grading system


Our LPs are sold with two grades, one for the record and one for the cover. In the event there is only one grade shown, it is because both the Vinyl and the Cover have received the same grade. The records are graded visually (If they have been test played, there will be an indication saying so in the product description). Some defects are easy to see, such as scratches and warps. Others are subtle, such as groove wear from using a cheap or poorly aligned tone arm. It has been our experience that older LPs (1950s to about 1971) tend to play better than they look, and newer LPs (at least until 1989) tend to play worse than they look. We do not grade sleeves or posters, but will include a picture to indicate the condition, in many cases there are slight tears or splits in the seams due to age and wear.

 A good description of a VG++ record is it looks like it has minimal to no wear, no scratches but may show some very slight signs of use.

Cover: A VG++ cover is typically free of creases and ring wear and will not have seam splits of any kind. Check photos for signs of wear.

NOTE: These are high standards, and they are not on a sliding scale. A record or sleeve from the 1950s must meet the same standards as one from the 1990s or 2000s!

A VG+ record may show some slight signs of wear, including light scuffs or very light scratches or pops that do not affect the listening experience. Slight warps that do not affect the sound are OK. Minor signs of handling are OK, too, such as telltale marks around the center hole, but repeated playing has not mis-shaped the hole. There may be some very light ring wear or discoloration, but it should be barely noticeable.

Cover: VG+ covers have minor wear. A VG+ cover might have some very minor seam wear or a split (less than one inch long) at the bottom or top, the most vulnerable locations. Also, a VG+ cover may have some defacing, such as a cut-out marking or a name written on it.

Many of the imperfections found on a VG+ record are more obvious on a VG record. That said, VG records are among the biggest bargains in record collecting, because most of the “big money” goes for more perfect copies. For many listeners, a VG record or sleeve will be worth the money.

VG records have more obvious flaws than their counterparts in better shape. They lack most of the original gloss found on factory-fresh records. Groove wear is evident on sight, as are light scratches deep enough to feel with a fingernail. When played, a VG record has surface noise, and some scratches may be audible, especially in soft passages and during a song’s intro and ending. But the noise will not overpower the music otherwise.

Cover: VG covers will have many signs of human handling. Ring wear in the middle or along the edges of the cover where the edge of a record would reside. More creases visible and seam splitting will be more obvious; it may appear on all three sides. Someone might have written on it or stamped a price tag on it, too.

The record has significant surface noise and groove wear, label is worn, with significant ring wear, heavy writing, or obvious damage caused by someone trying to remove tape or stickers and failing miserably. A Fair cover has ring wear to the point of distraction, has seam splits obvious on sight and may have even heavier writing, such as, for example, huge radio station letters written across the front to deter theft or water damage.

Dead-wax markings are located on the inner ring of the album, oftentimes abbreviated or coded using numbers or symbols.
Below is a list of different dead-wax markings

List #1


Pressing Plant Numbers:
56 = Columbia, Pitman, NJ
73 = Columbia, Terre Haute, IN
25 = Columbia, Santa Maria, CA
70 = RCA, Indianapolis, IN
72 = PRC, Richmond, IN
26 = PRC, Compton, CA
16 = Sonic Recording Products/Goldisc
18 = Presswell
19 = Bestway Products, Moutainside, NJ
22 = Allied
24 = Monarch
30 = Plastic Products
49 = Specialty Records Corp., Olyphant, PA
53 = Keel Mfg. (prior to ’79); Hauppauge Record Manufacturing, Ltd. (’79 and later)
54 = Shelley Products
76 = Hub-Servall Record Mfg. Corp.
74 = Electrosound Group Midwest, Inc.


