Would You Buy This Used Record?

Do you own a copy of Buckingham Nicks? It was Stevi Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham's pre-Fleetwood Mac pairing featuring an icky cover both probably regret. Issued on Polydor in 1973 it's credits show that the duo and producer/engineer Keith Olsen knew what they were doing!

The production and player credits are star studded: Jim Keltner and Ron (Ronnie) Tutt on drums, Waddy Wachtel on guitar, Jerry Scheff on bass, among them. The album was recorded at famed Sound City. Not bad for a debut. But it flopped, probably in great part because Polydor America at that time didn't know what it was doing in the rock world. In fact to this day it's not been released on CD.

At one time used copies went for big bucks and today clean originals (STERLING stamp, MR [Monarch] pressing plant) go for around $50.

For some reason I never bought the record, probably in part because of the icky cover. By the time curiosity set in, the price was more than I wanted to pay.

Last year I found this copy at a used record store for a few bucks. The reason? Well, look at that scratch! But I figured for a few bucks at least I could check out the music and if I liked it enough, I'd drop a few more dollars for a clean copy.

Not only does that scratch look bad, it feels bad too! Run a finger over the scratch and you can feel the destruction. But incredibly, after cleaning, the surfaces were quiet and it turned out that the scratch, though nasty looking and feeling, was so close to the groove surface that the stylus rides well below and you do not hear anything! At least with a modern "severe" profile stylus that gets all the way into the grooves.

The lesson here is, if it's a record you're interested in and it's cheap enough and not completely chewed up, for a buck or three, take a chance! I'm glad I did.

And when it comes to mono records, take a chance even if the record looks chewed up and stepped on by a golf pro! I was at a church sale and found a copy of Philles Records Presents Today's Hits (PHLP 4004). Only 3 copies appear on popsike.com, priced at $40, $81 and for one in shrink wrap $200! I paid $1.00.

Played with a mono cartridge, this record sounds incredible!. It sounds nothing like it looks.

Thurenity's picture

Rare record?  A buck or two?   Sure, why not?  Worst case is that it sounds as bad (or worse) than it looks and it goes in the trash bin.  Or I might pull out my "use only on questionable LP's" stylus and needle drop for future cleanup.


SET Man's picture


If the price is right and it is rare than I would take a chance on it. I'll say no more than $5.

Talk about not so perfect LP. I do have a few that look like it would play badly but sound fine with my cart's nude line contace stylus. This is where a better cart help more than just sound better.

Brother John's picture

I just got a hold of a copy of the first issue British pressing of Sensational Alex Harvey Band -Framed in similar condition and played it. I heard snap crackle and pop from beginning to end of the record. Then I gave each side a cleaning with Disk Dr. Miracle Record wash and distilled water on my 13 year old VPI 16.5.. Played it again and not only was the whole record silent but it sounded as though a cheese cloth had been lifted off my speakers! The treble was extended with beautiful midrange and sound stage was much wider than before! Bass also seemed deeper. The difference in sound quality was absolutely amazing.

Travis Klersy's picture

I've seen records in condition nearly that ugly being described as "really clean", "strong VG++", and "near mint" at my local record swaps and stores over the last few years.  They've also been priced accordingly.  This seems to coincide with the dealers having a harder time finding stuff to sell and having to pay more to acquire records.

A buck?  Sure.  Fifteen bucks?  No thanks.

chasm31's picture

Bought a freind of mine a copy of an Iron Maiden album he has been looking for locally for years.  Almost identical scratch and played fine.  I was in shock.  Makes me second guess some of those I've passed on before.  Of course I haven't been into vinyl for long and still learning the ins and outs of used records.   I may start making more risks on these $5 and under albums.

tbeavan's picture

Mikey, what with your massive record collection, this is the first you've ever heard this album?  What I wouldn't give to hear that album on your Caliburn!  It's one of my favorites and I think a must listen for any Fleetwood Mac fan.  It's also a big part of my re-introduction to analog.  I had pretty much stopped listening to vinyl many years ago, but I kept my collection.  Couple years ago I bought a Pro-ject Debut III with the intention of putting this album and a few others not available on CD into iTunes, but then a funny thing happened....  Looking back I've only owned some mediocre turntables at best and the Pro-ject was a real revelation to me.  I suddenly realized what I was missing--admitting to myself that those nice clean sanitized CD's and ripped iTunes files sound dry as toast, and I found I was doing way more LISTENING than ripping stuff into iTunes!  I've even started buying more used and new vinyl, and since found myself a very lightly used Linn Axis among other upgrades. Now I'm pondering either a VPI Traveler or Classic 1; negotiations are underway with She Who Must Be Obeyed...  I'm very much looking forward to those FLAC files and hearing how the Traveler and Caliburn sound!  Some time ago what with listening to most of my music on the old iPod and iPhone I thought I'd put all this sort of stuff behind me, upgrades and tweaking for better sound, and especially searching out that elusive near perfect copy of some favorite album--now I'm realizing how much I missed all this.  Keep up the good work, Mikey!  And give that rescued Buckingham Nicks album another good listen!

Paul Boudreau's picture

...if you can't swing the new 'table.  There are some worthwhile upgrades available for the Debut III, which I've added to mine:  The (full-size) acrylic platter & the speed box/speed switcher, total about $250 (I also upgraded the stylus and added the record weight and their interconnects).  All bought from Needle Doctor.

