Sounds like a hot stamper! Jackpot Records, Willie Nelson, "....and then I wrote"

I just picked up Wilie Nelson's "...and then I wrote", reissued on Jackpot records (1962/2017 reissue). 

I cleaned the new vinyl per my protocol.  I threw it on the table and focused my attention elsewhere--just for a moment because when the very first song came on I had big grin on my face and said, out loud to myself, "Yes!" 

The quality of this record is A+.  Stunning.  Everything is so smooth, big, clear and defined.  No hint of dryness.  

This is not an expensive pressing by audiophile standards.  If you like these songs and spin vinyl, you should buy it.  Somehow I overpaid for it via seller on Discogs when AcousticSounds has it for $20. Highly recommended!


Always good to hear of a decent reissue, it reminds me they can be pretty good after all. If you want to hear a really good copy though, it will cost a lot more than $20!


millercarbon, why do you assume that his copy isn't that good?



Where did I say his copy isn't that good?



pretty good versus really good, start reading your own posts Albert...

@billwojo yes, you have his number....

MC Where did I say his copy isn't that good?


Uhh, right here?

MC If you want to hear a really good copy though, it will cost a lot more than $20!

jbhiller said "The quality of this record is A+.  Stunning."

Sounds to me like it's really good.





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Does anyone know how Hot Stampers acquire and screen their hot stampings?? For example, do they look for low numbers on the inner groove of the LP, showing that the LP in question was one of the first several that came off the master? I’ve always wondered why my LPs that have a label on the jacket saying that they were "for demonstration purposes only" (or words to that effect) are among the best sounding of the LPs I own. Is it the case that demonstration albums were distributed to record stores early on after the release date in order to promote that particular LP?  That would make examples with the "for demonstration only" label highly desirable.

Those are a few of the things they look at. Demo, cut-outs, tend to sound better because they tend to be early pressings when the stampers are in better shape. Inner groove numbers, you probably mean the handwriting on the hot wax. That is another one. But I have a couple records you can look at them all you want, there is absolutely no difference between them other than how they sound. Ultimately they have to play and only a very few sound good enough to make the cut.


What I know from a lot of back and forth emails, he has quite the systematic process for cleaning, playing, and grading. Subjective of course but he is awfully good at it. We all wish we knew his secret but I don't think it is really that much of a secret. Get 20, 30, 40 copies, clean em real good, and listen to em. 


@lewm It's top secret! They don't want just anyone to be able to dig beat up records out of the bargain bins and sell them for $300. Better Records are the only way to possibly enjoy vinyl, or any kind of recorded music for that matter. You don't even have to ask and someone will tell you so.

Yes, it's top secret and I totally get why.  I mean, my spouse doesn't want to know how much time and resources I've put into finding the best (to me) pressing of Lou Rawls & Les McCann, Ltd, They Call It Stormy Monday."  It's silly really.  I've spent over $200 and a gazillion hours trying to identify my personal hot stamper.  So I get why better records charges what they do. 

That said.....Folks, Hot Stampers are everywhere!  We just have to find them.  I prefer the journey, but I'd be open to forking over $500 for the best copy of a handful of albums.  

We already have some hot stampers in our collections!

Yes, there are a few titles that I buy over and over again, just searching for the best possible sample of that particular recording. But I've never bought more than, say, half a dozen different copies of any.

- A "cut-out" is not an early pressing of an LP title, and is in fact amongst the last copies of a title made. When the sales figures for a given title drop below a certain number in a calendar year, the record company may decide to delete the title from it’s catalog. When it does, they cut off a corner of the cover (or drill a hole in it, or cut a notch) of the remaining LP’s, sending the cut-out copies to retail outlets. This can be from only a couple of years after the title was released, to many years later. Whether any given copy was made from a fresh stamper is impossible to determine. Or how fresh the production master (the tape used in LP production, which is usually a couple of generations removed from the final 2-track mixdown "master" tape) the stamper was made from is.

- There is some confusion about the signifcance of a cut/drilled/notched LP cover. Not only do cut-outs (as explained above, discontinued titles) exhibit that feature, so do some "promotional" copies sent to radio and retail outlets---the latter for in-store play---in advance of the release date of a title. Instead of a cut in the cover, the cover may just exhibit a "PROMO" stamp. It is THOSE copies that are early pressings of a title. But that STILL doesn’t necessarily mean a promo LP will have been pressed using a fresh stamper. Do you know how many promo copies of a title were pressed? Thousands.

- It is the "white label" promos that are becoming more valued amongst collectors. A white label promo is exactly as it sounds: in place of the record company’s stock label, there is instead a white label, with plain text lettering containing the album title, songs, and artist. It is white label promos that have a greater chance of being hot stampers than any other general group of copies. But it is the earliest copies made off a fresh stamper that are the best sounding. Each LP pressed creates a minute amount of wear in the stamper, each stamper being replaced when the wear reaches a certain level, that level determined by the standards of each given pressing plant.

