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Any grading system provides a useful shorthand to describe condition, however anything that can't be easily expressed by this would be mentioned in the product description.
Bear in mind that records may be either play-graded or visually-graded. Some records may play better or worse than they look, we prefer to grade in-line with how they play.
See the table below to get a better idea of what our gradings mean.
Absolutely perfect in every way - certainly never played, possibly even still sealed. Should be used sparingly as a grade, if at all.
|Near Mint (NM)||
A nearly perfect record. Many dealers won't give a grade higher than this implying (perhaps correctly) that no record is ever truly perfect. The record shows no obvious sign of wear. A 45 rpm sleeve has no more than the most minor defects, such as almost invisible ring wear or other signs of slight handling.
An LP jacket has no creases, folds, seam splits or any other noticeable similar defect. No cut-out holes, either. And of course, the same is true of any other inserts, such as posters, lyric sleeves, and the like. Basically, Near Mint looks as if you just got it home from a new record store and removed the shrink wrap.
|Very Good Plus (VG+)||
Shows signs that it was played and otherwise handled by a previous owner who took good care of it. Record surfaces may show some slight signs of wear and may have slight scuffs or very light scratches. The odd pop or click may be heard but should not detract from music. Slight warps that do not affect the sound are OK.
The label may have some ring wear or discoloration, but is should be barely noticeable. The center hole is not misshapen by repeated play. Picture sleeves and LP inner sleeves will have some slight wear, lightly turn-up corners, or a slight seam-split. An LP jacket my have slight signs of wear also and may be marred by a cut-out hole, indentation or corner indicating it was taken out of print and sold at a discount.
|Very Good (VG)||
Many of the defects found in a VG+ record are more pronounced in a VG disc. Surface noise is evident upon playing, especially in soft passages and during the song's intro and fade, but will not overpower the music otherwise. Groove wear will start to be noticeable, as will light scratches deep enough to feel with a fingernail) that will affect the sound.
Labels may be marred by writing, or have tape or stickers (or their residue) attached. The same will be true of picture sleeves or LP covers. However, it will not have all of these problems at the same time, only two or three of them.
A record in Good or Good Plus condition can be put onto a turntable and will play through without skipping. But it will have significant surface noise and scratches and visible groove wear.
A jacket or sleeve has seam splits, especially at the bottom or on the spine. Tape, writing, ring wear or other defects will start to overwhelm the object. If it's a common item, you'll probably find another copy in better shape eventually. Pass it up. But if it's something you have been seeking for years, and the price is right, get it.
The record is cracked, badly warped, and won't play through without skipping or repeating. The picture sleeve is water damaged, split on all three seams and heavily marred by wear and/or writing. The LP jacket barely keeps the LP inside it. Inner sleeves are fully seam split, and written upon.
Except for impossibly rare records otherwise unattainable, records in this condition should be bought or sold for no more than a few cents each.
A + or - following any grading used would denote that the record is an upper (+) or lower (-) end example of that grading. For example, G+ would be closer to VG as opposed to G-, which would be closer to P.