Ha ha HAh hah.. If any secrets are out there.. The best one is to buy only new. (I buy used!) The second secret is to find a seller who is not screwing you.
I stopped buying on eBay because it was ALWAYS graded two notches too high. Locally, I have a few places I go, only one of whice has really pretty good quality LPs. (they are small, and cannot afford to lose any customers)
I find the auctions at a certain web site (to be unnamed) hilarious (for two reasons: first; waaaaay overpriced, second the drivel they are selling is only for the desparate, who want some LPs, no matter how boring the artists are, and will overpay, gratefully, for the chance to buy crap fifty cent Goodwill dregs)
ADVICE: So you want advice: Never buy LPs that are dusty. (they didn't care about them at all!!)
Never buy LPs that you can see 'washing' marks.. that is telltale signs the LP was wiped off with a wet rag... bad.. very bad.
If you can see marks or scratches on the LP surface: tilt the vinyl so you can see the curious shimmering from the grooves reflected in the light: IF you cannot see the scratch in the shimmering area NOT AT ALL (even a trace of the mark means it is into the groove), though it is visible looking straight on, the scratch is NOT going to affect play. Tilt the LP both ways 45 degrees or so to see both sided into the grooves shimmering. I find this is a great tool when an LP I want has some marks, but I do not want one that has ticks!
Sunlight is your best friend: if you can use sunlight do the shimmering thing in sunlight, if it rainbows well (that is has color shading visible) IMO that means it has been played very little, and has been kept clean. It sparkles!!
Watch out for vinyl that is too 'shiny', it just means some dope wiped it off with a 'shiner' substance.
Some LPs are dull naturally, especially labels like Telefunken.
Do not worry as much about worn covers. (for owning, for resale, they matter more)
Older is better: a repressing of a Bluenote is worth a twentieth of the original, Six eye Columbias are worth more than two eyes and later Columbia repressings are worth waaaaay less if the original LP was from the six eye era.
Also, just DO NOT BUY LPs that are scratched. PERIOD!
The real value of any LP is when it is perfect.
The grading system for LPs reflects that. The price is halved for each grade lower than perfect. and everyone grades too high because they want the money. The crooks grade several levels too high, Honest folks just grade one level too high! But EVERYONE grades too high.
Do not buy stupid records. Being desparate for more vinyl can make one crazy, and waste money on crap one does not really want to play. Better to buy one great LP than six crappy ones.
I hope this helps
This is the best post I can remember reading in a long time! Cheers,
Have to agree elizabeth r u single? Ha pretty much nailed what 2 look 4 or not in the wacky used world now in terms of sonic integrity go 2 mofi archives site under lps u might not care 4 all artists but if mofi took the time chances r its good sound then find orig pressing using above methods enjoy
Also no matter how cheap or if some prostitute offers her services 4 free no air supply! Come 2 think of it i own 2 as lps no wonder im out of cigs n booze if u go used go jazz or classical cheaper n cleaner lps in general
Yeah, I'm single because (as I have posted here before) I axed my husband for his stereo, and dumped him into the swamp for the 'gators to eat. Took the stereo and have been happy ever since. (PS I am wayyy too old @59+ to fool around anymore. One new free stereo was enough!!)
HAH HAH HAaaaaaa
It would never workout i worship keith richards n all i own is a yorx stereo complete with toaster n blood pressure cuff i dream of a bose radio
If I were so picky about selecting records by quality, I'd be realy struggling to find rare 'boutique' music pieces that worth money even if scratched. Hence, I'd like to add one more section or paragraph for 'boutique' music that came with very limited quantity on the market.
Other than that I truely managed to have almost all of my 'boutique' music records in perfect shape. Most of them I bought in large parcells from one german record dealer...
Excellent post, Greatly appreciated. One note, I was hoping for some tips on how to identify good pressings and some resources to help with that. Is there something about the serial numbers, country, inscription scratches etc... that makes it easier to identify good pressings?
I have heard some people mention that Michael Fremer has a guide that explains much of this, I have yet to see it though.
I think that Tom Port of Better Records has done a wonderful job identifying differences between vintage recordings and current reissues. He writes wonderful descriptions around specific titles around "hot stampers"--copies of exceptional sound. These are often pricey, but it a good online resource. He has detailed information from various weekly shoot-outs and while opinionated, seems to find the diamonds from the coal. He is also quick to point out shortfalls around a title, especially around the newer vinyl. Read up on "Aqualung" and Led Zep's "Houses"--classic "butcher" jobs.
I always look for a trusted vinyl shop where you can pre-listen to the vinyl. In LA, where I live, I especially like Rhino Records in Claremont and Equator Books in Venice Beach. I have found a lot of great vinyl digging through their bins.
For the maximum number of albums, I also like Ameoba Records in Hollywood and SF. You can usually meet up with seasoned collectors who will freely offer their opinions up. I have been steered to a lot of great artists this way.
I also think that magazines like Q and Goldmine are wonderful endorsements of back catalogue.
I don't know what part of the world you are in but....
I find many great condition LP's at the Fleamarkets, Yard Sales, Thrift Stores (Goodwill, Salvation, Catholic Services)and many other non profit organizations. And for profit too! Search the internet for used record dealers/stores in your area. Visit them and see how they grade and support the guys that you feel have the best grading.
