Styrene vs Vinyl, How To Tell (with Pics)

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HI FI BOB
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Re: Styrene vs Vinyl, How To Tell (with Pics)

Post by HI FI BOB » 01 Mar 2014 23:12

What about vinyl records pressed with a styrene style mold? I have these 2 Mercury black label 45s. One is Clyde McPhatter's Lover Please,the other is the Platters' Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. Both 45's labels have a stepped non-rolled off outer edge,labels don't peel off at the center hole edge. The labels are obviously pressed into the plastic,not glued on. Anyone have something like them?

eddie edirol
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Re: Styrene vs Vinyl, How To Tell (with Pics)

Post by eddie edirol » 13 Mar 2014 15:48

HI FI BOB wrote:What about vinyl records pressed with a styrene style mold? I have these 2 Mercury black label 45s. One is Clyde McPhatter's Lover Please,the other is the Platters' Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. Both 45's labels have a stepped non-rolled off outer edge,labels don't peel off at the center hole edge. The labels are obviously pressed into the plastic,not glued on. Anyone have something like them?
Styrene is styrene no matter what. The pressing plants probably tried a number of ways to label those records. You sure its styrene?

narkspud
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Re: Styrene vs Vinyl, How To Tell (with Pics)

Post by narkspud » 10 Apr 2014 00:46

Came across the excellent OP when I was searching for a good primer on styrene pressings (rather than creating my own). A few things:

Hi Fi Bob is absolutely correct. Mercury's factory in the late 1950s DID press styrene records that don't look it. One telltale sign is a raised ridge that makes a narrow "moat" around the label, but that's not always there. Another is crooked hairline wrinkles in the label, radiating outward from the hole. This factory also pressed 45s for quite a few other labels - including collectible stuff on Sun, Ace and Atlantic.

The most reliable test I've come up with for styrene is to thump the record. Styrene pressings ring when you thump them, whereas vinyl makes more of a thud.

It gets worse: There are styrene LPs. Decca LPs with solid black labels are the most famous offenders. Ask a Buddy Holly collector about styrene and you'll get an earful.

As for the typeface, here's what's driving it. Other than the big four major labels, most record companies didn't have their own record presses. They outsourced to independent pressing factories, or to major labels that took outside work. Each pressing factory used a particular printing company to make the labels, so they generally would all have the same typefaces - in fact, collectors use the typeface as one indication of who pressed the record. The two most prolific styrene manufacturers, Columbia Terre Haute and Monarch, happened to use thick typefaces on most of their labels, so there's your correlation. Most of the styrene specimens in the OP that don't have the thick typefaces are the work of a third factory, PRC, which was affiliated with Polydor. The distinctive printed-on labels of the Amy-Mala-Bell company were courtesy of Bestway Records in New Jersey. There were, of course, other factories pressing styrene, and their typefaces are all over the place … and there were plenty of factories that used big bold print on vinyl pressings. (Monarch would happily do vinyl pressings too, if you paid extra, and those have the bold print.)

There IS a strong correlation between which pressings are styrene, and WHERE you are located! Most companies distributed their records regionally. 45s you bought in, say, California were pressed in California and distributed by California-based distributors, regardless of where the label's homebase was. Monarch Records of Los Angeles churned out styrene 45s by the bargeload, and pressed for just about *everybody*. Collecting 45s is a much more miserable experience the closer to California you are, because of Monarch and their descendant Allied.

On the other hand, *all* the vinyl Columbia 45s come from the west coast, so there's that.

eddie edirol
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Re: Styrene vs Vinyl, How To Tell (with Pics)

Post by eddie edirol » 15 Apr 2014 17:57

Thats great info Nark, thank you! Do you have any links for info on the styrene production, the plants themselves? I cant find anything anywhere.

narkspud
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Re: Styrene vs Vinyl, How To Tell (with Pics)

Post by narkspud » 15 Apr 2014 18:29

Nothing on the plants themselves, but there was a series of articles in Billboard Magazine on the topic in the mid-1950s. I don't have time to rustle up all of them right now, but the second one wasn't that elusive:

http://books.google.com/books?id=tx4EAA ... CEAQ6AEwAA ("Disk makers air pro & con of injection quality and wear")

Note that the article mentions early on that "there appears to be little doubt" that styrene pressings are just as good and durable as their vinyl counterparts. Hoo boy.

EDIT: The three articles are in consecutive issues of Billboard - January 16, 23 and 30, 1954, and can be found by searching for "Billboard" and those dates. Interesting reading, if you're into this pressing stuff!

eddie edirol
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Re: Styrene vs Vinyl, How To Tell (with Pics)

Post by eddie edirol » 17 Apr 2014 22:30

narkspud wrote:Nothing on the plants themselves, but there was a series of articles in Billboard Magazine on the topic in the mid-1950s. I don't have time to rustle up all of them right now, but the second one wasn't that elusive:

http://books.google.com/books?id=tx4EAA ... CEAQ6AEwAA ("Disk makers air pro & con of injection quality and wear")

Note that the article mentions early on that "there appears to be little doubt" that styrene pressings are just as good and durable as their vinyl counterparts. Hoo boy.

EDIT: The three articles are in consecutive issues of Billboard - January 16, 23 and 30, 1954, and can be found by searching for "Billboard" and those dates. Interesting reading, if you're into this pressing stuff!
Hahaha! They were really flinging the poo around then with these articles, this will be great thanks!