Record Collecting Sources

Record Collecting Tips

Grading, or does condition affect price?
Answer: Absolutely

Record grading is a greatly mis-understood art. Just because a record is old and rare does not mean it is valuable. For a record to be valuable there has to be a demand for it and that demand has to exceed the supply, and the record must be in good condition. A record that is thirty or more years old and is in good condition has to have been cared for properly: Handled only by the edges, never left out of the jacket, never left out in the sun, and played on a turntable that will not cut new grooves into it

Choice of a turntable will have great effect on your records, more about that later. So will cigarette smoking, handling them while eating potato chips, spilling beer on them or playing them on an old automatic changer etc.

Grading - Some standard terms are used to indicate condition of a used record album or 45 single. they are Mint, Near Mint, Very Good and Good. Bad is none of the above.

Mint: A mint record is considered to be in the condition that it was when it left the pressing plant. Therefore, un-played with a perfect cover and a record with a label that matches the issue date of the album or, still sealed with original shrink wrap. Original shrink wrap will look aged, perhaps with some dirt in the creases. Beware of someone trying to sell you a thirty year old album that looks like it was shrink wrapped yesterday, as an original. True mint records are rare and expensive.

Near mint: A record with very slight wear on the cover or the record. And we mean slight, no holes indicating a cutout or ring wear, the circular scuffing that occurs on dark covers or circular dirt on a light cover. No scratches or label wear on the record itself and with all original inner sleeves and inserts in excellent condition. Near mint records are rare but obtainable.

Very Good: now we start to get into the realm of reality: A very good record can be an un-played cutout, with the punched hole indicating that the record was sold of to a rack jobber for discount sale, or an un-played promo with some cover damage or writing, or an album from a collection that has been well cared for. In all cases the vinyl record must be in very good shape, no deep scratches or loud surface noise and play perfectly well. Very good used records are widely available but require careful examination before buying.

Good: Many records that you find will have signs of wear on the cover as well as the record. A good record will play all the way through with an acceptable level of surface noise that does not affect the enjoyment of the album. All records, including un-played ones will have some surface noise that will increase as an album is played a number of times. The limit for the number of times a record can be played depends on many things: the pressing quality, your turntable, your stylus, your environment and how the record is cared for. We have albums that have been played 50 or more times and still are considered good and some that were new and developed noise after only a few plays.

When examining a record, hold it by the edges only and carefully slide it in and out of the jacket. Look for deep scratches and gouges, excessive dirt, mold, a record with many small shallow groves on the label (indicating that the record was placed on a turntable many times) and other signs of wear. This is always a subjective call, and sometimes, if it is something you really want, and the price is right, it may be your only option to purchase a worn album.

Price guides There are several good price guides on the market.(see our Music Sites page) Remember, these are only guides. A record, like a house, is really worth only what someone is willing to pay for it.