Record company codes (the letters after “ST”)

A = Atlantic Records
C = Atco
CAP = Capricorn
CTN = Cotillion Records LPs
CO = Cotillion Records 45s
FC = Famous Charisma
SS = Swan Song
AS = Asylum
MC = Manticore
RS = Rolling Stones Records
HT = Hilltak Records
IL = Island Records

Pressing Plant Codes for LPs:

PR = Presswell Records Mfg. Co., Ancora, NJ (they handled most of Atlantic’s LP’s during much of this period)
LY = Shelley Products, Huntington Station, NY
SP = Specialty Records Corp., Olyphant, PA
MO = Monarch Record Mfg. Co., Los Angeles, CA
PL = Plastic Products, Inc., Memphis, TN
RI = Philips Recording Co., Richmond, IN
AR = Allied Record Co., Inc., Los Angeles, CA
CT or CTH = Columbia Records Pressing Plant, Terre Haute
CP = Columbia (Pitman, NJ)
CS or CSM = Columbia (Santa Maria, CA; very infrequently)
BW = Bestway Plastics, Mountainside NJ
SO = Sonic Recording Products, Holbrook, N
MG or MGS = MGM Record Mfg. Division, Bloomfield, NJ

LP label example (Led Zeppelin I)

ST = stereo
A = Atlantic Records label
68 = last two digits of the year Atlantic first received source (tape) and started working on mastering
1461 = tape master number (for side one in this example)
MO = Monarch Records pressing plant

London Records label matrix suffix:
AL – Allentown Record Co.
P – Columbia, Pitman, NJ
TH – Columbia, Terre Haute, IN
SM – Columbia, Santa Maria, CA
SH – Shelley Products, Ltd., Huntington Station, NY
BW – Bestway Products, Inc., Mountainside, NJ
GL – Decca/MCA, Gloversville, NY
K – Decca/MCA, Pinckneyville, IL
PH – PRC (formerly Philips) Recording Corp., Richmond, IN
W – H.V. Waddell, Burbank, CA


AT = Mastered at Atlantic Studios
AT/GP (handwritten) = mastered by George Piros at Atlantic
AT/DK (handwritten) = mastered by Dennis King at Atlantic
ATLANTIC STUDIOS DK (stamped) = mastered by Dennis King at Atlantic
ABS = Alex Sadkin
ab or AB = Abbey Record Mfg. Co. (? we still don’t know the exact meaning)
⍺ʙ = Al Brown (5)
BDI or B.D.I. = Brian Ingoldsby
EDP [in oval] = Europadisk Pressing & Mastering
PR or PRC or (PR) = Philips Recording Co. (maker of metal parts from lacquers)
LW or LWP = Longwear Plating (maker of metal parts from lacquers) Enter as “Mastered At”
♡POGO = Keith Olsen’s Pogologo, Inc. (Productions)
Porky or Porky Prime Cut = George Peckham
Pecko Duck = George Peckham
sƒ = Sam Feldman
RL = Bob Ludwig
LH = Lee Hulko
“ɑ” looks like Q = Allied Record Company (usually followed by B-XXXXX)
MG = MGM Records Division in Bloomfield, NJ (Pressing)
AMP = ABC-Paramount
M = Mercury
RCA = RCA Victor
◈-P-◈ = MCA Pressing Plant, Pinckneyville
回-G-回 = MCA Pressing Plant, Gloversville
G or G1= Columbia Records Pressing Plant, Carrollton, GA
✲ or ☆ (prior to ’64 = Capitol Records Pressing Plant, Los Angeles
—◁ = Capitol Records Pressing Plant, Winchester
RG = Rob Grenell, mastering engineer for Atlantic in the late 60’s
GK = Gilbert Kong
“cg” + “☮” = Chris Gehringer
GF = Greg Fulginiti, of Artisan
R3 or R4 = Mastered at Rainbo Records (on Capitol Pressing)
︵︵〰 (birds) or メ or ❀、= Brian Gardner
DT = Dave Travis
RJ = Ray Janos
AZ CB = Chris Bellman at Allen Zentz Mastering
JG = John Golden
JJ = John Johnson (3)
SM = Stephen Marcussen
MF = Mike Fuller
BK = Bill Kipper
McM = Ron McMaster at EMI NY
SH = Steve Hall
H.W. = Howie Weinberg
TJ = Ted Jensen
RB = Ron Boustead (Precision)
SG = Steve Guy
Chet = Chet Bennett
RAYS = Ray Staff at Trident Studios, London
TLC = The Lacquer Channel
FW Ѽ or FWNY = Frankford/Wayne Mastering Labs
GOL = Goldisc Recording Products, Inc.
SON or Son = Sonic Recording Products, Inc.
CSB ♪♪ = Carlton Batts (usually with F/W)
PP = Plastic Products
TD = Terry Dunavan
ESR = Elektra Sound Recorders
GC or Baseball looking symbol next to Sterling = Greg Calbi
Ƨ = Columbia Records Pressing Plant, Santa Maria
ℰMW = Electrosound Group Midwest, Inc.
WM (W integrated atop M stamp) = Wakefield Manufacturing
⋐riteriɑ = Criteria Studios
ʙʟ⍂ɪʀ or ʙʟ△ɪʀ = Chris Blair (mastering)
dg = David Gold (3) (Gold Star Studios)
HERbiE :^) = Herb Powers Jr. (mastering)
⁄|⁄ǀ⁄|⁄ǀ⁄|⁄K = Randy Kling (mastering)
ℐ⍺ = Jack Adelman



