There are many factors in the price of a record as I explaind in “Things you Need to Know When Buying and Selling Vinyl Records/Phonographs“. One of the major factors in the value and/or loss of value of a record/phonograph is damage or defects. In this article I will cover some of the common record notations (Also know as the short-hand notation system). This is used by many collectors, dealers, and auction houses to describe the condition, special notations or damage of a record/phonograph.
Lets get started with the most common which is record grading.
Record/Phonograph Grading Collection/Auction Scale:
This is used to describe the condition of the record/phonograph.
Note: Sometimes a +/- will be added to a grade to give a more accurate grade. I have included the +/- in this grading guide.
- SS: Still Sealed
- M+: Mint Plus (Better than mint but below SS)
- M: Mint Condition
- M -: Mint Minus (Above E+ but below M)
- E +: Excellent Plus (Above E but below M-)
- E: Excellent Condition
- E-: Excellent Minus (Below E but above V+)
- V+: Very Good Plus (Above very good below E-)
- V: Very Good
- V-: (Above P but below V)
- P: Possibly Unplayable
Now you may be asking the following question.
What do these grades mean?
To answer this I have given a brief description of the means for each grade below.
- Still Sealed: This means just as it says still sealed in the original packaging.
- Mint +: Almost perfect.
- Mint: Very small imperfections .
- Mint Minus: Just this side of mint.
Note: SS M+, M and M- are rarely used.
- Excellent Plus: A choice copy with no wear what so ever.
- Excellent: Virtually no trace of groove wear with only minimal traces of use and handling.
- Excellent Minus: An above average record with a slight degree of groove wear. This wear is not enough to be a serious defect or impair the audio quality in any way.
Very Good Condition
- Very Good Plus: Well played but still playable, noticeable graying in the grooves.
- Very Good: Very well worn but listenable.
- Very Good Minus: Barely playable.
Possibly Unplayable Condition
- Possibly Unplayable: This also means what it say it may not be playable.
In the following sections I will talk about abbreviations (notations) that are commonly used when buying or selling records/phonographs.
These are some of the more common notations used by collectors and seller to describe the cover of a record/phonograph.
CO (Cut-out) – This is a generic description meaning the album cover has a Pea size hole in it (usually in the center so it matches the hole in the record) or it has a corner of the cover clipped.
BB – In the 1950’s-60’s a few manufacturers put a small metal rivet in the middle of the cover (where the hole for the record is located) to prevent the cover from tearing.
Die-cut – Manufactures would perilously cut a small opening in the cover. This was usually done to show a graphic or image from the inner booklet. This is not a defect , but a special pressing process.
DJ (Disc Jockey Copy) – These were usually early presses of the album that record companies sent to radio stations to encourage them to play the songs. This is also knows and a “Radio Station Copy”.
Fox (Foxing) – This means that there are rust colored spots on the cover these can be in varying degrees. This is usually caused by exposure to damp conditions and result in a mold.
GF, G/F or Gatecover – Gatefold cover means it opens up like a b0ok.
PS or P/S (Picture Sleeve) – This is where the paper sleeve of the record has a picture or image (printed or painted) on it. This is common on 45 rpm or 78 rpm singles.
RW (Ring Wear) – This denotes that the record was not properly stored and pressure from the vinyl record has worn a ring in the cover.
SOC (Sticker on Cover) – This means someone has placed a sticker on the cover. This is usually a name or price tag.
Split – This happens when the seam of the cover splits.
TOC (Tape on Cover) – This indicates that there is tape on the cover. This is usually done to fix the cover when a slip or tear has happened.
TS (Tapes Seam) – This indicates that the seam of the cover has been taped.
WOC (Writing on Cover) and WOBC (Writing on back cover) – This indicates that there is writing on the cover. This is usually a name or price.
WS (Water Stained) – This indicated that the cover has been water stained. This can be anything from a few drops of water or ring from a glass to total water damage. The extent of the damage should be noted by the seller.
Note: All notations do not mean “damage”.
Label and Vinyl Notations
In this section I cover some of the common notations used to describe label and vinyl condition.
NAP (Not Affect Play): This notation is commonly used with an indication of scratches. This means the scratches are light and do not affect the play of the record/phonograph.
SCF (Scuffs): This refers to scuffs on the vinyl. This is usually caused by the paper sleeve. This is not a serious defect unless it affects play.
SOL (Sticker on Label): This means someone has placed a sticker on the label of the record/phonograph. This is usually a name tag or price tag.
WOL (Writing on Label): This means someone has wrote on the label of the record/phonograph.
Overall Condition Notations
The above sections with specific parts of the record/phonograph (cover, vinyl and label). In this section I cover overall condition notations.
DMG (Damage): This means there is damage to the record/phonograph. This will usually be followed with a notation or description about the damage. If there is no notation of damage make sure to ask about the damage before you make your purchase.
BBL (Bubble): This means there are bubbles in the vinyl this is usually caused when the record/phonograph is expose to heat.
CR (Crack): This means the record/phonograph has a crack in it.
EC (Edge Chip): There is a chip in the edge of the record/phonograph.
SPK (Skip): There is a skip in the record/phonograph.
DS (Dull Surface): This means the surface of the record is dull this may affect record play.
EF (Edge Flake): This is where the edge of the record/phonograph flakes. Minor edge flake usually does not affect record play, you should still ask just to make sure this defect does not have any affect on the record/phonograph play.
GR (Grainy): This means the record play is grainy (has cracking noise during play).
MLD (Mold): This means the record has mold on it. This is usually caused by water damage or exposure to damp storage conditions.
WRP (Warp): This means the record/phonograph has been warped. This is usually caused by heat exposure.
In this article I have covered only a handful of the most common notations. There are many more notations, if you have one you think should have been included in this article feel free to leave it in the comments below.