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Dear all,

what is this "famous" material styrene all about?

What I know so far, that is was used instead of vinyl to create singles, and that single, which are made of this material, deteriorate pretty fast.

I would be glad if someone could bring a bit more light to this issue.

How do I recognize a styrene single?

Was it used only for single or for albums as well?

How fast are the styrene singles deteriorating? Is there something that can be done against it?

Best regards


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Hi YouYou,

Apparently, Styrene was developed in the early 1950s in America, and was seen as a cheaper material for pressing records. The main producers of styrene at this time were labels under the Columbia group (Okeh, Columbia, Epic etc). During the late '50s, some UK budget labels like Gala used it, and called it "Lustrex", for reasons I don't know. It is these UK budget LPs (from between 1958 - 1960) that are the only example of Styrene LPs I know of - as far as I am aware, no other LPs have been made from styrene.

The way to tell a styrene record is that it is always lighter in weight compared to solid vinyl. If you hold a styrene record by its edge and centre hole, then tap on the edge, you should hear a brittle, hollow sound. Not a good idea to try and flex or bend a styrene record though, as they will crack easily.

Providing you play styrene records on a lightweight cartridge, they should last forever. If DJing, it's probably a good idea to avoid cueing them up, as back-tracking with a crap stylus will cause serious needle burn which is also permanent.

Hope this helps.


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The easiest way to differentiate between Vinyl and Styrene is to hold them up to the light. If you can see the light thru the record it is Styrene. You wont be able to see thru Vinyl.

To preserve all your records. Play them on a good quality needle. And dont play them too often. Despite my initial dislike of CDs I find I play them all the time now and leave my records for special occasions.

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Sorry to throw this in Mikey, but to add to that, not all styrene is see-through. Only styrene produced from the early '70s onwards will go a different colour if held to the light.

Additionally, vinyl records from the '60s on labels like Diamond, Lescay, Beltone will go a light brown when held to the light. Confusing I know.........but when has life never been confusing?

BTW Mikey, where were you last night? Didn't see you at SITC!!


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Dear all,

what is this "famous" material styrene all about?

Before the universal the nomenclature system was introduced in organic chemistry, major polymers were given a name, STYRENE being one of them (e.g.polystyrene). So was VINYL, as in Poly Vinyl Chloride (? flexi discs of the fron of NME?). Studio / EMI discs are made of a polymer ACETATE. And finally, for anorak like me, nylon is a polymer that was patented in NY & LONdon.

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Here's some terms and definitions....I posted them on the soul talk mailing list some years ago and on the RSF....can't remember who I got them off???


These are terms and definitions that are common and not so common to the

record collecting and record selling community.

Styrene (properly, Polystyrene).

Hard, relatively inflexible plastic used to press records, mainly 7-inch

singles, mainly using the Injection Moulding process. The material is heated

to a liquid form and is then squirted or injected into the closed stampers

in the press. This requires that the labels be either glued or painted on

after the record leaves the press. The cost savings to the manufacturer

comes from the extended life of the stampers because of the lack of a

heating cycle to the stampers. The material can also be reused without

noticeable change to its moulding properties. Styrene records will therefore

usually have very quiet surfaces when found in an UNPLAYED Mint condition,

but unfortunately they will wear to a noisy condition rapidly, especially if

played with a bad stylus or an improperly tracking tonearm. They also are

more prone to Cue Burn. The Columbia Records Pittman, New Jersey pressing

plant was once the major source of Injection Moulded Styrene pressings, and

pressings from this plant are found on MANY small labels. Look for the

glued-on labels. Painted-on labels can be found on records from the

Amy/Bell/Mala group.

Vinyl (properly Polyvinyl Chloride).

