eBay has always been like that!
try Records By Mail.
try Records By Mail.
I have experienced the same issues with discogs and others, so hit and mostly miss. I thought, I would be safe with a sealed record, but when I took it out it was so warped that it looked like a saucer. Then you have to ship them back.
I gave up with that, because of a vinyl store that opened in town. There's a renaissance going on here as I now have four vinyl stores within a twenty minute drive. My favorite, sells used, reissued, and new vinyl, plus used and new audio gear. The new stuff is entry level audiophile, and you can play your used albums before purchasing them. The guys grading is spot on, and he listens to the vinyl for grading. And, he's reasonably priced, so for example a clean record graded E- is priced at $9. No shipping, and if you don't like it, bring it back for exchange or store credit. I've brought one out of about twenty albums back.
My daughter is saving up for a table, and she's buying it at the vinyl store. She likes the Rega P3. The reason for getting it there, is the guy will give you full purchase price credit back when you trade it in for something else! I needed a reality check about this place, and I'm thinking that l have slipped into some alternate reality.
Is this going on elsewhere?
I don’t know if grading inflation has gotten worse- maybe it has- but it’s always been a problem for used records. Play grading is the only arguably safe way--brick & mortar transactions that give you the opportunity to inspect may be better than online transactions, but a lot of damaged records can look fine and play horribly. (The calibre of TT/cartridge set up in some brick & mortar stores also makes me reluctant to play test the record on such machines. Same at shows).
Craig Moerer (Records by Mail) is an established seller with a large inventory and is consistent; he typically grades everything VG+ on media to be conservative. But he doesn’t have everything. (I did buy a Vertigo Clear Blue Sky from him that is quite rare for $50 dollars- he cataloged it as a reissue, when it was an ex-UK pressing, not a reissue).
I rarely find what I am hunting in stores, though I’ll buy stuff that I’m not "looking for"- same with shows, which may have some of the stuff I’m chasing, but often at nutty prices. (You can negotiate, but if the starting price is 2x market, why bother?)
I buy mostly online- I have a dialog with the seller if it is a high value record- it will tell you much about their knowledge and approach. If it's is an expensive record, they will often play grade at my request; sometimes, they downgrade their rating and offer a price break (I don’t usually go for that bc i’m not looking for a cheaper flawed copy); sometimes, they are candid and say "this isn’t the record for you." I don’t think most legit sellers want to go thru the return process any more than I do.
It isn’t foolproof- LPs are by their nature almost inherently subject to flaws, but a discussion with the seller- confirming deadwax, condition, warps, etc. is a pretty good way to reduce if not eliminate some of the more common problems. (A lot of times, the information about the pressings is wrong in the listings- get the deadwax and label if it isn’t listed /shown to confirm). That said, I still get the occasional clunker. If it is a cheap record, I don’t waste more effort on trying to return, negative feedback (though I will write to the seller privately); if an expensive not cheap record I will return, but it is a pain.
I do talk to sellers sometimes. In most cases they want to get rid of me and my questions, at other times I get -you don't like it send it back- response. And I can't say I am fanatically strict, if stated NM record has couple of ticks that's alright, I still consider it NM, and VG+ is too broad in fact for all people to agree on.
I never buy sealed records - you never know what's in there and usually you can't return them.
Biggest problem for me is expensive shipping from and to Japan, often it makes little sense to return the record if shipping is not refunded as well.
Thanks for the Records By Mail recommendation...never heard of this.
My Discogs experience has been mostly negative although it is a good resource for pricing, IMO.
I’ve had success with carolinasoul who has an ebay/Discogs presence. I’ve never had an issue with lps rated VG+ or higher. I’ve been to their physical store several times and they have good stuff. Worth registering for their weekly auctions.
Had a couple of really bad experiences with Discogs recently, including sellers who become very hostile (to the point of harassment) when given a negative review. Basically, you need to check the 'neutral' ratings on Discogs to get close to the truth on some sellers. The moderators there are not very helpful, the listings are highly variable.
