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DD Music Geek is Lowestoft's premier music and geek shop, selling vinyl, comics and licensed merchandise.
DD Music Geek is Lowestoft's premier music and geek shop, selling vinyl, comics and licensed merchandise.

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A (Relatively) Simple Guide To Grading Preowned Records

Have you ever wondered what those letters beside the album name means on a listed recorded? If so, this is a comprehensive guide to help you make an informed decision!

Whilst there are many ways people around the world grade their collections and stock, we at DD Music Geek tend to use a combination of both Discogs and Record Collector Magazine's guidelines to, hopefully, give the most accurate grade.

Below, we show you what each grade stands for and what you can expect from each...

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M Mint: Both record and the sleeve, including any additional items such as poster, inner sleeves, etc, will be in perfect condition. Also brand new and sealed records will also technically be classed as Mint, however, we tend to advertise these as Brand New.


EX (Sometimes M-) Excellent: The record shows some sign of being played, but has very little lessening of sound quality. The sleeve, along with additional items included, may show some slight wear or creasing.


VG Very Good: A record that has obviously been played, possibly some light surface scratches or scuffs, but has no major sound quality issues. There may be some wear and tear on the sleeve and extras, but no major defects.


G Good: The record suffers from deterioration in sound quality, with some distortion. There may be mild scratches on the vinyl. The cover and contents may suffer from bending, discolouration, spine splits or scuffs.


F Fair: Still just playable, but may jump. This will have been played considerably in the past and uncared for. Possibly lots of surface noise. The cover and any extras will be torn, stained or defaced.


P Poor: The record may not play, heavy surface noise and scratches. The cover and extras may be missing or badly damaged.


B Bad: The record itself is unplayable, possibly even broken or damaged, only of use a collection filler.

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You may also see some items with, for example VG+ grade, which means it is graded as between Very Good and Excellent. These will have characteristics of both and usually just miss out on the higher grade due to slightly extra wear.

So... how does this correlate to a listed record on our site?

David Bowie: The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust [Preowned VINYL] EX/VG

If we take a look at the Bowie LP shown above, we can see the grading is EX/VG. The first part (EX) is the vinyl grading, and the second (VG) is the sleeve grading.

From this, the record will be in Excellent (or Mint-) condition and the sleeve will be in Very Good condition. By checking the guide, we can see that the record will be a very high standard, very minimal wear or marks, and the sleeve will be in great condition but may suffer from some marking or wear.

Common Issues

Possibly two of the most common defects are caused by pricing labels and handwriting.

Back in the day when vinyl was the ruler of the music formats, before digital, it was rarely sealed, even when brand new. Even if it was, many record stores removed the vinyl from the sleeves and adhered the price labels directly to the sleeve. This was the normal way of things.... vinyl was a massive business and you could pick it up most places. However, now vinyl is back as a mainstream format, and those stickers can have an adverse effect on the condition.

Even if removed carefully, they can still leave traces of damage or discolouration from all the years covering a small section of the cover. Other times, they may have caused more significant damage when removed, such as tearing the cover and leaving other unsightly marks.

Writing your name on the sleeve of your favourite single or album so it didn't get lost when your best mate borrowed it, or you took it to a house party to play was also a big thing! Thankfully, most people tended to keep it relatively small, but it still does have an effect on the grading. As rule, certainly with LPs, it would mainly somewhere on the cover, whilst singles that came in generic record label sleeves, would often be signed on the centre labels.

These are often mentioned in the description and certainly visible in any included photos of the item.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this has given you a better understanding of what to look for when making a decision about a purchase.

As a rule, try to go for the higher grades, obviously dependent on your budget!

Condition is a large factor in price, but only one of many... from pressing, matrix identifiers and more, all of which I will be discussing in additional Blog posts over the coming weeks!

Feel free to add any comments or suggestions in the comments!

Cover image:
Photo by Anton H from Pexels
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