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Is There a Place for Lower-Grade Records?

There are a little over one million records rated as Good Plus in the Discogs Marketplace. While that number is a far cry from the next highest grading, four million Very Good-rated items, Good Plus ratings or lower-graded records still comprise a million-plus chunk of the marketplace.

We all wish that we could find that one record, the holy grail, as some might say, in minty condition. Or at least a solid Very Good+. However, that ain’t the way things always work, is it? If you’re willing to compromise on quality, some of the most exciting rarities and oddest obscurities on Discogs can be found by searching through the lower-graded sections.

Confused on the Discogs ratings? Here’s a quick guide.

Run-Down Rarities

Amongst your usual Beatles singles going for obscene prices, there’s obscure funk from Nigeria’s Heads Funk Band, an ultra-rare picture disc of David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s infamous cover of Dancing In the Street, an unreleased white-label of King Tubby mixes, and a Monkees album that was not only signed by all four Monkees but was also sourced from Dave Davies’s personal record collection. For those with some serious cash to blow, run-down rarities await.

Browsing the Digital Dollar Store

On the other hand, as collectors, we more than often want junk that most would turn their nose up to. After all, one person’s trash is another’s treasure, and all of those usual cliches doubly apply to the likes of music and other creative endeavors. While it may prove difficult to gleefully dig through a stranger’s cherished collectibles in-person at the moment, Discogs’ virtual bargain bin is ripe for the picking.

You won’t lose the joy of stumbling upon something so odd and cheap that you have to buy it, as plenty of oddities abound. Plus, there’s the bonus of filtering by price, genre, and format, so you’re not glued to your phone for too long. Check under the couch cushions for some coinage and grab something that may be common halfway around the world, but utterly unknown amongst you and your record-collecting pals.

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Lost-and-Found Cover Art

You probably won’t find anything rare, but there’s an abundance of sleeves sans records on the Discogs Marketplace. Need the jacket to Tim Curry’s ’81 single Working On My Tan? Whether it will house the record properly or act as a framed decoration for the Curry-obsessed, here’s your chance. It makes much better wall art than actually framing a record. Keep in mind that you can’t buy or sell a sleeve without the accompanying record, but there’s a decent chance you can find a high-quality sleeve bundled with a beat-up record.

For What It’s Worth

Sellers, this is an excellent opportunity to get rid of some of the more interesting, yet poorer-rated stock you have taking up space. Just be upfront about what you’re offering, grade appropriately, and be sure to price things accordingly. Acknowledge why the record has been given a low grade and let potential buyers make offers. Refresh your grading knowledge if needed. And clean your records! There’s a decent chance you can elevate a Good+, Very Good, or beyond. If Discogs has proven anything to me, it’s that someone out there is interested — you gotta figure out how to grab their attention.

Ready to take the plunge into some Good+ waters? Protect yourself before you wreck yourself: Your shipping policies can be set up with a minimum order value per region. Do this to avoid the hassle of packing up and shipping a handful of cheap records for a profit of pennies or less. Our step-by-step guide with videos to setting up shipping policies will get you selling more in no time.

Everyone is a Winner

Buyers, please think of the seller before impulse-buying a handful of 45s for pennies. First, you’ll probably end up spending more on shipping than the actual records. Make it worthwhile and go on a cheapo bonanza and buy in bulk! Follow your initial instinct — that one low-cost rarity can lead to more.

It’s undoubtedly a pain for sellers to carefully pack up and ship those records while making little to no profit on the sale. Consider throwing some slightly more expensive wax into the cart with those cheaper records to make things worthwhile for both you and the seller. After all, when a rarity pops up, who knows when your next chance will be to grab a copy?

If You Know, You Know

My colleague and Discogs Database contributor extraordinaire, Diognes, has provided a few more excellent points for buying or selling lower-graded records below. Take heed!

  • For records from hot and/or humid regions, G+ is usually the best you can do.
  • Some playback systems, like jukeboxes or most portable record players, are probably going to drop the playback fidelity to where it’s a lot less distracting.
  • Try a different needle that gets deeper into the groove. Those deep grooves may not be as damaged as the bits a worn or blunt needle has already destroyed.
  • Loud records fare better than quiet ones. Beat-up 60’s garage records are cut so loud they overpower most scratches, whereas a genre like classical suffers.
  • Regarding U.S. records, mostly 7-inches in particular: Styrene wears out differently than vinyl. Styrene burn creates heavy sibilance in addition to the pops, clicks, and surface noise that wear-and-tear causes with vinyl.

Keep Digging

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