CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As hobbies go, building a collection of vinyl records is pretty easy.
Old LPs are easily found at thrift shops and antique stores, along with dedicated record stores like Sullivan's Records on the East End and Budget Tapes and Records in Kanawha City.
Relatives of a certain age probably would be more than willing to hand over their dusty collections.
As for turntables, Sullivan's owner Samuel Lowe recommends starting out with an all-in-one model.
These turntables are relatively cheap — the one in Sullivan's retails for about $65 — and includes built-in speakers, a headphone jack and even output jacks for external speakers if users eventually decide to upgrade.
For a more sophisticated set-up, you'll need a standalone turntable. DJ favorites like Technics and Stantons are solid choices, as are home entertainment models from brands like Sony.
You also will need a stereo amplifier with a built-in preamp, and a set of speakers. All told, a low-end setup will cost around $300, but can run into the thousands.
When you're ready to buy records, remember this rule of thumb. The more popular a record is, the less expensive it probably will be.
It's an issue of old-fashioned supply and demand.
If a record was super-popular when it was released, the record companies probably printed lots of copies. Bob Seger, Journey, Kansas . . . those records will be pretty cheap.
Old crooners like Andy Williams or Perry Como also sell for pretty cheap.
Conversely, records will cost more if they are rare. That includes early copies of famous albums by big time bands, but also lesser-known recordings with niche fanbases. Lowe said punk rock records, for instance, are difficult to find because not very many were printed, and the original owners aren't getting rid of their collections.
He said rock records from '90s bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam also can be expensive because there weren't very many vinyl records released in the 1990s.