Relatively flexible material used since the early 1930s to make

non-breakable records. Its fumes are an acknowledged carcinogen, so don't

breathe in deeply when you have your next holy burning of Beatles or

back-masked devil-worship records. :-) Usually pressed by Compression

Moulding which allows the label to be an integral part of the pressing

itself. This process also requires that there be extra material which spills

out the sides of the press, therefore this extra material is routinely

ground up and re-used. Because vinyl does not re-heat and re-cool to a

smooth, glossy surface, the excessive use of re-grind mixed in with Virgin

Vinyl can account for the inherently noisy surface of even unplayed Mint

examples of the cheap pressings that some record companies used. Noise can

be seen AND HEARD by looking at and/or playing the un-grooved surface of the

lead-in and lead-out areas. If this area looks or sounds grainy, then the

grooves will also have some of this grainy background sound. The stampers

used for the compression moulding process will start to break down after

only 1,000 pressings because they are forced to expand and contract when

heated by steam at the start of the pressing cycle and then cooled to

solidify the record. Some companies routinely overused their stampers for

their pop record series.


Ultra-thin pressings of high-grade Virgin Vinyl introduced by RCA Victor in

late 1969. Although considered crap by most collectors because they do not

seem flat when held, they actually have much quieter surfaces then most of

the popular records pressed by RCA in the mid-to-late-1960s due to the

extraordinarily high percentage of Re-grind Vinyl used in all but it's Red

Seal, Vintage Series, and Original Cast pressings. Dynaflex was also less

prone to breakage and permanent warp-age in shipment. Its lighter weight

reduced shipping costs and allowed for the use of a higher grade of Vinyl

because less material was required. They were supposed to lie flat on the

turntable due to their own weight, but RCA forgot that many people had

changers with 8-inch turntables!


Record cutting system introduced by RCA Victor in 1962 that supposedly

reduced tracking distortion by computer controlling cutting characteristics

to overcome the imagined faults of playback equipment. Considered a disaster

by everyone except the New York Times writer Hans Fantel who wrote the blurb

inserted in all of the early pressings, it brought the golden age of RCA

Victor Living Stereo to a screeching halt. Because there is a possibility

that this system was used on later re-masterings of the early Living Stereo

records, collectors try to obtain only early pressings of these

masterpieces--usually called Shaded Dogs. The words Stereo-Orthophonic

are on the record label and sometimes the cover of the good Living Stereo



Is usually a reference cut that is made on ultra high-grade methyl cellulose

sprayed onto thick aluminium discs. Reference acetates are primarily to make

certain the record will sound somewhat like the tape. Often they are also

made to allow a club or radio disc-jockey to play the music on turntables

before it has been pressed as a normal record. Acetate is a misnomer. It is

actually a Lacquer, but since so many people call these acetates, both will

be used here.

Alternate take

At a recording session more than one take (recorded version) may be kept on

file for future use. What is considered the best take at the time is usually

used for the commercial release. Sometimes a different take is used for a

compilation album or in really rare cases the first recording that was

issued is pulled and an alternate take from the same session is used. When

this happens a lot of people will think there is something different about

that song. This was done with a 50s record from Whirling Disc records. It

was Whirling Disc 107 and the songs were I Really Love You/What Do You

Do by The Channels. After a couple of months in release, Bobby Robinson

(the owner) for whatever reason, used two different takes (one for each

side) from the same session for subsequent releases. Anyone that has heard

both records (I have both) can tell the difference between the two in a

minute. The most famous of all is the Bob Dylan, Positively 4th Street 45

on Columbia. For some reason, some copies of the commercial 45 were issued

with a version of Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window instead of Positively 4th Street The funny thing is that Dylan's next release on

Columbia Can you please crawl out your window was a different take than

the mistake on Positively....

Test pressing

A test pressing is sent back to the cutting engineer, producer and

sometimes the performer, to confirm that the pressings will sound as

intended. Most TP's are really just early pressings, frequently without

artwork of any kind, and they are serviced to whoever as early promo's. In

many cases this was done to rush the record out to radio stations to try and

get immediate airplay before the complete label could be finished.

Original Label

This refers to the company that first issued a certain record. A lot of

times small labels will have a record that will become very popular and they

cannot meet the sales demand. In a lot of cases the master is sold or leased

to a larger record company and the record is released on the larger

company's own label. Also look at the small label examples under Reissue.

All of these fall under Original label.

First Pressing

The way the record first came out on a certain label. Examples: The first

pressing of Sixty Minute Man by the Dominoes came out on Gold top Federal.

