How to grade vinyl records

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How to grade vinyl records

How to grade vinyl records

When buying or selling vinyl records, the items condition is one of the major factors which establish its value. A rare Pink Floyd album might be very sort after but if it is in poor condition the price it is worth may drop dramatically. The grading systems used in the UK and the US can be a little confusing for anybody not completely familiar with record grading. Terms such as "Very Good" might at first seem inpressive but to those familiar with record grading it means the item has some specific flaws. Also it is worth pointing out, although we use similar terms in the US and UK there is a marked difference in interpretation. So feel free to use conventional record grading methods, but be aware what gives a buyer real confidence when buying a record is detailed information regarding  sound and visual condition.

What to look for when buying or selling vinyl

When grading a LP, it is equally  important to grade both vinyl and the sleeve. The vinyl should be held up to bright light or in a room with lots of natural light. Very often people make the mistake of checking the record in dim or bad light which may not show all the imperfections. When checking the record you need to move the surface around so as to make sure there is no shadow on the vinyl  hiding any lighter marks on the playing area. Scratches are the most obvious damage but you can also get lighter surface marks or needle damage which sometimes runs in the same direction as the grooves on the record. Excessive finger marks or dirt make the record less presentable and prone to background noise this can be resolved by cleaning, I will talk more in depth on this in further articles. Another issue which sometimes affects surface condition is the stain which some polythene bags can leave on the playing area. This is caused by a reaction between the bag and the vinyl and can be very hard to remove even with cleaning.

Labels are also very important when gauging the over all condition of a single or album. Make sure there is no tears or writing on the label and check out the spindle wear, this is the marks that appear around the spindle hole which tell us how much the item has been played.

Finally make sure the sleeve has no writing on it or sticker marks, if there are stickers on the sleeve - bear in mind they are not always removable and can tear the sleeve when attempting removal. Record sleeves show several common signs of ageing which include creasing, spine damage or discolouration. A tidy record sleeve will have little or no edge wear and appears sharp at the edges. 

If you are about to buy or sell a record it is important to keep all the factors which I have just mentioned in mind as they go a long way in establishing whether the item has been valued correctly.


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