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Vinyl vs Styrene...   


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  6th Dec 2013, 6:29 PM#1  QUOTE  REPORT  
JEEIII

Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 17
Was there really that much cost savings in issuing styrene 45's vs vinyl? Was Columbia records the biggest styrene issuer? Is there anything that can be done to a styrene 45 to keep it from losing it's sound quality......I do have some styrene 45's that hold up as good as vinyl-was there different grades used?



John


  6th Dec 2013, 6:38 PM#2  QUOTE  REPORT  
W.B.lbl

Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 7023
Moderator
Columbia may've been somewhat better quality in the styrene department, but we're talkin' relativity here . . . but they hardly had a monopoly in that market. Other plants that handled styrene included:
- Bestway Products, Mountainside, NJ (founder Al Massler pioneered the process of making records with styrene)
- Shelley Products, Huntington Station, NY (from c.1951 until its 1985 closure)
- Monarch Record Mfg. Co., Los Angeles, CA (from c.1960 to the late '70's)
- Allied Record Co., Los Angeles, CA
- Mercury Record Mfg. Co. / Philips Recording Co., Inc. / PRC Recording Co., Richmond, IN
- RCA Records' Indianapolis, IN plant (from c.1979 to its 1987 closure)
Monarch and Allied were among the first plants to have the "see-through" styrene that, when holding it up to a light, you can see the light as red, circa 1966-67 (Columbia Records' Pitman, NJ plant didn't follow until 1969). Styrene records are interesting in that the record label size remained pretty much intact, as the labels were glued onto the record via an adhesive affixed to the back of the label; as opposed to vinyl records where the labels were pressed onto the records and the label lost anywhere from 0.5% to 0.7% of its original size.

Usually, Mercury / Philips / PRC pressings were rated at the bottom of the barrel in terms of the grooves holding up, with Monarch second-last.


  6th Dec 2013, 7:16 PM#3  QUOTE  REPORT  
JEEIII

Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 17
So it was quite a different pressing procedure between styrene and vinyl! Interesting.....



John


  8th Dec 2013, 6:23 AM#4  QUOTE  REPORT  
musictom

Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 1616
Moderator
It's odd. Of all the used singles I've picked up the last couple years, the styrene ones tend to sound cleaner/better. I like the looks of vinyl records better though.


  8th Dec 2013, 7:11 AM#5  QUOTE  REPORT  
HarvestmanMan

Garage/Psych DJ
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 1874
musictom wrote:
Of all the used singles I've picked up the last couple years, the styrene ones tend to sound cleaner/better.
From what I gather, styrene pressings sound better, but are also considerably more susceptible to damage. Hence why so many have inner-groove distortion from being played on improperly aligned turntables.

Did Bell/Amy/Mala/Page One/Sphere Sound press their own styrene records (with the painted-on labels)?


  8th Dec 2013, 8:47 AM#6  QUOTE  REPORT  
mickey rat

Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 4939
Styrene sounds as clear as a bell when it's new but most of the American styrene records through my hands over the years have had noticeable surface noise and distortion from previous owners' playing. I also discovered that American DJs tend to avoid second hand styrene. And they break easily in the mail if not packed properly. Vinyl's better IMO.


  8th Dec 2013, 9:10 AM#7  QUOTE  REPORT  
annaloog

Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 1544
HarvestmanMan wrote:
... Did Bell/Amy/Mala/Page One/Sphere Sound press their own styrene records (with the painted-on labels)?
Bell Records and Bestway Products were for a time owned by Al Massler, so the connection was there. Bell Records initially (1952) was a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books division, and Bestway handled disk production then.


  8th Dec 2013, 10:06 AM#8  QUOTE  REPORT  
W.B.lbl

Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 7023
Moderator
annaloog wrote:
HarvestmanMan wrote:
... Did Bell/Amy/Mala/Page One/Sphere Sound press their own styrene records (with the painted-on labels)?
Bell Records and Bestway Products were for a time owned by Al Massler, so the connection was there. Bell Records initially (1952) was a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books division, and Bestway handled disk production then.
I.I.N.M., Mr. Massler also owned the Golden Record(s) children's label - which also was rather infamous for painted-on labels on their 45 RPM releases.


  8th Dec 2013, 11:34 AM#9  QUOTE  REPORT  
goodrats

Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 341
Did Bestway also press Dimension records, too? AFAIK, Dimension was not a division of Bell, but was part of Screen-Gems. That may be the connection. Although Colpix, Colgems & SGC were part of Screens-Gems but were vinyl releases. It's all very confusing.

