8 Mistakes when Flattening a Warped Record
We know you folks like awkwardly numbered lists, this one is a collection of essential mistakes - read them to avoid them.
Updated October 2022
Learning others' mistakes will help you not to ruin another rare 💸vinyl record; thus, buckle up, put aside any work for 4 minutes, and let's get right into it.
List of 8 most common mistakes
1. The first and the most painful mistake we've seen is when folks don't even try to fix their warped records. Can you imagine? There is a rare record sitting on the shelf, waiting for someone to fix it and play it, but that someone does not even believe there is a solution to this problem. To all those non-believers - this particular time - you CAN do it.
2. Poor Prevention - although this article focuses on the flattening process, incorrect record storage is probably among the top two reasons why records are warped. The most common mistakes are excessive heat, lack of support dividers on the shelves, and incorrect pancake-style stacking - you can do it briefly to take your Instagram / TikTok video, but please don't keep it like this for too long. We've known folks who reorganized their temperature-controlled wine storages for vinyl records. That is a fun combination, but at a minimum, find space in a cold basement or a bedroom, especially when summer is around 100F.
3. Some people bring their gym equipment and other heavy stuff and put them over their record while they play it. Does it work? It does not solve the root cause since the record remains warped. But, for some turntables, it will allow listening to the warped record. Maybe one last time because if the record is not fully unwarped, the grooves may be damaged.
4. Iron - we don't even use iron for clothes, and, guess what, it won't work for the vinyl record either. Actually, there is one good use for this option - it is a good "worst benchmark" for vinyl record flattening.
5. Hair Dryer - although some hair dryers are capable of delivering optimal temperatures for record flattening (e.g., at about 130-135F), there is no elegant way of distributing heat evenly. Not to mention that it is hard to hold a hair dryer towards your record for 30, 40 or 60 minutes. In addition, you are not benefiting from gravity, which makes this process pretty useless, and potentially harmful.
6. Glass & Oven - not the most terrible mistake, but a combination of factors can make this method disastrous. First, putting glass on an unprotected record may damage its grooves. This is why we created Groovy Rings - they are made from a proprietary soft synthetic fabric that protects, cushions, and insulates the record from the Vinyl Flat plates. Second, the average oven does not have the temperature precision necessary to flatten a warped record. At least get a quality digital thermometer to ensure the temperature never goes above 155-160F. Check out our post on the different ways to unwarp a record.
7. Expensive vinyl record flatteners - unless you are flattening records for high-volume commercial purposes and doing this almost full time, it would be a mistake to buy costly machines that sometimes go well beyond $1,000 - $1,500. Some alternatives have been around for over 12 years and do the job nicely for the price that is 5 times less expensive. Vinyl Flat - a proven method that satisfied more than 8,000 customers.
8. Time is your friend and your enemy as well. Solving the warped vinyl record repair problem for the last 12 years, Vinyl Flat developed a very robust combination of time and temperature methodology for each record type. For example, for 100-gram Dynagroove from the 1970s, we recommend a 50-minute heating cycle at ~130F and 45-minute cooling, while for 180-gram Matador, 80-minute heating and 60-minute cooling at the same temperature setting. Without knowing these details, one may find their warps unfixable, while there is a quick and easy solution with a slightly different approach.