Goldmineis the standard for grading vinyl records. Goldmine is a record magazine that publishes information on record sales and results for collectable vinyl records. As with other collectables, condition is everything. Goldmine has developed a system to describe records, and record covers, to describe condition.
Goldmine Price Guides are necessary when selling vinyl records online. It’s necessary when selling or buying vinyl records in person. The grading determination can be subjective and open to interpretation even when using a Goldmine Price Guide.
Perfect in every way. This includes both the record and cover. These contain no scratches or dings of any kind. It may be unplayed and possibly sealed.
Near Mint (NM or M-)
Since perfect is an unattainable condition, NM is considered by some the best one can get. The value of a NM record is the standard which lesser quality records determine their value. The record looks like it just came from the store. It exibits no obvious wear. These discs have no factory defects, scratches of any kind, and marks on label of someone putting it on the turntable. A NM can remain in that condition for a time if played on good equipment and properly handled.
The cover is perfect with straight seams, and without writing on the cover. The jacket has no visible creases or wear.
Very Good Plus (VG+) or Excellent (E)
A VG+ or E record or cover is valued at half the NM value. Owners have handled VG+ records with care. They may have light surface scratches or scuffs that doesn’t influence the records sound when played. It may have minor warps. The center hole is round, and label can be a little discolored.
The inner LP sleeves have minor wear, seam split or bent corners. The jacket may be worn even to the point with a corner cut off or corner punch that indicates it was taken out of circulation and discounted.
Very Good (VG)
Very good records are valued at one quarter the NM value. This grade is the same as VG+ with more pronounced or extreme wear. Surface noise becomes evident on a VG record, but won’t overpower the music. Surface scratches are noticeable enough to affect the sound.
Labels, inner sleeves and jackets may have a combination of two defects of stickers, sticker adhesive, writing and tape on them. Goldmine allows two of the four in this grade.
Good (G), Good Plus (G+)
Value of records in the G and G+ rating is approximately 10 to 15 percent of the NM value. These records play without skips with surface noise, and the groove wear is very apparent.
A cover in this category commonly has seam splits on the bottom, spine and corner. The cover shows obvious ring wear.
The good grade is the lowest a serious collector would consider, and only to fill in an empty slot in their collection. It is the bottom line for listening.
Poor (P) and Fair (F)
Zero to 5 percent of the NM value. These records may be warped, cracked, don’t play without skips or hanging up and repeating.
The cover will be split on all seams, bent, badly worn with writing or other things that mar it. The inner sleeve has the same condition issues.
This is a brief overview for grading records and their jackets. Goldmine publishes in depth guides for 45 rpm, classical, jazz, pop, rock, country western, rhythm and blues and other music genres. For the most complete information on a specific record, consult the appropriate Goldmine volume.