How to Price and Value Vinyl Records

Vinyl records are not difficult to price. Not usually.

That's because there is a handy serial number etched into the vinyl that identifies it.

This serial number combined with a simple internet search can help anyone determine the value or price of a vinyl record.

Search for vinyl record prices here :

Enter the vinyl record serial or matrix number into the search engine above to compare listings and determine a price or value.

You may also input the name of the artist, the album or any other identifying feature of the record.

If you don't know where to find the serial number or matrix number on a vinyl record, continue reading for more information on how to price vinyl records.

This page will explain how vinyl records are valued and what goes into pricing a vinyl record.

Here are some vinyl record pricing tips and a list of the most expensive vinyl records:

How to Price a Vinyl Record
The Most Expensive Vinyl Records

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How to Price Vinyl Records


There is a lot that goes into pricing a vinyl record.

Condition and rarity are factors but even general interest can make a big difference in the price of a vinyl record.

For example, while you may not have been able to give away disco albums a few years ago, they have emerged as a hot ticket at recent vinyl record fairs.

Part of collecting vinyl records is to be student of music history.

As new collectors explore the last 80 years of music recorded on the surface of vinyl records, they will eventually discover (and enjoy) genres that were dormant for decades.

I think it's called emergence. It's why birds fly in formation, why most animals have eyes and it's also why everybody will be rediscovering disco or scandinavian fiddle music at pretty much the same time.

So, for example, while disco is "in" this year and jazz doesn't move an inch, next year the opposite might true. And that Benny Goodman album may be worth putting on the market.

Vinyl Record Serial Number

Vinyl Record Serial Numbers and Prices

The vinyl record serial number is your best tool in determining a value of a vinyl record.

This serial number is also called a Matrix and/or Stamper number.

The serial number is what differentiates one pressing from another.

The image to the right shows where you can find the serial number.

Once you have found the serial number, you can enter it into the vinyl record market search engine at the top of the page to search the net for a match.

The search looks on Discogs, Music Stack and others for a match.

These sites are world-wide open markets for vinyl records and other music mediums. They provide a price based on supply and demand.

Ebay is not a reliable source for determining vinyl record prices. Although, it is certainly an option if you are looking for a vinyl record that is difficult to find.

It's important to remember that vinyl records cost a lot to ship. Prices on the net without a shipping price included are slightly misleading.

In short, you can expect to pay more at a local shop but remember that they've already covered that shipping cost for you.

Pressings and Vinyl Record Prices

You can think of a pressing as a record-making session or party.

The factory workers all listen to the record and dance around while they make copies until the music stops.

All the records that were made during that record-making dance party get the same serial number.

Depending on how popular the album is, how much money is invested into the artist and/or how many records are ordered, these parties may happen many times over.

The value of a record is determined by rarity. Just like any other collector's item.

As a matter of good business, it's a good idea practice to not press/print a million copies before you've sold any.

Therefore, the first pressings almost always produce a small number of copies and hence, are most expensive.

It's worth mentioning that some parties make better sounding records than others and that a later but higher-quality pressing may be worth more than an earlier counterpart.

The differences between pressings can be difficult to tell if the serial number is ambiguous.

Be cautious before screaming "Jackpot" in the aisle of your local record store. Two records that look exactly the same, may have been pressed at different times by different people and may be valued at wildly different prices.

The difference between $20 and $20,000 could be a single letter or missing number so it's important to have an attention to detail.

Investigation into pressings is a lot of fun.

The story surrounding each pressing offers a glimpse into the seedy details of the music industry - that of labels, contracts and the business of music. You know, what they call "realities." It is a world that goes mostly unnoticed by the casual music fan.

A Vinyl Record's Physical Condition

The condition of your vinyl record will affect the resale value of the record.

Generally, the condition for collectors' items such as vinyl records follows this scale: Mint, Near Mint, Very Good, Good and Poor.

These are the exact definitions used and provided by Discogs.

Mint (M)

Absolutely perfect in every way. Certainly never been played, possibly even still sealed. Should be used sparingly as a grade, If at all.

