Large Classical Record Dealers

Hi all! I am beginning to get into vinyl and am looking for places to purchase classical vinyl material and had a few questions:

I'm a bit leary about Ebay, but they have a good selection on things I'm looking for. Any recommendations on how to decide between vendors? How can I trust their vinyl grading? Is it worth even trying to go this route? Any prefered vendors that you guys use?

Another option would be going through a dealer. I know of one, namely Sikora ( and was wondering if there are any other large classical vinyl vendors that you guys might recommend? Is this a good route to go, compared to Ebay? I like the fact I would be establishing a relationship with a vendor, but I'm not sure how cost effective this might be...

Finally, I'm not very knowledgeable on all the various gradings and terminology... For example, all I can really offer is the artist and composer that I'm looking for, for example Gyorgy Cziffra's Hugarian Rhapsodies by Listz... I'm not really sure how to get from this information to a recommended label, pressing, etc. Any ideas? This was my motivation for going with a large record vendor, but maybe I could sort this out for myself?

Thanks everyone!
I've had excellent experience with Jerry Canter's "Classical Collector" service - Fair grading/decent prices.

On Audiogon there are a number of very fine classical vinyl sellers - notably Recordron and Orest1. There are others, but those two come to mind immediately.

As far as eBay is concerned, it's a crap shoot - you can do well, but caveat emptor.
I have gotten LP's on eBay and for the most part have been satisfied. I should just mention that I bought the LPs I bought because I wanted that particular recording. I probably would have bought it regardless of condition (except trash).

Just check their feedback if they are a regular seller. Most are pretty honest on condition.
Mre2007, congratulations on getting on the road with vinyl. eBay can be a good resource, but prices often can be bid way beyond rational expectations and you do have check out the seller before diving in too deeply. There are many good and reputable sellers with good classical stock on eBay, and a number who are clueless and/or unreliable. Look carefully at the feedback posted; also try emailing the seller and see how you feel about the correspondence.

My favorite sources of used classical vinyl over the years have been some of the fixed price sellers who post their lists of LPs for sale from time to time (usually monthly), or who maintain a searchable database of their inventory. Several with whom I've found great success over many years are:
Paul Hartin at Ars Nova,
Peter Fulop at Mikrokosmos,
The Classical Collector, and
Classic Choice (UK).

Be thoughtful about whether you are buying as a "collector" or buying for the music and/or sonics. There can be a vast difference in how you go about this depending on your orientation. As a primer, I encourage you to read some of the material Arthur Salvatore has posted on his web site about his own experiences chasing classical vinyl over the years looking for the best sounding version of given performances. Whether you ultimately agree or disagree with his perspective (and I do agree), Arthur's comments are worth considering.
Ebay offers mixed results, but it's often so much cheaper than the internet dealers mentioned above that you can write off the mistakes and still be way ahead of the game.

Or just stick to Ebay sellers that have high feedback scores and good return policies. Three that I'd say you can't go wrong with are:

Meangene5 (feedback of 5683, 99.8% positive)
scottcampbelllps (feedback of 3328, 99.9% positive)
kevinarmy (feedback of 3400, 100% positive)

An important bit of advice about buying on Ebay:
On Ebay (assuming at least 100 transactions as history), if a seller has less than 98.5% Positive feedback, I stay away. Less than 98% is a bad sign. It may sounds paranoid, but you have to realize that most Buyers are afraid to leave Negatives for fear of retaliation by the Seller, who often withholds leaving feedback until the Buyer has done so - ESPECIALLY if they know the item they sold is not so great.
As can be seen by the track record of the sellers I listed above - outside of the occasional random mistake that we all make, there is little excuse for accumulating Negatives. In my mind, a seller that has 98% is probably running more like only 70% of customers truly happy with their purchases. A seller with less than 97% is generally a complete disaster.

Hope this helps.
2d Record Ron
Ron also sells under Recordron1 for classical.
I have been very happy with Irvington Music over the years.

I have a question specifically about collecting versus listening. I am not interested in collecting really at all. However, I find it difficult to choose between various pressings. For example, I found on Ebay "Beethoven-W.Schneiderhan DGG Tulips stereo" which is also sold at AcousticSounds and listed as a record put out by Speakers Corner (Deutsche Grammophon) and is 180g vinyl. Assuming cost isn't a factor, which of these two versions would work better for a musician interested in sonics and in Schneiderhan's interpretation of the beautiful Beethoven violin concerto? This is a more obvious example, as it's new versus old, as you can imagine, the issue becomes more difficult when talking about imports, etc.
What's wrong with regular size records? Oh, you mean large collections. Try these folks. I've had very good luck with the quality.
Hi Mre2007, the question you're struggling to answer is complex and not answered in any simple way or in any way that gives one a consistent formula for case-by-case decisions.

