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Styrene LPs...........

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Tetrack, Feb 7, 2005.

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  1. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    [​IMG]
    I ordered one of these from a Discogs seller. It arrived today, is an early -1A pressing (both sides), and is definitely styrene.
     
    MrSka57, aoxomoxoa and MMM like this.
  2. After looking at pictures at discogs, it would be hard to believe that this LP was made of styrene. Compared yours to the pictures of the label. With styrene records, the label is always glued on, having little dots under the label. Vinyl records have the label molded into the plastic. Styrene records are almost featherweight, compared to the same thickness of vinyl. Even into the early-60's, Columbia "6-eye" LP's had a straightcut edge and hadn't started using the tapered or vinyl dam edges. They also had an eccentric lead-out groove and the tone arm would move back and forth.
    Harmony was a budget label, but I doubt Columbia would waste their time setting up a vinyl press to press with styrene, which was usually injection-molded. Most of the presses used to make styrene records were dedicated 7" record presses. And in 1959, about the only thing Columbia used styrene for was to make 45's.
     
  3. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    The label on *my* copy is glued on, and the LP is styrene. I can't speak for somebody's photo of their LP on Discogs.
     
  4. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    .....and a quick read-through of the thread will reveal many instances of Columbia product being issued on styrene LP.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
    aoxomoxoa likes this.
  5. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey
    It's probably dependent on the plant...my guess is a vinyl Harmony LP where styrene exists might have been made at Santa Maria, considering their 7" records were also vinyl.
     
  6. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    Location:
    City of Angels
    Really grateful to the labels that stuck with vinyl non-styrene, or labels like Columbia / Epic which did both, but I got lucky living in or near the west coast and got CBS Santa Maria pressed 45s on ultra thin - but very durable vinyl, and these singles were forgiving when played on a tiny tot toy or teen DC powered phonos with slightly heavy arms. Then played on a nicer higher end table and still sounded quite good (compared to a styrene 45 than had been through a hot youthful summer of fun).

    These 45s sounded magnificent- loud and ripping screaming high end and fantastic bass. Here is a short list of singles that could be found on both hi-fi vinyl as well as the dreaded styrene. I've owned both pressing types of some of these singles.

    BS&T - Spinning Wheel
    Donovan - Atlantis
    Sly & The Family Stone - Hot Fun in the Summertime
    Paul Revere & The Raiders - Let Me
    Simon & Garfunkle - Bridge Over Troubled Water

    Even Motown, ABC/Dunhill, Warner / Reprise, and Mercury were using CBS Santa Maria for much (but not all) of their West Coast distributed product. Around 1970-71 was when I noticed how great these loud cut 45s sounded. Little miniature Audiophile discs if you will. No thanks styrene.

    PS I realize this thread is about LPs, but I had to mention my experience with styrene on singles.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  7. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    Location:
    City of Angels
    I think you are correct. CBS SM is my favorite pressing plant in the US from the period of 1969 to 1975.
     
    MMM likes this.
  8. The Columbia Santa Maria factory was known for exclusively using vinyl for records, especially 45's. The Harmony LP in question pre-dates the Santa Maria factory altogether. The Santa Maria factory opened in 1963 and closed in 1981.
     
    MMM likes this.
  9. Columbia/Epic et al 45's pressed at the Santa Maria factory were vinyl and were definitely NOT thin by any means. They were some of the heaviest vinyl 45's out there. You want to talk thin, then that would be Capitol-pressed vinyl 45's from 1968-on. The edges of the vinyl 45's pressed at Santa Maria were thin and could cut like a knife but the rest of the record, including the label area, was thick. Some CBS 7" vinyl records were pressed elsewhere, especially for jukeboxes and radio station promos. These resembled the style of a styrene 45 with a flat profile, but much thinner than a styrene 45 or a vinyl one pressed by Santa Maria. Many of the radio station promo 45's were on colored vinyl. They were probably pressed at Terra Haute or Pitman, where styrene was the usual.
    I have quite a few test pressings with an actual Santa Maria label on them and all are thick vinyl.
    RCA and Capitol both had pressing plants in Los Angeles and they only used vinyl, as did Rainbo in Canoga Park. Other pressing plants around Los Angeles mostly used styrene for the 45's and a cheap vinyl mix for LP's, like Monarch, Electrosound and Alco.
    Being in California, I usually got the best vinyl pressings available. The big chain stores, like K-Mart, were serviced by record distributors not in California, so we got some pretty strange looking records. The trouble with any of the LP's, other than CBS group, RCA or Capitol, you had to buy the album and open it to see what kind of a pressing it was. If I didn't like it, I'd take it back as defective and buy one at another record store that I knew used a different distributor until I got the pressing I wanted.
     
    MrSka57 likes this.
  10. OK. I'm sorry to hear that. Being that Harmony was a budget label, maybe CBS farmed it out. I have a small collection of 10" LP's, one is Columbia's first LP ever, by Frank Sinatra, and all are vinyl with molded labels. I have a few 12" LP's on the Harmony imprint with one pre-dating yours, and all those are definitely vinyl.
    It would be nice if you could send a picture of your styrene LP to Discogs and give them an update. It all comes from us.
     
  11. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    Location:
    South West, UK.
    I don't believe styrene was used in the UK, even for singles.
     
