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This recent purchased was graded thusly:
"EXCELLENT: The record shows some signs of having been played, but there is very little lessening in sound quality. The cover and packaging might have slight wear and / or creasing."
Needless to say, it sounds terrible. While the recording itself is very good, the condition of the record leaves so much to be desired. It looked quite good, but shouldn't used record sellers listen to what they sell?. The seller is in Europe, and although they offer a 14-day return, shipping it back will set me back more than twice the cost of the record itself, which was $16.00. I'm thinking a thorough cleaning might help, as the cleaning implements I have are pretty simple. But as the noise (hash) comes in regular intervals it seems to be caused by damage on the plane from center to edge, and this is just side one!
So I may have to accept it as a lesson learned, but I'm definitely not buying used without some recommendations of reliable sellers of used records. I'm not a collector nor do I have a large number of records, so what I buy I keep--even if it's a dud. Meanwhile, it's back to the Spotify version.
Edits: 06/03/17Follow Ups:
I've bought dozens of LPs from Lawrence Jones at Polyphony over the years, and have never been disappointed. He listens to parts of every record and does a visual inspection to see if there are any likely problem areas, for additional listening. His packaging is excellent. I'm sure he would take back any record that doesn't measure up to his condition rating. Highly recommended.
"A man need merely light the filaments of his receiving set and the world's greatest artists will perform for him." Alfred N. Goldsmith, RCA, 1922
I refuse to buy an LP I cannot physically inspect.. period.
Well, so far no one has recommended a reliable seller of used records (domestic or international) so it seems that your policy is the best policy. I took a chance and lost on my first try. How unlucky is that :(
we didn't give you actual names of sellers. Others do, but I really don't keep track of actual sellers. I just research the items I mentioned in my post, and I ask questions when necessary. I have had success most of the time, but there has been the occasional loss.
However, I now feel that I have wasted my breath.
I also agree with Monchi that a record cleaning machine or some other thorough cleaning regimen is totally necessary if you deal with used vinyl. I think the KAB EV-1 at $169 is the best reasonable cleaner on the market. Based on my own experience, I cannot recommend the Record doctor V from Audio Advisor.
You have not wasted your breath Mr. Alaskahiatt. Depending on what titles I see as "must haves," what I'm specifically searching for online, and general availability (extinct or current production) I will use all of the tools everyone has provided me here. I failed to ask the seller if the record was play-graded, but at 100% positive feedback and stellar comments from buyers I thought the purchase was worth the cost and risk.
My less-than-enthusiastic assessment of the entire process is a product of 1) High expectations, 2) Relatively long wait which exacerbated #1, 3) High Shipping costs, 4) Total inexperience buying a used record online, and 5) Upon listening to the record, the improper description and grading of the record.
I just wish I knew how to record a segment and let everyone here listen to what I hear. It's not unbearable (well some parts are,) just not what I expected. A thorough cleaning will undoubtedly help with the noise, but there are plenty of hairline scratches on the first side, and deep gouges on the adagio, as I mentioned to someone else. A cleaning, in any case, can only help, more than the liquid my father used with the pad.
Thank you for the recommendation of the KAB EV-1, that is the one I'll probably purchase considering its reasonable cost as compared to some others I had researched.
"Well, so far no one has recommended a reliable seller of used records (domestic or international) so it seems that your(Bare's) policy is the best policy"
To me, the above statement implies that other recommendations are wasted.
You are correct in assuming that the seller's feedback and description do not match what you received, and I can appreciate your disappointment. The description of "Excellent" is really VG+ condition, and that's when you have to start asking questions before you buy. That's when I ask about the scratches and if any of them might catch your fingernail when brushed in line with the grooves. I feel that the VG+ rating is the lowest rating that most sellers will use, as they probably feel that anything lower will negate a sale or decent price. As a result, that rating is heavily abused. As others have stated, in many cases you can count on receiving at least one rating below the rating advertised. That is why I try to stick with a minimum of NM.
In my experiences so far, Northern European sellers have been very good and better than many sellers from the US. So, don't give up yet. Use some of the recommendations in this thread and search the archives for eBay sales. This subject has been discussed many times in the past.
This has served me well:
* Never purchase from sellers that "play grade" records w/ no visual grade, they are usually covering for a record that visually grades lower and will be, $ wise, worthless in the future.
* Never purchased records claimed to be "shiny"
* Don't assume lots of positive feedback means anything.. On eb*y some sellers will sell crap and then refund when they are called on it. Also many of the new newbies don't know the difference and would leave positive feedback for a turd.
* Watch out for the grade Ex or Excellent when it is used with NM...it means that grading methods are being mixed (Osborne/Goldmine mixed w/ the Record Collector magazine grading?). I like to see NM, then we all know what we are taking about
* Don't assume because you are buying on a BB like AA or especially AK that everyone shares your grading values. People have different angles on grading besides all the "Hey Brother" bs being thrown around...lots of self-serving grading going on. Had a "brother" actually try to blatantly rip me off on a Box set..
* Only buy records graded as NM, NM- or VG++ unless under special circumstances.
* Buy from sellers who directly state their grading is based on Osborne or Goldmine grading standards.
* Count on cleaning all records even if they are generally clean...Records often improve with a proper wet cleaning!
Hope this helps!
Can you see damage (hairlines, scuffs, scratches etc.)on the record? If not, I would recommend cleaning using a vacuum type RCM using an enzyme based cleaner followed by ultrasonic cleaning. That can remove a lot of noise and playback anomalies. If there is visible damage however, it is the result of careless handling by the previous owner?
