Play grading vinyl specifics

Discussion in 'Marketplace Discussions' started by AlexDelarge, Nov 8, 2018.

  1. AlexDelarge

    AlexDelarge Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I have searched the forums and can't find where this is discussed...maybe I missed it. I was just wanting some insight to some questions I have on the subject. On this site and others I have seen sellers give very detailed play grades for their albums offered with terms such as (many case multiple grades for the same track)....
    "strongest vg" , "entry vg+" , "solid vg++" , "strongest vg+" etc.
    This is somewhat confusing to me, I would like to know what the difference is exactly, sonically, between strongest vg+ and entry vg++ for example. Are we talking about slight static for a millisecond or the slightest pop?
    I would like to hear your thoughts on how you perceive the following:
    strong vg=
    strongest vg+=
    entry vg++=
    solid vg++=
    strongest vg++=
    zongo likes this.
  2. Chemguy

    Chemguy Forum Resident

    I’ll be up front...those are horrible describers. No...they’re just ridiculous.

    Plus signs are bad enough, but I live with them.
  3. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far.

    New York
    Very Good
    Very Good+
    Very Good++
    Near Mint

    Easy. Maybe claim the first one as having unplayable places, the rest just grade on noise and a little bias for visual condition
    vinylontubes likes this.
  4. A6mzero

    A6mzero Forum Resident

    Spartanburg sc
    A near mint record should have minimal to no noise. Unfortunately most sellers grade records near mint and they are at best very good. Always keep a bottle of nitro tablets handy when you excitedly play the record you purchased ecpecting to hear a nice clean piece of vinyl. Now when I buy NM rated used records I approach the experience with trepidation. If at the end of the album I can say well I guess I can live with it then I’m on the plus side. Sad but true.
  5. dennis1077

    dennis1077 Forum Resident

    I just got burnt on eBay. Jazz record graded NM and cleaned on a VPI machine. The cleaning made it LOOK immaculate. On playback, it's unlistenable. Surface noise throughput that overpowers the music. I almost feel ratings are meaningless these days.
  6. mpayan

    mpayan Forum Resident

    Go with the Goldmine Mag standard. About as good as youll get. If your idea of the Goldmine standard and the sellers is consistantly the same? Then youre bet is at least hedged. Stick with that seller.


    Its very subjective at times. If I were selling Id try to be as exact as I can as far as what I am hearing. Sorry, but I have no idea what "entry level vg" means. As opposed to what? "mid level vg"? "advanced level vg"?

    "There are three light pops and a swoosh at @1:55" Now thats a further indepth description I can understand.

    Vg++ and NM-? Which is which? Are they the same?

    While I realize its difficult to describe grades at times, about the only way to really get a strong grip on what is what is to find a dealer and as him direct questions:

    "Are there any pops, crackles, distortion on the lp? If so, can you please go into further detail as far as playback? Any further detail is much appreciated! Thanks!"

    I also realize that not many have time to sit and do a critical listen. But at least if the seller is willing and is consistant on his observations, then you have a much better chance at getting what you are after.
  7. mpayan

    mpayan Forum Resident

    If your talking about ebay and discogs, then try and find a couple of sellers who grade to you expectations and their NM and VG+ fits your understanding of NM and VG+.

    Not an easy task but its possible.
  8. optoman

    optoman Forum Resident

    London. UK
    I think that most people optimistically over grade their records. In particular it seems that optimism is at the better levels. I rarely buy anything described as less than Near Mint because I had Good+ records described as Very Good+. Think about it - VERY GOOD should be really great which is what the word VERY means, but in fact Very Good is often used for scratched records. How can a scratched record have the words Very Good used? Even worse is that "Good" is used to describe records that are really poor. Good should still mean good and not bad
    I suggest the following gradings:
    1. Mint - only for sealed records. Many are not sealed when new but then they should not be mint
    2. Near Mint - records that sound like new and look like new but not sealed. Typically these will be records that have been played very little.
    3. Very good - records that sound great but with possibly few soft clicks (maybe 5 at most) or a single scratch that repeats for 2-3 revolutions. Minimal background noise, and no skips. In terms of appearance it might have few superficial scuff marks
    4. Good - records that have been played a lot, a few clicks in places and some background noise. The record should still be good enough to be enjoyed without major distractions.
    5. Fair - records that suffer from obvious scratches and surface noise. Still no skips but not expected to sound great
    6. Poor - records with major faults and skips. I can't imagine why anybody will want such a record but maybe something that is extremely rare or a record that is going to be used for display purposes
  9. AlexDelarge

