Record Grading...

There are reasons why to void Goldmine grading:

1. It doesn't assume testing a record by only identifying the visual usage intensity and intensity of scratches. Even noisy records that look great can be graded NM at your dissapointment when you start playing them.
2. Grading Mint sealed records may not be correct because the record could be so warped that it wouldn't play at all or will rumble too much so underneath the sealed jacket there could be the record that cannot even be G rated.
3. Record that clips-pops on one track with short duration should be by goldmine graded G even if the rest of songs are absolutely noiseless while noisy ones throughout all tracks can be graded VG+ if they look pretty. I disagree because the record that only has glitch on one track should be valued way higher vs. one noisy on all tracks.
4. Had received records VG+ where music is distorted due to the usage and large density of scratches(looks pretty though), but in reality it's not even G.
5. Nothing says in Goldmine standards about fingerprints and grease on the playing surface. Stains and fingerprints penatrate playing surface with accumulated dust over them and bring as much unpleasant noise as scratches or damaged grooves with poor and old styli tip.
Agree with all your points, but have to say that used is used and no one can detect a warped record in a sealed package, new or old. Case in point - just bought Chick Corea's The Vigil. New, 2013 release, 2013 pressing, supposedly audiophile grade vinyl. Warped right out of the package. I got lucky because it sounds great, but getting the VTA right was a challenge. Similar issue with David Byrne's and Saint Vincent's duet, also new. Warped records are a big reason why vinyl is mostly a geek preserve today. That said, just picked up a 180 gram re-issue of Stanley Clarke's School Days and it's perfect.

On used stuff, got a couple of old Sheffields here a year or so ago, and one had a totally trashed first track 1 without any visual clue at all. The remainder was just fine. Pulled out a couple of really old pressings from when I was a child for comparison, and they were still playable, if not great. I could hear the damage done by my sister's old GE portable record changer (tube driven, btw), but it was better than track 1 on the damaged Sheffield.

IMO, a uniform grading system is better than nothing, but caveat emptor remains the law of the land.
Too many times, a NM or VG record looks great, has a nice surface, but the grooves have been worn away. Especially records from 1950s, 60s. After cleaning the record, it's still bad from years of use by an ancient or poor stylus.
Yes, I know "Buyer Beware," and whenever I've contacted the seller, he admits he never played said record.

So, the grading system is no guarantee and you're correct regarding inconsistencies. Once you find a good dealer, stick with him.
For the above various reasons...I only purchase at shops that will actually play an Lp for you...or have a dedicated listening table...tip: I tend to buy clean (NM) lps that have a sharpness on the outer rim...this indicates a) an Lp fresh off the stamper b) an Lp that has not been handled (played) often c) all of the above.
I try to buy play-graded records (unless they are cheapies), and generally avoid sealed older ones (i'm not keep them sealed as collector's items, but playing them, and some sellers could force you to bear the risk on a sealed item). There are exceptions, but ultimately, it is caveat emptor, even if the seller is well-intended. Grading is subjective, despite 'standards.' And as you pointed out, you can have records that look fine and have been chewed up sonically, and others with faint hairlines that sound quiet and are fine, sonically.
I bought somewhere on the order of 1,000 records in 2013- virtually all used and many quite desirable 60's psych and rock and only got a few duds, which were, for the most part, the 'bargain' priced copies of what should have been more expensive records.
For expensive vintage records, I don't usually even bother looking for bargains- I'll pay the tariff rather than screw around trying to find a good playing copy cheap. There are certain well known vendors that charge a premium, but it is sometimes worth it;
But, I've also had the experience of buying some very collectible records at bargain prices, and those 'even out' the score.
First, almost no one tells the truth about what grade a record is anyway.. At least from the main places like eBay.
Amybe a few 'old school' places for buying records, most sellers claim to be based on the standards..

The only real way to be 'safe' is to be able to buy and return records which fail to be good.
So little to do with 'grading' and EVERYTHING to do with returnability.
The local places I like to go to have 100% no problem returns, no question why.
So IMO the questioning Goldmine grading does not matter at all.
All that DOES matter is returns.
I'll present this from a Seller's view . I Sell records on ebay [ mostly Classical with some Rock and Jazz on Audiophile Labels ] .

As stated in my Ads , I at least play grade the records by putting the stylus down a number of times on each record side [ some have been played in it's entirety] . This is little more time consuming , but I have very few returns or complaints .