Near Mint (NM or M-)

A nearly perfect record. Many dealers won't give a grade higher than this implying (perhaps correctly) that no record is ever truly perfect. The record should show no obvious signs of wear. A 45 RPM or EP sleeve should have no more than the most minor defects, such as almost invisible ring wear or other signs of slight handling. An LP cover should have no creases, folds, seam splits or other noticeable similar defects. No cut-out holes, either. And of course, the same should be true of any other inserts, such as posters, lyric sleeves and the like. Basically, an LP in near mint condition looks as if you just got it home from a new record store and removed the shrink wrap. Near Mint is the highest price listed in all Goldmine price guides. Anything that exceeds this grade, in the opinion of both buyer and seller, is worth significantly more than the highest Goldmine book value.

Very Good Plus (VG+)

Generally worth 50 percent of the Near Mint value. A Very Good Plus record will show some signs that it was played and otherwise handled by a previous owner who took good care of it. Record surfaces may show some signs of wear and may have slight scuffs or very light scratches that don't affect one's listening experiences. Slight warps that do not affect the sound are "OK". The label may have some ring wear or discoloration, but it should be barely noticeable. The center hole will not have been misshapen by repeated play. Picture sleeves and LP inner sleeves will have some slight wear, lightly turned up corners, or a slight seam split. An LP cover may have slight signs of wear also and may be marred by a cut-out hole, indentation or corner indicating it was taken out of print and sold at a discount. In general, if not for a couple things wrong with it, this would be Near Mint. All but the most mint-crazy collectors will find a Very Good Plus record highly acceptable.

Very Good (VG)

Generally worth 25 percent of Near Mint value. Many of the defects found in a VG+ record will be more pronounced in a VG disc. Surface noise will be evident upon playing, especially in soft passages and during a song's intro and fade, but will not overpower the music otherwise. Groove wear will start to be noticeable, as with light scratches (deep enough to feel with a fingernail) that will affect the sound. Labels may be marred by writing, or have tape or stickers (or their residue) attached. The same will be true of picture sleeves or LP covers. However, it will not have all of these problems at the same time, only two or three of them. Goldmine price guides with more than one price will list Very Good as the lowest price. This, not the Near Mint price, should be your guide when determining how much a record is worth, as that is the price a dealer will normally pay you for a Near Mint record.

Good (G), Good Plus (G+)

Generally worth 10-15 percent of the Near Mint value. Good does not mean Bad! A record in Good or Good Plus condition can be put onto a turntable and will play through without skipping. But it will have significant surface noise and scratches and visible groove wear (on a styrene record, the groove will be starting to turn white). A cover or sleeve will have seam splits, especially at the bottom or on the spine. Tape, writing, ring wear or other defects will start to overwhelm the object. If it's a common item, you'll probably find another copy in better shape eventually. Pass it up. But, if it's something you have been seeking for years, and the price is right, get it...but keep looking to upgrade.

Poor (P), Fair (F)

Generally worth 0-5 percent of the Near Mint price. The record is cracked, badly warped, and won't play through without skipping or repeating. The picture sleeve is water damaged, split on all three seams and heavily marred by wear and writing. The LP cover barely keeps the LP inside it. Inner sleeves are fully seam split, crinkled, and written upon. Except for impossibly rare records otherwise unattainable, records in this condition should be bought or sold for no more than a few cents each.

Vinyl Record Era

The era in which a vinyl record was pressed will affect the resale value of the record.

Generally, the older a record is, the more valuable it is.

Vinyl records from the 80's aren't worth very much for example. Often $10 and under.

But records from the 70's have some intrinsic vintage value.

The 60's, even more so. And so on, and so forth.

There are exceptions to this rule. So many in fact that it really can't be called a rule.

The obscure early years of now popular genres may be difficult to find and so tend to cost a lot.

Heavy metal records from the early 80's, for example, can be hard to find and are worth more than pop music selections from the same era.

Jazz albums suffer from an opposite plight. There are more Benny Goodman albums out there than you can imagine. Don't be fooled by the sometimes high price of these albums in record stores. They cost that much because they take up valuable real estate for long periods of time. In other words, they aren't quick to sell.

Again, a vinyl record is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

45's, 78's etc

The numbers refer to the speed at which the vinyl record is played.

R.P.M. stands for Rotations Per Minute. A 45 will go full circle 45 times per minute.

While there is certainly a market for 45s and 78s, it is a niche market.

Since they aren't regularly produced anymore, they don't get much play.

Frankly, many new vinyl record collectors don't know what to do with them.

