Citizen Vinyl – Hard Pressed To Beat It

Citizen Vinyl Studio and Pressing Plant

Citizen Vinyl

Asheville, North Carolina 11 September

GrassRoots Music Tour 2023

By Rob Dickens

Building History

The Asheville Citizen Times building was built in fifteen months over 1938 and 1939 on the tail of the Great Depression, as a downtown centre for the city’s two newspapers and radio station WWNC (Wonderful West North Carolina) . It is three-storeys of what is considered to be Asheville’s finest example of Art Moderne design, with twenty-two foot ceilings, mezzanines with curved railings and 20,000 thick glass blocks providing natural light and insulation.

On the lobby floor is a beautifully crafted terrazzo tile arrangement illustrating the twenty two counties that formed part of the paper’s distribution network.

Citizen Vinyl Moves In

In the late 90’s, the printing presses departed and Citizen Vinyl moved in (2019) and opened (2020) for business as a vinyl pressing plant, a bar/cafe (voted one of the best bars in America last year) and record store (the Coda Analog shop) as well as restoring the third floor’s radio station studio into a modern analog recording studio and media lab. The pressing facility is one of only twenty nine in the country and the first in North Carolina.  The renovations have been lovingly respectful of the building and Citizen Vinyl has successfully strived to keep links with its previous tenants.

The Pressing

Citizen Vinyl has three press machines:

  • the 10,000-pound (4,500 kg) semi-automatic LiteTone which is ideally suited for both high output and custom runs
  • a customized SMT Model 1500 that is a fully-automatic workhorse capable of making upwards of 100 discs per hour, thereby maximizing high production yields.
  • a 2022 computerized fully-automatic record press, custom built for Citizen Vinyl

Gar Ragland is the founder and CEO of Citizen Vinyl, a producer, sound engineer and, on the day we visited, he was sitting down with Portland, Oregon singer A.C. Sapphire to start the recording journey of her next project.  

CEO and founder Gar Ragland with A.C. Sapphire

“Citizen Vinyl’s mission is to preserve and carry forward the enduring practices of listening, hospitality, and innovation. That work is essential to our staff and company culture. We seek solutions through listening, collaboration and tireless creativity.”

Company website

Listening Party

The other piece of serendipity for us was that Steep Canyon Rangers were holding a listening party on the premises for their new album release Morning Shift that very evening. The album, the first since the departure of Woody Platt, was produced by Darrell Scott and released just three days before.

The visit of our little GrassRoots Music Tour group to Citizen Vinyl was extremely well received and a stop by 14 O’Henry Avenue is highly recommended. To get an understanding of the pressing process, to walk around an iconic restored building, to get a peek into a recording studio, the cafe and store was invaluable.

The passion, professionalism and technical ability of the facility and its staff members stood out like a beacon. Citizen Vinyl provides a key pillar in the vibrant Asheville music scene and city culture.

Special thanks to Gar Ragland for taking us behind the scenes and to the extremely knowledgable and helpful Tours Manager Jen Russ.

You can book tours HERE.

You can get a pressing quote HERE.



More Music Adventures Await!

Citizen Vinyl Studio and Pressing Plant


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Author: Rob Dickens

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