I have a lot return customers because of the above . Also , I think that because I am an avid Audiophile I have more sensitivity to Grading .

Therefore , it is possible to find a Seller you can trust . I have found a number of them for when I buy Records to add to my collection .

I agree. Find a few sellers that are honest and stay with them.

I have bought quite a few audiophile LPs from Tubeo on E-Bay and they have been PERFECT! Also, some of the best packaging I've ever seen. Sellers like him, make record buying a pleasure.
Very interesting post and responses. I have over a 1,000 albums and have recently started to buy the audiophile recordings. One just came through slightly less than flat but still a good sound.

I haven't bought through eBay or other sites but would be curious to know those sellers of used albums that you use and believe to be reputable.
Yes, it is possible to find good sellers. There are 2 that I use for classical and they give a description of where the LP came from, such as from an audiophile or, a one-pass record that was transferred to R to R. IOW, they know their clientele. The grading is accurate, but they sell for a premium price.
And like Elizabeth, on Ebay or Agon, I'll only buy from a seller with a return policy.

I miss the local shops that would play the record for you, but I have noticed a few small record shops opening within the last couple of years.
Just curious about this, but I've never seen a LP seller on Agon or Ebay that allows returns. Or, quite frankly, any seller of anything online at all. Everything is always "as-is." Even the one good bricks-and-mortar store anywhere near me (only 250 miles away; The Record Theater in Buffalo NY) doesn't allow returns on vinyl, new or used. Buy it and you own it.

Is there some secret online handshake I'm missing here or is it just a case of "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" when you get less-than-perfect vinyl?
I'm giving away one of my favorite stores on Ebay, also is a B&M store in NYC...
Is it your store(s)?
Why are you giving those away?
I meant that I'm revealing a hidden treasure. They have everything we've been talking about; selection, accurate grading, and return policy.
I've been stung buying from Goldmine 20 years ago,stopped buying because of way over graded rubbish.On ebay I look for detailed info about defects and ask if any scratches and return policy.There is nothing like a play graded record,visual second to determine condition,noise and sound quality.I have visual mint LP's that are just worn out,no noise,just flat no soundfield.
Thanks for the tip about Academy Records' Ebay store, Lowrider. It's nice to know that some people still stand behind the stuff they sell. Very rare anymore no matter how much you invest. Their expertise appears to be in genres that are outside of my primary focus, but I'll keep them in mind because you never know what might turn up. Thanks again!
Record grading is primarily for collectors who value pressings, etc and often view LPS as investments...hardcore collectors rarely play their collections...they view this as degrading and potentially devaluing their records...Audiophiles/audio enthusiasts are more interested in how a record sounds, performs, or (mis)behaves. This is condition dependent as well, and causes some confusion as some of the early pressings (collectables) can be the most sonic pleasing of any given individual LP.
Phasecorrect, I don't think you're entirely correct.
I'm neither audiophile or crazy collector.
I only value artist and not really record issues at all.
Not directed at you my friend...or any one individual...all is well...its only music...but what else is there?
Record grading is primarily for collectors who value pressings, etc and often view LPS as investments...hardcore collectors rarely play their collections

This is generally true; but there are 2 types of collectors. I've known audiophiles who are collectors and will only take a record out of its protective jacket and play it on a special occasion, such as a guest who shares the same interest. He will know the market value of every record and keep them in a proper room climate to keep the collection in pristine condition.

Then there is the collector who lives for music and may keep his LPs in bins or milk crates and likes that he has rare or unavailable titles, or every issue of a certain recording. The quality of his stereo system is secondary to acquiring and listening to the music.
I only buy old used records. Clean them up and don't mind a few pops and clicks. What I don't understand is buying digital recordings that have been pressed onto vinyl?
Oh wow how important is this thread!!
I don't understand ones that buy beat-up and scratched originals and void clean reissues. I only know that if the record is scratched, it has no value, but nevertheless, had been quite successfull selling them in poor condition(aka G or G+ Goldmine) on e-bay as described for low dollar amounts starting from quarter and on and on.
That is another reason why I don't embrace or understand Goldmine standards. G or G+ is more like poor or bad or screwd up and far far away from GOOD. VG is kinda Acceptible, but also far far away from VERY GOOD.