In this complete guide, I will help you with finding the best brushes and sleeves for Vinyl records.
With the winter season fast approaching, you will have to prepare for a number of things.
You have to dig out your heavy blankets for the cold nights, add sweaters to your daily wardrobe, seal up your windows to prevent the leakage of hot air, and go grocery shopping to stack up on hot chocolate.
But there is one more thing that you have to account for which is often overlooked by many individuals, and that is static electricity.
As the weather becomes drier and more stagnant, dust and friction increase and causes various things around you to bristle with static energy.
But have you ever thought about why static electricity is such a bothersome phenomenon, not just for professionals, but for regular individuals like you and me?
There are so many places where we encounter static electricity in our daily lives and do not even realize that it is the root cause of some of our many, pesky, daily problems.
What is Static Electricity and Why is it Bothersome?
Static electricity is produced because of the presence of charges. When two surfaces rub against one another, it produces friction. Because of the friction, there is an exchange of electronics between the two surfaces.
The side that loses them gains a positive charge while the side that gains them acquires a negative charge. As well all know, positive and negative tend to attract.
So the next time the surface encounters the opposite charge, it sticks to it. That is why you may end up with a bunch of sweaters stuck to each other in your laundry basket or experience a zap of electricity when you sit down on your couch after walking on the carpet.
While the zap you experience is not strong enough to cause any major pain or bodily harm, and you can easily untangle your clothes from each other, the troublesome nature of static electricity does not end there.
This phenomenon can prove to be very bothersome for more sensitive objects. This includes the likes of electronics. Since these electronic devices use circuit boards with extremely small and sensitive capacitors, a zap of static electricity may be all that is needed to completely mess up a component and, as a result, the electronic device.
Another object that is extremely prone to the harmful effects of static electricity is vinyl records.
How Do Vinyl Records Work?
In order to understand how static electricity can harm your vinyl records, you need to know how an LP actually works. Your shiny record disk typically contains hundreds of tiny grooves and crevices on its surface.
These are extremely tiny, maybe even microscopic, which means that you may not necessarily be able to visualize them with your naked eye.
These grooves are unique to each record and are responsible for producing the music when you place the disk in a record player.
The needle of the record player runs through these specific grooves and produces a signal. This signal is read out by the player and amplified by the loudspeaker so that everyone in the room can hear what the vinyl record has stored on it.
Why Do You Need Anti Static Devices for Your Vinyl Records?
Since all of this ‘reading’ is happening at such a microscopic level, it makes sense that anything going awry at that level can affect the interaction between the needle of your record player and the surface of the vinyl record.
For example, think about dust particles. If your vinyl has accumulated a lot of dust on its surface, the particles can start to interfere with the movement of the needles within the grooves.
As such, you end up hearing annoying sounds like pops and crackles while the record is playing. This happens because of particularly large dust particles. Smaller dust particles cause the record to sound dull and flat as the sound of the music becomes muffled and unclear.
How Can You Make Anti Static Records?
Like anything, you need to ensure the proper maintenance and cleanliness of your records to keep them in top working order. Vinyl records are extremely delicate objects that are very sensitive to things like dirt and dust. Like we explained above, an unclean vinyl record will sound fuzzy, less than clear, and interrupted.
Anti static electricity is part of the reason why your vinyl records may accumulate dust particles. If your records harbor an electronic charge, they can typically attract the charged dust particles towards its surface.
The opposing but attracting charges stick to each other firmly, which is why you get these issues with your record playing. This may even make regular cleaning more difficult for you since the dust tends to hold on.
That is why the best thing to do if you are a proud owner of precious vinyl records, is to invest in a good anti-static solution.
How Does an Anti Static Record Brush Work?
One of the most popular choices for record cleaning is an anti static brush. Anti static brushes are typically made of materials like carbon fiber which is effective in removing static electricity. The bristles enter the grooves and remove the offending material so that the record can be played smoothly.
When Should I Use My Anti Static Record Brush?
The best time to use an anti static record brush is before and after each play. This makes sure that your disk is as clean as it possibly can be and saves it from any major damage down the line.
Since you will be regularly removing the static buildup on the surface of the vinyl, it also saves you from having to go through the trouble of removing stubborn dust with a wet cloth.
How Do You Use an Anti Static Record Brush?
Here are some simple steps that you can follow to use an anti static brush on your vinyl records:
- Pick up your anti static record brush.
