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I am trying to pin down what are, and are not true MLP first pressings.
I know that "FR-1" represents a first pressing.
There exist "CT" FR-1 and "R" FR-1 pressings. Some believe these to be later reissues. Others believe these ARE first pressings, but pressed at different plants; CT referring to Columbia and R referring to RCA.
What is correct ?
FYI, the "nt" should be included in the subject, not the post itself, the idea being that people will not click on the subject post to find an empty message.
I am new to the forum and I've been seeing "nt" all over the place. What does that stand for?
FR pressings were done by RCA. FR stood for "Fine Recording"
JazzDude's info about the numbers is correct.
When Mercury bought the pressing plant in Richmond, Indiana, and started pressing their own records, the pressings became RFR. The extra R indicates it was made in Richmond. A lot of US Philips issues have RFR stampers. Everything that has an RFR pressing was made by Mercury.
The "Vendor" issue is a little misunderstood. All it means if it says Vendor, Mercury Records, is that it was produced after Philips bought the company. At first it was in small text at the bottom of the label, later on it became more prominent at the top of the label. This is what is usually referred to as a "Vendor Label". Later numbered issues only came with vendor labels. I don't think the presence of the word Vendor on the label has any direct impact on predicting the sound quality of a disc. It's the stamper numbers, and the color of the label. Early ones are dark maroon, they became progressively lighter as they went on.
M pressings were mastered by Philips, but still pressed in the US. They're not terrible, but generally not as good as original pressings. There are a handful of very late issues all over 90500, for which the M pressing is the first pressing. Everything else originally had an FR or RFR stamper.
Pressings that begin with a C were made by Columbia for sale through the Columbia Record Club. Once again, not terrible, but not as good as original pressings.
1st edition of Mercury SR LPs had FR stampers up to, as I recall, about catalog number SR 90256 or possibly SR 90260. Catalog numbers after SR 90256/90260 used RFR stampers for 1st edition pressings. There were a few exceptions where RFR stampers were used for 1st editions prior to SR 90256/90260. For example, as I recall the 1st edition of the famous SR 90212 LP used a RFR stamper.
At a later date albums that initially were pressed with RFR stampers were reissued (say 2nd or 3rd pressing editions) where the matrix indicated RFR stampers and included the word Vendor on the record label. Generalizing those issues sonically were inferior to their respective and earlier pressed LPs that used RFR stampers and did not indicate Vendor.
CTFR's, CTBRs, and M stampers, etc. came later.
There's a ton of information about these topics on the internet and on various audio bulletin boards. Do some exploring and you'll uncover plenty of good details.
The FRs and the RFRs were almost all cut by George Piros directly from the three track master tapes. They are both excellent.
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