The first pressing of Church Bells May Ring by the Willows came out as

Church Bells Are Ringing and all that was changed a few weeks later was

the title. The label design and color remained the same.


There are several types of reissues. There is the budget reissue. This falls

into the K-tell, design, forum and etc labels. These are discount labels

that got the permission to use the original master to issue songs (usually

hits) later as discount compilations. Then there is the reissue that is just

a later issue that isn't a budget item. Labels that can fit here are:

Collectibles, Eric, Rhino and etc. And then there is the other type reissue.

A record that was originally pressed on a small label (see Original label

above) and then was picked up by a major or by a big independent. Examples:

Question Mark & The Mysterians--96 Tears. First recorded for Pa-go-go. It

was picked up by Cameo/Parkway and reissued on Cameo. At The Hop, Danny

and the Juniors--original on Singular with a count-off intro. It was then

picked up by ABC Paramount and the intro was deleted. Short Shorts, the

Royal Teens--original on Power but the hit was on ABC Paramount after ABC

picked it up from Power and reissued it on their own label. The Motley

Crue's first album originally came out on Leather and then was picked up and

reissued on Elektra.


A record that was out of print for a certain period of time and the original

company decides to put it back into their catalog of available items.


Taking a currently available record and re-numbering it.


A song that was originally recorded by an artist for one label and then was

re-recorded and issued later by another label (Sometimes the original label

will record the same song by the artist years later). Examples: Roy Orbison

and the Teen Kings. Ooby Dooby--originally recorded for Je-wel records and

was later re-recorded and issued on Sun. Penguins--Earth Angel (Will You Be

Mine)--Originally recorded by the Penguins and released by Dootone records.

Re-recorded and issued later on Mercury.


To RCA Victor it means that something was revised, a credit was changed, the

layout of the cover was changed, something simple like that. Sometimes the

first pressings of the record has an RE. They did their changes even before

issuing and felt it important enough to note it. You see things like this in

the RCA files. This is the meaning of RE on the back of some of the RCA



The same song issued by another artist at about the same time as the first

record. This was done to cover up or take away sales from the first

record. Timeliness was important in issuing cover records. Many times in

the 50s the cover record was by a white artist covering a song by a

black artist or black group. If the white artist or group was successful,

the black artists record either died, or did not sell very well outside R &

B circles. Examples: are: Sh-boom The Chords covered by the Crew-Cuts. The

Crew-Cuts far outsold The Chords. Wheel Of Fortune by the Cardinals was

covered by Kay Starr. Starr far outsold the Cardinals. Remake--A song done

later-on by another artist. This was not timely enough to be called a

cover record. Examples: Hound Dog Big Mama Thornton remade a few years

later by Elvis. The Train Kept a-Rollin', orignally by Tiny Bradshaw.

Remade a few years later by the Rock'n Roll Trio. Remade again in the mid

60s by The Yardbirds. Louie Louie Richard Berry in the mid 50s. Remade by

the Kingsmen in the early 60s and then by 9 million other artists.

Master Numbers/Matrix Numbers.

These terms (interchangeable) are used for the side identification number

for each side of a record. It is usually printed on the label and is also in

the dead wax of a record. I think it was also the catalog number given to

each recorded song of a record label. RCA, Columbia and Epic had special

alphabetical prefixes for their master numbers. Dated master numbers. Some

labels for a time put a date at the beginning of their master numbers. This

would show the releases for that year. The next year would start at the

bottom of the numbering sequence. Labels that did this were: VJ, Tollie,

M-G-M and Cub. RCA also did this from the late 40 to the early 60s. They

used a letter and a number to denote the date. D8 would be 1948; E4 was

1954. In 1956 they changed again with F being 1956, G being 1957 and H being

1958. And they skipped I for 1959.

Machine Stamped

A lot of labels used perfect die cut letters to put the master numbers and

pressing numbers in the dead wax of their records. This is different than

the hand written numbers that some companies used. In a lot of cases this

can be used to a certain degree of certainty in determining a counterfeit

with U. S. pressings. Some companies that had machine stamped master numbers

were: RCA, Decca, Coral, Brunswick, Capitol. Columbia, Liberty, Laurie and

Rust. Atlantic had the numbers usually hand written, but somewhere in the

dead wax had AT---machine stamped, but once in awhile it was handwritten.

