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So you want to start collecting records and/or CDs and it all seems a little confusing. What's a Promo? What's all this WOC/WLP/PD7"? Hopefully the following guide will help you out with some of the more commonly used definitions.

2CD = 2x CDs in the one release.

2LP = 2x Records in the one release.

45 = 45 RPM Record. Usually refers to 7" Records.

7" = 7" Vinyl Record. (Diameter = 7" / 18cm)

10" = 10" Vinyl Record. (Diameter = 10" / 25cm)

12" = 12" Vinyl Record. (Diameter = 12" / 30cm)

Acetate = We needed a whole article to write about Acetates. So here it is. [ Acetates ]

Boot/Bootleg = A record which was not created with the permission of the band or their record company. The majority of bootlegs are live recordings.

Cass = Cassette

Cat No = Catalogue Number. The code given to each record be the record company to identify them. You can easily see these on most CD spines. On records, the code can be seen etched into the 'run out groove'. Note that it is common to see the same catalogue number for different releases (eg. The American 7" for Brass Monkey has the same code as the American Promo 7" and the Canadian 7").

CD = Compact Disc Album. Usually 5" in diameter.

CD3 = 3" Compact Disc Single. Common in the late 80's, this size isn't very common these days.

CD5 = 5" Compact Disc Single. The most common size of CDs.

CDR = Recordable CD. Acetate Promo CDs are printed on these discs.

DJ = Disc Jockey. Usually refers to the record being a "Promo". Commonly used as DJs are the guys that get all the promos.

Flexi-Disc = Flexi's are thin sheets of plastic with grooves cut into them like a record, except that the material is quit flexible (hence the name) and can be rolled/bent/etc. They used to be quite often used as giveaways with magazines as they were easy to attach to the front cover - simply staple the plastic to the sleeve.

GF, G/Fold = Gatefold Sleeve. This is where the sleeve opens up like a book.

Inner Sleeve = Sleeve for the record which sits inside the overall sleeve. Can have the lyrics printed on it or just artwork.

Insert = Usually like a piece of paper which was included inside the original record, but is not part of the sleeve.

LP = Long Playing Record. An album on vinyl.

Matrix Number = see Cat Number.

Misspressing = A release which has the wrong music on it. Or the wrong artwork depending on how you look at things. Example - "Hello Nasty" was recorded on a CD with Liz Phair artwork. And in the reverse, it is rumoured that there are some versions of a John Secada album with "Ill Communication" on it.

MC = Music Cassette

MD = Mini Disc

NM = Near Mint

Obi = Japanese Obi Strip. It is a strip of paper which wraps around the left side of records/cds in japan.

OOP = Out Of Print. This item is no longer being made, and generally it can't be ordered from a normal store.

PD = Picture Disc. A vinyl record with a picture embedded into it. The sound is quite often inferior to standard black vinyl releases - but they look damn cool!

Promo = An item not released to the general public (ie not sold in your standard CD stores). These are usually given out to DJs and Journalists to promote the new album/single. Most of them have "For Promotional Use Only" printed on the sleeve and/or disc.

PS = Picture Sleeve. The cover that the record comes in has a picture - ie its not a boring company sleeve.

Run Out Groove = The area on a record where the music stops and the needle runs into the middle of the vinyl and then lifts off. Catalogue Numbers are etched or stamped here and also comments and names are often found here.

RW = Ring Wear

Test Pressing = A small batch of records that were made to test a new release. These are used by the artist and the record company to check the quality of the new record and sometimes given out to promote the album. 95% of the time they are identical to the officially released versions but without proper labels.

TOC = Tear on Cover

WD = Water Damage (usually means the record is going to be in bad condition)

WL = White Label. Another term used to describe promo-only records. These often come in plain white sleeve - hence the name.

WLP - White Label Promo. See WL.

WOC = Writing on Cover

WOL = Writing on Label


Records traders have some basic terminology to describe the condition of their record-sleeves and vinyl. The following are the usual abbreviations used, although there are variations. Most people will use "+" and "-" to make more grades available. (eg "M-" is less than "M" but better than "EX+")

SS = Still Sealed. Record is still in its original shrink-wrap just like it came from the factory.

M = Mint. The highest grade possible (well besides Still Sealed). This term does get used differently by people. Most refer to something being 'Mint' when it is open (ie not sealed) but hasn't been played before. This comes from the thinking that as soon as a record has been played once, it is no longer in total mint condition.

EX = Excellent. Great condition. Unless you are ultra-picky you should be pretty happy with records in this condition. The vinyl will show slight signs of use, but there should be no deterioration in sound quality. Record sleeves may have slight wear and possibly minor creasing.

VG = Very Good. Record has obviously been played before, but there shouldn't be any sound deterioration. The cover will have marks and rough edges etc. Major markings are normally listed (eg WOC = Writing on Cover, WD = Water Damage etc)

G = Good. Contrary to what this abbreviation stands for - records in this condition are not really good at all. It is the lowest grade possible. Scratches on records, stains and tears on covers - these are reserved for the grade 'G'. (maybe they should introduce a grade of 'S' for shitty?)