Fixing and Repairing Deep Scratches Of Your Vinyl Records

Introduction – Can this mess be avoided?

Most certainly, it can. You can always prevent deep record scratches if you stop your record player when you hear anything unfamiliar – skipping, ticking, clocking, and such.

Regularly cleaning your vinyl records will also tremendously help in preserving them, so it’s safe to say that as long as you are doing everything right, your records won’t be scratched (or at least won’t be scratched so deeply).

What should you expect

No matter what method you use, there’s simply no way to restore your records to their original condition and quality. Every record gets scratched eventually, but those scratches may or may not have a significant impact on the overall sound quality.

By fixing deep scratches on your records, you can expect a boost in quality of the sound output, but nothing too major – some records are considered to be better once they wear, as they age like wine.

What exactly happens when your records get scratched?

First of all, we need to know how a record player operates, and what happens before the sound is produced. When you place the vinyl in the groove, the needle grazes the surface of the record which produces sound.
Secondly, these needles follow a pre-designed path, puncturing (slowly and gently) the surface of the record. Now, when a scratch (or cut) appears, the standard route of the record player needle changes. In other words, the stylus jumps over or cuts deeper through the vinyl record, creating a deformed sound in the process.

Most records that get scratched will either sound pretty bad or skip certain parts of the song. There’s a way to mend most of these scratches, but there are also cases when nothing can be done to revert the damages to a prior state.

Spotting deep scratches

The surface of vinyl records is usually made of plastic, so most people can tell that their record has been damaged by simply going over the surface with your finger. However, the surface is also black, which makes spotting the difference with the naked eye nearly impossible. There are certain hints that will help you spot scratches before they become too deep to fix.

  • Inferior sound output and quality

If you notice that your record plays in such a way that the sound output is in any way inferior, your record is scratched (or damaged in any other way). This is the perfect time to clean your records thoroughly.

  • Skipping certain song parts

When the scratches on your records become too deep, your record will begin skipping certain parts. This situation can hardly be mended by cleaning alone, but it’s worth a shot. If that doesn’t work, try some of the methods we’ve mentioned below.

How to repair the damages – The First Thing you should do

Some scratches can be neutralized by applying distilled water. A good cleaning can improve the current condition of your vinyl record if the scratches aren’t too deep, so this is definitely the first thing you should do.
Surface scratches don’t have a huge impact on the overall performance of your vinyl records, but you’ll hear the difference eventually. Clean your records a couple of times, and if you don’t notice the difference, make sure to try something else.

Repairing your vinyl records – Deep scratches mended with isopropyl alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is capable of fixing deep scratches on vinyl records when combined with pre and post cleaning with distilled de-ionized water. This is a perfect solution for laymen and people who don’t possess any sanding skills (which is a more complex alternative).

This method is fairly simple – all you need to do is simply prepare the working area, apply de-ionized water, apply isopropyl alcohol, and apply de-ionized water again after which you’ll rinse and clean the records thoroughly.

This method is not fool-proof, and there’s a small chance that you won’t be able to save your record. In certain cases (extremely deep scratches), there is nothing you can do to revert the damages and preserve your record.

Conclusion

Your records will get damaged eventually, but that’s not a reason to panic – clean them from top to bottom and try playing them. If that doesn’t work, apply some isopropyl alcohol, and let the magic happen. These are some of the best ways to mend deep scratches, but there are certain situations when no method can be of any help. Extremely deep scratches are almost impossible to mend, so all you can do is simply buy a new record and try to be more careful with it.