    AlexDelarge Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I agree man, I would prefer that someone states exactly what the fault is rather than say "starts with a little entry vg+ and moves to solid vg++" Just exactly what does that mean? Not to name names, but we have a member here that grades this way and is highly regarded. I have seen it used before though recently in a play grade I got from a seller on discogs. Would like to know the specifics of their grading scale. Sometimes I get the feeling that it is all hyperbole?
    zongo and Gumboo like this.
  10. mpayan

    mpayan Forum Resident

    The thing is eventhough the member uses that description of "entry level vg+" or whatever, what it boils down to is he has gained a trusted reputation as far as not sending people records that are anything but great. I would think people immediately by from the guy due to the condition of the lp regardless of the quirky description.

    So there again it is about finding someone you can trust consistantly to be on the same page as you as far as expectations.

    Easy? Not in my experience. But it happens.
  11. libertycaps

    libertycaps Forum Resident

    Portland, OR, USA
    VG = crap i would not buy
    VG+ = occ. surface noise and much visible wear
    VG++ = rare surface noise between tracks and some visible wear
    NM- = played once or twice and very little to no wear
    iloveguitars likes this.
  12. beerice41

    beerice41 Forum Resident

    If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. So I message the seller (mostly speaking of Discogs here) and ask them to verify the condition before I send payment. I usually never buy below VG+, so I’ll ask that they make sure there are no deep (feelable) scratches that cause reoccurring tics. Hairlines ok. Light surface noise in the lead in can be ok too. But scratches that cause tics are usually where I draw the line. I think goldmine (and Discogs grading guidelines) support this distinction between VG and VG+.
    zongo likes this.
  13. zongo

    zongo Forum Resident

    Davis, CA
    Interesting. I guess I have a different take in how I think about what these grades should mean, although of course it may not fit with how people use them in the real world. Mine would be more like:

    Fair = crap I would not buy unless incredibly rare and cheap; has skipping, overpowering noise, etc
    Good = pretty damn bad, just hope for no skips, again would not buy unless rare and cheap and otherwise unavailable
    VG = some audible background noise and tics and pops at times, but OK to listen to with some effort to ignore the noise; not ideal at all, but perhaps acceptable as a listener copy or until a better one comes along
    VG+ = some low level noise, mostly not audible during the music, some pops and tics but not very many; very listenable and an acceptable but not perfect copy
    VG++ = really pretty darn good, very little noise at all, maybe just a hint between tracks or at the beginning of sides, a few non-repeating tics here and there, basically great
    NM- = I wouldn't use this grade personally
    NM = close to a perfect listen, no significant background noise, no more than one or two very quiet non-repeating tics, no inner groove distortion, a really nice pressing that is well preserved

    Regarding some specific faults: I find skips and jumps to be essentially inexcusable faults that really make the album worth much much less, so even where the rest of the album sounds great, if there are skips or jumps, it would get downgraded hugely. I am also very annoyed if there is significant inner groove distortion, or really significant peak distortion anywhere on the album; this also would cause significant downgrading. Lastly, significantly off center pressings are really annoying to me. I think that any of these faults should be explicitly stated in the description, not just rolled into the play grade without comment.