I agree with the first responder with what I call his/her rules of engagement. Many do grade too high. I picked up an LP which looked perfect a couple weeks ago and when I got it home it was pops and ticks galore. I got it cheap so I can't complain too much but I will be carefull the next time I buy from him. I look for lustre, sheen, no groove damage, no liquid on the inner lables, and if a turntable is around I listen to them. You don't have that luxury at the Fleamarkets and Thrift Stores. Estate sales are another good source. If you purchase LP's from a DJ collection understand that they track between 3 and 6 grams or more. Not good when you are playing them on a very resolving system.
I buy very few new LP's today. When I do I already know the quality of the recording. I have been warned about buying Scorpio Label records. I have never seen one so I can't tell you what they look like but I'm sure someone on the site can tell you. The last time I saw the name was Circuit City Vinyl offerings.
I personally try and listen to several tracks on the LP before I buy it. I listen mostly to Jazz, Classical, Audiophile recordings, Folk, R&B, and World Music sometimes. The LP's at the Thrift shop and Fleamarkets are so cheap I take risks on some LP's. If I find one that sounds great then I may look for it on new vinyl. I recently found a rare LP for fifty cents and it sold for over $500. I have purchased many Jazz and R&B titles from soundstagedirect.com and wdcdradio.com. I haven't purchased many 180gm or 200gm records yet because those I have purchased recently were copies I had been seeking and I already knew the quality I was getting. They are as good as 70's vinyl and the surfaces have always been quiet. You can still sample most new recordings online if you google the artist. This will give you an idea of how well it was recorded; and maybe not on some. So it's a risk.
I listen to many recordings at my friends house and I then seek that LP out if it catches my ear. First identify the artist you want to buy and then seek the various labels. For instance Dire Straits Love Over Gold has at least 3 pressings that I am aware of. I have all three. One seemed to be equalized differently than the others and one had quieter vinyl than the other 2. If you are into Jazz check out All About Jazz and get a review. Check to see if it is an LP or CD they are reviewing.
I believe you are looking for pressing and production quality rather than assessing vinyl condition. I also wish to locate a website which addresses and rates new and old releases. I would like to add to Elizabeth's comments regarding visual determinations of lp play quality. I have purchased lps, typically older and heavier, that have looked awful, yet played noise-free. The contrary holds true, where a piece of vinyl appeared pristine, but was riddled with surface noise. When grading an lp prior to purchase most shops have flourescent lighting, which often hides the true condition. I have come home with a bag of lps, look under a bright incandescent bulb, only to find mars and surface scratches. The incandescent, as with sunlight have been the most truthful declarations, short of listening, in my decision making.
I did find this website which offers reviews of vinyl releases:
Nice one, thanks for vinyl fanatics. Highly recommended!
UPDATE: couple of my findings.
ECM: Old jazz stuff is killer however I almost fell like I shouldn't day so...perhaps this is why this didnt pop up in the forum so SSSSSHHHHHHHHHH.
Rhino: has done good with their reissues.
Sundazed: Amaing reissues. Highly recommended.
Speakers Corner: Top quality reissues. Highly recommended.
Angel: Mixed bag..some good some bad.
On Original Pressings: Lots of good advice in the thread. Listening is a plus I try to take my own headphones and even a cartridge on occaison to listen to the stuff before buying. I have become an analogue fiend, though I have little tolerance for shody old noisy vinyl. There are amazing originals, some that sound much better than their "audiophile" reissue counter parts. The only way to really tell with these is to listen.
Another key finding: Find a record shop with knowledgeable staff. By knowledgeable I mean absolutely insanely passionate about vinyl and only one degree less of an obsessive compulsive personality should do. If you are lucky enough to be in Montreal or are ever considering visiting GO TO 33 RPM (33 Aux Tours), this is arguably one of the best record stores in the world. Pete is very serious about vinyl and knows pretty much everything there is to know about vinyl and music in general. He runs a highly successful operations, I can't believe it has only been around for 5 years given the selection I would have thought they have been doing this 100 years +. I have never left there without pile of new records only to find that they are the best ones in my collection.
Montreal has a couple of other nice spots like Encore Records and Books and Beatnick.
If your ever in Toronto, "Rotate this" is the place to go.
Michael Fremers site is Musicangle, It is a good source for details about pressing quality of a particular artist on vinyl as well as competent reviews.
The fun part of vinyl IMHO is finding the good pressings on my own. I use reviews as a guide and yes I have purchased some real crap but thats part of this hobby. I just sell off the stuff I do not like. Everyones opinion on what sound best differ and has to do with a persons like and dislikes and what they are hearing on thier system. It also has to do with what they feel is worth the cost and what they can afford.
One of the best ways is to use the internet and spend the time to find sites that give you the information you are looking for about a particular record. I wish there was a easy way to know all of the best stamper symbols but when you think of all the vinyl records that were pressed world wide your talking about a very large book. For my favorite lps i may go through many lps to find the one that has that knock your socks off sound. Ahhh the time wasted cleaning those that dont make the grade.