Edited by goodrats on 8th Dec 2013, 11:40 AM

  8th Dec 2013, 12:45 PM#10  QUOTE  REPORT  
W.B.lbl

Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 7023
Moderator
goodrats wrote:
Did Bestway also press Dimension records, too? AFAIK, Dimension was not a division of Bell, but was part of Screen-Gems. That may be the connection. Although Colpix, Colgems & SGC were part of Screens-Gems but were vinyl releases. It's all very confusing.
Dimension was originally owned by (Al) Nevins-(Don) Kirshner Associates - and only became a Screen Gems label upon Columbia Pictures' 1963 acquisition of Nevins-Kirshner's Aldon Music (and its folding into Screen Gems-Columbia Music). But as to whether Bestway pressed for Dimension: Prior to the said transaction, very much yes. Not until 1969 did Bell become "A Division of Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc."

And Dimension (and Colpix) both fell by the wayside when Screen Gems partnered with RCA to form Colgems in '66. They must've lost the rights to all the Colpix (and Dimension) masters at some point, as none of those tracks - by such artists as James Darren, The Marcels, Shelley Fabares, Paul Petersen, Little Eva, Freddie Scott and The Cookies - ever turned up on Bell compilation LP's or Flashback 45 reissues (unlike The Monkees' old Colgems recordings turning up on Bell after 1972, and then Arista post-'75).


  8th Dec 2013, 7:49 PM#11  QUOTE  REPORT  
mlgh224

Joined: Jan 2013
Posts: 352
Were styrene made records purely a US thing or were they also pressed / released elsewhere?


  8th Dec 2013, 8:42 PM#12  QUOTE  REPORT  
W.B.lbl

Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 7023
Moderator
It would appear at first glance to be a purely U.S. phenomenon, although the way such records were pressed - via injection molding - has been applied in other countries. (Have to wonder about all those 'Plasticrap' pressings from Europe, for example.)


  9th Dec 2013, 11:16 PM#13  QUOTE  REPORT  
JEEIII

Joined: Sep 2013
Posts: 17
So Styrene was more susceptible to groove damage from turntable misalignment! That would explain the hit or miss results on some of the used 45's. There are some that play great and others that just have the beginning stages of dreaded noise that we all know. Very interesting!!! So I guess Styrene gets a bad rap, it's just needs a little more TLC.......I always thought using Styrene was a price thing for the record companies but maybe that wasn't the case?


John


  10th Dec 2013, 12:24 AM#14  QUOTE  REPORT  
W.B.lbl

Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 7023
Moderator
No, it was to save costs for the companies all right . . . but many 45 pressing companies didn't go that route due to the issues of quality. (RCA Indianapolis didn't go styrene for 45's until 1979, for example.)


  10th Dec 2013, 12:30 AM#15  QUOTE  REPORT  
musictom

Joined: Apr 2012
Posts: 1616
Moderator
Were any albums styrene?


  10th Dec 2013, 1:13 AM#16  QUOTE  REPORT  
W.B.lbl

Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 7023
Moderator
Quite a few. Shelley Products was one of the biggest for that, right through 1967. Some styrene LP's were pressed by Columbia through about 1960, and generally limited towards the end to mono Harmony budget albums.


  10th Dec 2013, 1:13 AM#17  QUOTE  REPORT  
vidman45

Joined: Oct 2011
Posts: 359
I have had a few styrene LP's. My copy of Billy Vaughn's "Sail Along Silv'ry Moon" LP comes to mind.
When I started collecting 45's around 1957, my first 3-speed phono with sapphire needles seemed to play the styrene 45's better than it did the vinyl ones, with fewer skips and sticks than with vinyl discs. I guessed that it was because the styrene discs were thicker with larger grooves. Of course buyers seldom had any choice of format when buying our favorite songs. But some labels such as Dot had both styrene and vinyl pressings in different parts of the country. Styrene labels usually were printed brighter, but soon scuffed out faster. It took me years to quit stacking my 45's on top of each other, as you can see label ring wear on so many of my scans here. I collect Warner Bros. 45's, and noticed when they switched from vinyl to styrene stock 45's in mid 1961, (around #5217). Their promo copies remained vinyl, and today have better sound quality.


  10th Dec 2013, 5:56 AM#18  QUOTE  REPORT  
annaloog

Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 1544
musictom wrote:
Were any albums styrene?
I have a few US Decca and Vocalion (Decca budget line) LPs that are styrene pressings.


  10th Dec 2013, 7:16 AM#19  QUOTE  REPORT  
HarvestmanMan

Garage/Psych DJ
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 1874
By the way - the one styrene pressing that is notoriously hard to find without "needle burn" (at least in my experience) is this one.


  10th Dec 2013, 12:53 PM#20  QUOTE  REPORT  
goodrats

Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 341
musictom wrote:
Were any albums styrene?

I believe Liberty's budget label Sunset were pressed on styrene occasionally.


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