Brush/scrubbing ideas for VPI 16.5 record cleaner.

After missing several 16.5's on eBay and here, I broke down a bought one new. What's it like? In a word: excellent. I am really amazed how some albums really come to life after a good cleaning. Not only is the fizz and pop gone, but you move a couple of rows closer to the performance.

What I have noticed is that the supplied VPI brush needs to be used lightly. A heavy hand will leave faint scratches seen on the clear inside groove area. I can only assume this is not a good idea and these scratches affect the complete album. I do use copious amounts of cleaning fluid, so I assume the problem is with the brush and/or my technique.

Do you have any suggestions on scrubbing or cleaning generally dirty (i.e. thrift shop) albums. Do you let them soak? If so, how long? Do you worry about the alcohol content on long soakings?

Are you a scrubber? My tendency is lean in and use some elbow grease on a dirty album, but after seeing the tiny scratches, I need to rethink this technique. Any suggestions on a "kinder, gentler" brush; the cheaper the better.

Check out the Disc Doctor record brushes @

I use his brushes and fluid in combination with a NG machine and this works great.

Disc Doctor brushes -- the only way to go. I "scrub" the records first using Disc Doctor, brush them with distilled water, and use the VPI 16.5 to suck off the water.
Rrick, I used the VPI 16.5 for about six years and I found that letting the LP soak for a little while worked better than applying elbow grease. It helped to be a little more patient and then let the vaccuum do the work. I'm not sure if VPI changed the brush they supplied with the 16.5 but the brush I had was big and bulky. I think you would do better to get something a little softer and smaller. I just bought a Sota LPC (record cleaner) and the brush they supplied really can't be used to over scrub an LP. Where the VPI brush had bristles about 1/4" thick the Sota is only about 1/8" thick.It might wear out faster but in the long run it is less likely to scratch and ruin LPs. I don't know what a replacement brush costs but you can call (800) 772 7682 and ask Donna about it.
First check those "scratches". I wouldn't be surprised if it's residue from the cleaning solution. The VPI doesn't suck up on smooth surfaces in the inner groove as well. I once noticed these "scratches" too, but they rub off. I have tried the disc doctor brushes. They are highly regarded by the audiophile community. I didn't like them. I felt the albums sounded worse after cleaning with them. They are much finer and I don't think they help lift the dirt out of the grooves, rather push the fluid and any material down. I use the VPI brush, and I'm not terribly gentle with it (I don't scrub either, but it's more than a glide over the grooves). As to cleaning really dirty records I have heard a number of suggestions. Everything from washing them in soap and water first, and then cleaing them with the VPI to the more practical: use the deep cleaning solution made by disc doctor.
For $25 or less, give this a shot. Find and buy the absolute finest nylon bristle paint brush you can find (3.5" width, if possible; if not, then either 3" or 4" width). Try to find a brush with the smallest, finest bristles you can. Then, with a good razor, give the brush a "crew cut." Slice the bristles so they are about 1" long in the front, and angle cut it so the bristles are about 1.5" long in the back.

Wet the brush with your cleaning fluid even if you've flooded the LP with cleaning fluid first. Apply the brush with the short bristles leading ... the longer bristles trailing behind. What's called a "radiator" brush works well from an ergonomic perspective: instead of being straight, it's angled ... approx. 130 degrees between handle and brush.

I've found this to be effective yet gentle, and it gets deeper into the grooves than any other record brush I've used. (BTW, if you're interested, and if you reply with your email, I'll send you photos of my patent-pending homemade machine ... which I swear blows away any VPI or NG in its suction and cleaning power: 1 full hp vacuum motor).

Best regards,
I also believe that no fancy Disk-doctor type of brushes are needed. At the same time the supplied brush is realy bulky and might scratch vinyl.
The best result I acheived using a Last broomes that look like a window cleaner.
Thanks the all the ideas. I finding that cleaning albums is something that takes a touch. While I'm truely impressed with the 16.5, it also has its limitations. I think just using VPI cleaner and vacuuming is good for new and lightly soiled records. When it comes to 20 year old fingerprints, it time to pull out the detergent, mold killers, whatever.

The VPI brush is good, but do be careful. The tiny scratches I saw only showed up on the inside smooth groove and never dulled the rest of the album. I also read in another thread that someone had a similar complaint.

I'm going to experiment with some more cleaners. The VPI stuff seems to be a bit lite for the tough mold and finger prints. 5 minute soakings have helped, but the grunge is still there. DiscDoctor sounds good, but ouch, those brushes are expensive. I might just get the DiscDoctor goop and try the above mentioned brush.

Good luck,
Somehow I managed to use VPI for even stained and garage-acquired vinyls that can now easily can be graded VG.
I simply did a few cleaning cycles and it does the job.