What The Hell Is a Shellac Record?

A client rang me last week and asked if I could convert a few records onto a CD for her, sure I said, sounds easy! Wrong!!! What she brought me was a couple of Shellac records from the 1930’s. Shellac is a resin that is used to coat a substrate, either ceramic or aluminium. The Shellac is very soft and can be cut very easily to form the groove for playback, but the problem is that it has a limited shelf life and after a time if it is not stored properly the Shellac will chip and flake. That is exactly what has happened to these records. The other problem is that Shellac cannot be cleaned using conventinal Ethonal based cleaners, since the Shellac will dissolve to make liquid Shellac which is not much good for playing back music! Take a look at the picture and you will see what I am dealing with. One of the records will play, although it does have signs of some cracks starting, but the other record has major damage and cracking. I will be able to play some parts of it but I will have to stick it all back together in Wavelab and do some serious de-crackling and de-poping, thankfully it is just a simple voice recording so I should be able to get real aggressive with the settings. Will keep you posted…

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