Making the Grade

I’ve been having a good look at my grading today, as when I started selling on discogs I was concerned about over exaggerating the condition of my records. The last thing I wanted to do was to get some negative feedback early on and not have the 100% score. I’ve still got it, both on my ebay and discogs accounts, so I must be doing something right!

I was pondering whether to rate some of my records, which fit the bill,  as Near Mint (NM-) rather than Very Good (VG+). The only time I have done this so far is when I bought the records brand new and know the full history of them (i.e. how often they have been played). Without this history, things get a bit more tricky.

I guess it’s like buying a car – if you buy one straight from the showroom brand new, you know it’s going to be spotless and run like a dream (in theory anyway). If you buy a car from a second hand dealer, who does not have a logbook or service history for it, you know there is a risk it could have been owned by a boy racer who thrashed it, or an old dear who used it to pop down the shops. The price you pay in the first place is a good indicator, of course.

I play most of my records before listing anyway, as well as giving them a good clean, and also do a visual inspection to cover all of the angles. It takes time, but I’m sure by doing this I can reasonably sell at a higher grade (mostly moving up from VG to VG+). Whether I can move up to quoting Near Mint will depend on the record, so I’ll have to come back to this when I go through my records again. I’m sure that a lot of other sellers are quoting Near Mint when they are not, but I don’t not want to go down that route. A sale is a sale, but I’m looking at the long term here.

For now, I’ll continue loading my records up to VG+ as the highest grade, and see what happens.

I’ve listed the Goldmine Standards for some of the grades below, in case you are not aware of how it works:

Mint (M)

Absolutely perfect in every way. Certainly never been played, possibly even still sealed. Should be used sparingly as a grade, if at all.

Near Mint (NM or M-)

A nearly perfect record. A NM- record has more than likely never been played, and the vinyl will play perfectly, with no imperfections during playback. Many dealers won’t give a grade higher than this implying (perhaps correctly) that no record is ever truly perfect. The record should show no obvious signs of wear. A 45 RPM or EP sleeve should have no more than the most minor defects, such as any sign of slight handling. An LP cover should have no creases, folds, seam splits, cut-out holes, or other noticeable similar defects. The same should be true of any other inserts, such as posters, lyric sleeves, etc.

Very Good Plus (VG+) 

Generally worth 50% of the Near Mint value. A Very Good Plus record will show some signs that it was played and otherwise handled by a previous owner who took good care of it. Defects should be more of a cosmetic nature, not affecting the actual playback as a whole. Record surfaces may show some signs of wear and may have slight scuffs or very light scratches that don’t affect one’s listening experiences. Slight warps that do not affect the sound are “OK”. The label may have some ring wear or discoloration, but it should be barely noticeable. Spindle marks may be present. Picture sleeves and inner sleeves will have some slight wear, slightly turned-up corners, or a slight seam split. An LP cover may have slight signs of wear, and may be marred by a cut-out hole, indentation, or cut corner. In general, if not for a couple of minor things wrong with it, this would be Near Mint.

Very Good (VG) 

Generally worth 25% of Near Mint value. Many of the defects found in a VG+ record will be more pronounced in a VG disc. Surface noise will be evident upon playing, especially in soft passages and during a song’s intro and fade, but will not overpower the music otherwise. Groove wear will start to be noticeable, as with 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. Goldmine price guides with more than one price will list Very Good as the lowest price.

I am planning to list some CD’s and cassettes at some point in the future, so I’ll have to go through all this with these too. At least CD’s have less that can go wrong with them.

For more information on the Goldmine Standard and gradings, please click here

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