Near Mint [NM or M-]: A
nearly perfect record. Many dealers won't give a grade higher than this
implying (perhaps correctly) that no record is ever truly perfect. The
record shows no obvious sign of wear. A 45 rpm sleeve has no more than
the most minor defects, such as almost invisible ring wear or other
signs of slight handling.
An LP jacket has no creases, folds,
seam splits or any other noticeable similar defect. No cut-out holes,
either. And of course, the same is true of any other inserts, such as
posters, lyric sleeves, and the like. Basically, Near Mint looks as if
you just got it home from a new record store and removed the shrink
Excellent [EX]: Grades better than VG+ but due to a couple of minor imperfections, is not quite good enough to be considered NM
Very Good Plus [VG+]: Shows
some signs that it was played and otherwise handled by a previous owner
who took good care of it. Record surfaces may show some slight signs of
wear and may have slight scuffs or very light scratches that don't
affect one's listening experience. Slight warps that do not affect the
sound are OK.
The label may have some ring wear or
discoloration, but is should be barely noticeable. The center hole is
not misshapen by repeated play. Picture sleeves and LP inner sleeves
will have some slight wear, lightly turn-up corners, or a slight
seam-split. An LP jacket my have slight signs of wear also and may be
marred by a cut-out hole, indentation or corner indicating it was taken
out of print and sold at a discount.
In general, if not for a couple of
minor things wrong with it, this would be Near Mint. All but the most
mint-crazy collectors will find a Very Good Plus record highly
Very Good [VG]: Many of the
defects found in a VG+ record are more pronounced in a VG disc. Surface
noise is evident upon playing, especially in soft passages and during
the song's intro and fade, but will not overpower the music otherwise.
Groove wear will start to be noticeable, as will light scratches deep
enough to feel with a fingernail) that will affect the sound.
Labels may be marred by writing, or
have tape or stickers (or their residue) attached. The same will be true
of picture sleeves or LP covers. However, it will not have all of these
problems at the same time, only two or three of them.
Good [G], Good Plus [G+]:
Good does not mean bad! A record in Good or Good Plus condition can be
put onto a turntable and will play through without skipping. But it will
have significant surface noise and scratches and visible groove wear.
A jacket or sleeve has seam splits,
especially at the bottom or on the spine. Tape, writing, ring wear or
other defects will start to overwhelm the object. If it's a common item,
you'll probably find another copy in better shape eventually. Pass it
up. But if it's something you have been seeking for years, and the price
is right, get it.