While I am a singer/songwriter, I have been greatly influenced in my song writing from collecting all types of records (33s, 45s, & 78s). I have collected vinyl for a number of years and rarely purchase cds or mp3s because of my love for the sound of a good record. I tend to gravitate towards used vinyl stores because I am the type that would prefer to hear a record the way it would have been heard when it was originally released. However, I do frequent record stores that sell both new and used vinyl and wanted to share some of my favorites in Louisville for others looking for good places to buy vinyl.
If you are in the Louisville, KY area and are looking to sell your record collection, please feel free to contact me. As a collector, I’d be glad to take a look at what you have and give you my best offer.
1. Better Days Records East
Better Days ranks number 1 in Louisville because it is a combination of a number of several traits I look for in a good record store. First and foremost, both the owner and employees are knowledgeable about music and their product. Some places will price used vinyl on name
recognition only, such as a 4th pressing Beatles album worth $8 gets priced at $40 because people think everything Beatles is automatically worth big cash, but that is not Better Days. They know what they have and it is almost always reasonably priced. As a result, you won’t find a bunch of great steals (like really rare albums for $5 or $10) but the value of being able to talk music with employees that know their stuff and give you a product worth your money is much appreciated.
Better Days may have the best selection of used blues/jazz in Louisville, which goes a long way for a fan of blues such as myself. They have a great selection of used rock and soul as well, but their blues/jazz stuff is worth noting because early pressings of blues & jazz are hard to find almost anywhere, especially in Louisville. They also carry a well stocked selection of new vinyl and can order just about anything you want if they don’t have it. Because the owner is a dj they have one of the better hip hop/dance 12″ singles selections in town. Most of them are pretty cheap and they also have a number of hip hop albums as well. Their 7″ selection is modest but good. Typically you can find the hits but nothing super rare. They also get a very nice selection of Record Store Day releases.
If you are still into cds, they have an impressive used cd section and most of them are around a hard to beat price of $5. They also have a great selection of local artists’ recordings. They not only carry a large number of current artists but often have local music that has been popular in the past but may be out of print.
2. Guest Room Records
Guest Room Records is a recent addition to the Louisville record shop scene. They are a chain so depending on what circle you are in, being a chain tends to get them a lot of praise or very little praise. That being said, they have opened their shelves to sell a lot of Louisville’s local music.
Guest Room has an impressive stock of new releases on vinyl and a nice supply of used rock records. You can find some pretty rare recordings if you catch them at the right time and the people behind the counter are very knowledgeable about their pressings. Some of the early pressings can get a heavier price tag but they seem to keep their asking price fairly reasonable for the rarity of the record.
They have a decent selection of 7″ records and if you are looking for used jazz, blues, or soul it is pretty tough to find (though they do have newer pressings of popular titles in these genres). They get a pretty healthy stock of Record Store Day stuff and can order just about anything if they don’t have it on hand. They do have probably the best selection of new alternative rock/americana titles in town and keep most things in stock so you don’t have to wait for an order.
3. Electric Ladyland
This store typically gets passed over as a place to buy vinyl in Louisville because it is known more as a smoke/retro shop. However, if you love digging (and I usually do) you can find some great deals here. Most of the selection is rock (classic, punk, alternative) and it is almost all used. If you are looking for new releases, there isn’t much here, but you can find a lot of classic albums for around $5-$10. Some of the vinyl is organized alphabetically but much of it is not, so you may have to spend some time shuffling through the selection. The 7″ selection is modest here as well but there are always some good jukebox hits for around $2-3.
The front bins have some of the rarer/better quality records. One of the reasons Electric Ladyland ranks #3 is that if you keep your eyes peeled you can find a number of fairly rare import or original pressings. Most of the time these records are priced reasonably for their rare nature, but there are a few that can be a little pricey, so make sure you know what you are getting. They have a ton of posters and memorabilia if you are looking to decorate your vinyl room, or just pretend you are in the 1960s again.
They also have a good selection of used cds that are priced around $7. Because there are so many of them and they are all bunched together, they can be hard to look through. However, they have a pretty extensive selection and there aren’t a great number of used cd places around anymore. They do not have much in the way of local music unless someone has sold it to them used. If you are able to catch the owner, he is a wealth of classic rock knowledge and a lot of fun to talk to about music.
4. Astro Black Records
Astro Black is the best place to buy indie/underground vinyl in town. Like Better Days, the owner knows his stuff so you will find reasonable pricing on just about everything. While not quite as good as Better Days, they do have a nice selection of blues/jazz vinyl. Most of the 7″ selection is underground/indie type music, with a few classic hits mixed in.
The majority of the vinyl is used but there are a few new pressings mixed in (not much). They do have a few cds but not many and do carry a very nice selection of local artists on both cd and vinyl. The owner and employees are always great to talk with and know their selection well. This is a fun place to dig if you are looking for small run vinyl or out of print indie pressings. Not everything is indie, they do have plenty of mainstream titles, but the selection is tailored less towards the mainstream acts.
5. Underground Sounds
This store is a Louisville staple and is probably the only store to rival Better Days in having an extensive selection of both new and used vinyl. Most of the selection is focused on rock and jazz music but they do offer a number of titles in hip hop, country and blues as well. The owner has been running the store for quite some time and knows vinyl/music very well. He can usually tell you off the top of his head when a pressing is coming out and can almost always order something for which you might be looking. They have a nice selection of 7″ records that are below the 12″ vinyl crates, so keep your eyes open.
They have a nice jazz and hip hop section in which most of the classic titles are new. From time to time you can find an original copy of an older jazz title. Earlier/out of print pressings of any genre can get pretty expensive. Because they know their product well they often ask for the higher end of hard to find LPs. Though the rarer items are more expensive, they are usually in great condition, which is a relief as some stores still expect larger fees for beat up pressings.
Underground Sounds has a nice new and used cd selection and carry a number of local artists on cd and vinyl. They also have some fun memorabilia and typically get a pretty good stock on Record Store Day.