How big is your vinyl jazz collection? An LJC Poll.


It’s poll time.

There have been many comments about quality and preferences for different artists and styles of jazz, but I want to get down to the more basic question of quantity: how big, or how small, is your vinyl  jazz collection?

Peanuts-Proud-recordsPerhaps you are just starting out and have only relatively few records. We were all there once. Or perhaps you look back on a lifetime of collecting your cherished music, and count discs in thousands. Dealers tell me it’s not unusual to get calls from widows and estate valuers with collections of 5,000 and even 10,000 records to dispose of.

Some posters endorse keeping your collection within a manageable size. Less is more, as you play them more frequently. But can you bring yourself to let records go?

lucy_booth[1]Problems can occur when collections creep over certain thresholds. Not all wives/ girlfriends/ partners are happy to see their home colonised by IKEA Expedits. There are tales of collectors who have reached the “either the vinyl goes or I do” point in relationships (it’s rarely a good idea to give an ultimatum to which you may not like the answer)

Most of us recognise it’s a good idea to get rid of all those early purchases – reissues and lesser copies since overtaken by upgrades. How many copies of Kind of Blue do you really need? What about those Toshibas and Kings for which you now have an original? You may prefer the stereo, but are you be prepared to let that mono go? Have you got the stamina to become an eBay seller, and discover how awful – not to say dishonest –  some buyers are? It’s a chore that can often be put off for another day, and all the while, the collection grows.

Help with counting

Not everyone actually knows how many records they have got. I know only because it’s a by-product of keeping a database of my collection.

To help the numerically challenged, I have prepared a ready reckoner based on the holding capacity of an IKEA Expedit – which seems to be the most popular storage system for vinyl collectors.


Some collectors swear they can fit 100 records on one shelf of an Expedit. Wafer-thin 100gm OJC reissues, possibly; Impulse gatefolds in a proper 400gm polythene outer jacket, possibly not.  Anyway, it is not a good idea to pack records too tightly to save space, as it makes retrieval and filing more problematic. I reckon somewhere between 50 and 60 a shelf, but ultimately it’s a personal preference, whatever works for you. It’s only meant as a guide.

The Poll

How many long-playing records – vinyl 12″ or 10″ ( you can include any 78″s too)  are in your jazz collection?

Include in the final estimate any record that would fit under the “jazz” genre as you might find labelled on Ebay or in a record store – bebop, post-bop, mainstream/ straight ahead, soul jazz, avant-garde, free, swing, big band, early years, jazz vocalists, anything you think fits, I guess including “fusion” and smooth jazz. Up to you if your funky chicken collection counts, as we are a broad church, and it’s about vinyl collection size more than definitions.

Don’t include recordings on The Evil Silver Disk or downloads, or other music genres like rock and pop, dance and rap, death metal thrash, anything that would look out of place labelled as “jazz” on eBay or in a store.

Approximate count is good enough, it’s not about precision. There are no right or wrong answers. No-one will know anyway, as it is anonymous and statistical.

Come back frequently to see how you compare with other posters. Discover if you need professional help about your collecting habit. Settle arguments that say “you have too many records” with a precise scientific answer:  “Not compared with 56.7% of other collectors” (though be warned, this is not guaranteed to change minds, and may simply encourage a different line of attack if the real problem is elsewhere)

Over to you.


37 thoughts on “How big is your vinyl jazz collection? An LJC Poll.

  1. I’m selling off some of my collection, but I still have around 2000 lps. I hope to be down to maybe 500 in a few years. I’ve decided quality is better than quantity. Mainly jazz…. love the Verve and Impulse label, but have many others as well. Prices are escalating of late, and that’s good for what I have, but not so good for lps I still want.

  2. Dear Folks
    My name is Theo Magongoma from South Africa. I’m a small jazz record collector. I need support for my business, if you have some records that you can do away with please contact me on my email then we can talk Business.

    • I’ve just stumbled upon this remarkable film document. What a rare example of expertise in one particular field – and of how utterly biased it can make a person. What he says about music being processed by “computers” just reflects the most common of prejudices. “They chop off the highs, and they chop off the lows, and then they compress everything…” while “the open sound you get on a record” contains all the frequencies. We know that the opposite is true. With this in mind, we may then proceed to talk about the specific sound of vinyl and why some people are so fond of it.

  3. Joining late here as have been out of UK but I am at the lower end – fewer than 300. However thanks to info on this site my collection has experienced a growth spurt equivalent to an injection of steroids while my wallet has shrunk like bodybuilder’s genitalia.