    I also agree with the person who recommended describing the sound of the album and the faults in playback, not just giving a grade. As a matter of fact, when I write down play grades for my own memory and stick the descriptions in with the albums, I don't actually grade them at all, I just describe what the faults that are present are.
  14. AlexDelarge

    AlexDelarge Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Hey Zongo, I think you are right on and if a seller is asking $100 or more for an album, this kind of specific grading should be a given. Grading is so damn subjective, a buyer of (for example) a "vg+" RL Led Zeppelin II for 200+ bucks better be careful.
    zongo and beerice41 like this.
  15. rockindownthehighway

    rockindownthehighway Not interested

    I don't agree with that. I have seen plenty of Mint albums that were not sealed. Somebody just has to seriously care and keep the album in a plastic sleeve etc. And Goldmine and all the collectors I used to deal with used to grade inside/outside. I am not sure if we were including that. But the cover should also be graded. Sometimes you get a mint album with a VG+ cover.. actually much of the time. Anyway, use established standards. As much as these grades are abused by new/unknowning/unscrupulous people etc. there used to be real definitions.

    When you buy a lot of records in actual B&M used record shops, it refines your ability to grade greatly, since you have the chance to see many many more records than you end up buying. Buying online and getting a sense of how to grade is really really hard.
    zongo likes this.
  16. optoman

    optoman Forum Resident

    London. UK
    I completely agree that sleeves should be graded and also statement should be made of any inserts, inner sleeves, Obi strips or any other things that are meant to be there, as well as their condition.
    My proposal for grading is an attempt to avoid all these ++, +++ etc. which means nothing. Also, according to my suggestion a Near Mint record will be really like new, well kept record. When I sell records I give a Near Mint description only when a record is as new, so if everybody did the same I would actually prefer to buy a Near Mint record rather than a sealed Mint because with a Mint record you never know if there are any defects whereas an open Near Mint should guarantee that it is like new.
    At present I don’t buy anything less than Near Mint and when I get it I fully expect it to be what I would call VG+.
    According to my suggestion if a record is VG+ it will still play very well and I will be happy to buy it.
    Another point is that at least in England in the last 10 years B&M shops are actually more optimistic in their grading than individuals selling in Discogs. Often they don’t have the time to listen and decide their grading on the basis of appearance or random needle drops.
    Rentz, zongo and rockindownthehighway like this.
  17. rockindownthehighway

    rockindownthehighway Not interested

    Agreed, more than one + or - is pushing it ;)
    zongo and AlexDelarge like this.
  18. Rentz

    Rentz Forum Resident

    Grading even by goldmine can get subjective, ex slight noise or moderate noise could differ in definition from each person
    My grading rule when selling is vintage I don’t grade NM unless it literally looks like it’s never been touched

    Vg+ - this is what I use for records some may grade NM, they play great look great but there may be a slight noise between tracks maybe a little in a quiet passage

    Vg if it has more than just sleeve scuffing or exhibits any noise during play (should be little noise)

    G - visually has scuffs and scratching plays with noise throughout, might be tolerable for some not for me

    I wouldn’t buy or sell anything less than G and I wouldn’t buy a G unless I wanted a player while waiting for a better copy.

    Me personally I find a larger variation in cover grading than records
    I’ve gotten some covers listed as vg+ that I’d personally say G because of splits or significant ring wear

    When in doubt ask questions or as a seller be descriptive , I try and give a play grade and note any defects I heard. If I haven’t been able to play grade I note as such that grading is appearance
  19. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident

    This. If the record is relatively cheap, I take a shot on the grading being accurate, but if it's something on the expensive side, I ask for a play grade.
  20. mpayan

    mpayan Forum Resident

    It really is finding a couple of dealers youve found that match ones expectation as far as grading a record, being patient while they eventually get what you are looking for and sticking with them. Anytime Ive broke those golden rules or compromised, Ive regreted it.

    There are the ultra ebay sellers. And they get these true NM records in. But..big are going to pay premium prices....

    Years ago, I just had to have a few of the first UK lp pressings of The Beatles albums. I decided to bite the bullet and throw down some hard cash. Ive done that maybe a dozen or more times for albums that I just really really want and in NM shape. I cant say I regret it. But it is a major decision for some. Was for me. I certainly am not made of money.
    AlexDelarge likes this.

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