The Simplest Guide to Making a Vinyl Record

Last month in anticipation of the Hawaii Record Fair, I distilled the knowledge and experience I’ve gained on making a record in the 21st century into a simple booklet for others to use as a launching point for pressing their own vinyl. It’s called “The Simplest Guide to Making a Record”.

Today, Aloha Got Soul is seven releases in: five singles, two albums, and a double LP on its way for January 2017. So far I’ve used three different pressing plants. But I’ve also made a handful of missteps and have learned plenty along the way.

When I sat down to outline this guide, I realized that there are, simply speaking, six steps to making a record: Mastering; Placing Your Order; Lacquers; Stampers; Test Pressings; and Final Production.

Aiko test pressings just arrived… and they're blue!! Thanks @gottagrooverecs! #ags7005

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I still am a newcomer to this in several ways, and admittedly don’t fully understand all the processes involved in pressing vinyl. The long list of jargon related to making a record is mind-boggling and, it should be said, intimidating: two-step plating, lathes, acetate-coated aluminum discs, electroforming, galvanic process, nitrate, nickel sulphamate electrolyte solution, spray booths… I still can’t wrap my head around it!

That’s one reason why I’ve put this guide together: so that others don’t have to feel so intimidated by the processes they face when deciding to put their music on wax. My hope is that “The Simplest Guide to Making a Record” will serve as an important resource to inspire motivated individuals in taking the first step towards realizing their dream.

Another reason was that, as the Hawaii Record Fair drew near in early October, I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could spark a healthy vinyl-making community in Hawaii?’ Throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Hawaii was home to dozens and dozens of record labels big and small pressing vinyl. Today, few local labels are putting releasing out on a record (understandably so, since vinyl has only recently experienced a mainstream resurgence; plus, vinyl is expensive to make and even more expensive to ship to these islands!). Why do I believe it is important to reinvigorate a vinyl-making scene here? Because record-making communities create lasting documentations of cultures and subcultures. When vinyl is pressed, a tangible and audible impression of an era is captured for generations to come.

Take, for example, the subculture of soul and funk music made in Hawaii during the 1970s and 1980s. It was with records by artists like Lemuria, Mike Lundy, Aura, and Nohelani Cypriano that I could begin to understand this obscure subculture. Without the music of this era made available on a physical format like vinyl, Aloha Got Soul simply wouldn’t exist.

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For anyone who is looking for a helpful start to making a record, I know you will find this useful. At the moment I haven’t decided to publish the entire guide online, instead I’ve made 40 copies of the guide in booklet form — a physical, tangible form that those looking to put their music into a physical, tangible form can appreciate. Check it out here.

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