When buying records it’s important to know what condition they’re in before you part with your cash. This page contains a guide on how to grade your records. If you plan to sell anything through our forum then use this guide so everybody understands what they’re getting. It is important to grade strictly and fairly. If you feel a record falls between two categories it is best to grade down, this way a seller gets a nice surprise rather than a bad one. It is also possible to add plus or minus signs if a record falls between categories e.g. Ex- or Ex +. This guide is based on the one produced by Record Collector magazine.
Very few records are in truly mint condition. If you buy a CD or vinyl record brand new and you’ve just got it home from the shop then it is probably mint. Once you’ve played it or read the liner notes then it probably isn’t. The disc it’s self should be entirely free of even the smallest blemishes and will play perfectly. Any inserts in CD cases or the sleeve(s) etc of vinyl records will be literally perfect. Any sealed items should be in mint condition but vinyl sleeves can get corner knocks whilst still in their packaging.
A record in excellent condition is in lovely shape. It’s been played a couple of times but carefully. There may be a couple of just visible surface marks on the disc but this won’t affect play at all. Any notes or inserts may have very minor creasing or signs of wear but this won’t detract from the fact that this record is still in lovely condition.
Very Good (VG)
This is exactly what it says, a record in very good condition. A vinyl record may have a few visible surface marks or possibly a very light scratch but there will only be a slightly discernable loss in sound quality. The covers or inserts will show signs of use but there will be no major damage or staining.
A record in this condition will have been played a lot of times and this will be noticeable both by visual inspection (which will reveal some light scratching) and by playing. A vinyl record in good condition will probably have some pops or crackling during play but this doesn’t dominate or wreck the listening pleasure. The sleeves or inserts will have some edge wear and may be creased. There may be some ring wear or discolouration to the sleeves too.
The disc is still playable but the surface noise is so bad it makes you want to turn it off. The sleeve or inserts will have been drawn on in crayon and screwed up into a little ball.
Poor (P) and Bad (B)
Records in poor or bad condition look like they have been played with by a badger. The sleeve and maybe the disc will not still be in one piece. It’s only ever worth buying records in poor or bad condition if you don’t think you’ll ever see another one.
CD’s and Tapes.
Basically cassettes and CDs will often play perfectly or really badly. The inserts can be graded by the criteria above and you can try to do the same for the discs. The plastic cases can often be replaced pretty easily (unless they have special stickers) so they don’t need to be graded but you should always mention if they are cracked or scratched. Tapes and CDs in card sleeves can have their packaging graded with the above list.
There are a few things to check. Firstly the frame, is it scratched? Has it been knocked about? No? Good. Now check the plexiglass. Same drill, scratches or cracks? Lastly you want to check the back of the frame. There is sometimes a paper seal. Make sure the award hasn’t been opened and fiddled with. Awards can be fixed in a frame shop but you should try to avoid buying one that needs it.
Just use your head on this one. Is it full of holes or covered in pen marks? Has the printing faded? Does it say on the label it’s XL but it would only fit a baby? You probably shouldn’t buy it then.
Pretty obvious again. Posters shouldn’t be ripped or drawn on, there shouldn’t be missing corners or pin holes. Also a poster shouldn’t be folded. Always get posters shipped to you rolled up in tubes rather than folded. It will cost you a bit more but it’s worth it to preserve the condition.