  4. Good ideas here for future post – Most Wanted, Rarest You Own, – I can do this. “Polls” only work on the basis of a “pick list”: I prepare a list of candidates and you check which you want to “vote for” – not really something that works with potentially thousands of possible choices . I think what people would like is to be able to just post their personal list, so every one can read everyone elses. That would be fun. I’ll raise the question, then over to you all to “post your list on the wall”. Give me a day or two, hold fire until then, it shall be done.

  5. Any of you guys have insurance on your collections? If so, any insurance carriers in the US that can be recommended. I don’t think my standard homeowners policy will adequately cover 2,000 LPs.

    • I know State Farm has a very reasonable Vinyl insurance policy. Most agents don’t know about it, so it requires a little patience and paperwork. It does not cover CDs/cassettes/reels/8tracks, etc, only vinyl. I’ve seen one quote from them for a very large collection of modest value LPs come in at about $30/year. I’m actually in the process of cataloging my collection so I can get a quote. Other companies may have similar policies.

  6. Hello from Italy
    I collect jazz records since 1980
    10000 LP’s. 12″
    300. LP’s. 10″
    500. EP’s. 7″
    20 78 ‘s. 10″ and 12″
    Focus is on modern jazz but I collect all styles -many originals expecially italian and european titles but of course some Blue Notes,Prestiges,Riverside,Savoys,Impulse etc.
    My ten rarest records:
    Paul Gonsalves Boom Jackie boom chick Vocalion
    Jacques Pelzer Cetra 13
    Amedeo Tommasi Zamboni 22 Adventure
    George Arvanitas Soul Jazz Columbia
    Buddy Collette The soft touch Music
    Buddy Collette The polyedric Music
    Franco Cerri International Jazz meeting Columbia
    Franco Cerri and his european jazz stars Columbia
    Mike Taylor Pendulum Columbia
    Joe Harriott Hum Dono Columbia

          • Da Mole,Gary Alderman,William Carraro,Leon Leavitt,Roberto Castelli.Giacomo Battistella aka Black Saint, altri collezionisti,scambi,mercatini,fiere, negozi di tutto il mondo… purtroppo ho preso tante ristampe e scambiato dischi rari per quantita’ rimpiagendo poi gli originali(qualche esempio :Barney Wilen su Guilde du Jazz/Jazztone,Donald Byrd su Brunswick, Basso Valdambrini su Music,Chet Baker triple fold out su RCa ,Sonny Clark Cool struttin’ original etc.
            From Mole,Gary Alderman,William Carraro,Leon Leavitt,Roberto Castelli.Giacomo Battistella aka Black Saint,other collectors,record shops and record fairs ,trades with other collectors -pity that I traded some originals for titles/reissues that I didn’t had(some examples:Barney Wilen su Guilde du Jazz/Jazztone,Donald Byrd su Brunswick, Basso Valdambrini su Music,Chet Baker triple fold out su RCa ,Sonny Clark Cool struttin’ original etc.

  7. I’m near the lower end of the spectrum, but am still in my 20s (ok I’ll be 30 in 4 months …) but I my collection is quite strong. I own no “dud” albums. Most, by far, of my records are original pressing although many in only VG or VG+ condition. Admittedly few are in the NM range with all the right labels/marks/addresses. I will continue to upgrade copies as I can, but I can’t imagined my collection tipping over the 500 mark without losing serious per record quality. I don’t even think all of Miles’ recording are worth owning, not by a long shot. I’d like to think all my selections are grains or semi-grails. I will improve condition, but I don’t want to lose quality by watering down my collection with poor later recordings that have little value and that will seldomly, if ever, be played.

  8. Am floating around 900 jazz vinyls, and have to admit that half of it ,I will never listen to it anymore. Why? getting more critical to quality and knowledge of the jazz history.
    Have to confess being a jazz painter myself , that I also buy jazz for the cover-art only. Hope you will forgive me.
    All over: a great hobby to do!

  9. A little more than 400, which is about 25% of my vinyl collection. I have only a few duplicates as I tend to sell off old copies if I find a more desirable version.

  10. I am a firm believer in quality over quantity. A lot of jazz vinyl has passed through my hands though I keep very few. I actually think I have a “reverse-hoarding” disorder: I can be obsessive about making sure my collection is highly efficient. I believe I am relatively young in terms of collecting too. The reality of things is that for many collectible titles I cannot afford a vinyl copy in playing condition that rivals a digital file. I enjoy the mono experience very much but sometimes I have to settle for a stereo MP3 =(

    On a side note, I am also obsessive about making my digital music library as efficient as possible, though as a DJ nonetheless I have over 15,000 songs, including about 150 jazz albums, many of which I have an interest in but am still not familiar with. I used to think owning thousands of records was ridiculous, but I have a huge digital library so I guess if I was older and didn’t have digital music I wouldn’t have any other choice!

