The record should show no obvious signs of wear. An LP cover should have no creases, folds, seam splits or other noticeable similar defects. 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. Excellent (EX): Generally worth 75% of the Near Mint value. An Excellent 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. 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 Excellent record highly acceptable. Very Good (VG): Generally worth 50% 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): Generally worth 10-25% of the Near Mint value.
Good does not mean Bad! A record in Good 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. But, if it's something you have been seeking for years, and the price is right, get it... But keep looking to upgrade.