Condition Guidelines

How to grade your vinyl, CD, or cassette for sale

Check out What Condition Is My Record In? for all this info condensed into a handy, shareable infographic.

Vinyl Records

Grading Vinyl Disc Condition

MINT

Records that qualify as Mint should be in flawless, essentially brand new condition. These records should be unplayed and will still carry the original factory seal in most cases. Mint records are rare on the used market and if you’re unsure about whether your record qualifies or not, it most likely falls in the Near Mint or Very Good Plus bracket.

NEAR MINT

Right below Mint comes Near Mint, which is still in pristine, like-new condition but will be unsealed and maybe played a few times. To qualify as Near Mint, the record should still be fresh and glossy, with absolutely no visible marks, warps, blemishes or auditory imperfections of any kind.

VERY GOOD PLUS

Very Good Plus records (sometimes termed as “Excellent”) will carry very light scratches, warps, or other signs of use but nothing that affects the audio quality or playability of the disc. These are usually records that have been played as part of a collection, but not to the point where they could be considered at all worn out. Very Good Plus records may showcase some wear around the label or center hole, but still play and sound close to Near Mint records, save for perhaps some very mild background noise between tracks.

VERY GOOD

The Very Good designation is where visible and audible imperfections on a record become more apparent. Very Good records still play through without any drastic skips or other playback issues. Surface noise will be present (especially between tracks) along with other audible indications that the record has indeed been used, but nothing too overwhelming. Very Good records typically show visible markings, scratches, and other blemishes. Some of these will be audible on playback as well, but again nothing that would distract the listener from the music at any particular point.

GOOD PLUS

Like Very Good, Good Plus records will exhibit cosmetic imperfections with some surface noise, pops, and crackles present during playback. The record will play without skipping, but there will be audible noise, along with some visible wear along the grooves, edges, center hole, and other areas of the disc.

GOOD

Records in Good condition are defined as showing definite wear and tear, though are still able to play all the way through without skipping. These are records that have seen significant use in their lifetime and with visible scars to show it. If buying a record in just Good condition, you should anticipate consistent noise during playback with noticeable scratches and other blemishes throughout the surface of the disc.

FAIR

Unlike Good condition records, fair records may not play all the way through. These discs will be very noticeably warped, cracked, or otherwise damaged. They should still produce sound and play for the most part, but not without significant levels of noise and skips in the playback.

POOR

As the lowest grade on the scale, the Poor condition category is where legitimately unplayable or nearly unplayable and broken records will fall. During playback, these records will likely skip continuously with loud noise present throughout. If you have a record that is barely listenable, it likely deserves the Poor designation.


Grading Vinyl Sleeves & Packaging

MINT

Record sleeves in Mint condition should be as though they came from the factory. Mint sleeves and packaging will be free from bends, marks or other imperfections, and in many cases will still carry the original factory seal.

NEAR MINT

Near Mint sleeves are still shiny and fresh as though they have never been opened. They may showcase very mild markings or signs of use, but with nothing noticeably amiss on the sleeve, liner notes, or any other packaging material.

VERY GOOD PLUS

Sleeves in Very Good Plus condition will show some signs of use, with perhaps some mild tears along the edges, scratches, or signs of folding on the corners. Overall though, the sleeve is still totally intact and housing the disc 100%.

VERY GOOD

Sleeves and packaging in Very Good condition will show signs of real use, with some tears, or perhaps tape, stickers, or writing from previous owners. While not the point of posing any risk to the disc itself, Very Good sleeves will be noticeably worn at least on a cosmetic level.

GOOD PLUS

Good Plus sleeves exhibit real imperfections such as tears along the spine and perforation or “ring wear” along the edges of the disc on the front of the packaging. Overall, the sleeve should still be intact though may be in want of some additional reinforcement.

GOOD

Good condition sleeves at a minimum still do their job of housing the disc. They will, however, certainly exhibit obvious imperfections with seam splitting, folds on the corners, scratches, tears, and perhaps tape or sticker residue.

