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?
Perhaps 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?
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.
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.