I battled this on Ebay trying to avoid the Styrene records, and could only depend on pics. The sellers don't always know the difference when you ask them. So I wanted to show other 45 diggers that might not know how to tell online, or in person, when you're looking at a styrene copy. Styrene is an injection mold process, injecting polystyrene into the stampers, the labels were glued on afterward. This process was used because the stampers lasted longer (More profits), as they didnt go through the tough heating process that vinyl did. Vinyl is crushed plastic biscuits and heated into a flat record, including the label. I highlighted the telltale areas in pink circles.
I bring as exhibit A, my two copies of "Heaven on The 7th Floor".
Notice the difference in the print above. On styrene records, (the left one) the print is usually heavy block lettering
. Its not often they dont have this kind of font, but it happens.
When you look at pictures online especially, the styrene records have an edge to the label. Sometimes you can see this in an ebay pic, if the sleeve doesnt cover the edge of the label.
The vinyl copies have a smooth flush edge from the press, as seen below.
1.) Notice rounded off edge
2.) Notice indent in center of the disc, from the stamper pressing.
Styrene records have a thick non-polished edge, as seen below. You can feel it in your hand, it doesnt feel right.
Notice on the styrene record, the label looks like you can peel it off, it has an edge. In the hole of the record, you can see the label lifting by my finger. You can feel the edge of the label with your finger. As seen below.
Paul McCartneys "Take It Away" on styrene with block lettering as evident below.
"Grease" by Frankie Valli styrene copy, as seen below, does NOT have the telltale block lettering. Can fool you in pictures if you're not careful. The only thing to go by is the sharp edge of the label.
"Hocus Pocus" by Focus. This one fooled me once. This also is styrene without the telltale block lettering. This particular one is showing the label peeling away.
Some styrene records like this one, the labels were painted on! Careful with these! I used to have this.
Its hard to avoid Styrene if you buy in the US, which is why I now buy much of my vinyl from Canada. For the most part, they usually only used styrene in the USA. They had their own pressing plants in Canada, and those copies are usually pressed on high grade vinyl, and done very well. Same in the UK, and usually everyplace else except the US.
What bugs me is, I cant find any pictures of the injection molding process, no info, no videos, as these records stopped being made I guess in the early 90's. Its disappointing because I really want to see what it looks like, but all that equipment is probably torn down and scrapped.
Hope this helps!
And just for fun, heres video of them pressing up Jack Whites 7 inch records on colored vinyl.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMX_KJf5lvg