Vinyl records are delicate. The slightest scratch could affect the quality of the playback, thus the importance of the vinyl record sleeve. A sleeve is the outer covering of a vinyl record. It’s generally made of super-thin paper that allows you to see the print on the disc. Vinyl enthusiasts use it to keep away dust and to keep them from rolling around freely once inside the outer jacket. For the most dedicated vinyl fanatic, an inner sleeve is a must! Disclosing that you don’t use one, might trigger eye rolls.
P.S. – For me personally, there is a difference between a sleeve and a jacket.
Different kinds of record sleeves
After carefully wiping off the dust from your vinyl, your best bet to work the frontlines against dirt is to slip them into a clean and durable inner sleeve. There are many different kinds available, and some audiophiles will argue on which is best for days on end. I’m not getting into that now. Instead, here are some sleeve options you can consider.
1. Generic paper
This is the most basic inner sleeve available that usually comes with the record as you buy it. It’s a transparent white paper, cut through the middle just enough to let you see the label. Vinyl lovers don’t always recommend this option since it’s believed to scratch records and create paper dust. Even if that might be true, I think it’s better than no protection at all.
Poly is a better quality sleeve, which is about three mils thicker than paper, sturdier, and does not require a portion to be cut out for you to view the label. This feature blocks out dust more efficiently and is highly recommended for protection since it holds the shape of the record.
3. Paper with Poly Liner
As the name suggests, this is a collaboration between the paper and the poly. The stiffness of the paper outside and the poly liner allows the record to slide in with minimum friction. The only drawback is that the use of both paper and poly makes it thick, which sometimes makes it difficult to slip into tight record jackets.
4. Audiophile Grade Archival
With its name MoFi Original Master Sleeves, you’ll know that this might be the one the best record sleeves out there with its three-ply anti-static design. It has an extremely thin fiber that lets the vinyl slide in smoothly without the risk of getting scratched.
Here’s an excellent video from Vinyl Rewind that goes into more detail about the different kinds of sleeves and preferences.
How to put a vinyl record into a sleeve properly
Buying a new record is great, but showing it off to your friends is even better! Slipping the record in correctly can spell the difference between a shiny new record and a one that is on the floor, collecting scratches and dust.
Vinyl enthusiasts suggest that as you keep your record in its sleeve, you have to make sure that its opening is facing up. This way, you avoid the possibility of the disc accidentally slipping out of the inner and outer sleeves and into the floor. It sounds rudimentary, but it’s a fact.
Remember also to handle your record with the utmost care, using only the tips of your fingers, preferably with trimmed nails, to avoid touching and scratching the record’s grooves. But I guess as long as you don’t throw it around like a frisbee, you should be fine.
Where to put record that doesn’t have sleeves
For whatever reason, there might come a time that you have a record without a sleeve or a jacket. If you face such a situation, you might be able to temporarily protect the record until you get your hands on some sleeves. Here are some simple options that would enable you to preserve your record with everyday items.
1. Paper towels
Aside from using them as makeshift coasters or tiny paper bags for cookies, they can be used as protection for your vinyl.
2. Shirt sleeves
Dig into your closet for shirts that you don’t use and turn them into muscle shirts. Cut off the sleeves, use them to keep the records in.
3. Old newspapers
Done with the Crossword puzzle? Fold and stick edges together, forming an envelope, and carefully secure your sleeveless record.
I know this section is kind of weird, but you never know when you’ll be faced with a similar situation. The video below will shed more light on the matter.
Dimensions or size of a vinyl record sleeve
People are often looking for the sizes of records, dimensions of sleeves, etc. so I thought I’d include it in the post. It would be practical to say that records generally follow a similar size.
· 7” Record Sleeves – 187 mm x 187 mm
· 10” Record Sleeves – 270 mm X 270 mm
· 12” Record Sleeves – 320 mm x 320 mm
Where can you buy your sleeves?
Your favorite neighborhood record store probably has them in their inventory, but in case you run out of luck, and they ran out of stock, you can source them out from a wide variety of online shops. Here are some websites that offer record sleeves:
1. Big Fudge
Whether you’re a novice or experienced collector, protecting your vinyl is their utmost priority.
2. Square Deal Recordings and Supplies
Family-owned and operating since 1971, they claim to carry the world’s largest selection of media packaging, shipping, and preservation supplies. And, looking at their catalog, it wasn’t just lip service.
You can find almost anything on Amazon – even vinyl record sleeves.
I also previously mentioned Bags Unlimited and Mofi.
How to print and make your sleeves
Vinyl record sleeves may not be that expensive, but if you want to save a few bucks and create your own, this video will show you how to make a vinyl record jacket:
On the other hand, album covers are often as important as the album content itself. Artists spend a lot of time and resources to come up with the perfect cover art that will bring out the character of their album. Countless companies will be willing to help you create the perfect album cover. Your local printing press might be the fastest option, but in case they can’t lend you a hand, check out these websites:
I know a jacket isn’t a sleeve, but I felt it worth mentioning anyway.
How to cut a circle out of record sleeves
Record producers use a special gizmo to punch a hole on the vinyl sleeve for us to be able to view the cover even while the record is tucked safely inside. For some DIY tips that you can follow if you want to cut circles out of your sleeves, see the video below.
How much does a record weigh with a sleeve
Believe it or not, size matters. The weight of vinyl records depends on its size. A regular 7” vinyl weighs around 40 grams, while a 12” tips the scales at about 120-150 grams. However, keep in mind that not all records weigh the same. With a sleeve, it should probably only add a few grams depending on the thickness and quality of the material used for the sleeve.
In this post, I tried to create the ultimate vinyl record sleeve FAQ guide by answering as many questions as possible. I search around the internet and found the ones mentioned here to be some of the most frequently asked. If you have any additional questions, you’d like me to cover, please let me know!