Paul Boudreau's picture

...there are those records that look fine but sound terrible, like the RCA Soria Julian Bream one I bought a few years back.  It must have been played with very heavy stylus pressure & was probably misaligned to boot.  Just about unlistenable but looks great!

Michael Fremer's picture

For some reason many Sorias look great and sound crunched. Not sure why but I've gotten some of those too. They were pressed on the same lines as "shaded dogs" so not sure for what accounts for the differences, particularly in noise levels.

Michael T's picture

I have at least 2-3 copies of this release and all sound pretty horrible, even though they look good.  Was RCA maybe trying out some of their Dynagroove techniques covertly?

Paul Boudreau's picture

By "horrible" do you mean distorted?  Same question for "crunched," thanks.

Michael T's picture


I have found the same thing!  I buy many records at thrift stores with scratches like that. When cleaned on a good machine with a quality fluid (I recently switched to L'Art du Son - it works wonders compared to some other cleaners I previously used) many of these 'scratched' records sound fine.  I also recently purchased a dedicated mono cartridge, and some records that sounded worn with a stereo cartridge play fine!

The one thing we can't predict (and the reason I am super cautious buying 'visually graded' records) is if the record was played with a worn cartridge or one which was not set up properly.  I have purchased records that look excellent or near mint but have lots of wear/inner groove distortion due to worn or misaligned cartridges/tracking weight/etc.

Preston's picture

I've about given up on visual grading of vinyl, despite 37 years of experience.  Friends give me trashed records that sound fantastic (after cleaning).  I buy perfect-looking used vinyl in the shops that sounds like Rice Krispies.  Maybe I should start flipping a coin?  As I've moved up in the quality of my vinyl rig and bought a record cleaning machine, I've also noticed that records I had previously thought either didn't sound good or were trashed, now sound great.  A life lesson?? :-)

anomaly7's picture

I have a copy of this produced in Canada by Quality records, from the mid 70's. I think the cover advertises it as a "collectors item."  The price was cheep 10 years ago. The cover is cheesy, instead of sexy, which is what they were probably going for. The sound quality isn't bad, but doesn't knock your socks off.

J.D.'s picture

Just to sha

jstro's picture

Good post and glad to know others are picking up great vinyl bargains. There is so much amazing music music out there for $1 or less. 

js's picture

A good friend my lent me his copy as my teenager is into Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks and I like to encourage better music when I can.  The whole family really fell in love with it.  So, when it was time to return the copy I went on quest to local record stores to see if I could stumble upon a copy.  I checked all the bins where it might be filed but nothing.  While making my way to purchase a couple items I found on the search, I looked up on the wall.   Destiny was on my side. A perfect copy no ring marks, no fading, nothing. It appeared that this may never had been played and was the early gatefold edtion.  The clerk had put it out that morning. Not bargin bin find at $25, but... hey I view it as a investment in family bonding.  

soundman45's picture
Vinylghost's picture

Mr. "F", 

You stick your nose up at Elvis, and now this?  

As long as that scratch didn't run through "Frozen Love" you did okay.  

I don't believe you specified which side, but a quick glance at the grooves tells me old mr. scratch is on side two.  In that case "Frozen" got nicked (pun).  

Just go and enjoy the music.

KingTaco's picture

Can I damage my stylus by playing scratched up, but clean, records?

mikeyt's picture

I love when records play better than they look.  I found a sort-of-beat up looking copy of an original Y&B Sgt. Peppers for $9 and thought "why not."  Sounded pretty good!  

CCFK's picture

There's a wealth of inexpensive vinyl out there.  I'll buy just about anything  that interests me for a buck.  In addition, my local Goodwill does five records for a dollar and I've been able to buy dozens of beautiful near mint classical LPs with some very good rock and country mixed in (Gram Parsons' "Grievous Angel" for twenty cents?  Sure!).  There's another place that has a weekly sliding scale for records, four bucks for a single LP the first day down to the last day of the week where it's five bucks for all you can carry.  The resellers pick things over the first day, leaving behind the cosmetically challenged, many of which only need a good cleaning to sound great and when it's five bucks for one LP or fifty, what's the difference?  What I've learned is that surface damage shouldn't be a deal breaker especially with a good record cleaner/turntable setup.

I would be interested in a recommendation for a cartridge to use with records that have some surface damage...

Trace's picture

I had forgotten I had this album and pulled it out. My surprise was that it had visible surface imperfections which I did not remember. Cleaned it twice and then played it. Not a nick or pop. And not a bad album. Thanks Mike!

andyo5's picture

Yes, I have a clean copy that I got at a junkshop for three bucks. I agree about that goofy nudie cover. Obviously shot to help sell a record from a couple of unknowns. But the tunes are mostly good and the prodution is great. A fun record to listen to.

I have a ritual that I follow when looking at used records. If I turn the record at various angles and the scratch can be made to disappear at some angle, it is superficial and won't affect the sound too much. I probably would have passed on the copy you have shown for this article. I'm glad that it worked out for you.

Music Loving Motorcyclist's picture

I saved all my records from 1969 on. I have a beautiful copy and I pull it out once in a while for a spin.  Still love it.