I am saving up for a vacuum type RCM. Side #1 of this set has visible fine hairline scratches and side 2 has a 3mm x 3mm section of deep scratches. Thankfully record #2 is in fairly good shape (though I wouldn't describe it as excellent.) In any case a thorough cleaning should help. So there are RCM's which use the ultrasonic cleaning method as well as vacuum and enzyme based cleaning? That sounds ultra expensive, but I'll look for one, thank you.
Every used record I bought on line is at least one grade worst than it's rating. If I'm lucky. I haven't bought a used record online in years.
If I can't see it, I don't buy it. Period.
Best regards, Ralph
I've sold enough to offer two pieces of advice.
"Excellent" is not considered a legit grading by most serious sellers. The official grading system, by Goldmine, has its problems but has been the standard for decades. I have no idea when "excellent" started but I suspect eBay has something to do with it. I automatically question the veracity of every seller who uses it.
And if you paid with PayPal you should check to see if they're currently offering free return shipping when you open a case against a seller. It's a free service but is apparently only offered occasionally. I've never used it and am not familiar with the details.
they even agree to high ends of these grades (VG++). I don't think ebay started this. however, I do I think there are plenty of sellers on ebay with absolutely no idea how to accurately grade an LP.
I prefer sellers that add some actual detail to their descriptions. Maybe with some examples of why the LP is VG+ (sleeve marks and a few short hairlines).
That said it is a crapshoot, but the return policy now is pretty great for domestic LP's, so it ok to take a gamble.
Thanks Pete. My brain was glitching. I was thinking more of the system used on Discogs, which is based on the Goldmine standards before they were amended.
Advice, thank you. It was an eBay item, the return procedure did not offer free shipping, and the seller is sticking to their 14 day return policy, buyer pays return shipping. It's a steep price for a lesson learned which is unfortunate because there must be honest international record sellers who stand by their sales, but I will avoid buying records from international sellers.
some of my recent purchases have been better than advertised.
Of course I use the usual safety precautions of feedback above 99.8%, a NM rating minimum, and I read a few feedback comments, especially the negatives. If I am real desperate, I may bid on a VG+ record, but I ask if there are any hairline scratches and any scratches that would catch your fingernail. I usually get very good responses that more closely describe the condition.
Of course, it would be nice to hear the seller's description of the sound after playing, but most sellers do not have the time. That's why I ask the questions about hairline scratches that could cause a static like sound, and questions about deeper scratches that would cause the periodic ticks and pops.
The other reason for reading the feedback is to establish that the seller has dealt with records before and is posting ratings that he or she is familiar with. Occasionally when buying 78s, the seller may just be an antique dealer or a thrift store flipper who is not really familiar with record condition terms.
But, an occasional bad experience will happen because it will happen.
Another feedback comment I look for is packaging. I once had a one year stretch of 11 broken 78s due to poor packaging, but that can be artistic like the picture below.
Except for the one record which had broken into 3 pieces, it looks like the four records snapped along the same plane of the label, like there was a weak area which bi-sected each broken record (impossible I know.) They look like artistic symmetrical halves, you're absolutely right about that!
As for my bad experience, you're also correct in that I shouldn't rule out international sellers just because of it. The thing is, I thought I did my due diligence by reading some feedback comments, and their feedback rating is 100% positive. I know too little about rating a record's condition to give them their initial negative rating. I didn't mean to imply there was any dishonesty in their description. Having heard the same version on Spotify prior to purchasing the record, I may have been expecting too much and may have to be more realistic about comparing digital to vinyl which is several decades old. So excellent in vinyl terms is relative, though the performance itself remains excellent, artistic speaking :)
...buying used records on line.
I stick to the flea market and tag sales. I'll pay up to two-bucks. A little more for a record I really want.
If I get it home and its roached, I just throw it out.
I'm tired of returning records to FleaBay sellers.
reelsmith's axiom: Its going to be used equipment when I sell it, so it may as well be used equipment when I buy it.
I promise if this ever makes a garage sale or becomes a donation item I'll put the appropriate description on the jacket. "Roached" :)
Me to list but I feel its worth the extra time so the prospective buyer knows it has been evaluated by ear and not just by eyes :)
But I only sell from roughly (this year I went a little later due to this year's relatively cool spring) late October through May due to the excessive heat in Tempe, AZ during the rest of the year.
I'll watch for your lists, then :)
Well ,now you know.
I assume you know the information below, but just in case......
Perhaps a modern tip shape will track a different line on the groove wall where the vinyl has not mis tracked and give you better results. If the tracks were ruined with an older shape tip, a modern aggressive shape will often sound fine. Those shapes are tough to set up without some kind of VTA on the fly , at least for me, but Others have reported the same results as myself.
Most of the used vinyl cleans up and plays pretty well for me using a line contact type shape. . I use a finger test on scratches, and am grateful I live in an area that has record stores. I don't have to mail off for stuff
I'll save up for a record cleaning machine. As for the stylus tip I'm using, it's a Gyger 2 (Roksan Corus Black with Goldring D12GX replacement stylus.) My Rega does not allow VTA adjustment from the tonearm base.
"...shouldn't used record sellers listen to what they sell?"
Most used record sellers don't listen to what they sell, apart from really rare or in demand items. Those who move any appreciable volume simply wouldn't have the time. Full time dealers buy entire collections - play grading each one is not feasible. If a particluar item has been play graded, the seller usually says so in the ad - it's a solid selling point. The bulk of what's out there is visually graded, at best. The description you quoted Is a generic description of the Excellent grade, not of the record you purchased.
Yes, it does make sense that each record bought from a collection and re-sold couldn't possibly be play-graded, a term which I had never heard until today. I went with the record seller's "record grading" and "jacket grading" which stated both were "excellent." The jacket is indeed in excellent condition, and visually, the record is too, except for some deep perpendicular gouges (3mm square) on a portion of the Adagio. Yes, the Adagio. This in itself--since it's very visible--should have downgraded the visual grading.
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