Explanation Of Recording Values
And Recording Grading
Value is generally based on scarcity of the recording, recording group and condition of the recording. For documentation on grading scales please see the 'Grading' section located below.
Grading Your Recordings
Vinyl values: Every attempt has been made to include as many different sources as possible from as many areas as possible. Prices are averaged from set sale lists, retail store prices, manufacturer's suggested retail prices, auction lists and prices asked and received from various Internet resources. I have a very good, very expensive custom program which takes information from all sources, extracts the prices and condition and then calculates an average value. We use a bell curve type of process under which all prices falling outside the norm, either high or low, are removed before the averaging begins. This eliminates 'low ball' prices from the person selling their collection to pay the rent and outrageously high prices from the people who still believe that every Beatles, Stones or Elvis recording will fully fund their retirement.
There are a group of publishers which specialize in producing record price guides. Within most limits their prices are an accurate representation of what the fair market value of general release recordings are worth. The authors of these books usually specialize in one area of music or one musical format. Generally, the prices quoted for unusual recordings or for items outside their area of expertise receive values which are not always accurate. We have spent considerable effort to make certain that the values presented here are as accurate as possible for the recordings which are generally ignored or misquoted by other authors. This is especially true for progressive recordings and for psychedelic recordings.
CD values: In general, CD values are a bit easier to determine than vinyl values. CDs come in two basic types; regular releases, which are available on an everyday basis in most any location or are readily available via mail order; and special editions, generally made for a specific period of time with special packaging in small quantities or regular type editions with a small specific number released. The first type or regular release has a specific value for a new disc at regular retail prices and a price, generally half regular retail, for a used copy. Special release values for normally traded CDs fluctuate under the same circumstances as vinyl values.
Values in general: All values listed are in US Dollars. Values are based on worldwide sales, where possible to determine. Values for non-US countries will fluctuate as currency exchange rates fluctuate. Values for non-US discs will possibly be lower in the country of origin due to increased shipping costs, tariffs, fees, etc. Please keep this in mind when dealing with distributors and retailers from areas outside your own.
Finally, please see the disclaimer notice at the bottom of the home page for a further last comment regarding values.
Visual or play grading? In an ideal world, every record would be played before it is graded. In the real world, the time involved makes it impractical for most dealers, and it's rare that you get a chance to hear a record before you buy, especially if it is mailorder.
How to grade your records:
Look at everything about a record, the playing surface, the label, the edges, the cover. Then give it a grade based on the following criteria:
Mint (M): Absolutely perfect in every way, certainly never played, possibly even still sealed.
Near Mint (M-): A nearly perfect record. 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 almost invisible ring wear or other signs of slight handling. An LP jacket should have no creases, folds, seam splits or any other noticeable defect. The same should be true of any inserts, such as posters, lyric sleeves, etc.
Very Good Plus (VG+): Generally worth 50 percent 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. Record surfaces may show some slight signs of wear and may have slight scuffs or very light scratches that don't affect one's listening experience. The label may have some ring wear or discoloration, but it should be barely noticeable. The center hole will not have been misshapen by repeated play. Picture sleeves and LP inner sleeves will have some slight ring wear, lightly turned-up corners, or a slight seam split. An LP jacket may have slight signs of wear or may be marred by a cut-out hole, indentation or corner indicating it was taken out of print and sold at a discount.
Very Good (VG): Generally worth 25 percent of the 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. Groove wear will start to be noticeable, as will 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, only two or three of them.
Good (G) and Good Plus (G+): Generally worth 10-15 percent of the Near Mint value. A record in Good or Good Plus condition will play through without skipping. But it will have significant surface noise and scratches and visible groove wear. A sleeve or jacket will have seam splits, especially at the bottom or on the spine. Tape, writing, ring wear or other defects will start to overwhelm the object.
Grading Compact Discs
Compact discs are relatively easy to grade.
Mint (M): Factory new. Still sealed in their original wrappers with all paper work intact. No cut-out marks.
Near Mint (M-): Opened, but all paper work intact. No cracked jewel cases. No bent, discolored or scuffed edges or corners on digipaks. No cut-out marks. No scratches on either disc surface.
Very Good Plus (VG+): May have one or more of the defects listed above, including promo stickers on front cover. Slight scratching on playing surface, but it will not affect playing.