List #2


G.S.V.) -> Greg Vaughn
(spiral sign) @ D+M -> Robert Henke ( Dubplates-mastering, Berlin )
*-J.T.S.-* -> JTS Studio, London
@cul -> Moritz von Oswald
@t GP -> George Piros
“Soundmaster” Lionel @ Translab, Paris -> Lionel Nicod
7AP -> Augustus Pablo
A 1ST FOR KEV – TOWNHOUSE -> Kevin Metcalfe ( Townhouse Studios, London )
A Porky ‘Oh yes’ Prime cut -> George Peckham
A Porky Prime Cut -> George Peckham
A PORKY PRIME CUT -> George Peckham
A Porky Prime Er-Er-Er Goldfish I Think -> George Peckham
A Porky Prime sniff sniff cut -> George Peckham
A PORKY PRIME TANGO -> George Peckham
Allen Zentz -> Allen Zentz
AM -> Andy Mellwig ( The “A” looks like triangle; Dubplates-mastering, Berlin )
an “A with M” sign -> Andy Mellwig ( Dubplates-mastering, Berlin )
andreas at schnittstelle -> Andreas Kauffelt
andreas@schnittstelle -> Andreas Kauffelt
ARUN -> Arun Chakraverty
AT-GP -> George Piros
Audiodisc YYMMDD -> Pressed at Audiodisc AB
Az -> Allen Zentz ( note the lower case Z )
AZ -> Allen Zentz Mastering Company
AZ (with birds/flower) -> Brian Gardner ( Allen Zentz Mastering Company )
AZ CB -> Chris Bellman ( Allen Zentz Mastering Company )
B.E C.R -> Björn Engelmann ( Cutting Room, Stockholm )
B.E-C.R -> Björn Engelmann ( Cutting Room, Stockholm )
B.G. -> Bernie Grundman
BA -> Björn Almstedt
BA•CR -> Björn Almstedt ( Cutting Room, Stockholm )
BA-CR -> Björn Almstedt ( Cutting Room, Stockholm )
BA-EF -> Björn Almstedt
BA-GP -> Björn Almstedt
BA-T∞ -> Björn Almstedt
Beau -> Beau Thomas
BEAU -> Beau Thomas
beau -> Beau Thomas
Bell Sound -> Bell Sound Studios
Bell Sound sf -> Sam Feldman ( Bell Sound Studios )
BH -> Bobby Hata
BilBo -> Denis Blackham ( which looks like BiBo )
Bilbo master room -> Denis Blackham
BK -> Bill Kipper
BKG -> Brian Gardner
C.R -> Cutting Room, Stockholm
C.T.S. Wembley -> C.T.S. Studios, Wembley.
CGB -> Christoph Grote-Beverborg
CGB / D+M -> Christoph Grote-Beverborg ( Dubplates-mastering, Berlin )
CGB @ D&M -> Christoph Grote-Beverborg ( Dubplates-mastering, Berlin )
CGB@D&M -> Christoph Grote-Beverborg ( Dubplates-mastering, Berlin )
CHRIS P @ UNITY -> Chris Parmenidis
COPYMASTERS – Miles -> Miles Showell
CR -> Cutting Room, Stockholm
CSB ♪♪ -> Carlton Batts ( followed by two musical notes )
CURVE PUSHER. -> Curve Pusher Mastering, London
D Jay @ Masterpiece -> Danny King ( Masterpiece Mastering, London )
D&m -> Dubplates-mastering, Berlin
D. SWABY -> Dudley Swaby
D.A.S. Disc Mastering -> Digital Audio Solutions
D+M -> Moritz Von Oswald ( (note; M has a hook on the end); Dubplates-mastering, Berlin )
DAMONT -> Pressed at Damont Audio Limited
DAS Disc Mastering -> Digital Audio Solutions
