What you describe is precsely why my LP buying has dropped off significantly in favor of CDs.
I haven't found a reliable solution other than to buy from sellers whose gradings I trust (based on good past experience), and personally inspecting LPs before I buy.
I have found most audiophile CDs (JVC variants, XRCD, etc) of older LPs sound as good if not better than the vinyl when all things are considered. I'm listening to an outstanding 20bit JVC X2 version of Gene Ammons' "Boss Tenor". The CD cost slightly less than a near mint (maybe...maybe not...) LP version found on E-Bay.
Other than the used vinyl I have purchased here on audiogon (they rate very good and, to me, it's mint), all I have purchased (used) has been a disapointment. My (new) rule is only audiophiles know how to grade vinyl.
Best you can hope to do is visually grade them, clean the heck out of them before you play them and hope for the best. If you've got a good seller, he/she might let you play them in the store before you buy.
What ever you find that you don't like, please send them on to me. I'm finding fewer and fewer that I can't clean up.
Maybe because I'm better at screening them? I don't know. Still, after several years of buying used vinyl I don't find any difference in the number of records I can recover.
Dan_ed, If you're serious, then I'm happy to send you a list of LPs, which I will offer at the price I paid plus shipping.
It might save us time if you mention what styles interest you and what styles don't interest you.
All you can do is write off sellers whose grading is a disappointment and buy more from those whose grading was fair or better. I have had experiences both ways, although as you might expect, many more of the former. It is possible for a seller to "visually grade" a record as "vg+" or even "near mint" based solely on appearance - only to find that it was a bad pressing or is worn out and unlistenable. It doesn't necessarily mean the seller was dishonest or the like, but it does mean you don't want to buy from them again. IMHO.
1. pay cheap without playing and take a chance
2. pay high from those reputed sellers who grade upon actual playing
3. buy at record stores where you can play them
For sellers can
1. only visually grade and sell cheap
2. spend time to clean, play, and then give grades, and sell high
If you buy records unseen/unplayed, however grades might they have, set your expectation not too high. For example, for bulk LPs I buy from ebay, I would consider only half of VG records are playable without hurting the cartridge (and my ears).
I think it might be fun to compare notes on what we each think of cleaning up some particular album. You know, like what tricks you or I may have picked up in getting an LP to sound good. If you want I'll swap LPs with you. Not to start some useless pissing contest, but to really trade notes. We may have to wade through a few LPs to find one that we can both agree actually can be improved.
Genre doesn't much matter to me for this. Then again, I'm always looking for those original Blue Notes. :-) Let me know, we can work this off line.
Oh! Also, if you do have an Eagle's Desperado. . . ;-)
Dan_ed, the LPs I have that did not meet the seller's grading are either scuffed, scratched or groove-worn. They are not simply dirty.
I do not believe you would be interested in them, but if you are, I would be happy to provide a list and sell them at my cost.
The "PIG IN A POKE" syndrome is what you have buying LPs sight unseen. The sellers reputation is everything.
And you should pay for that reputation. I still buy a few LPs now and then.. but only when I can SEE them. I used to buy on ePay years ago... (forget that!)
With 6,000+ really nice LPs.. I am set.
The best LPs that I find in 'minty' condition are usually classical. The nuts who collected classical ALWAYS did so in a big way. And at least half of the classical LPs I find really have never been played.. or maybe once or twice. (A whole lot of classical wax sucks too... played by nearly blind old farts who scratched the heck out of the LPs..)
But most of the best are classical. Middle period Jazz can also be found in pristine condition relatively easily.. Finding clean early jazz is frustrating! (and very very expensive)
Rock... Finding clean, usable rock albums you might actually WANT is hard! Lucky for me I have a decent source locally to look around for those rock LPs I still covet.
I have to chuckle at the folks who have the 'old rock LP collection (200-300) from their youth, and wonder what it is worth... (zero in case you need to know)
SO, basically to respond to the post: Seeing is everything. I feel sorry if you have no access to LPs in your local area. (Those folks need to watch rummage sales.. Find someone who goes to them all the time, bribe them to call you the minute they see a big collection. some day you will hit the jackpot.)
Ok. Now I understand, Tvad. I've stopped worrying about how accurately LPs are visually graded because it is too subjective. And many times it has no bearing on how the LP sounds.