With respect to DGG issues... First, DGG does not have a good track record for making great sounding orchestral recordings, but their earlier recordings are far better than their 1970s and later multi-miked messes. Thus, many DGG records that do have a "tulip" release often have a greater liklihood for being well engineered. But this doesn't mean that the "tulip" pressing is itself the best sounding release.

Sonically, I find the original "tulips" to be lovely in a sweet, highly euphonic way. At the same time, I've found some of the later non-tulip pressings of a tulip-era recording to be sonically preferable to the "tulip" original in terms of detail, transparency and immediacy, even though they often lack the bloom and richness of the tulip. A "tulip" pressing is more "collectible," and for some people it may be sonically preferable if their listening priorities strongly favor that sweeter, richer and more euphonic sound. (My listening priorities place a higher value on a more neutral sonic picture. But don't mistake my biases, I'm also a tubeaholic with all-tube electronics in my home system.)

Similar differences will play out for many different labels. Reissues will NOT always sound better, but neither are original pressing always superior. The mantra that "the earliest pressings have the best sound" very much depends on one's listening priorities. More often, I've found I prefer several other pressings to the very early (pre- mid-60s or so) originals. There will be others who would vehemently disagree with me on this. One simply has to figure out one's listening priorities with respect to all the various trade-offs.

The Speakers Corner reissues will be more neutral than any tulip pressing, with greater detail and improved transient response, and probably much closer to what's on the master tape. I haven't heard this particular Speakers Corner reissue, but I've generally had very good success with their reissues.

FWIW, if I were chosing between purchasing the tulip or the Speakers Corner reissue, I'd take my chances with the Speakers Corner as a safer bet for better sonics. Of course this is all based on my listening priorities and my experience with many SC reissues.
I second E-Bay, albeit it, in the UK. I have never had any major problems, beyond slight disappointment in the surface quality compared with the description. I agree, find an E-Bay online trader you can trust, or a few and stick with them. Another good source is those disposing of a large collection, often through death unfortunately. A pretty obvious rule, the larger the collection the less they will have been played and the better they seem to have been cared for. The point about E-bay is the supply is vast, wait long enough and that rare item you are looking for, will turn up. I agree sometimes an item gets to a crazy price, don't bid on it. For example a relatively rare copy of Mussorsky's opera Khovanschina on Melodya went for £25 2 months ago, it came up again and I got it for £6. I buy from online dealers too, but find them more expensive usually.
Agree with Rushton - the DGG lp's are all over the place in quality. The farther back you go, the more consistent they are, but some of the later issues are the best. They often remastered subsequent pressings of the same recording very differently. I have 3 versions of the Carlos Klieber Beethoven's 5th which are all excellent, but have different attributes - the latest pressing is the one I find to be the superior master.

Being that the DGG's on Ebay though, without being able to preview or easily return it, I think I'd go with the Speaker's Corner version.

A couple of other related vinyl suggestions:

Another Schneiderhan on DGG I can heartily recommend is the Tulips issue of Mozart Concertos #4 and #5, (especially the "Red Stereo" pressing if you can find it). #5 is awesome.

Also if you don't already have it - don't neglect the Francescatti/Walter version of the Beeth on Columbia lp. It's a very nice recording, and all the 2 eye pressings I've heard sound good.
Thank you everyone for your responses. Any recommendations on Brendel playing Mozart? I've seen a couple of Philips' pressings on Ebay, but I noticed in the upper left corner of the LP, often the word "digital" can be found... so I've steered clear of these. Any recommendations?
Gerald Canter lists two non-digital Philips recordings tonight on his web site. Look up Music Categories on LP/Keyboard, then scroll down to Brendel:

Philips 6500 140 Brendel Mozart- Piano Con 12, 17

Philips 6500 283 Brendel Mozart- Piano Con 19, 23

And then there is a third Philips LP of the Concerto No. 15 that is designated as digital (dig). I think all of the Philips 6500 series is analog. Not sure when the catalog switches to digital, but most dealers like Canter will specify.
So, I'm right in assuming the digital recordings are inferior?
I would not say that across the board. I have a few digital LPs in my collection that I think sound very good indeed. There are simply too many variables to make an absolute statement. Overall, though, when given a choice I tend to stay all-analog.
Try Yahoo auctions, I have had luck LP hunting there usually winning at the starting bid. I also like house sales. I recently picked thru a large(2-3000), pristine collection of classical which I noe wish I had made an offer to by in total. Also check out Happy listening!

Which Classical LPs to buy? - Found myself in the same situation and was given a very helpful steer by the delightful Sophia Singer, the proprietor of Spiral Classics ( Sophia pointed me in the direction of the 1970s Penguin Stereo Record Guides which turn up on eBay from time to time or take a look at

The guides are very UK biased, as one might expect, but have proved to be a very handy first reference point for what to look out for.

Hope that helps! And if anyone can suggest a similar volume for US releases I would love to hear about it.