DB -> Denis Blackham
DCHARLES -> Dick Charles ( Handwritten signature )
DFI -> Pressed at DFI
Djay@ Masterpiece -> Danny King ( Masterpiece Mastering, London )
DK -> Dennis King
DMM -> Direct Metal Mastering
DMS C -> The Hit Factory, DMS, NYC
DMS cg -> Chris Gehringer ( The Hit Factory, DMS, NYC )
DMS cg [peace sign] -> Chris Gehringer
DMS Coin -> The Hit Factory, DMS, NYC
Doug -> Doug Sax
DUDLEY SWABY -> Dudley “Manzie” Swaby
EURODISC -> Eurodisk Manufacturing
EUROPADISK -> Pressed at Europadisk, NYC.
EXCHANGE 2000 – SIMON. -> Simon Davey
F.A. -> Frank Arkwright
F.A. Metropolis -> Frank Arkwright ( Metropolis Studios, London )
F/W -> Frankford Wayne Mastering Labs, NYC.
F/W J -> Frankford Wayne Mastering Labs, NYC.
Finnvox MJ -> Mika Jussila
FOON MASTERING -> Foon Mastering Center
Frankford/Wayne -> Frankford Wayne Mastering Labs, NYC.
Frankford/Wayne Mastering by Michael -> Michael Sarsfield ( Frankford Wayne Mastering Labs, NYC. )
FST @ D+M -> Frederic Stader ( Dubplates-mastering, Berlin )
FST D+M -> Frederic Stader ( Dubplates-mastering, Berlin )
FST>D+M -> Frederic Stader ( Dubplates-mastering, Berlin )
FTS -> Federal Recording Studios, Kingston / Total Sounds
G.K. -> Gilbert Kong
GC -> Greg Calbi ( Sterling )
Gene -> Gene Thompson
GEORGE – COPYMASTERS -> George Peckham
GK -> Gilbert Kong
Gordon at the Townhouse -> Gordon Vickary
GP -> Grammoplast, Sweden
Graeme -> Graeme Durham
GRAEME – SOUND CLINIC -> Graeme Durham
GRAZ – The Exchange -> Graeme Durham
Graz@The Exchange -> Graeme Durham
greyham the exchange -> Graeme Durham
GSV -> Greg Vaughn ( or “G5V“ )
HEM cg -> Chris Gehringer
Herb :^) -> Herb Powers Jr.
Herbie :^) -> Herb Powers Jr.
Herbie Jr :^) -> Herb Powers Jr.
Herve @ Translab -> Hervé Bordes
HFM ´[number] -> The Hit Factory, DMS, NYC
HFM cg -> Chris Gehringer ( The Hit Factory, DMS, NYC )
HP -> Herb Powers Jr.
HTM -> Harry Moss
HuB -> Frankford Wayne Mastering Labs, NYC. ( ? )
HW -> Howie Weinberg
J.Y. -> Joe Yannece
JA Tape One -> Jack Adams
Jacko – Tape One -> Jack Adams
JC Masterroom -> Jeremy Cooper
JD -> John Dent
JD-ASH -> John Dent and Ashley Burchett ( ? )
John D -> John Davis
JON2 -> John Dent
Jonz -> John Dent
Jonz @ Loud Mastering -> John Dent ( Loud Mastering )
K -> Andreas Kauffelt
KG -> Kevin Gray
K.P. -> Ken Perry
KDISC -> K Disc Mastering
Kendun -> Kent Duncan
LAWRIE @ CURVE PUSHER -> Lawrie Immersion
LB -> Larry Boden
LH -> Lee Hulko
Lionel & Hervé @ Translab -> Lionel Nicod & Hervé Bordes
Loop-0 at D&M -> Loop-o ( Dubplates-mastering, Berlin )
Lupo -> Loop-o
M.M.M.J.R. -> Mark Richardson (3) ( Metropolis Mastering, Chicago )
MANDY @ THE EXCHANGE -> Mandy Parnell
MARTIN @ C.T.S. -> Martin Giles
