How I Grade Tapes; Thoughts on “club” copies

Grading Scale (+ thoughts/notes on “club copies;” how I grade tapes; contact info below if any issues. Grade explanations etc follow grades.)

Grades:

 Fair/As Is: About as low of quality as I will sell, which is very rare, and not guaranteed.

Good/ As is: Plays good but looks bad and no guarantee. Again- rare here.

 My most common grades are the following:

Good- (G-) *Added 11/24/21 About as low as I’ll sell and still guarantee it plays great. Will show significant wear and tear. 

Good (G) Looks not so great but is still guaranteed to play great. 

Good+ (G+) Looks sorta bad/not awful, and will play great unless noted.

Very Good Minus: (VG- ) *Added 11/24/21 Essentially VG but may show some additional wear. However should not be considered low grade. 

Very Good (VG) Looks great, plays great. Maybe some light wear to the j card or tape shell. 

Very Good Plus (VG+) Looks Great, Plays Great. About as good as it gets around here- has a certain NM shimmer or shine. 

Near Mint: (NM) I don't use terms like "Near mint" sparingly. This is only used if I opened the tape and played it myself 1-3 times. 

Mint/Sealed/New/etc Variations of this are self explanatory. If the tape is new and sealed, assume mint inside. If it's sealed old stock (A sealed older tape) I assume mint inside but depending on how the tape was stored over the years, it could be bad in rare instances.

All tapes are guaranteed for 30 days unless labeled "As Is." Please email me support@3rdfloortapes.com with any issues. I do my best to play test as much as possible, particularly on higher priced tapes but also the classics and stuff I’ve never heard when possible. Need something tested for absolute assurance? Lmk. Happy to help if I can. 

I use a simplified, single-grade system which is an average between the condition of the casette tape itself and the j card. Please inspect the photos for yourself in case I have misjudged or mislabeled- you are my last line of quality control! Tapes are sent out with felt pads intact, re glued, or replaced/re glued. I try to send not cracked cases but case quality is not guaranteed (I do my best and recently threw away 300 tapes to save the cases)

 

My thoughts on club copies (ie opinions from someone not claiming to be an expert; please feel free to chime in- send me any info you may want me to have or know! I don’t maintain beliefs, only flexible opinions subject to change.)

Occasionally I list club copies (BMG, Columbia House) and forget to specify that they are club copies. This is also usually indicated clearly in photos. Please be aware if you are “anti club copy.” Club copies (BMG, Columbia House) are basically the same tape you would normally find except with a variation in barcode or tape shell. Sometimes a standard issue tape will feature a higher codec or tape quality (like chrome, etc) but often times the club copy will also be of the same quality. Always double check discogs but club copies are typically more rare and equally as collective if not more so in some cases, in my opinion. (Sometimes the j card art is a bit more generic as well, with the covers sometimes cropped into a square with a white border and generic print on the spine)

What are Club Copies?

Companies used to sell monthly mail order music subscriptions and license albums from record labels, then produce them somewhat independently. Generally the first stack of records/tapes/CDs were “free,” and then you agreed to sign up for monthly items that were priced way higher than retail. (We used to order these in 8th grade and never pay for anything, I’m sure Karma has taken care of me by now😂)

Some claim club copies are inferior in quality or were mass produced or dubbed at high speeds. I would hope anyone claiming to tell the difference in audio quality between the two are at least playing them on a classic hi fi setup. 

Some opinions and info on club copies

https://www.retrospace.org/2011/04/retro-fail-24-columbia-record-and-tape.html

 

Any questions please email support@3rdfloortapes.com.