INFO version 1.1
Though we make every attempt to answer basic questions (check INFO section) that you may have for us, we have included a select group of questions & answers (found below), asked by visitors which you may find helpful in understanding and collecting record items. If you have a question which would be appropriate for this section to include, please feel free to contact us HERE.
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Don't Understand What the Grade Levels Stand For Regarding Record
Do You Offer Any Guarantees on Your Merchandise?
Would you buy my stuff?
What Are Promos and How Do The Different Types of Promos Compare in Value?
What Is An Audiophile Pressing/What Does MFSL stand for?
What Does 100% Virgin Vinyl Mean?
What Is The Difference Between A First Pressing Vinyl Album As Supposed To A Later One?
What Are Counterfeits, and How Do They Differ From Bootlegs?
What Record Price Guide Should I Use When Determining the Value Of An Album Or Single?
How Long Would I Have to Wait For An Item To Be Shipped?
Do Return Customers Receive Special Consideration?
Are All Listed Prices For Items Fixed?
Where Are Items Listed On BeatZenith.com Shipped From?
What Happens to My Name, E-mail, and Home Addresses When I Place An Order with BeatZenith.com?
Whom Should I Speak to When I Have A Question?
You will find a more detailed explanation of record condition grades in our Information Center Home. At the same time, we urge customers to inquire about any specifics they desire about an item or items; we will give a detailed description of condition if desired. The current basic grading system can of course only give a general idea of an item's condition. If an item is of some particular importance, please feel free to request a more specific breakdown of what makes a single item either VG or VG+ or otherwise.
We specialize in record items. Unlike many collectibles, records are at times difficult to care for, and manage. We understand that an item may not live up to your expectations, and we are always prepared to accommodate you. It is always better to be able to examine an item with your own eyes and ears, thus, we offer you an opportunity to receive a refund for returned items. Any record item listed in this web site at a price over 99¢ is 'SATISFACTION GUARANTEED' by us - if you are not satisfied with your purchase, you will be refunded the merchandise cost (details in INFO). Record items priced at 99¢ or less may not be guaranteed unless the customer specifically asks that the items be reviewed (prior to payment sent) for 'possible refund status'. All CDs and VHS tapes are fully guaranteed as well. If you desire any other information regarding this guarantee, please refer to our Information Center, or E-mail us directly at email@example.com.
BeatZenith.com is comprised of collectors such as yourself. If you have records to sell, please feel free to contact us. Please be prepared to offer information such as a sample list of artists, titles, conditions and if desired, an asking price. Understand that over 50% of our stock is comprised of essentially wholesale prices of 99¢ or less. If you have anything to sell related to music, movies, magazines, comic books or other pop culture, you are welcome to present it to us for possible sale.
Promo is simply short for promotional issue. These issues are most often released prior to public release of albums or singles as a market tester. They are given to radio and television stations, record executives, or as giveaways to virtually anyone. There may be many levels of promotional releases of particular items, of which the most important are discussed here.
Below is a list of promotional issues of publicly-available albums and singles. Often, artists may have promotional items which are never subsequently released in mass quantity; these items are not mentioned here.
The Basic Cycle of Life for Your Records:
TEST PRESSING - the first level of promotion, usually contains half of the songs found on an album (though maybe all) slated for future release, and some may contain rough early mixes of later remastered cuts. Printed in an extremely low number, often as few as 10 or 20, and given to select radio & television stations and/or executives. The disc label is white, with often crude 'typewriter' lettering. Offered only in a pure white cardboard cover, and often accompanied by a letter from the record publisher. Collector value may be at least 25-50 times the regular album or single.
SAMPLER - much like the test pressing, usually contains 1/4 to 1/2 of the songs found on an album slated for future release. All songs are the final cuts, as will be found on the full-length album. Generally offered to radio stations and select public persons. They are usually found in plain white cardboard covers, and often accompanied by a letter from the record publisher. The are no samplers for singles, for they would obviously be unnecessary (for the single title equivalent, see mono/stereo). Collector value is uniquely based on the release.
WHITE LABEL PROMO - actually more rare than the sampler, contains all songs which appear on the regular album, yet pressed in an extremely limited number, as few as 50 to 250, and given to select radio & television stations and/or executives. The label is easily recognizable, for no matter what color the regular albums disc label is, this one will always be pure white, with black lettering. Licensed for Promotional Use Only will clearly be printed. WLPs for 7, 10 & 12 singles are far more common (1,000+), and are most often given to radio stations. Collector value is 10-20 times the regular album, and 3-4 times the regular single.
