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Vinyl Records Value Guide: How Much Are Your Records Worth?

Whether you’re a longtime vinyl enthusiast or new to collecting LPs, it can be difficult to determine how much a record is worth. You may be staring at Bleach from Nirvana, or a record from Frank Wilson or Elvis Presley, without any idea what it actually might be worth.

Plenty of factors can come into play when you’re appraising the value of vinyl records, including age, rarity, condition, and more. It’s often tough to know where an LP in your collection ranks in these categories. That’s where we come in. 

In this post, we’ll walk you through the basic steps you can take to determine the value of a vinyl record. We’ll cover everything from tips for at-home appraisal to what to do when you can’t figure out a record’s value on your own.

How To Appraise a Record at Home

If you’re planning on trying to determine the worth of one of your records on your own, don’t let the task intimidate you – figuring out a record’s monetary value isn’t always as hard as it sounds. 

First off, a soul or rock record is likely to be more valuable from the get-go than a spoken word record. Then, records by famous artists are also likely to be worth more, although this depends on rarity. That said, the value of records from certain artists may drop off after the end of their careers, although this isn’t true in the case of artists like Robert Johnson or The Beatles (just consider the infamous White Album). 

Ultimately, there are four key factors to consider: how rare the record is, what condition it’s in, how old it is, and the current price of similar copies. In the sections below, we’ll walk you through all of these factors to help you get a sense of how to evaluate the albums in your collection.

What Condition Is Your Record In?

Once you choose a record to appraise, the first step to take is determining its condition. Obviously, a record in mint condition has a higher value than a damaged one. In this step of the appraisal process, look at the following attributes:

  • Warping: Is your record warped? If so, its sound quality and physical integrity may be compromised. Warping can be caused by improper storage methods, extreme temperatures, and other factors, and it’s one of the main reasons some rare records sell for less than others. 
  • A warped record often produces inferior sound due to the physical shifting of the vinyl, which means a collector won’t be willing to pay as much for it. Rare records with slight warping issues may still sell for large sums, but it’s best to take warping on a case-by-case basis.

  • Scratches: If your record has deep scratches on either of its sides, you’re likely to deal with sound issues like skipping, noise, and distortion. These issues can take away from the resale value of an album, and they’re common problems in records that are stored improperly. 
  • Some scratches are deeper than others, making them tough – or impossible – to buff out. Milder scratches, however, can sometimes be remedied using DIY methods.

  • Cracks: If an album is cracked, it’s safe to assume it’s been rendered completely unplayable. That’s a tragedy for any record, especially rarer LPs that would otherwise be worth hundreds of dollars. In most cases, a cracked vinyl record won’t sell for much, but some vinyl collectors are open to purchasing them if the jacket and any collectible inserts are still included and intact.

  • Missing Inserts/Jacket: A record is worth more if every part of its original packaging comes along with it. If your record is missing its jacket, picture sleeve, or any collectible inserts that came with it, its resale value is likely to take a major dip. Take stock of any labels and picture sleeves to see what’s there and what’s not. 
  • However, a loose vinyl record may still be worth some money. The best way to determine whether you’ll profit from selling an album without a jacket is to look online for other copies that are for sale. 

    How Rare Is Your Record?

    In many cases, the records that can be sold for the most money are the ones that were produced in extremely limited qualities. Something like God Save the Queen from the Sex Pistols is rare, so it would go for a high value. Similarly, an album with the original picture sleeve of “Street Fighting Man” by the Rolling Stones would be valued highly as well since they withdrew it before release. 

    Some collectors go after specific pressings or issues of an album that were only produced during a specific time period, then discontinued by the record company. While you might be able to find a more recent pressing of the same record, the older, discontinued pressing is likely to be worth more in the eyes of a collector. The rarity of an album can differ based on whether you’re looking at 45s or 78s as well. 

    Rare pressings of classic albums are sometimes worth hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars when resold. These pressings might be rare monophonic copies of albums later only released in the stereo version, albums with special limited edition jackets or inserts, foreign editions, or autographed records. You may also find that picture discs have a higher value and that the vinyl color can impact its price. The rarer an album is, the more it’s likely worth in the vinyl resale market.

    Sometimes, it can be very difficult to figure out how many copies of a certain album were issued on your own. This information isn’t always readily available on the internet, especially in the case of older albums that were produced in very limited quantities, so there’s no one record price guide that you can look at. If you’re unsure about the rarity of an album in your collection, it’s best to contact an expert.

    How Old Is Your Record?

    Determining the age of a vinyl record is often one of the easiest steps in the appraisal process. Most LPs come with release information printed somewhere on the jacket. In addition, all records released after the mid-1970s were paired with a serial number that can still be used to access information about a specific release. 

    However, it can be tougher to figure out exactly what year the specific pressing of an album was released, especially if that particular album was issued pre-1973. On top of that, a record from the 1950s or early 1960s will often be worth more than one from the 70s or 80s. 

    If you suspect that a record in your collection is very old, one of the best ways to get an accurate appraisal is to contact an antique expert. Pros in the antique world are experts at looking for clues to determine exactly what year an item was manufactured – including records. You’re likely to find a resource like this at your local flea market or antique store.

    What Are Other Copies Being Sold For?

    If you’re not sure how much a particular record is worth, the quickest way to find out is often to look online. Someone else is likely selling the same album on an online vinyl marketplace like Discogs or Reverb LP. Using one of these sites, you can sometimes even look back at the prices that a particular album has sold at in the past.

    If you’re having trouble finding online copies of your record, it’s probably time to contact an expert. Some albums are incredibly rare, which means you won’t necessarily find traces of them online at first glance. However, a professional antique appraiser may be able to give you a better sense of how much your record might be worth, especially if it qualifies as antique.

    How To Resell Old Records

    Once you’ve determined how much one of your records is worth, it’s time to work on reselling it to make the most profit possible. There are a few different routes you can take when selling records, including:

  • Online: Selling records using an online marketplace has its pros and cons. It’s likely to expose you to the most potential buyers, but you’ll need to safely and carefully ship your record out once it’s been purchased. Whether you choose eBay or a more specific record site, this is a great place to at least start your research. 

  • Locally: If you’re planning on selling a large number of rare records and don’t want to ship them out to buyers around the world, you might want to have a local sale. That way, you can attract buyers and collectors from near where you live without having to worry about shipping and posting your collection online. 
  • Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose the direction you want to go when selling pieces of your record collection. Just make sure you don’t part with any albums that you’ll miss!

    Conclusion

    Selling valuable vinyl records can be just as rewarding as buying them, especially when you know that your unwanted LPs are going to enthusiasts who will cherish them for years. Whether you’re looking to sell some Velvet Underground records you have, or you’re just looking to see what the potential value of your favorite Led Zeppelin album is, all it takes is a bit of research. 

    There’s a robust online community of record collectors and music fans who are always on the lookout for rare vinyl, so we recommend listing your records on the internet if you’re having trouble selling them locally.

    For more information about all things vinyl, make sure to visit our blog.

    Sources:

    Mono vs. Stereo Sound: The Difference Explained (With Audio Examples) | Black Ghost Audio

    How to Fix Scratches on Vinyl Records: 3 Easy Steps |  Record Player Expert

    How to Make Money Buying and Selling Antiques | The Spruce Crafts 

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