How do you judge the relative condition of 78's? Since 1950 record aficionados have employed a five-part standard on which there is general agreement. Starting with the most likely condition first, the yardsticks are:
|Mint||M||Mint means shiny, sharp, Impeccable, and probably never played. Such a disc is rare, coveted, and (sometimes) costly. The way 78's were meant to be: virginal.|
|Excellent||E||Clears grooves arid clear sounds exemplify the well-preserved, carefully-handled disc. Someone cared enough to protect it from people. Reproduction fine on most record machines.|
|Fair||F||The physical properties of the disc are so depleted that the surface noise and the music fight it out to a draw. There is no winner. The record is exhausted and so is the listener. Scratches arid deep cuts proliferate.|
|Good||G||Blips, tics, and bumps may intrude on the music and cause minor waffling, but the general condition is noticeably improved over Fair. When the record is over you know what was on it, and are reasonably satisfied.|
|Poor||P||The surface noise is so overwhelming that it renders the contents of the record meaningless; the Babel is obliterated; the center hole is dime-sized and frayed; cracks, chips, and deep gouges predominate. Disc is best suited to skeet shooting.|
You can easily reduce any 78 from [M] to [P] in a matter of minutes, if you are so inclined, or very hostile, but to bring a [P], [F], [G] or [E] up to a higher classification is impossible. So it is a waste of energy to attempt it. From [M] the only way is down - and with 78's, down is forever. Even an old phonograph equipped with a "scratch remover" switch cannot rejuvenate a weatherbeaten 78. If your discs hover at the levels of [P] through [G] you might want to try to replace them through a dealer, unless you have a perverse affection for distortion, or more likely, you can not find them.