United Record Vinyl Pressing Plant Tour

September 20, 2013

I spent the morning touring the United Record Pressing vinyl pressing plant here in Nashville. I can’t believe I haven’t been down there before. It’s less than seven miles from my house!

United Record Pressing is the largest of only seven remaining vinyl pressing plants in the U.S., running 39 presses 24 hours a day, six days a week, and churning out 40% of of the U.S. vinyl output. And its not all 12″ LPs. Amazingly, 40% of their business is singles on 45s. By comparison, the next largest plant is in L.A. and has just 12 presses. The vinyl business is booming, and United Record Pressing is gearing up to have more record presses operating in a second building soon.

Touring the factory is like a step back in time. Of the 39 presses, the newest dates from 1980, with many of them being original equipment dating back to 1949. The oldest is a manual 45 machine used for custom runs of two- and three-color, as well as sparkle and glow in the dark pressings.

Although most of the presses are automatic, there is a tremendous amount of labor involved. Each record is inspected, and inserted in its liner and album cover by hand. What were they pressing when I was there? I saw new albums from Foo Fighters and Justin Timberlake, as well as a reissue of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.

Rather than post a bunch of still photographs, check out Jack White’s video tour (just skip past the advertisement). Jack White’s Third Man Records has the coolest LP imaginable. It has a liquid center, and you can see the fluid slosh around as it spins around on your turntable.