Record Collecting: Everything You Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask….Part 6: Grading Your Vinyl

…honest mate it plays fine…

Grading records is one of the most controversial areas of collecting second-hand vinyl records, with differing opinion as to what constitutes Mint condition. Here at eil Towers we use the generally accepted Record Collector guide to condition reproduced below for both buying and selling. (All text copyright Parker Publishing)

Whilst there are seven broad grades here at we rarely sell anything below a VG grade, although with particularly rare LPs we do occasionally make an exception, see below for a breakdown of the grades…

Vinyl Records (7″, 12″ LPs etc)

MINT: The record itself is in brand new condition with no surface marks or deterioration in sound quality. The cover and any extra items such as the lyric sheet, booklet or poster are in perfect condition. Records advertised as ‘Sealed’ or ‘Unplayed’ should be Mint

This reissue of L.A. Woman is still sealed with no sleeve wear – it’s MINT!

EXCELLENT: The record shows some signs of having been played, but there is very little lessening in sound quality. The cover and packaging might have slight wear and/or creasing.

1973 1st press, the sleeve has ‘only minimal wear’, whilst the ‘inserts are all present and correct and show just a little age and only very light creases whilst the all important vinyl is as close to mint as you are ever likely to find with not a single mark on the labels’.

VERY GOOD: The record has obviously been played many times, but displays no major deterioration in sound quality, despite noticeable surface marks and the occasional light scratch. Normal wear and tear on the cover or extra items, without any major defects, is acceptable.

This copy of My Generation like many records from the ’60s had a front laminated sleeve only, resulting in the ‘paper’ rear of the sleeve exposed and prone to discolouration/marks. The centre label of the record may also show some spindle wear (this is where the record has been placed on the turntable, missed the hole and the spindle has marked the label – a sure sign that the record has been played a lot)

GOOD: The record has been played so much that the sound quality has noticeably deteriorated, perhaps with some distortion and mild scratches. The cover and contents suffer from folding, scuffing of edges, spine splits, discoloration, etc.

…the front of the sleeve looks pretty good, better than ‘G’ no?….
……the ‘G’ grade is given due to the excessive wear to the label and vinyl, also check the tear on the rear of the sleeve, ouch!

FAIR: The record is still just playable but has not been cared for properly and displays considerable surface noise; it may even jump. The cover and contents will be torn, stained and/or defaced.

Very rare 1969 UK first issue 9-track stereo vinyl LP in the legendary fully laminated first sleeve with turquoise lettering. This sleeve on this copy is in FAIR condition as has some heavy paper loss to the spine…

POOR: The record will not play properly due to scratches, bad surface noise, etc. The cover and contents will be badly damaged or partly missing.

….Elvis classic, note the torn sleeve…here’s how we described it at the time…”

“This copy is in quite a state to say the least. There are two large tears in the corner of the sleeve including several other small tears at the opening and some edge scuffing although the print is perfectly legible on the back panel. The vinyl is scratched heavily across most of side 1 and will cause jumps, however it still plays nicely during the non-scratched areas. There are not many Elvis records we would consider adding in this condition but this is a legendary piece of rock n roll history, yours at a bargain price!”

BAD: The record is unplayable or might even be broken, and is only of use as a collection-filler.

…you can hardly notice it jump, honest ‘guv…

Be sure to check for our extensive range of rare vinyl, reissues, imports and more, to see more click here – the world’s best online store for rare, collectable and out of print Vinyl Records, CDs & Music memorabilia since 1987


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