Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Humble Beginnings.

First of all, I would like to say that I am not a blogger, well... until now. I am not really a writer; first thing I have written since high school. And lastly, I am not a vinyl LP or music expert. What I am however is a man on a journey. A journey to perfect my music listening experience and to build the best record collection I can.  With this blog, I will share my thoughts, experiences and ideas with all who are interested in the hopes that I can help some of you along the way.

Portable Reel to Reel tape recorder

My journey began back in the mid 60’s. I was going into junior high and I was listening to rock and soul superstars on LP’s and on the radio. My sister and I had one of those small record players that was an all in one unit. You know, they looked like a small over night case. You opened the lid and there was a platter that turned the record, and a tone arm that housed the needle. The lid contained the speaker or speakers depending on whether it was mono or stereo.   In the following years, I got a portable AM radio and small reel to reel tape recorder, (pictured to the right) like the one they used in the old Mission Impossible TV series.  Then I got my first portable Am/Fm radio and I listened to the FM radio stations that played all the popular music of the times.  Well, those were the days and that’s when I got hooked on music and audio gear.  My sister and I still have most of our records from those days. We still have our Bowie, Santana, Floyd, Zeppelin, Tull, Genesis (Peter Gabriel) records.  Music has always been a part of our lives and my sister and I have passed that on to our children by taking up musical instruments, or through listening to recorded music.

Close-up of front panel of Sansui 8080db
 There were periods in my life when I did not listen to my records.  A lot of which was due to the fact that I was traveling a lot and I did not have a record player.  Recently I have taken a strong interest in my LP’s and I listen to them almost everyday. I started getting back into vinyl LP’s around 1991 or 92 to give you a time reference. Back then I had about 125 of my sisters and my records with me in an apartment in Virginia Beach Virginia. In 94’ I went on a business trip that took me to central Florida and then drove down to South Florida to visit my parents. When I returned home I drove a rental van back to Virginia packed with audio equipment, about 75 more records, books and some small furnishings. Before I left, my father threw in his BIC Venturi Formula IV speakers which worked and his vintage Sansui 8080db receiver, which didn’t work. Dad said that I could get it repaired or use it as a spare to repair mine. We both had a Sansui 8080db receiver which was the second biggest receiver Sansui made at the time. Once back in Virginia, I set up my 8080db, (pictured above) in the den of my apartment and hooked up my Dads BIC Venturi speakers.  The system sounded great!!!  At the time, this was one of the best audio systems I had and the fact that I could play it loud made it even better.... I had really cool neighbors.  In the early 90's, I was listening to the alternative/modern rock, classic rock and jazz on the radio. I still did not have a turntable, or a CD player.  Since CD's were becoming more popular, I started building my CD collection and saved some money up to buy a CD player.  Before long, I had about 50 CDs and I finally purchased a CD player.  I connected the CD player to my system and was thrilled at the CD quality sound..... but still no turntable.  Looking through my record collection, I realized that there were records I had that were not on CD, and perhaps would never be.  Also, I felt that I would not have the money to replace all my records with CDs like some of my friends were doing.  It was then that I made a conscious decision to buy a turntable so that I could start playing my records again.  I was rediscovering jazz at this time but I was still a huge rock music fan. Back then, I remember that most Antique stores in my area sold records. Thrift stores were an excellent place too. And the records that I was getting from the Antique and Thrift stores were vintage classic jazz records. Classic Jazz artists like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, as well as contemporary artists like Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. There were quite a few vintage and collectible records available then. Antique stores were getting items from estate sales and people just trying to liquidate their dads record collection. The records were always in great condition and I purchased anything that looked to be in good condition and collectible. Today, most of the Antique stores still get records the same way and they sell them online and mostly on eBay. The thrift stores on the other hand are selling your grandparents music like Lawrence Welk, Al Hirt, Henry Mancini or someone like that. You can still find some gems in thrift stores but you have to sort through a lot of junk in the process. There were not as many people interested in purchasing records back then so they were pretty cheap and abundant. Today however many more people are interested in records and antique stores and thrift stores recognize the value and see the demand so they tend to sell them online for more money.

This journey has spanned four decades with the most significant activity taking place over the last two decades...and the journey continues everyday. I am so glad that I got a head start on this in the early 90's when everyone else was not paying attention.  As a result I am so far ahead of the game than if I started a couple of years ago.  However, it's not all lost and there is hope for those just getting started.  Over the course of these posts, I will try to outline the steps that I have taken to get to where I am now. I will try to convey the steps that I have taken to get quality vintage and collectible records and vintage audio equipment, and you wont need a brinks truck full of cash to do it.  You will need quite a bit of patience and a little bit of cash.

Good luck and happy hunting.


  1. I dig the blog! Very well written, and your gear looks amazing!! Looking forward to reading more.


  2. Thanks so much!! It's been a labor of love and I'm just getting started with this blog. Look for more content on specifics like buying and collecting records and vintage audio equipment. ttly, The Vinyl Dude.

  3. Great Passion! I too look forward to more as a great Jazz lover myself. Thanks for sharing!