MONO/STEREO PROMO - Somewhere between White Label Promos and Promo Only releases, the mono/stereo pressings surface for singles. They are designed uniquely for airplay, giving the option of mono or stereo sound to a deejay (DJ). The labels are either the same color (white or light blue) on both sides, or have alternating colors (usually white & red). Licensed for Promotional Use Only, For Airplay Only, DJ Use or For Broadcast Use Only will likely be printed on the label. These promos were very common in the 1970s and 1980s, and may have value much like Promo Only releases (see below), or more like White Label Promos, depending on the artist(s). Though mono/stereo promos are more common, there are long/short promos and stereo/stereo promos as well which are virtually identical in collector value, and only exist for singles, not albums (for the album equivalent, see Sampler). Collector value may be anywhere between 2-5 times a regular pressing.
PROMO ONLY RELEASE - a pressing which has all of the features of a regular album or single, except the mention of Licensed for Promotional Use Only printed on the label and/or cover. Collector value is 3-5 times a regular album, and 2-4 times the regular single.
STAMPED PROMO - a regular pressing which is marked Licensed for Promotional Use Only by a stamp (often in gold lettering in the upper left-hand side of the back cover). This may make little to no difference in the value of an item, though it is often looked at as a slight advantage over a regular pressing, such as a pressing with an original store "track" sticker, which mentions contents of the album, is viewed. Collector value is 1-2 times a regular album or single.
CUT PROMO - usually a regular pressing which is physically damaged, by a punch-hole or cut corner (cc) to indicate a title which is to be sold at below retail. Some promo issues are treated this way, and their value is based on the value of the promotional issue, minus the damage it has received. Virtually all retail stores do this to sell off overstock and/or misprinted or slightly damaged goods. There is no way to determine one cut or hole from any other, and only lessens the value according to the amount of damage. Luckily for some collectors, albums or singles which at the time of release were tossed in the bargain bin, later became quite collectible and valuable for one reason or another. A valuable record with a cut corner or punch-hole is worth 5% to 10% less than one without such damage.
Audiophile (n.) A
devotee of high-fidelity sound reproduction.
Columbia (CBS) records introduced limited edition pressings for several popular albums recorded in half-speed or 16.7rpm, in 1981. As a response to the highly popular, and critically acclaimed MFSL (see below) recordings, Columbia found a way to produce these high-quality pressings in greater quantity. Though not as rare as MFSL recordings, and some say not quite as good, the Audiophile Master Half-Speed Pressings are still far more rare than regular album issues.
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab - Master pressings or heavy metal lacquer discs are cut at 33.3rpm, the same speed which you will play a publicly purchased copy of an album. MFSL Original Master Recordings (trademark) are cut at 16.7rpm, allowing the recording to capture the music more deeply and precisely. After the MFSL heavy metal lacquer disc is cut, it is immediately refrigerated for protection. When the subsequent pressings are finally made, they will not be done on vinyl, but JVC Super Vinyl (trademark), whose grooves do not stretch after constant play as in normal vinyl albums. While it takes a little over an hour to make a master pressing for eventual mass production, it takes over three months to complete each MFSL release. Not surprisingly, further steps are taken to provide a complete music experience, as each disc is wrapped in soft-cloth and vinyl protective sleeves, encased in a cardboard skin, and housed in a thick cardboard jacket.
Mass produced albums are normally pressed on filtered, or treated vinyl, as pure vinyl is quite expensive. The term Virgin is used to describe vinyl which has been molded only once in its lifetime. Though there is no discernable difference in the sound quality, a 100% Virgin Vinyl disc is guaranteed to have no anomalies associated with some mass produced pressings, and are subsequently more rare and valuable. This is not often done by record companies, for it costs them much more to produce. A Virgin Vinyl LP will clearly be marked as such.
First pressings are often most soft after by collectors because they represent the album or singles initial public offering. The difference is not in quality, but quantity. With highly successful artists, the earlier the pressing the better, though it may not always be worth more. In most cases, it does not matter much one pressing from another, that is why few albums listed are described in this way. If there is a significant difference between the value, it will be mentioned. Example #1 - Elvis Christmas Album - offered since 1958, has been re-issued several times. The most common issues are not always the most recent. In this case, the most common pressing is from the late-1970s, which sells for $8-10 USd. Pressings from the 1960s vary from $25-100 USd. The initial pressing however, is worth over $1,500 USd in top condition. Example #2 - George Harrison "All Things Must Pass" - First issued in 1970, the first pressing (as of 1999) is worth $35-45 USd, the later pressings however, and there are many, can be lower ($15-25), or much higher ($90-100 USd).
