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The World Of Vinyl Records And How To Grade Them

Updated on November 11, 2008

Vinyl Records

In recent years vinyl records have made a comeback to the marketplace. More and more young people are beginning to find out just how valuable some of those old things their parents listened to are worth. The excitement and high hopes to find a rare album that is worth thousands of dollars keeps these newer members of the world of vinyl records interested and constantly searching for the one. In this hub I will discuss what makes a record valuable and how to grade your records if you plan to sell them. I have been selling vinyl records for a little over two years now and really enjoy it plus who doesn't like to have a little extra money? If you have a box of records stashed away somewhere it would not hurt to get them out and see what all you have. You may have hit the jackpot and did not realize it. Even if you did not hit the jackpot which is by the way how it goes more times than not, you can still make money off of them. If you have a couple hundred or so and sold them each for $1 that's a couple hundred dollars you did not have before.

Lester Tipton northern soul 45 This Won't Change

Sold on ebay for $5,999
Sold on ebay for $5,999

What Makes A Record Valuable?

Serious record collectors have been known to pay thousands of dollars for certain rarities. A Beatles record - "Yesterday And Today" with a "first state butcher cover" sold in 2008 to a collector for $80,000.

Ultra rare acetate will always command high prices. So what qualifies a record to be rare? The less of them that were pressed the more they are worth. Also some of the bands that were not popular or did not make it to the top of the charts are the ones collectors search for. If an album was never opened and is still in the original shrink wrap adds to the value also. Records that are on the smaller lesser known labels are good too. Usually pressings from overseas are worth a bit more than the ones that were made in the USA depending on the band.

Some bands that have always been popular like Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and so many other rock groups will usually always sell good. It is the original first pressings of these that are higher in value. Many collectors say there is no comparison to the sound that you get from a vinyl record and that the music was just different then. Some people may think that spending anything over $0.50 for a record album is crazy and wonder why they just don't buy the cd. I do not know the answer to this All I know is that there is money to be made you just have to find it. It could be sitting at grandmas house, at the local thrift store or at a neighbors garage sale. You may be surprised with what you find.

For instance a special version of "The Freewheelin" by Bob Dylan in mint condition is worth $30,000. Or a mint 45 by Ronnie Dove on the Dove label is worth $4000. The key to discovering the value of your records is condition. This is the most important part and can mean the difference in hundreds or thousands of dollars.


Most all collectors and dealers use the same type of grading which is visual. If you are planning to sell your records then stick to this guide and you will not have any trouble.

First look at everything about the record. Look at the playing surface, label, and edges. This needs to be done under a strong light. After you have done this then give it a grade based on the following criteria.

Mint (M) - Absolutely perfect in every way, certainly never been played, and possibly even still sealed. This grade is not used very often if ever by people who know their vinyl. If you are selling your records and calling them all Mint many buyers will not buy from you.

Near Mint (NM or M-) A near perfect record. It shows no obvious signs of wear. Jackets should no creases, folds, seam splits or other visible defect including cut out holes and if it has inserts like posters or lyrics they too should be in excellent shape.

Very Good Plus (VG+) Usually worth 50% of the NM value. VG+ records will show some signs of use but was very well taken care of. Surface may have very light scuffs or scratches that do not affect play. Label may show light ring wear or discoloration but it should be barely noticeable. The center hole will not have been misshapen from repeated play. Jackets may have a slightly worn corners or edges, light indentation or cut out holes at the corners. If not few a few minor things the record would be NM.

Very Good (VG) - Worth 25% of the NM value. Many defects found in a VG+ record will be more pronounced in a VG disc. Surface noise will be evident when played but will not overpower the music.Groove wear will start to be noticeable as well as light scratches that can be felt with your fingernail. Labels will have been written on or have stickers or tape on them. This will be the same for LP jackets or picture sleeves. However it will not have all of these problems at the same time. Just 2 or 3 of them.

Good (G) Good Plus (G+) - Worth 10-15% of NM value. Record will play without skipping but does have surface noise that is very noticeable and scratches will be easily seen. Jackets or sleeves will have seam splits at the bottom of at the spine along with tape, writing and ring wear. The defects start to overwhelm the object You will probably find one in better shape.

Poor (P) Fair (F) Worth 0-5% of NM value. Record is cracked, badly warped and wont play through without skipping. Picture sleeve or jacket is water damaged with all seams split lots of writing and ring wear. Jacket for LPs barely keep the LP inside, Inner sleeve are crinkled with writing all over them. Usually you do not want to sell these. Under certain circumstances someone may buy it. Or if it is like the only 1 known to exist.


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    • music messenger profile image

      music messenger 

      8 years ago

      Great information. Keep waving the vinyl flag!! i have some vinyl reviews and tips on my Hubs. Take a look.

    • justom profile image


      8 years ago from 41042

      Vinyl, I still have probably 2000 albums. I've parted with some but you get attached. I've started listing some of my music, records, handbills, photos, ticket stubs etc. on my hubs. Check them out if you get time. Peace!!

    • Gethin Lewis profile image

      Gethin Lewis 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for the article...glad to see fellow vinyl enthusiasts out there.

    • needful things profile image

      needful things 

      9 years ago from Poland

      And I got a pile of vinyl records here with no turntable to play them. I'll be grading them using your hub and perhaps sell them on eBay. Do you know how to recognize rare vinyls? Thanks and thumbs up!!!

    • Ashley Tyler profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashley Tyler 

      9 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for the comment and also for linking this to your hub :)

    • Robin Marie profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      Thanks for providing this valuable information. I've linked to you on my picture disc record album hubs.


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