Whether you’re looking to sell vinyl or become better informed as you add to your LP collection, here is a guide to grading vinyl. Both the standard UK Record Collectors marks as well as Audiogon’s 1-10 rating system are displayed for clarity.
First, turn on a really bright light, break out a magnifier if your eyes are tired, and look at everything. Yes, everything. From the playing surface to the spindle hole to the edges, scratch depth, wear patterns, the outside cover, and protective sleeves – all of it comes into play when determining a grade.
- Mint (M) / Audiogon 10: Perfect all around. Has never been played, should still be in original packaging. This grade is used rarely.
- Near Mint (NM or M-) / Audiogon 9: Nearly perfect. Under magnification, you may note the tiniest of cosmetic defects. Essentially, this record should look brand new minus the shrink-wrap.
- Very Good Plus (VG+) / Audiogon 8: May show signs of slight wear by another very careful user. The cover and sleeve might have a light crease or gently turned up corners; the label may have minor discoloration and/or ring wear; the spindle hole remains intact without any signs of use. Records tend to warp, but if the warp is unnoticeable when played, that’s fine. Only extreme collectors would turn their noses up at this. Generally worth about 50% of its total value.
- Very Good (VG) / Audiogon 7: Damage or wear will be slightly more pronounced that an Audiogon 8. Surface defects will be barely noticeable on playing. Scratches will catch your fingernail, and there may be leftover sale sticker residue on the cover. Worth approximately 25% of its total value.
- Good Plus (G+) /Audiogon 6: Average wear and tear by a previous user. No major defects, visually or structurally, but the surface noise will be more apparent. If you’ve been looking for this item for a long time, it’s likely worth getting with the option to upgrade in the future. Worth 15% of the total price.
- Good (G) / Audiogon 5: Visually, the cover and sleeve may have more damage, like a splitting seam, and the cardboard may start to feel slightly tacky with age. The spindle hole may show signs of wear, like curling label edges. Worth 10% of the total price.
- Fair (F) / Audiogon 3-4: Noticeably diminished sound quality, but a good cleaning system might help. Warped, obvious damage to the cover or sleeve, may not even have a sleeve.
- Poor (P) /Audiogon 1-2: The worst shape. Avoid these items unless you’re looking at something so rare that just having it is a coup. Worth a few pennies.
Hopefully, this grading guide will help you determine how valuable your collection is. Please remember, when choosing between two ratings, it’s generally best to pick the lower grade and surprise your buyer! Thanks to the Record Collectors Guild for providing more information.
Do you have any tips for determining your LPs grade? Let us know in the comments!