Determining the condition of a vinyl record can seem like a complicated undertaking. On one hand, you could just eye it out and give it a grade, but you’re not doing yourself or potential buyers any favors. Just ask our community support team how many complaints they receive daily from buyers who feel jaded about the condition of the vinyl record they received. Save yourself the headache by doing it right the first time.
The condition of a vinyl record is one of the primary variables for the value of the record. This can be problematic, as determining the condition is undeniably the most subjective part of the value equation. Finding the release variant can be time-consuming, but there is rarely any guessing involved. Discogs makes it a breeze to find vinyl record values using sales history, so there’s little guesswork needed there. But the condition is unique to each and every record. We’re writing this guide to help you determine the condition of the vinyl record in your hand, for guides to other formats check out the comprehensive help document for grading items.
Discogs uses the Goldmine Standard, a universally-accepted guideline for representing the condition of physical music. According to the Goldmine Standard, each vinyl and sleeve should be given a grade, that ranges from pristine Mint down to badly-damaged Poor/Fair. To determine the condition a vinyl record, you must grade it visually and, in most cases, play grade the record to give it one of eight ratings.
Read the basic overviews of how to visually inspect and play grade a record, then check the condition level summaries below to accurately determine the condition of a vinyl record.
Grading a vinyl record is inherently subjective, but knowing what to look for will help you accurately determine what condition a record is in. To visually grade a record, inspect the sleeve and any inserts (lyric sheets, posters, etc.) for ring wear, discoloration, sticker residue and seam splits. You will also need to inspect the vinyl surface for scratches and other imperfections. Visually inspecting a record is best done under a bright light positioned close to the vinyl surface.
Play Grade a Record
To play grade, you need to put the needle down and give it a spin. Do you hear clicks, pops, or skipping? Read ahead to see what that means for the condition of the vinyl record.
Vinyl Record Condition Summaries
Inspect the vinyl and sleeve and compare it to the notes for each step in the Goldmine Standard to determine the condition of a record.
Near Mint (NM or M-)
Very Good Plus (VG+)
The label may have some ring wear or discoloration, but it should be barely noticeable. Spindle marks may be present. Picture sleeves and inner sleeves will have some wear, slightly turned-up corners, or a small seam split. An LP cover may have sparse signs of wear and may be marred by a cut-out hole, indentation, or cut corner. In general, it plays perfectly, and if not for some minor aesthetic wear it would be Near Mint.
Very Good (VG)
Good, Good Plus (G, G+)
Poor, Fair (P, F)
A type of sleeve that is not specific to the record. A generic sleeve is either a plain sleeve or a company sleeve with standard company artwork. A sleeve that is graded as “generic” needs no further grading, as a generic sleeve generally adds little value to the item and can be easily replaced.