MASTERDED BY CAPITOL -> Capitol Studio & Mastering , Hollywood
MASTERDISK -> Masterdisk, NYC
MASTERDISK G.K. -> Gilbert Kong
MASTERDISK TD -> Tony Dawsey ( Masterdisk, NYC )
Mastered at Abbey Rd -> Abbey Road Studios, London
mastered at ‘Abbey Road’ -> Abbey Road Studios, London
MASTERED AT ALLEN ZENTZ L.A., CALIF. -> Allen Zentz Mastering Company
MASTERED BY CAPITOL Wally -> Wally Traugott ( Capitol Studio & Mastering , Hollywood )
Mastered by NIMBUS, England -> Nimbus
Mastered MIAMI TAPE -> Miami Tape, Hialeah ( (“MIAMI TAPE” is stamped) )
MATT OPTIMUM -> Matt Colton
MCR -> Master Cutting Room, NYC.
Metropolis Mastering Chicago M.J.R. -> Mark Richardson (3)
Mike @ The Exchange -> Mike Marsh
Mike’s™ -> Mike Marsh
MILES -> Miles Showell
MJFX -> Mika Jussila
MMMJR -> Mark Richardson (3) ( Metropolis Mastering, Chicago )
MPO -> Moulages et Plastiques de l’Ouest, Averton.
MR -> Mark Regan
Neil – Masterpiece -> Neil Devine
Neil Masterpiece -> Neil Devine
Nick -> Nick Webb Abbey Road Studios, London )[/i]
Nick’s cut! -> Nick Webb Abbey Road Studios, London )[/i]
NILZ – THE EXCHANGE -> Nilesh Patel
Noel @ Transfermation -> Noel Summerville
NOMIS -> Simon Davey ( “Simon” backwards )
NSC -> National Sound Corporation, Detroit ( used to be solely Ron Murphy (except some very early stuff), now also Heath Brunner )
Ø(Phase) -> Ashley Burchett
Ø(Phase) @ Whitfield London -> Ashley Burchett
ø@CURVE PUSHER -> Ashley Burchett
Ø[Phase] -> Ashley Burchett
Øphase -> Ashley Burchett
øPHASE -> Ashley Burchett
øPHASE @ WHITFIELD ST -> Ashley Burchett
Øphase@ Curve Pusher -> Ashley Burchett ( Curve Pusher Mastering, London )
ORLAKE -> Orlake Records, Dagenham
P.A. -> Phil Austin ( Trutone )
P.O.R.K.Y. -> George Peckham
PAUL S @ PORKY’S -> Paul Solomons
Paul S @ Porky’s -> Paul Solomons
PAUL’S @ PORKYS -> Paul Solomons
Paul’s @ Porkys -> Paul Solomons
PAUL’S THE EXCHANGE -> Paul Solomons
Pauls’ The Exchange -> Paul Solomons
PCMJR -> Mark Richardson (3) ( Prairie Cat Mastering, Belvidere )
PD -> Peter Dahl
PD-CR -> Peter Dahl ( Cutting Room, Stockholm )
PECKO -> George Peckham
PECKO DUCK -> George Peckham
Pete @ Tape To Tape -> Pete Norman
PIPO NYC -> Alberto Roges
POLAR -> Polar Mastering, Stockholm (defunct, now Masters of Audio, Stockholm)
Pole -> Pole
POM TR -> Pompon Finkelstein ( Translab, Paris )
porkeys prime cut -> George Peckham
Porky -> George Peckham
Porky Prime Cut -> George Peckham
Porky Primed -> George Peckham
Porkys -> George Peckham
Primed -> George Peckham
R @ D&M -> Rashad Becker ( Squiggly lower case ‘r’; Dubplates & Mastering ,Berlin )
Rashad -> Rashad Becker
Ray at The Exchange -> Ray Staff
RCE -> Rick Essig ( F/W )
