09 Oct Grading your vinyl records
Grading your vinyl records – In this post we go over the grading system to help you avoid buying a used record to find out that the sound quality is poor, drowned out by pop and ruined by scratches. All because you’ve not checked if the record has been properly cared for.
A grading system is a set of guidelines that have been set as a standard for determining the quality of anything. For vinyl, we use the Goldmine Grading System. This is typically the standard grading system used by most vinyl collectors today.
We recommend using a system like this to give you the confidence that your getting you’re money’s worth and not being ripped off. Here is a quick rundown of the six grades and what each one means.
MINT (M): A mint (m) record is to be considered perfect. It should look like it’s just come from the manufacturer and has not been played. Unless the record is in absolutely perfect condition, it cannot and should not be considered mint (m) and most vinyl collectors tend to use this grade sparingly, if they ever use it at all.
NEAR MINT (NM): A near mint (nm) record tends to be shiny and also lacks any marks or defects. Everything about the record must be new, the only exception is that it has been opened already. Near mint (nm) records don’t have to have never been played, but the record should appear that way.
VERY GOOD+ (VG+): Also is called EXCELLENT (E), this grade is applied to records that still play like new as well as look that way. Chances are this grade of record may also have light scratches and slightly warped, though this should not affect the listening experience or the sound quality.
VERY GOOD (VG): The very good (vg) records are more likely to have flaws that affect the quality of sound. The look of the recorded will have faded, no signs of damage to the spindle will be clear as well as the glossy look will have gone. At this grade, scratches will be deep enough that you hear them during playback. Very good (vg) records tend to be the most common playable records you’re likely to find in the ‘wild’. The effect on the listening experience should be minimal but it’s clear that the record has been used.
GOOD (G): A good (g) record shouldn’t have any skips when you play the record from start to finish. There might be some surface noise and the listening experience is affected but not ruined. For most of the collectors out there, a “GOOD (g)” rated record is a record that tends to be used until they find a better quality copy.
POOR (P) or FAIR (F)– These records tend to be one play from the rubbish bin. These grades of records tend to have damages from cracks, scratches or being warped. These records tend to skip and/or repeat, causing the playback sound quality to be very poor.
At the end of the day, it’s your call to use the above standards when buying used vinyl. There will always be sellers out there who try to make a few extra quid on a record by claiming that it’s a higher grade than it is. Hopefully, with this guide, you will be able to be sure before you part with your cash. In our experience, most vinyl sellers and collectors are a good and honest bunch and will charge a fair price.
Thanks for reading our guide on Grading your vinyl records