- One commonly over-looked factor is at which pressing facility any given LP was pressed. The major lables had plants at several locations around the U.S.A., and the numbers in the "dead wax" (the area between the last track and the record label) may indicate at which plant the LP was pressed. Each pressing plant is known for it’s sound character/quality, and different collectors favour different pressing plants.

All the above (and more---different copies of LP’s are of course made at different times of the day, some production managers acknowledging that copies made later in the day sound different from those made in the morning) should tell you that getting a "best" pressing of a given LP title is purely random. The best plants in the world (RTI, Pallas, QRP, Optimal) go to great lengths to minimize quality variation, and are making the highest quality LP’s the world has ever seen.

@bdp24 Thanks for taking the time to make that informational post. You make a lot of positive contributions to the site and I appreciate it.

I buy a lot of white label promos and they are often very good. I'm aware of the different pressing plants, but have never done comparisons to be able to say that they each have their own sonic characteristics.

I have on occasion bought multiple copies of the same title trying to get a "good one".

I understand why better records charges what they do and have no issue with that. Supply and demand, cost of business and all that. 

That said.....Folks, Hot Stampers are everywhere!  We just have to find them.  I prefer the journey, but I'd be open to forking over $500 for the best copy of a handful of albums.  

We already have some hot stampers in our collections!

Yes technically, based on mathematical probability, if you have a hundred records there may be one in there somewhere. That is about what it would have to be. 

I like to test things out and so one of the first things I did after hearing about this was to take the LPs I had two or more of the same and do my own shoot-outs. Sure enough, no two were ever quite the same. I remember getting excited when one copy was a lot more open and detailed than another. Eureka! Until a minute later that copy had really messy sibilance. Oh.

Now about a dozen or so Hot Stampers later it is clear none of my couple hundred records is Hot Stamper level. Not a one. This is not to say they all sound bad. People love to twist that one around. This is not a zero sum game folks! They just don't have that Master Tape level of detail that characterizes a Hot Stamper.

Frankly, I love the luxuriously liquid sound on my 45 Jennifer Warnes The Well just as much as any Hot Stamper. At the same time, if this makes any sense, I wish I had a Hot Stamper of that same LP. Somewhere among the 5k or so pressings is probably one that is simply extraordinarily good. Probably. Maybe. If we had them all to compare....

I neglected to cover one other factor in the LP sound equation, that of the mastering engineer. The vast majority of LP titles were mastered only once, and all LP’s of that title were made from that one original lacquer (what a mastering engineer "cuts". After that the lacquer is used as the source for for the following steps in LP production).

However, some titles were mastered more than once, with the resulting lacquers then producing completely different versions of the title. The most famous example of this is Led Zeppelin II. The original lacquer was cut by Robert Ludwig, and can be idenntified by his "RL" initials cut into the dead wax of LP’s made from that laqcquer. Ludwig cut the lacquer so "hot" that the record players of many 1969 listeners would skip. Receiving a lot of returned "defective" LP’s, Atlantic Records had another engineer cut a new lacquer, one less hot. The RL pressings are now quite collectable, worth far more than non-RL pressings.

One album I love is Truth Decay by T Bone Burnett. The album was released in 1980 on Takoma Records, which was at that time being distributed by Chrysalis Records. The LP contains not only great music, but in great sound. While browsing in the bins at Moby Disc in Sherman Oaks in the early-90’s, I saw a copy of the LP for cheap, so bought it in order to have a back-up copy. I didn’t notice that though still on Takoma, THIS copy was being distributed by Allegiance Records. I played the LP, and as the last song on side 1 ("Driving Wheel") came to it’s "false" ending, I waited for the musicians to come back in one by one, leading the song to it’s eventual fade-out. What I instead heard was.....nothing!

Allegiance had had the LP remastered, and whomever the mastering engineer was didn’t realize the false ending was just that---false. When cutting the new lacquer he heard the music stop, so he cut off the side at that point. When looking for a copy of Truth Decay, make sure the cover reads distributed by Chrysalis Records. ;-)

Wow, T Bone Burnett released something on John Fahey's label? That is cool. 

Well @jbhiller, it was actually Fahey who released it ;-) . T Bone was signed to the label by well known producer Denny Bruce (Fahey himself, Leo Kottke, The Fab T-Birds, The Blasters). Oddly, he is listed as the album’s "director".

It’s a real good album, with a lot of great players providing T Bone with musical accompaniment: Billy Swan (in the pic on the back cover), David Miner (heard on the albums of T Bone’s early group The Alpha band), the fantastic Tulsa drummer David Kemper (who did some playing with Dylan), Jerry McGee, Stephen Bruton, a bunch of others.