Records are generally visually graded, especially those that sell for 25 € or less in Near Mint condition. The main reason is that the time involved to play-grade every item makes it impractical for most dealers. That being said, clearly visible marks or flaws with rare and expensive records should always be checked for how they actually affect play, a mere guess just won\'t do it.
Unfortunately there is more than just one grading systems in the vinyl world, which sometimes makes it difficult to compare grades internationally. In The U.K. the grade EXCELLENT (EX) is widely used, which sits between Near Mint and Very Good Plus, indicating a record that is just off Near Mint status. The Excellent grade devalues Very Good Plus and should be used with caution, it often happens that a record graded Very Good Plus is of worse condition than it should be with this grade if the merchant uses the Excellent grade (as it makes VG+ only the fourth best grade from the top).
Keep in mind that a record that has been played just once should never be graded a clean Mint, as this highest grade indicates a pristine, perfect and flawless condition. A serious collector should always go for records graded Very Good Plus or higher. You will hardly find any vinyls without even minor flaws of some kind - and as a record collector you should be willing to accept that as it just is the nature of the medium vinyl - but if you want both acoustic and visual satisfaction with your purchase you better avoid grades Very Good and below.
We offer high-resolution photos for all records sold directly through CVinyl.com, priced 20 € or higher. Send us an email and specify what kind of pictures you need (front, back, inner sleeve, labels, vinyl) and we send you daylight photos by email, so you know exactly what you are buying. And as we are living in the smartphone age where everyone has a good camera available, you should ask for such a service with all record dealers before buying an expensive item.
The record is still sealed within its original shrink wrap. The record has never been taken out of its sleeve and the opening is sealed with the same wrapping it came in from the factory. Keep in mind that you are buying a record of undisclosed condition with a 'SS' graded item. The record itself doesn't necessarily have to be Mint (M) as storage and transportation might have damaged the vinyl. The cover should always be graded seperately as a 'SS' grade does not mean the cover is flawless. Please note that many vinyl records, especially newer releases and independent productions do not come sealed in shrink wrap from the manufacturing plant.
This grade indicates a perfect and flawless condition! There is no sign of use on the cover, label or the record itself. It looks and feels brandnew! To be clear, a record that has any signs of having been played even just once can not be pure Mint (M)! Also, a record you just bought as new in a record store doesn't have to be Mint (M), the cover could have wear from handling, the record could have been taken out of its inner sleeve a few too many times. Mint means pristine, unplayed archive copy.
Near Mint (M-) is the standard collector's grade, a virtually flawless copy that has been (rarely) played but shows hardly any signs of use. This is the best possible condition for a used record that you can find and all values in our Price Guide are based on this condition. Again, record and cover, incl. all inserts and possible add-ons show only very minor signs of wear. Buying a Near Mint (M-) record means you should never feel you'd have to upgrade to a better condition copy to make your collection just perfect.
The record has clearly been played and shows signs of wear like surface marks or stains which shouldn't affect playback more than causing a very light surface noise, if anything. There are no scratches or major scuffs that you can feel with your finger, overall the vinyl appears in very good condition and the record was well taken care of. The cover has signs of wear around the edges and/or seams, but no splits or major damage.
The record has been played frequently and shows clear signs of wear, even some minor scratches, which may cause surface noise or flaws in certain tracks. A Very Good (VG) record should play well but no longer fully satisfies the serious collector. The cover has flaws, marks, stains, or minor but clearly visible damage. Before you are buying a Very Good (VG) cover you should inquire what exactly those flaws are and if they are acceptable to you. The value of a Very Good (VG) record is roughly only 25% of a Near Mint (M-) copy.
The record has been played very frequently and has significant wear which affects playback! The vinyl might have scratches leading to noise and ticks when played. You will not fully enjoy playing a Very Good Minus (VG-) record, however it should play without any skips and you can still somewhat enjoy the music if you have a high tolerance level (not everyone is in the audiophile camp). This is the lowest grade you should consider adding to your collection, even as a place holder. The cover has serious damage, could be splits, tape repairs, cuts, tears, but it is still in one piece and you should definitely ask for details before buying such a record for its cover. We always offer high-resolution photos of our items on demand, so the buyer can see exactly what he is buying before ordering.
This record has been abused or mistreated and is in a lousy condition! The best reason to buy an item that is graded Good (G) is for replacing either vinyl or cover of an existing copy if part of the record you're buying is in better shape. Especially with very rare records from the 1950s or 1960s you often find copies where the sleeve is just fine but the vinyl severely damaged, or vice-versa. Don't get fooled by the term 'Good', there is nothing actually good about its condition. Some of the standard record grading terms are just strange...
Fair (F) means broken! The vinyl is physically damaged, the cover has parts missing or torn off. You can basically just throw away the part of the record (vinyl or sleeve) that is graded Fair (F). This grade serves to offer a cover or record (whatever part is not graded Fair) indicating that the other part still exists but is no longer usable.