Record Sleeve Grading: An Essential Guide

When it comes to vinyl record collecting, grading is an essential process that helps determine the quality and value of a record.

However, many collectors overlook the importance of grading record sleeves, which can be just as important in determining the overall condition and value of a record. In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of record sleeve grading and why it’s important for collectors.

What is Record Sleeve Grading?

Record sleeve grading is the process of evaluating the condition of a record’s sleeve, cover, or jacket. The sleeve is the outermost protective covering of a record, and it serves to protect the record itself from scratches, dust, and other elements. Record sleeve grading is similar to record grading in that it involves a system of evaluation based on specific criteria.

Why is Record Sleeve Grading Important?

Record sleeve grading is important for several reasons:

  1. Protection: The sleeve protects the record from damage, and if the sleeve is damaged, it can affect the condition of the record itself.
  2. Value: A record with a damaged or poorly graded sleeve may be worth less to collectors than a record with a well-graded sleeve.
  3. Aesthetics: The sleeve is an important part of the overall aesthetic of a record, and a well-graded sleeve can enhance the appearance of a record.

How is Record Sleeve Grading Done?

Record sleeve grading is typically done on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the worst condition and 10 being the best. The criteria used to grade a record sleeve may vary depending on the grader, but some common factors include:

  1. Condition of the cover: This includes any damage to the cover, such as tears, creases, or discoloration.
  2. Condition of the spine: This includes any damage to the spine, such as fading, tearing, or peeling.
  3. Condition of the corners: This includes any damage to the corners of the sleeve, such as bends, creases, or tears.
  4. Condition of the inner sleeve: This includes any damage to the inner sleeve, such as tearing, staining, or writing.
  5. Other factors: Other factors that may be considered include the quality of the printing, the presence of stickers or other markings, and the overall appearance of the sleeve.

Tips for Grading Record Sleeves

Here are some tips for grading record sleeves:

  1. Use a consistent grading system: Use a consistent grading system that takes into account all the relevant factors, and be consistent in applying that system to all sleeves.
  2. Be thorough: Take the time to examine the sleeve carefully, and make note of any and all damage or wear.
  3. Be objective: Try to be as objective as possible in your grading, and avoid letting personal preferences or biases influence your evaluation.
  4. Consider the market: Consider the market for the particular record, and how the sleeve condition may affect its value to collectors.


Record sleeve grading is an essential part of vinyl record collecting, and can have a significant impact on the overall quality and value of a record. By understanding the criteria used to grade record sleeves and following some basic tips for grading, collectors can ensure that their collections are in the best possible condition, both in terms of the record itself and the protective sleeve that surrounds it.