Lead-in groove.

This is the silent area at the beginning of a record.

Cue-up area

This is the area where a disc jockey cues up the record so that the music

will start as soon as he starts the turntable. With the stylus on the record

the disc jockey moves the record back and forth over the same area to get

the desired start-up point.

Cueing scratch/Cue burn

A common phenomenon with 45s that were cued-up by disc jockeys. In most

cases there is either a hiss or a loss of fidelity in the first few

revolutions of the record. Dead Wax--Also known as the trail-off groove and

lead-out area. Also known as the run-off area. The area between the end of

the recording and the label.

Delta number

In July of 1954 an independent pressing plant in Los Angeles, called Monarch

Records started putting a Delta (triangle) with a number next to it in the

dead wax of each record that they pressed. This is the way that they kept

track of the order of items pressed. Each side had it's own Delta number.

Repaired Seam

In a lot of cases the edge seam on album covers, EP covers and picture

sleeves become split. This is a designation to show that this has been

repaired. Sometimes this is done by gluing the ends together and sometimes

tape is used to close the split.

Colored wax (this is actually colored vinyl)

Several companies in the early 50s used color vinyl on some of their 45

issues. These are normally a lot rarer and more sought after than the normal

black vinyl release. Some examples: King--Blueish green for its R&B series,

and red vinylfor its maroon label country series. Federal--Same blueish

green vinyl as King Chance--Red vinyl Vee Jay--Red vinyl Gotham--Pink vinyl

Jubilee--Red vinyl Imperial--purple vinyl And the most famous of the 60s

labels to issue white label promos on colored wax. Columbia with the

following known colors: Red vinyl, green vinyl, blue vinyl, yellow vinyl and

purple vinyl.

Timing strip

This is usually found glued to the front of promo copies of albums. This

shows the song titles and playing times for each cut on the album. These can

take up a small space at the bottom of an album or can take up to half of

the album cover at the bottom. Gatefold--An album cover, EP cover or Picture

sleeve that opens up like a gate. Sometimes has records that fit in both

open ends.

Vinyl Junkie

A record collector that has the collecting fever so bad that nothing else

really matters. He/she plans his/her vacations around looking for records.

He/she spends his/her weekends going to the usual swap meets, garage sales

and record meets. He/she spends hours on the phone and internet with fellow

record collectors.


A term used by the old time R & B collectors to denote a record that is so

beat up that it has no redeeming value. This came from seeing a record that

was so trashed that you thought somebody tried eating it for lunch.

Break-in record

A record that usually has a story line and has a lot of segments of

different records mixed in. In most cases the records used are current of

that time period. This form was first popularlized by Bill Buchanan and

Dicke Goodman otherwise known as Buchanan and Goodman.

Answer record

A record that is usually a response to another record, usually a hit. This

is usually done by a different artist, not by the original artist. Examples:

Duke of Earl, Duchess of Earl, Mother in-law---Son in-law Oh Carol;Oh Neil,A Boy Named Sue;A Girl Named Johnny Cash and so on.

Kiddie Record

These were usually records that were put out for children by the big labels.

In the early 50s they came out in both 45 and 78 form. RCA had the Little

Nipper Series. Decca had theChildren's Series and Capitol had the Bozo Approved series and the Record Reader series where you followed along in

a booklet attached between the covers, and read along while the record

played. RCA also had versions of this.


(Bootleg is also incorrectly and improperly used as a synonym of counterfeit

and reproduction). An illegal pressing of a record that was recorded at a

concert and does not have the band or record company's permission to do so.

Can also be used to describe illegally pressed music from a company's vaults

that was acquired without the record company's permission. The term was also

used with 50s and 60s 45 rpm collectors as exact reproduction and forgery.


Aalso known as bootleg, also known as a repro--(Bootleg and Repro are

commonly used but wrongly used terms)This is a record that was illegally

remade to look and sound like the original issue. This is usually done by

making a tape of a regular pressing of an original copy of one of the

records and then pressing this up on vinyl. Most of these types are made up

to look exactly like the original with the same artwork and label design.