  12. Bob J

    Bob J Forum Resident

    My mono "Beau Brummels, Vol 2" is on vinyl. One thing I found odd when I checked it was that it is a Monarch pressing but I bought it upon release in New York. If my collection is any kind of indication, I don't think that many Monarch pressings made it to the east coast.
    My original "Here's Little Richard" on Specialty is definitely on styrene. My original "The Chirping Crickets" on Brunswick is a strange one. It seems more vinyl than styrene but it's a relatively thick disc that is more rigid than normal vinyl and has smooth edges.
     
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  13. Bob J

    Bob J Forum Resident

    I have purchased some used styrene 45's that did sound terrible but I have many styrene singles from the 50's, 60's and 70's (and beyond) that play beautifully with no sign of wear & tear.
     
  14. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa Play that fast thing one more time

    Location:
    Dayton Ohio
    There are a ton of Harmony LPs on styrene.
    I have a Duke Ellington somewhere pressed on it. I could probably find a dozen more in my collection.
     
    MLutthans likes this.
  15. On the East Coast, the king of styrene records would be Bestway Products. Bell Records put a BW at the end of the matrix number. BW might have even been the one who made those records with the labels actually inked on the record. On the 45's,, with the inked on labels, they also had a thin black ridge inside the center hole. Very poor quality of records.
    Monarch record pressings were sent all over the U.S., spreading like cancer!
     
  16. Some of the styrene 45's are not too bad at all. In commercial use, they didn't hold up, but in home use, played on phonos which were maintained well, they can last indefinitely. I also have many styrene 45's dating back to the 50's which still look and play like new. It depends who made them. The only advantage that a styrene record has is that it won't warp. I put a couple of raunched out in 100+ degree Cailfornia sun for a couple of days and they didn't warp.
     
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  17. WMTC

    WMTC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    I've a few styrene 45s in my collection that are definitely warped. It does seem to be pretty rare to find warped styrene 45s - I almost never see them out in the wild, but as I said, there are a few of them in my collection. They tend to warp very gradually, unlike vinyl which warps into a bunch of little hills, or "ski slopes" for the stylus to traverse. The styrene warps are always more gentle and long.
     
  18. WMTC

    WMTC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    I've got a few Harmony LPs in the collection here that are on styrene.
     
  19. MrSka57

    MrSka57 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse, New York
    I have an E original Tony Bennett 'Rags to Riches' 45 pressed on vinyl that sounds great. The label looks great too - it's on shinier/smoother paper stock.
     
  20. WMTC

    WMTC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    Can't believe Kapp LPs haven't been mentioned anywhere in this thread. I really enjoy Roger Williams' piano albums, but most of the stuff I come across by him is styrene. If they're in the $1.00 bin, I get 'em to stack up on my 70s Panasonic stereo to listen to while falling asleep (I figure they're just worn styrene pressings, from a pretty common artist; what's the harm in having some fun with them). Not sure if they are styrene or "Deccalite," but they are certainly not vinyl! I have It's a Big Wide Wonderful World, Till, and The Fabulous 40s (2 LP gatefold) by him on styrene.
     
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  21. MrSka57

    MrSka57 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse, New York
    I have a NM Peggy Lee/Benny Goodman HL-7005 -1A styrene; it's very nicely pressed (deep groove) with an attractive label.
     
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  22. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    So going back to the middle to later 60's...

    How and why did it happen to be that 45's were make of styrene and albums were made of flexible vinyl?
     
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  23. WMTC

    WMTC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    I've a feeling that cost was a lot of it: styrene records were cheaper to manufacture than their vinyl counterparts. 45s were considered a "throwaway" by many labels, the mindset being that they were just going to be beat up on crappy record players by teenagers at parties, etc. LPs, on the other hand, were taken much more seriously, so labels mostly stuck to vinyl - as vinyl is more resistant to wear than styrene.
     
  24. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I can understand that, but as long as they were not abused, styrene is quite durable. The radio stations played 45 RPM styrene records.

    I'm wondering if being hard, made them easier to handle.

    Radio D.J.'s handled them like sandwich plates.

    They would have stacks of them all over the place.
     
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  25. WMTC

    WMTC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    They can be quite durable. It's really pretty hit-and-miss. However, there's no doubt about it that vinyl would've held up better than the average styrene 45 played on a typical late 60s console, especially on a portable unit like a lot of teenagers of the day would've had.
    For instance, I've got 3 or 4 copies of "Poor Side Of Town" by Johnny Rivers, all but one of which sound terrible. The one that sounds nice has noticeably gotten more distorted over only a few plays (Technics SL-Q2 turntable with a not worn stylus). Those Imperial/Liberty styrene 45s were pretty bad. On the other hand, my copy of Todd Rundgren's "Hello It's Me," also styrene, has survived hundreds of spins on my early 70s Panasonic stereo, tracking at 5 grams. So it's really pretty hit & miss with styrene singles. Again, though, vinyl is pretty much always more durable.
    One other thing: yes, stations did play styrene, but it was avoided when possible. Many labels that pressed exclusively styrene 45s would press vinyl for promos because the vinyl would withstand the back-cueing better. I believe the Kinks singles are one such example, exclusively styrene on store shelves, but vinyl for promos...
     
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