GETTING MORE TALE #801: Dinking Your Records
Let’s say you have a stack of new and old 45 rpm singles to play, but only an old Wurlitzer jukebox to play them in. You might run into some problems if you don’t have the right records. You know how some singles have the large holes and some do not?
Back in the 1940s, RCA were 100% behind their new 45 rpm record format. They had a system where you had a stack of up to 10 records on a thick spindle. One would automatically drop as the previous record finished. When all 10 songs had played, you just flip the entire stack over and play the other sides. That’s why singles have an upraised ridge around the center; so their playing surfaces never touch when stacked. The larger spindle size made for tougher, longer lasting records and players since that auto-changing could be pretty rough on the 45s! Through trial and error, RCA learned that the smaller standard holes would eventually deform if their mechanism were to use it.
The two hole sizes on records today are the remnants of an ancient format war. The now standard small spindle won out, but many jukeboxes still used the larger spindle. So what happens if you have a jukebox but not the right kind of record? You dink ’em!
I’m not talking dirty here. The term for cutting out a larger hole in your singles is called “dinking”. We won’t speculate why.
If you need to dink a large number of records, or if you simply need it done right, there are actually record dinking services out there. You send them your records, and they will use proper machinery to cut the holes perfectly. If you’re braver, you can try dinking your records at home. You can buy a couple different devices to do this. One looks like your old school compass. You simply etch a new hole by cutting around and round. The other is a little device that you attach to the center of your record and tighten, and tighten, and tighten until it cuts through.
Neither device is perfect and both require you to do some serious handling of your precious vinyl. It also requires practice to get the hole just right. If it’s a little off-center, you’ll notice when you play it.
Watch the informative video below by Youtuber Mat aka Techmoan. Notice that he purchased a stack of worthless records from Ebay to pull this stunt. (New Kids on the Blech!) Is this something you’d be willing to try yourself?
Granted, the number of working vintage Wurlitzer jukeboxes out there is dwindling, but if you had one, I’m sure you’d be well familiar with dinking services at this point!
Most record collectors doubtlessly have singles with both size holes. We’ve been putting those little plastic “spiders” or spacers in the middle without thinking too hard about it. Sure beats dinking around doesn’t it?