Al Capone once said he was not
breaking the law by producing booze during the prohibition era,
but a public service. This is the most recognizable
reference to the meaning of the word bootleg. Unfortunately when
dealing with record items, they are often aligned with
counterfeits, which are quite different. A counterfeit is an
illegally produced reproduction of COPYRIGHTED material.
Counterfeits are not only illegal, they are usually poor in
quality. They are the plague of the record collector, as they pop
up now and again to either confuse or degrade. Beatles
collectors are especially prone to be ripped off financially by
such interloping products, for often only the most valuable items
are slated for counterfeiting. Peter Grant,
famed Led Zeppelin road manager, was infamous
for taking the law into his own hands concerning counterfeiters.
He was said to visit shops selling these illegal goods, and
destroy the items with a baseball bat. Fortunately, counterfeits
are usually easy to recognize as the print will often be blurred,
or color will have a watered down look. The quality
of the cardboard used for both the cover and disc will most
likely be cheap and thinner than the original.
Bootlegs however, as far as records are concerned, are items produced from NON-COPYRIGHTED material, and in extremely limited number. Bootlegs are not designed to infect stock of excellent-quality legitimate items, but to introduce unique material which otherwise would not exist. The quality of sound can vary from brilliant to utterly awful, a difference which depends solely on the source. Most countries (sans U.S.A.) produce such items legally. Japan, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, and many other nations have produced such items for years, most of which are recordings of live performances of popular artists. By many, bootlegs have been cherished, for they represent material which would otherwise no longer exist except in memory for a select few. Historians have noted their invaluable existence in preservation of sound and picture. A perfect example of a bootleg, is the world-famous Zepruder film of John F. Kennedys 1963 assassination in his Dallas motorcade, which was recently purchased by the US Library of Congress for tens of millions of dollars. Though obviously not all bootleg recordings are so universally important, to the collector, it can be crucial to their stock. Of course, not all bootleggers limit themselves to advancing the catalogs of some of your favorite artists, as many take advantage of the hardened fan by releasing horrible quality material for outrageous prices. Subsequently, Bootleg became an exotic name that has been unfairly abused in the United States of America to describe counterfeits and other illegal items. note-BeatZenith.com does not list, nor do any of it's holders sell, counterfeit or illegal recordings.
There are countless record price guides out there, but most have something to gain by printing blatantly false or misleading information. Not to say that all of these incorrect guides are purposely attempting to misinform you, it is that most have a select view in valuation. Though a price guide may list many titles in many categories, they may know much more about one title or category, and virtually none about another title or category which may be more important to you. The most diverse record price guide which has the largest concentration of reference information, without being too itemized (the book would weigh a ton), is Jerry Osborne 's "The Official Price Guide to Records" . For many years, Jerry has compiled a series of accolades for his work in this field, and no book serves an overall collector better. At the same time, his book is static and impersonal. For a more personal an precise books on records, check out Tim Neely's Guides . For the more concentrated Collector guide to valuable and/or popular albums, check that or any number of other Goldmine record publications . Goldmine has been in the business since 1974, and knows much about the collectible records (especially rock & roll) that you are most likely interested in more than anything else. Neal Umphred's "Goldmine Price Guide to Collectible Record Albums" is a nice book, but be aware that he selectively leaves out many big names in place of expanded info on other artists. As of 1998, he does not list Otis Redding, but does list expanded information on Jackie Wilson.
Unless you have requested a special order item, there is no waiting period once payment is received. This is possible because all items listed are in stock and ready to go (unless ordered within the last few days). Special order items are not listed in our catalogs and must be specifically requested. Even in that case, we do not expect payment until the items are in our possession, upon which the individual will be notified that the item is available to order. The customer has many alternate shipping options ranging in cost and speed. The rest is up to the United States Postal Service.
All orders are marked down 15% if over $50.00 (see INFO for more); future orders from return customers however, are given 15% off if over $35.00, or 20% if over $75.00. Customers whom have good credit with us, will often have their records shipped to them before payment is received.
Listed prices for items found in this web site are partially discounted to subjugate possible shipping costs to you (see INFO). As of December, 2007, over 52% of the albums listed on BeatZenith.com are priced at $2 or less; also, more than 53% of the singles/EPs listed are priced at 99¢ or less. We do, however often give consideration to individuals whom are attempting to purchase an item or items as a gift for birthdays or holidays. If you have a special situation that you feel we can accommodate, please let us know.
Most of our stock is located in New York City, and adjoining Long Island. There are no particular shipping days, packages are sent out as little as three (3) days a week, and at times, as many as six (6) days a week.
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