How Do We Define A First Pressing Or Pressed Vinyl Record?
A first pressing record is a record that was pressed from the 1st original masters.
There seems to be some controversy between record collectors of what is a first pressing as opposed to first issues.
So Why Do We Even Need To Know If We Have A First Pressing?
To fully understand the situation we have to understand why we even need to know what a 1st pressing / 1st pressed vinyl record.
Basically, vinyl collectors soon realised that there is a distinct difference between the sound and vibrancy of earlier original vinyls as compared to some later re-issued pressings. But it is not just the pressings, the material used for later pressings and the amount of material i.e. the thickness of the vinyl also seems to come in to the equation. But to make things even more complicated, audiophiles also realised that there is also a difference in audio quality between pressings by the given mother stampers that was used from any master that was pressed. You can find out more about matrix and mother stampers in my other previous articles How A Vinyl Is Made , About Decca UK EMI Matrix and Mother Stampers ,
About Beatles UK EMI Matrix and Mother Stampers
An important point is that it is possible to have a 1st issue and a later issued pressing that is 1st pressed. This means that although perhaps the album may be issued with different label variations or in some cases different cover variations the vinyls are still pressed from the 1st original masters hence1st pressed or pressing. This doesn't always apply of course but it is an important point because many people loose the point that at 1st pressing doesn't have to mean 1st issue.
So how do we know that we have a first pressing?
We have to look at the run off grooves, the smooth part around the outside of the labels. There we will see a set of markings, letters and numbers stamped and or in some instances etched. The matrix can be seen which will be a long set of numbers and letters on the run off groove. This set of numbers and letters will often tell us weather the recording was pressed in mono or stereo, the manufacturers product catalogue number for the pressing and some times even the country of manufacture but importantly at the end, it will show the master that it was pressed from. It is important to note, That these numbers differ from one manufacturer to another and the format changes, so there is a lot of homework involved to fully understand every different manufacturers markings. All of these different variants are outside the scope of this article.
An example is a Beatles Rubber Soul Parlophone labels record that has 'XEX 579-1' stamped on the run off grooves on side one. This tells us that it is a mono recording which is defined by the "XEX" ("YEX" would be a stereo recording) The ' 579' part tells us the product catalogue number for the pressing (and we can work out that this is side one of the vinyl because side two will feature '580' on the run off grooves.) The '-1' part is the important part because we can see what master this vinyl was pressed from -1 being the earliest possible for this particular album pressing. Please note: Parlophone records used EMI code structure but other manufacturers may and indeed do use different code structures. again all these variations are outside the scope of this article and you will need to do your homework for ofher types of manufacturer variations.
Because of the many questions that I have been getting regarding this subject I thought that it might be beneficial to write something down.
I hope that you found this information helpful? Please contact me if there is anything that you feel i should add to this article. I may amend or add to this in the near future.
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