FAIR

Sleeves in Fair or lower condition may be at the point where they are no longer doing their job of protecting the record. These sleeves will show significant wear and tear, discoloration, and breaks at different points of the structure.

POOR

Sleeves in Poor condition will be legitimately falling apart. The color will have faded and there may even be mold or water damage present. If dealing with a Poor condition sleeve, it is likely worth rehousing the record in a generic white sleeve, perhaps saving the original cover separately.

GENERIC

For records that have been separated from their original packaging, a generic white sleeve or liner is a common stand-in.

NO COVER

If the record does not have a cover, we recommend purchasing a generic white sleeve to protect it in storage or on your shelf, or for shipping purposes. At a minimum you can get a white paper sleeve, but generic cardboard cases are also a good bet.

CDs

Grading Disc Condition

MINT

Flawless disc with absolutely no faults. The CD has never been played and is probably still sealed.

NEAR MINT

The CD is in virtually pristine condition. It may have been played a few times, but is very close to its new, factory-fresh state.

VERY GOOD PLUS

The CD has been played, but there are no visible scratches or markings on the playing surface.

VERY GOOD

The CD has been used and may show light signs of wear, but nothing that impacts playback.

GOOD PLUS

Similar to Very Good, but with more visible wear on the disc. These CDs will still play all the way through without any skips.

GOOD

CD exhibits noticeable wear and with visible scratches on the playing surface, but plays without skipping.

FAIR

The disc shows dramatic scratches and marks on playing surface that may impact playback. The CD should still play most of the way through though skipping may be present.Poor CD is severely scratched or deteriorated to the point where it does not play through without regularly skipping.


CD Packaging/Booklet Condition

Jewel cases are eminently replaceable, so grading CD packaging is more about the condition of any inserts, literature, etc.

MINT

Pristine, as flawless as the day it was purchased.

NEAR MINT

Exceptionally clean, only the slightest of marks.

VERY GOOD PLUS

More noticeable marks than Near Mint.

VERY GOOD

Creasing and folding apparent.

GOOD PLUS

More noticeable marks than Very Good.

GOOD

Worn with obvious marks, folds, creases, or tears.

FAIR

Heavy wear/markings, significant creases/tears.

POOR

Mold, fading, severe tears. Falling apart.

GENERIC

Standard white sleeve.

NO COVER

Disc only with no packaging.

Cassettes

Grading Cassette Condition

MINT

Cassette is flawless with absolutely no faults. It has never been played, and is probably still sealed.

NEAR MINT

The cassette is in virtually pristine condition.

VERY GOOD PLUS

The cassette has been played and may show some signs of use but nothing that affects the sound.

VERY GOOD

A cassette that’s seen use but is still pleasing to the eye and ear. May be some mild, non-overpowering hiss present.

GOOD PLUS

Similar to Very Good, but with more noticeable warping and noise when cassette plays.

GOOD

Cassette plays through, though there will be audible noise and hiss. The shell of the tape may have some deterioration and signs of heavy use.

FAIR

Possibly salvageable but bearing significant deterioration. Cassette playback will be very noisy and imperfect with distinct cracks or other issues on the shell.

POOR

Cassette is broken or deteriorated, and will not playback all the way through.


Grading Cassette Case Condition

Casette cases are eminently replaceable, so grading cassette packaging is more about the condition of any inserts, literature, etc.

MINT

Pristine, as flawless as the day it was purchased.

NEAR MINT

Exceptionally clean, only the slightest of marks.

VERY GOOD PLUS

More noticeable marks than Near Mint.

VERY GOOD

Creasing and folding apparent.

GOOD PLUS

More noticeable marks than Very Good.

GOOD

Worn with obvious marks, folds, creases, or tears.

FAIR

Heavy wear/markings, significant creases/tears.

POOR

Mold, fading, severe tears. Falling apart.

GENERIC

Standard blank cassette case.

NO COVER

Tape only with no packaging.

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