As long as description is accurate, what's the problem?
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I agree in some respects with both Commcat and Casey33.
The problem with record grading is lack of consistency. Some people use only visual grading, which is woefully inadequate for audiophiles. Other people grade based on how the LP sounds.
It's awfully tough to legislate subjective grading.
When buying used LPs, it comes down to caveat emptor. Hopefully, along the way we find record sellers who use grading scales that correspond to our individual criteria for condition.
LP grading has ALWAYS been a problem, always. When it was a face to face retail transaction, the usual system was if a record 'looked good' to both seller and buyer, if it turned out to be bad, the seller would (hopefully, at least for regular customers), take back the LP. When internet sales came along, the problem became more complicated, with newbies mistakenly misgrading LPs, and scam artists ripping people off intentionally. On eBay, My experience made me just quit using eBay as a way to buy LPs. (As for the goN', I find most LPs very overpriced, or overgraded.)
The grading problem is only solved by buying ONLY from those sellers who have a proven track record, and that means paying more.
I cannot see how an honest rating of "bad, but worth collecting" for a rare record is a fraud? I have sold an LP listed as $500. mint (mine was not so good, I sold it to a local dealer for $25., he had never found a copy of it before..) So was I bad?
The buying of 'pig in a poke' LPs is part of the process.
When I hear folks wanting to 'get into LPs' I ask them: Do you have a LOCAL SOURCE for LPs? If not, it is pretty tough to get back into buying LPs. (unless one is wealthy).
I (lucky me) have over a dozen LOCAL LP sources..
I already re-collected 14,000 a few years ago, then 'threw back' (to local second hand stores) more than half when I had to move. Now I have about 6,000 plus LPs. And I buy only locally, and only perfect looking LPs. A mark on the surface means no sale.
I no longer waste time searching second hand junk stores for that one in a thousand find.
I did, when I wanted to, but that source is drying up fast.
If you really want to find LPs. Go to the estate sales in your area.. the FIRST day. Sooner or later you will hit the jackpot.
I find myself buying albums from a handful of the same sellers because of their accuracy and rarity of their offerings.
The Agoners you see selling on a regular basis seem to be the best at grading and tend to have excellent communication in regards to any issues
Most of the choice albums are in the 10-30 range on average with rare stuff escalating from there
Stay away from 3.00 albums and you'll most likely do well
I agree with Elizabeth - find local supplies, or failing that, people who you do trust both here and on ebay (my ebay experiences have been quite good for the most part - there are several great sellers on there). There is no way a grading system for LP's could ever become standardized, too many variables. And I also agree that there are far too many people simply trying to charge too much for them, especially on this site.
Make no mistake, finding good playable vinyl today is a daunting task to say the least. Some of you know me as a reseller of vinyl here on Audiogon. Been doing so for many years now. I am one of the few if not the only one that test plays each album that comes in and base my grading of it quite simply. If I would keep it for my own library or not, based upon its playback condition. If it passes my standard then it is offered for auction or classified resale. All my auctions are $1.00 no reserve. To my mind this is the fairest was of marketing to the Audiogon membership. And yes on a occassion some LPs have sold just for a $1.00. But, hey its an auction, so no complaints on my end.
I deal first and foremost with jazz Lps from the 50,s to current day. But mostly 50,s , 60,s , and 70,s. Most of those in that period of time were small independent labels, such as Riverside, Prestige, Emarcy, Blue Note, Jazzland, etc. None of the companies had the resources to press huge quantities. A pressing of say 50,000 would have bankrupt many of them. Fast foward to today some 40 to 50 years down the road original issues of these in playable condition dwindle each year. Great vintage vinyl is finite and only so much of it remains. The day of good used cheap vinyl is long gone.
I do not visual grade any vinyl LP. For instance I have a Dave Brubeck LP Red,Hot and Cool. Mono pressing from 1955 I think. Visually the LP looks just terrible and something that should be thrown on the scrap heap. However to my surprise, it plays without flaw, surface noise is damn near zero. But I dare not resale the LP, because the end users would crucify me for what I sent him.
Grading systems are subjective at best, based upon the sellers integrity. I buy as well and it becomes more difficult each day to find great vintage vinyl. However on my end I try as much as possible to take the guess work out of the equation.
Ratings are mostly subjective.
My "7" is your "9".
Your "Near Mint and no surface noise" is my "Unplayable and belongs in the frisbee pile".
These are exaggerations of course but if you're diligent and careful, you'll find sellers in whom you can place complete confidence.
Recordron and Ferrari are 2 good examples.
I have just started selling records and have written and plagiarized at rating scale, I will be using with my ads.
Should I not be able in your opinion to sell a album with the following description:
For background enjoyment, to bring back fond memories, or for the collection, NOT for a serious audiophile listening session. It has noticeable wear and sounds like it's been played often. It will have marks and scuffs. However, not in such poor condition as to worry about your cartridge. The cover may be slightly worn and abused. However, this will most likely be collectible; otherwise I would not bother to list and sell.
That description is at the bottom of my scale.
I have numerous albums in the above condition in which I drop my $15,000 Koetsu Coralstone on with out fear.
I said one of the few if not the only one that test plays each and every Lp I get in. I read a lot of ads here on Audiogon and can't remember the last vinyl reseller that test plays the LPs. I don't sell a bunch, because of the time involved in test playing and most reseller here are into it for the Benjamins for the most part. For me it is hobby first then business.
By the other side of the token, you should see what I get in here that was visually graded. Lately over 34 percent of the used I buy is sheer scrap.
Hell yes I will toot my own horn, worked my butt off to provide excellent LPs always at a $1.00 no reserve on auction plus provide the service to go along with each sale.