Monday, April 30, 2012

Grading Vinyl Records - A Proposal For An Expanded Set Of Standards

New Grading beta
VINYL RECORD TALK’S 7” 45 RPM RECORD GRADING STANDARDS
PURPOSE
The purpose of these grading standards is to establish a detailed grading system specifically fit to 45 RPM vinyl records.
THE PROBLEM WITH OTHER GRADING METHODS
The five step G-M method is too limited and says very little about a record.  This leads to a large level of dissatisfaction by customers in the internet and mail order market. Many dealers attempt to use a variation of comic and card 1.0-10.0 systems.  Yet, comic and card numeric standards are used for grading items which will be sealed.  The vast majority of purchasers of vinyl records intend to play them.
A MORE DETAILED SET OF  GRADING STANDARDS
A new approach to grading vinyl records would create more product reliability and provide for the possibility of meaningful grading that could set a new market standard.
Below are a set of 10 steps of grading standards.  The vinyl and label are graded separately:
                        VINYL                                                                       LABEL

G-D
G-C
G-B
G-A
VG-C

VG-B
VG-A
NM-B
NM-A
M-A
Unplayable
Plays with noise louder than content - any side.  Can skip / repeat
Plays with noise at an even level to the content - any side.  Can skip / repeat
Plays with noise at lower level than content - any side.  Can skip / repeat
Vinyl has large amount of gloss.  
Plays with low level noise - any side
Full gloss. Plays through both sides completely, with small amount of noise - any side
Three flaws..  Three places on both sides combined that create small amount of noise
Two flaws.  Two places on both sides combined that create a small amount of noise
One flaws..  One place on both sides combined that create a small amount of noise
Visually and audibly flawless
G-D
G-C
G-B
G-A
VG-C

VG-B
VG-A
NM-B
NM-A
M-A
Readable information of Label / Artist / Title
All printed details visible - both sides
All printed and graphic details visible - both sides  
All printed and graphic details visible. Intact - both sides
Surface blemishes are smooth to touch. Attractive.
Surface clear of marks, stickers and tears. Attractive.
Surface clear of blemished areas.  Can have three flaws on both sides.
Surface clear of blemished areas.  Can have two flaws on both sides
Surface clear of blemished areas.  Can have one flaw on both sides
Visually flawless
*Flaws - defined as any abnormality that detracts from a vinyl record’s full gloss and mint state.
This creative commons set of standards is based on an “all or nothing” criterion scale.  All criteria in a grade must be met, or the lesser grade must be considered.  For example, in grading a record’s vinyl, a record’s gloss is not explicitly considered until the grade “G-A”.  In order to receive a grade of “G-A”, a record must have, as just a part of the grade’s criteria, a “large amount of gloss”.  What “large” means is left up to the grader, however it would have to be considered as at least 51% gloss over the overall vinyl surface.  If, say, 51% of the vinyl’s surface is dull, then the next grade “G-B” must be considered, which is based on nothing more than the noise heard during play and if the record skips or repeats. In other words, if a grade’s criteria mentions something, then worry about it, if a grade’s criteria does not mention something, don’t worry about it.  
100 45RPM records were test graded.  The records came from a typical accumulation of several thousand records which were purchased off of Craigslist.  A graph of the grading results is below:
The largest concentration of records fall between the “G-A” and “VG-A” grades.  This was expected.  The goal of housing the vast majority of the records withing this grading range is to eliminate them as a factor in the higher priced marketplace.  The “VG-A” grade could be considered a “wobbler” as it has a threshold of three defects.
Any record within the other grades in the range that is not rare should sell for no more than a few dollars, and the buyer should know to expect a record that has numerous defects, but is not trashed.
REFINING THE GRADING
The middle arch of grades could further be refined with additional notations.  Records tend to have a defining characteristic within this grading range, such as fine scratching, multiple scuffs, and dulling.
Added notations could help refine these grades and inform potential customers of the character of the record.  What these notations should be, and what characteristics they should define will be further developed and would benefit from a group input.

So, please, looking for comments here.


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