- Hold it perpendicularly over the surface of the vinyl.
- Instead of pressing hard against the surface, hover it gently over the record until the bristles are just entering the grooves.
- Turn on the player and let the record spin on its own against the bristles of the brush a couple of times.
- Doing so will cause the dust particles to be pushed and swept from the grooves and accumulate the tip of the front part of the fibers.
- Angle your brush to scoop up the accumulated particles so nothing is left behind.
- Lift up your brush from the surface.
- Repeat this process a couple of times to thoroughly clean the vinyl record.
Some people also recommend gently moving the brush towards or away from the center as the turntable moves to discharge the static electricity but be very careful as you can end up damaging the record with a wayward particle. The best approach is to take it slow and be extremely gentle with the record.
How Do You Clean an Anti Static Record Brush?
One concern that you may have is regarding the cleaning of the brush itself since you are using it to scoop up dirt and dust. As a general rule of thumb, avoid touching the bristles with your hands.
Since your fingers have a lot of greases, you can unintentionally transfer it to the surface of the vinyl record. Instead, a good practice would be to use the handle of the brush for cleaning purposes. Rock the fibers back and forth through the handle to clean the anti-static record brush.
What are the Best Anti Static Brushes for Vinyl Records?
For your convenience, we have compiled a list of some of the best anti static brushes that are currently available for purchase:
If you come across an original Audioquest Anti Static Brush, you should know that it is a sound investment to make. The little tool is extremely effective in dissipating electrostatic charge and simultaneously removing dust and contaminants at the microscopic level. The bristles are made from carbon fiber with conductive gold contacts for effective cleaning and discharge.
Audio-Technica is a brand that is known for a range of products that are designed for proper vinyl record care. One of their most effective anti static products is the AT6011a Anti Static Record Brush that you can find easily on Amazon. The brush bristles are made of conductive synthetic fibers that not only physically remove particles and contaminants from the vinyl surface, but also discharges it to increase its lifetime and sound quality.
3. Hunt EDA
Hunt is another brand that is known for its high quality anti static brushes. The Hunt EDA Brush has two rows of carbon fiber bristles that are grounded by a supporting pad. The bristles thoroughly clean the microscopic grooves thanks to their size and firm integrity.
How to Make Anti Static Vinyl?
As we mentioned above, you can use an anti static brush for record cleaning purposes. But you have other options at your disposal as well. For example, you can also find anti static sleeves and mats that are made to make anti static vinyls.
What are Some of the Best Anti Static Vinyl Sleeves?
One way to make sure that your vinyl records do not suffer damage due to electrostatic charge is by storing them in something known as an anti static sleeve. As understood by the name of the product, these are holsters that you can place your records within when they are not in use.
In a way, anti-static sleeves for vinyl records are similar to anti-static bags that are used for sensitive electronic equipment.
You can read all about them in this guide that I have recently added.
There are two types of anti static vinyl sleeves that you can get: inner or outer sleeves. Inner sleeves tend to be thin and are made from paper. Outer sleeves are typically used in combination with inner sleeves. These are made from plastic and can cover the entire record along with the jacket.
Following are some of the best inner and outer anti static vinyl sleeves you can get:
Diskeeper Anti Static sleeves are made from high density polyethylene instead of paper and comfortably house your vinyl record to keep it as safe as possible from dust and electrostatic charge. The plastic material is strong and durable, resisting tears and ensuring safety.
2. Big Fudge
Big Fudge offers around 100 vinyl sheets for under $20, which is quite a steal. These outer anti static vinyl record sleeves are made from high density polypropylene and measure around 7 inches in length and 3 mm in thickness. Despite being extremely thin, they are effective at their job and keep your vinyls protected.
Katta also produces outer record sleeves that have anti static properties and keep your records protected from the potentially harmful effects of electrostatic energy. The 12 inch, clear plastic sleeves are lightweight and extremely durable, covering the entirety of your record and its casing as well.
Is Dry Cleaning Enough for Vinyl Records?
While dry cleaning with an anti-static record brush will help you gather and remove most of the dust, there may be some dirt that is too stubborn or embedded within the grooves to be removed from the bristles. Not to mention, the brush will not help you remove any grease or fingerprints that may be present on the surface. To remove these offenders, you will have to perform some wet cleaning of the vinyl record.