Hey there vinyl enthusiast!
If you’re new to collecting vinyl records, you may be unfamiliar with the grading system used to evaluate the condition of used records. As a season music collector with a passion for vinyl, I’m here to break down the used vinyl grading system you’ll encounter on our site and just about anywhere used vinyl records are sold.
As you grow as a collector you’ll begin to understand the importance of investing in high-quality used records. Buying used vinyl can be a cost-effective way to build your collection, but it’s crucial to know what to look for when evaluating a record’s condition.
When shopping the record bins at record stores or here on Record Foundry you may see initials or terms that you’re left wondering what they’re about. These initials will reference the grade/condition of the record.
Used Vinyl Grades – From best to worst.
- Mint (M): This is the highest grade a vinyl record can receive and essentially means the record is in like-new condition. No visible scratches, scuffs, or signs of wear should be present on the record or cover. If you’re looking for a pristine listening experience, this is the grade you want to aim for.
- Near Mint (NM or M-): Records in Near Mint condition are just a step down from Mint, but still in excellent shape. Light surface scratches may be present, but should not affect play. The cover should also show only minor signs of wear.
- Very Good Plus (VG+): Records in VG+ condition may have some light surface wear and some light background noise may be audible during play. The cover may show some signs of wear, such as light scuffs or creases. Overall I’ve found that this grade is a very expectable to most collectors. Generally the negatives are so small that most records in this condition continue to be loved and played for decades to come.
- Very Good (VG): Records in VG condition may have more noticeable surface scratches and background noise, but are still considered playable. The cover may show moderate signs of wear, such as scuffs or creases.
- Good (G): Records in Good condition may have significant surface scratches and significant background noise may be audible during play. The cover may also have tears or significant wear. While still playable, records in Good condition are what I would call the start of poor conditions. What an oxymoron you may say, but if you care about sound stick to everything above this level. (G) Good grade level records are playable, but they might best be for use in a garage shop where you can get some good tunes out of them, but where care isn’t a key focus.
- Poor (P): Records in Poor condition are in the worst condition and may have deep scratches or skips during play. The cover may be missing or severely damaged. Records in Poor condition are not recommended for play.
By understanding the used vinyl grading system, you can make informed purchasing decisions and ensure you’re getting the best value for your money. Whether you’re a fan of classic rock, hip-hop, or anything in between, investing in high-quality used vinyl records is a great way to build your collection and enjoy your favorite music in its purest form.