Of course, finding vinyl records to buy isn’t very difficult. The prices can vary from almost free to thousands of dollars, depending on whether you are looking for collectability or just listening. So I wanted to put together a basic Price Guide for Vinyl records, as vinyl is once again gaining in sales both used and new. One never knows- with flea markets, garage sales etc, one may just stumble across a rare find- so knowing something about the market could be profitable. One such example on the high end of the market, in 2009, a Northern Soul record of – Frank Wilson’s “Do I Love You “(Indeed I Do) sold for $40,000 USD. Best wishes with scoring one of those- but you never know!
Cost of New Vinyl?
Acquiring a new vinyl record will run a person somewhere between $12-$40 and higher. As opposed to say a CD at less than $12 or burning free mp3s-so it may be an economic concern for some-especially for those premium special edition LPs priced at $30-$50 and up. Of Course, vinyl pricing is going to depend on the market itself and record companies/ record retailers are still testing the waters for pricing. The process of producing a new vinyl Lp, including materials, certainly come at a premium cost. Part of the equation though is figuring out what the market will actually pay. As sales of vinyl continue to grow and with more pressing plants opening-it could mean better pricing for production – less cost to the consumer- maybe?
The band sounded just like the record- Old and Scratchy!
So, of course, used record prices is a whole other matter- and the most significant factor in pricing is- you guessed it- condition. The fact of the matter is that just because a record is old doesn’t mean its worth much. Most records that still remain are, usually, just not in very good condition- mostly from being played- a lot, being mishandled, no protective sleeve, scratched from being stacked, improperly stored and maintained etc.
Here is an example, for $7.99 – you can buy Johnny Cash’s “In Folsom Prison” -Here is the seller description -The vinyl has a lot of wear/scratches/needs cleaning, there is no internal sleeve, the cover has water and other damage. Or you can pay $221.00 for one- sealed and in mint condition. get the picture?
Rare is not always a good indicator of value either, but it can be sometimes- it really depends on the artist. Some rare albums may not be worth much-a lot depends on who the artist is and if there is a following. Tastes and wants of the public can be fickle and timing can be a factor. The only way to really determine real value most likely is to look for vinyl record forums and do some pricing research for yourself. Also, unfortunate as it is, if an artist happens to die, the value of his work may increase drastically and quickly.
Grading System for Used Vinyl
So there is a grading system for used vinyl records called the Goldmine Standard. Some sites use this system, others use their version of something similar. It is a good idea to check whatever site you are purchasing from to see how they grade their product. There is also something called play grading, which of course is most likely the best way to know the condition of the vinyl itself- sometimes play wear can go undetected to visual inspection- so the best way is to play it on a good system. Some sellers use this method as it cuts down on complaints and returns.
Here is a basic idea of how vinyl grading goes based on the Goldmine Standard
- M- Mint condition
- NM- Near Mint
- VG+-Very Good plus
- VG-Very Good
- G+-Good Plus
- G- Good
This will give a basic idea of the quality of the record however it is still good to know who you are buying from and know they have a good reputation of course. A rating of P-Poor and F- Fair-realistically may not even be worth having, as a result of serious damage to Lp itself- unless the cover is in good shape and one wants it for nostalgic reasons only.
The pressing can also be a factor and even material used- there are demo albums that were only distributed to radio stations which can be quite valuable. Rarely- some of these are made from original pressing material- acetate or lacquers- done one at a time for test pressing purposes. Lacquer pressing, unfortunately, do not hold up well- degrades from being played- very quickly. Some of these demo pressing made of lacquer were distributed to radio stations for quick release on the airwaves. Labels on these type albums can have anything from a blank white label to inscriptions about it being a demo.
How Much Are My Records Worth?
There certainly is a market for used records and knowing the grading system is going to help. Knowing what to ask for used vinyl, is not, necessarily, an easy process as again it depends somewhat on trends – demand for certain artists can vary organically over time as mentioned earlier.
If you feel you have an album, that may be rare, it is a good idea to check forums and possibly even have someone who is experienced grade your album for you. Most of the larger cities have stores that sell new and used vinyl- but again it’s a good idea to search out someone that is truly knowledgeable- even check online to email or call and possibly speak with experienced sellers.
Sometimes there are albums with multiple releases- where the particular release can drastically affect the value. The classic Beatles album “Yesterday and Today” originally had a very graphically morbid and controversial front cover and was quickly pulled from the shelves. It was reissued showing a stock front cover photo of the Fab 4. Having the original morbid cover LP would be worth a good deal of money- the replaced cover release- not so much. This is just one example of how just by having an old classic album doesn’t necessarily mean its worth the big bucks- even if it is in good shape.
Buying vinyl records can be costly but there certainly is a rising market for new and used vinyl. Shopping for used records can be a matter of doing some research- especially LPs that go above the $40 range- depending on whether you are looking for purposes as a collector or just for listening.
The growth of album sales seems to be consistently climbing in popularity and it has been an upward trend since the mid-2000s. We are starting to see vinyl sections again in stores and who knows- maybe even another iteration of Tower records may be on the horizon- only time will tell.
Happy Vinyl Shopping!