Oddly, on Ebay, I've had much better luck recently.
Badmouthing ebay is commonplace, but if you are careful, know what to ask, look very carefully at the pics, and have some patience (willing to wait for a Mint/Mint- copy to come along), there are a lot of records available on the site at very moderate prices. I got Mint copies of "RL" mastered-pressings of the first two Band albums a couple of months ago for $12 each.
As a small time seller these comments are quite sobering. I have had recent success seling some sealed vinyl on Amazon. If I ever get my schedule together I hope to sell some vinyl on Discogs that I will clean with my KL Audio ultrasonic cleaner and then carefully audition. I do have mostly classical inventory but there are a few thousand non classical discs. What I have been wondering is how important the visual condition of the record is to buyers. If it plays beautifully but still has the discolorations and ultra fine marks from the inner sleeve does this matter or is playback the primary critenrion?
For me, it is playing quality; I'd take a clean player with micro abrasions or surface discolorations (as long as it isn't mold/fungus stain) over a mint looking record that sounds noisy, has clicks, groove wear, etc.
I'm also not as fanatical to seek mint covers and for Japanese records with Obi, I don't care- it's nice if it still has the sash, but I'm not going to spend much more to get a copy with an Obi- I'm more interested in the records themselves. In some cases, I have several copies of the same cover for the same pressing, I can swap a better one in when I find a good player, put in the correct inner sleeve and done.
Play grading by the vendor isn't foolproof though, particularly if they haven't cleaned the record properly.
Top dollar records (pick your price) should be play-graded on request if necessary, particularly when buying from overseas with longer wait times and expensive return shipping. Most sellers over the years have been pretty courteous to me.
I have certainly had clunkers over the years, but my ratio of good players to bad is very positive- I buy not only from Discogs and eBay but from stores that have their own websites for specialty records, e.g., prog, old psych, etc. I will also go through certain phases where a particular dealer is really a good source for a while and then taps out, or the quality isn't as good, the inventory no longer of interest given a shift in my focus, etc.
Trytone- my experience has been that classical records are often in better shape than rock, pop, soul and R&B, particularly if they are already in the "audiophile" realm, e.g. EMI ASD, Decca, Lyrita, etc. When I was buying shaded dogs back in the '80s, though they were part of the audiophile 'list' thanks to people like Sid Marks, many were not in great condition, let alone for the price. I did buy quite a few monos for almost nothing then- nobody was interested in them.
There are also market shifts in what is collectible or desirable. If you go to Popsike, you can see trends in pricing where a record will peak out at a top price, and today, is cheaper. (At a certain point, Popsike will want a fee if you use it a lot, but it isn't much.).
Conservative grading is key in my estimation, but even the best sources sometimes flunk on a copy or two. Usually they make it up to me somehow if it is somebody that wants to maintain my business.
For Jazz enthusiasts, Atomic Records in Burbank California is an excellent source for LP’s. The owners (two brothers) are very knowledgeable in the genre, and, though perhaps not audiophiles, have high standards regarding sound quality, and have a vacuum record cleaner (I have forgotten if it is a VPI or Nitty Gritty). They also price their LP’s more moderately than many "collector" stores. And, they are swell guys, a pleasant bonus!
I was talking about mold in the sense of fungus, not so-called mold release compound, which I think is overhyped as an issue. Sometimes, records are just wretched. There are a few I’ve gotten from that french plant that had really bad surfaces, and in one case, under magnification, it looked like spores growing out of it, but it didn’t have some of the other characteristics of active mold/fungus growth. In other cases, involving used records, which I’m sure many of you have encountered, the record can look fine, but it is trashed- groove noise, as if it had been played on a plastic suitcase player with crystal ’needle’ and and penny on the headshell.
BTW, when i typed the word B---- in another post (possibly on another thread), it was removed by the moderators because it contained a swear word. Gosh! They were nice enough to restore it and ’redact’ most of the word.
But, records in general are a PITA much as I love them.