    • DG, I like your ‘reverse hoarding instinct’ — well described. I sometimes think I may share it — at least occasionally. As for databases — if I can’t keep it in my head, then it’s reached ‘too many’.

  11. I’ve been collecting jazz vinyl for just over 5 years now and just tipping 400 pieces. Mostly 12″ but the last year has seen a steady influx of 45’s/EP’s.

    I’d like to see this poll again in 5 years just to know where I fit in.

  12. I’m in the 1000 to 1499 club. Could be thinned out though. I’d much rather have under 1000 with more stuff I really like and less doubles of things; but as you all know that’s a process in itself, and I’ve only chipped away at it thus far.

  13. I am collecting vinyl for more than 50 years.I am not only interrested in jazz,but collect also modern classical music,original folk music(africa,india,japan,italie,etc) and pop music.
    My main interrest is JAZZ.I never counted them and I don’t have any data-base.I collect as long as I can remember.On every trip abroad the first thing to do was to visit every recordshop in town,and buy as much as I could afford.There was a time that I knew almost every dealer or collector worldwide.The result is a vast collection of ca. 14000 jazz records,mainly 50’s and 60’s.At this moment I am trying to upgrade the collection.I prefer first issues in NM condition;not easy to find,but a nice sport.
    Because I started buying in the sixties,I am the proud owner of many originals.I only buy records that are of musical interest to me,I don’t collect labels.As you can imagine there are many Blue Notes,Prestiges, Riversides,Savoys,but also many small labels.In numbers:

    13000 LP’s. 12″
    500. LP’s. 10″
    400. EP’s. 7″
    600. 78 ‘s. 10″ and 12″

    Recently I found a buyer for my 78’s,so with pain in my heart I will sell them to a young collector.They are nice to look at,but I seldom play them.I bought them some 30 years ago from a Dutch radio presentator,Pete Felleman,so they are all in excellent condition,hardly played,if ever.


    • OMG! 13,000 LPs Kees.
      The American deadpan comedian Steven Wright had a line that seems apposite:
      “You can’t have everything. I mean. where would you put it?”
      All I can say is “bravo”, that’s what I call a collection.

    • Kees thats’s fantastic but it gets me thinking if there really are 14.000 great recordings of jazz? 😉 Anyway it seems that you started collecting in a good time when jazz on LP was not as expensive as today. Sometimes I wish I could get back in time ;-).

      • Being at a loose end awaiting a plane, Shaft, your question prompted me to think about the relative cost of records now and then. Applying a retail price inflation calculator to the recommended retail price of a UK Esquire 12″ LP in 1956 – 39 shillings and 7 and a half pence – that calculates in today’s money as £42, or $67 USD – not a lot different from what you expect to pay on eBay for the same record today . Buying it then means of course it would be “mint”. The more sought after titles however are double to treble, so turn out to be “inflation beating” investments. What this proves I am entirely unsure, but it’s whiled away a few minutes, which was the general idea.

        • In a way you are right – you have to take inflation and the value of money into consideration – but I guess that an desired LP has a “curve” over time meaning that LP’s were quite expensive in the fifties and sixties. Used LPs were probably a bit cheaper after a couple of years and the price of LPs went rock bottom in the late eighties when the silver disc came and people more or less gave away their collections replacing with CDs. Now the curve has pointed up again the last 15 years or so for desired LPs. These days it is probably more expensive that ever to build that complete NM original Blue Note Library. But ironically probably easier too since eBay came marching in.

        • Hi LJC… “What this proves” is, among other things, that recorded music was infinitely more expensive in those days than it is today. If you had bought that LP in 1956 it would not have been a collector’s item but just a plain micro-groove long playing record like any other. Record collectors apart, people don’t spend £42 for 45 minutes of recorded music these days. What we (including myself though I’m probably less focussed on vinyl) collect then must be something different than what most people understand by “music“. To me, music should come in a decent cover with all the relevant information instead of hovering somewhere in a cloud where all you may ever come to see is a ridiculous tiny little thumbnail. Whenever I resort to downloading because it’s the only way to get hold of a particular item, I regret that iTunes and the like don’t even add personnel and recording dates on a regular basis. What has this world come to…

      • I can assure you that there is a lot of money involved.Some were cheap,but by bidding on auctions I often paid far too much( Ed Dipple,Robert Setlik,Jeff Barr,Fred Cohen,etc. got rich from addicts like me).Now it is the other way around:I get good prices for rare records.

  14. I keep a database too.
    12″: 744, 10″: 107, 7″: 12.
    12″ are counted individually so doubles count 1, boxes count 1.
    I’m always ready to fight any family war: records vs shoes, for example…..

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