RJ -> Ray Janos ( Sterling )
RL -> Bob Ludwig
RV -> Hervé Bordes
S.D -> Simon Davey
S.M. M.J.R. -> Mark Richardson (3) ( Session Masters, Carol Stream )
SD -> Simon Davey
Sean Abbey rd i…i -> Sean Magee ( Abbey Road Studios, London )
sf -> Sam Feldman
SH -> Steve Hall
SH | KG -> Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray
SHANE -> Shane McEnhill
Shane – the cutteR -> Shane McEnhill ( Graffiti Style; The “h” looks more like a “t” )
Shane @ Heathman’s -> Shane McEnhill ( Graffiti Style; The “h” looks more like a “t” )
SI MASTERPIECE -> Simon Francis
SI Masterpiece -> Simon Francis
simon the exchange -> Simon Davey
SIMON. -> Simon Davey
SNB -> Sabin Brunet
Sound Clinic -> The Sound Clinic, London
Sound Clinic, Graeme -> Graeme Durham ( The Sound Clinic, London )
Sound Clinic/Jonz -> John Dent ( The Sound Clinic, London )
SR -> Stan Ricker
SR/2 -> Stan Ricker
SR2 -> Stan Ricker
SRC signature -> Specialty Records Corporation ( (Stamped, Large S with the R and C in the loops) )
SST -> Schallplatten Schneid Technik, Frankfurt
STERLING -> Sterling Sound, NYC
STRAWBERRY U.K. -> Strawberry Mastering, London
Stu -> Stuart Hawkes
Stu. @ Masterpiece -> Stuart Hawkes
Tape One JA -> Jack Adams
TC -> Tom Coyne
THE EXCHANGE -> The Exchange, London
The Exchange – GD -> Guy Davie
THE EXCHANGE – NILZ -> Nilesh Patel
Tim D. -> Tim Dennen
Tim D. Masterpiece -> Tim Dennen
tim dixon masterpiece -> Tony Dixon
TIMTOM -> Tim Young
Timtom -> Tim Young
TJ -> Ted Jensen ( Sterling )
TLC -> The Lacquer Channel Mastering, Toronto
TML -> The Mastering Lab , Hollowood
TML-M -> The Mastering Lab , Hollowood ( M=Master )
TML-S -> The Mastering Lab , Hollowood ( S=Slave )
TML-X -> The Mastering Lab , Hollowood ( X=Extra )
TOWN HOUSE -> Town House Studios, London
TOWNHOUSE -> Town House Studios, London
Townhouse -> Town House Studios, London
Townhouse Max -> Max Dingel
tph@schnittstelle -> Thomas P. Heckmann
TR -> Translab Mastering, Paris
Transfermation -> Transfermation Mastering, London
TRANSITION -> Transition Mastering Studios, London
Transition -> Transition Mastering Studios, London
Truetone Mastering NYC Carl -> Carl Rowatti ( “Truetone” or “Trutone”? )
Trutone -> Trutone Inc, NYC
Trutone NY – PA -> Phil Austin
Trutone NYC Carl -> Carl Rowatti
TY1 -> Tim Young
Utopia -> Utopia Studios ( With vertical bar(s) in the “U” / Harp )
Village Mastering NYC CR -> Carl Rowatti
Wally -> Wally Traugott
Wally C. @ Masterpiece -> Walter Coelho
Wally C. @ Masterpiece Mastering -> Walter Coelho
Wly -> Wally Traugott
WMME Alsdorf -> Warner Music Manufacturing Europe, Alsdorf
Yann Dub @ DK -> Yann Dub”

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