right off. This is annoying, at best, if it happens occasionally. After it happens multiple times, the anger will start to set in. Especially if you are a DJ, since a warped record that causes the tonearm to jump across the record can completely ruin a set. There are a number of ways to fix warped records, and they can be done using inexpensive materials.
To fix warped records, then the distortion must be in a vertical direction. In other words, the vinyl record in question must be bent. The other form of warped vinyl records are ones that are ‘stretched’ i.e. no longer circular. Unfortunately, there is no way of returning these stretched records to their original shape. The good news is that most warped records are in the first group. When laid on a flat surface, the outer edge of these records does not contact the surface completely due to warping.
The Simple Way to Fix Warped Records
Put Warped Records Under Something Heavy. Wait.
Simple, safe and cheap.
It makes sense that you can fix warped records by putting a whole lot of heavy things on top of it. Putting it at the bottom of your pile of vinyl records is not the right thing to do, as they should be stored vertically, not horizontally, so as to avoid this very situation! There are a number of important things to consider when wanting to fix warped records using this cheap and simple method.
Firstly, the surfaces on either side of the vinyl record must be flat. The under surface needs to be hard and flat, so that usually means marble, vinyl or floorboards if on the ground, or else a flat desk. Resting on top should be a flat surface such as a cardboard box with a flat bottom. The best surface is that of a large hardcover book, such as a kid’s atlas, Guinness Book of Records or encyclopedia.
The warped records need to be under there for a good while, at least a few days, in order to bend back in to shape. This is not ideal for people that live in small units or flats, since floor space can be hard to come by, nor is it ideal for record store owners who wish to quickly un-warp records in their new stock before putting it on the floor to be sold. In this case, the following tricks may be more useful. For the next tips, we start to use heat, which speeds up the process significantly.
Fix Warped Records By Cooking Them In The Oven
Quick, but a little risky.
Yes, really. What warps records in the first place is a combination of uneven physical pressure and heat. People have reported that even consistently high room temperatures have contributed to warped music. Since vinyl’s shape can be changed by heat, we can use this to your advantage by heating records back in to shape.
You will need two sheets of glass that completely cover your records. Hardware supply stores are a good place to find these, as they usually stock sheets of glass for framing paintings which will work just fine. You will also need an oven. Keep in mind that this is a more risky way to fix warped records, so try with a non-favourite record first to see if it works for you.
Place the warped record between the two sheets of glass in the oven. Place it on the highest shelf to keep it as far away from the heat as possible. Heat the oven to its lowest possible temperature (this includes a ‘warm’ setting if your oven has it). If it’s difficult to see exactly what is happening inside your oven, you may have to keep the door open so as to monitor things closely. As the glass heats up, the vinyl record will very quickly flatten. As soon as this happens, turn the oven off and let it sit. Wait patiently until the glass has completely cooled, then remove the glass and the record.
Use A Made-For-The-Task Machine
There are many ultra-expensive machines – think $1000 or more – that flatten and reshape vinyl records. Unless you are a record store owner or an extremely enthusiastic collector, this will be out of your price range. The folks at Vinyl Flat have come up with an alternative, cheap solution to fix warped records. See the video below:
This simple device uses the oven as well. Considering it comes with operating instructions and support, it’s less risky than the glass in the oven technique. It costs $79.95 and has a 30 day money back guarantee, which isn’t too bad a deal if you need to fix warped records.