It should be noted that Jack White and many other heavy promoters of vinyl recording today are producing strange and wonderful records with speeds so outside the capabilites of an affordable consumer turntable that only the most rich and demented vinyl record fiend will be able to listen to them.

Clint Eastwood, we are looking in your direction.

That's just a joke. Clint Eastwood's contributions to American cinema are commendable and we enjoy his movies. He has an expensive turntable. Look it up.

Adjusting Prices for Large Collections

The price of entire collections of vinyl records is often a whole other story.

The age and condition are still factors, however, the actual story of the collection becomes worth something itself.

A good example is the CBC vinyl record collection purchased by Apollo Music in Vancouver BC.

Joey Ramone's record collection has recently been put up for sale. It will certainly fetch a higher price than what the records are worth on their own.

Selling a Record Collection

If you are looking to sell a vinyl record collection in the Vancouver area, it may be a good idea to call Robert Privett at Badbird Media.

Robert organizes the vinyl record fair and can provide some options on how to best handle the sale of your vinyl record collection to local record stores, independent record vendors or private record collectors.

The Most Expensive Vinyl Records


Most Expensive Beatles Album

Vinyl records are only as expensive as what someone is willing to pay.

That said, it is much more fun to discuss and hunt for records that you'll actually find. And could sell easily if you so desired.

Most trips to a sufficiently stocked Salvation Army or record fair can result in finding at least one obscure album in reasonable condition that may be worth $20 to $80 dollars to someone somewhere.

While you won't be able to trade your album for a house in Saskatchewan, you will be able to feel good thinking that your 60 cents was well worth the $80 Barber of Seville Record from 1948 that now takes what little space is left in your closet.

If you are out and about digging through crates, keep your eye out for early UK pressings of Beatles albums. They'll sell for a good $70 bucks or more.

First or very early pressings of any popular band before 1979 will usually do the trick.

If it was pressed in Canada, unfortunately, it is almost certainly not the first pressing and probably isn't worth much more than the value obtained from listening to it.

But hey! If you are collecting vinyl records and are a fan of music, that listening value is worth its weight in gold. Am I right? Or am I right?

(Isn't it about time you watched GroundHog Day again?)

But prices also change with the seasons. If the conditions are right and there is renewed interest, the value / saleability can increase dramatically.

After an artist dies, for example, their records may increase in value. Just like art.

Should we expect a jump in the price of Beatles vinyl records when Paul McCartney dies? I suspect so.

Here is one list of the most expensive albums out there.

Keep in mind that vinyl record prices can also fluctuate from country to country.

In the UK, you'll find that this list is entirely different.

This list of the most expensive vinyl records was taken from Wikipedia in 2010. Since then, the list may have changed.

By the way, the first album on the list should be taken with a grain of salt. Half a million is simply the asking price.

1. John Lennon and Yoko Ono - "Double Fantasy"

Price : $525,000.00 USD
Details :Geffen US Album, 1980

Autographed by Lennon five hours before Mark David Chapman assassinated him.

2. The Quarrymen - “That’ll Be the Day”/”In Spite Of All The Danger”

Price : $180,000.00 USD
Details:UK 78 RPM, Acetate in plain sleeve, 1958

Only one copy made.

3. The Beatles – "Yesterday and Today"

Price : $38,500.00 USD
Details : Capitol, US Album in ‘butcher’ sleeve, 1966

More typically prices range from $150-$7500

4.Bob Dylan - "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan"

Price : $35,000.00 USD
Details : CBS, US album, stereo 1963

Features 4 tracks deleted from subsequent releases.

5. Long Cleve Reed & Little Harvey Hull – “Original Stack O’Lee Blues”

Price : $30,000.00 USD
Details : Black Patti, US 78 RPM in plain sleeve, 1927

6. Frank Wilson - “Do I Love You?”

Price : $30,000.00 USD
Details : Tamla Motown, US 7” 45 RPM in plain sleeve, 1965

7. Velvet Underground & Nico – "The Velvet Underground and Nico"

Price : $25,200.00 USD
Details : US Album Acetate, in plain sleeve, 1966

Alternate versions of tracks from official release.

8. Elvis Presley - "Stay Away, Joe"

Price : $25,000.00
Details : US, RCA Victor UNRM-9408, 1967

One side promotional album.

9. The Five Sharps - “Stormy Weather”

Price : $25,000.00
Details : US Album Acetate, in plain sleeve, 1966