We follow the Goldmine Standards for record grading. The categories are as follows:
-MINT: Perfect and flawless. Even some new records don't qualify for this rating. You will seldom see me grade open records mint.
-NEAR MINT: Usually the highest grade, plays like new. Will have little or no background noise when clean. No marks, scuffs or scratches on the record. The cover should be in like new condition with little or no wear. Records over 20 years old in this condition are rare and therefore demand a premium price when they are truly in NM condition.
-EXCELLENT: Almost like new, maybe a mark or two on the record, but it should still sound like new. Vinyl looks shiny and clean. Dynamics, clarity and fidelity should all be excellent on the vinyl. The cover may have some wear, but certainly no ring wear or major marks or damage on the cover. Most collector examples.
-VERY GOOD ++: A beautiful album with some wear on the record. Some marks, scuffs, or light surface scratches, certainly no skips or constant ticks when playing. Fidelity and dynamics should be excellent. The cover can have some light wear, ring wear, or bruised corners.
-VERY GOOD +: Has some marks, scuffs and light scratches on the vinyl. Will play through without any skipping or major constant "ticks." Well cared for records, but evidence of playing them many times are there. Fidelity and dynamics are still good, but maybe some light background noise between songs. Cover has ring wear and bruised corners, but overall front and back are in good shape. Some shine to the vinyl still.
-VERY GOOD: Well worn record, has scratches, "ticks," and surface noise. Maybe a skip or two, nothing major, but would not be a collector example. Deeper scratches and noticeable shine gone from the vinyl. Will play with fidelity, but background noise will be present.
-GOOD: A lot of wear to the record, skips and scratches are certain. Deeper scuffs are present. A record that has seen better days! Record still plays, but gone is the fidelity and dynamics that make vinyl magical. Cover has ring wear, seam splits, and writing sometimes. Not a cover you would want to frame. Only to be bought to sustain a need until a better example is found.