The counterfeiter does not show any distinction between his forgery and the

original (Once in awhile the bootlegger will make a subtle change to the

label to let collectors know his record is in fact a counterfeit--Henry

Mariano used to scratch in the current year into the deadwax of his



Reproduction--Same as Counterfeit. An exact copy of a record done without

permission of the original record company or without permission of the owner

of the master recording.

Radio Spots

Promotional Adverstising records that went to radio stations. These were

mainly records that had a few one minute (or so) spots plugging a product or

even a current movie.

Studio Tracks

Film or cast music which has been re-recorded [i. e. not an original

soundtrack taken directly from the film/cast, even if featuring the same

cast, musicians or orchestra

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Excellent post Chalky :-) I was worn out by the time I got to the end...how it went from styrene to Answer records I don't know, but all really informative !!!

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It is styrene if you can peel off the label from the 45 or if the label is painted onto the record (as on Amy, Mala, Bell, Togo 45s etc.).

It is vinyl if the label is moulded into the vinyl and you CAN'T peel it off.

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It is styrene if you can peel off the label from the 45 or if the label is painted onto the record (as on Amy, Mala, Bell, Togo 45s etc.).

It is vinyl if the label is moulded into the vinyl and you CAN'T peel it off.

So Sebastian are you saying that to be sure i have to peel all the labels off my records and the ones that are left torn and wrecked are vinyal and the ones that have no labels on are styrene even though i can't tell what they are anymore?


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So Sebastian are you saying that to be sure i have to peel all the labels off my records and the ones that are left torn and wrecked are vinyal and the ones that have no labels on are styrene even though i can't tell what they are anymore?



But seriously, just run the tip of your nail against the edge of the label (closest to the grooves), if you can feel an edge under which you could insert your nail (not that you NEED to do it) then it's styrene. If there's nothing to "grab hold of" then it's vinyl.

By the way Mr. Trout, your copy of Philip James is on styrene.

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It is not entirely true that you can't peel off labels on vinyl pressings, I have a come across a few vinyl 45's where the label seemed to be glued on and not moulded on during the press like it usually is. Not common, but it does exist. I have also seen a few styrene LP's, pressed by the Monarch plant.

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Danny D suggested that its got to be a worthwhile thing to group stuff like this and other usefull vinyl related stuff,, such as cleaning tips, record case suppliers, etc etc in a easy to look up and read format,

Agree with him, as often find meself wondering just where read that info, but no idea of where it is, plus good chance for hardened vinyl freaks to pass on info and tips to those just showinfg first signs of addiction

Still thinking bout format and so as always on here, always open to any suggestions etc


or if have any worthwhile stuff for forthcoming section can post up ready to add it

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Hi on the point bout suppliers

anyone help with where to get solid centres for turntable, am running out of em, cant seem to find a supplier in Dublin :( ....

Danny D

Hi Danny,

I am not 100% sure if I have understood you the correct way. Seems to me that you are looking for a thing to put on your turntable, on which you finally put your 45s.

I have bought mine in a records shop in Munich: http://www.bestrecords.biz/

Check out this page as well: http://www.plastic-4u.de/

Click on "7 Single Zubehoer" and then on "Single Puck".

Best regards


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I had lots of records with boring white labels on them, so I peeled them off and replaced them with some pretty one's I made with my glitter glue pen's. ph34r.gif

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So Sebastian are you saying that to be sure i have to peel all the labels off my records and the ones that are left torn and wrecked are vinyal and the ones that have no labels on are styrene even though i can't tell what they are anymore?



But seriously, just run the tip of your nail against the edge of the label (closest to the grooves), if you can feel an edge under which you could insert your nail (not that you NEED to do it) then it's styrene. If there's nothing to "grab hold of" then it's vinyl.

By the way Mr. Trout, your copy of Philip James is on styrene.


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please try and keep posts in this section soul wise

know what i mean

Idea being a section for guides and it "come in usefull" one day sort of stuff

At moment just one section, however if need be can have subsections

Basically anything that is loosely soul related, such as vinyl care, dj-ing techniques, terms, audio, soul on pc and so on should fit in, and provide a handy sorta thing

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