Grading vinyl records is pretty standard. The grading system we use is as follows:
- Mint (M)
- Near-Mint (NM)
- Very-Good + (VG+)
- Very-Good (VG)
- Good (G)
- Poor (P)
Grading categories defined:
Mint (M) –
First of all, it is doubtful that we will ever rate anything as Mint! To say that a record is Mint is to imply that it is absolutely pristine, without any flaws or imperfections if it has the slightest crease or blemish on the album cover whatsoever. Even a brand-new sealed record can be less than Mint if it has the slightest crease or blemish on the album cover. Nonetheless, we will retain the option to use the Mint rating only in very exceptional circumstances.
Near-Mint (NM) –
Allowing for even the slightest flaws in an almost perfect record would qualify it for the Near-Mint (NM) category. It should show no signs of wear and should look as though you just pulled off the shrink-wrap after purchasing it new.
Very-Good+ (VG+) –
A VG+ record will show some signs of having been played and handled by the previous owner. The surface of the record might show slight scuffs or very light scratches or slight warps that do not affect the sound of the recording. The label might show some ring wear or discoloration, but it should be minimal.
Picture sleeves may have slight ring wear or slight seam split.
The LP jacket may have slight signs of wear and may also have a cut-out hole, cut corner or other cut indicating that the record was taken out of
print and resold wholesale or at a discount.
Therefore, considering that the record may have a few minor discrepancies, it would still be considered a very desirable acquisition into a collection.
Very Good (VG) –
On a VG record many of the defects found will be more pronounced. Surface noise will be noticeable, particularly on softer passages, but will not overpower the music. Groove wear will start to be noticeable and slight scratches deep enough to be felt by the fingernail will be discernible to the ear.
LP covers, picture sleeves or labels may have writing on them or stickers such as name- tags, prices, or inventory numbers…or the glue residue from such stickers.
Good (G) –
A (G) record is acceptable to own until a better copy can be found. A (G) record can be played. It will have noticeable surface noise but will not skip. The grooves can show wear by discoloration.
The cover may have seam splits, tape repair, writing, ring-wear or other defects.
Poor (P) –
A (P) record is just that! It may be warped or cracked and may not play without skipping. The LP cover or picture sleeve may have water damage, excessive writing damage or excessive spine splits.
One should never purchase a record in (P) condition unless it is just so impossible to find that acquisition is justified. Even then, if it is a truly rare record that price should only be a fraction of the value
compared to a higher graded record.