How Do We Define A First Pressing Or Pressed Vinyl Record?


The Definition of a first pressing or pressed vinyl 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.

Beatles Loud Cut Vinyl How Do We Define A First Pressing


Beatles Loud Cut 1st Press Matrix


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.

Helpful Related Articles.

How A Vinyl Is Made
About Decca UK EMI Matrix and Mother Stampers
About Beatles UK EMI Matrix and Mother Stampers

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25 thoughts on “How Do We Define A First Pressing Or Pressed Vinyl Record?

  1. Hi!
    ItÅ› very hard to stay on top of things all the time. There are so many different opinions that are floating on the internet that with time the correct information is swallowed by the sea. There will always be people that want to believe they have a first pressing or a first issue or both.
    Here are some facts:
    The zip:
    Model \ Actor Joe Dallesandro was featured and used as the model for the Andy Warhol cover artwork. The first issue had the small zipper which followed the zip. Later issues of the cover had the large ones because they ran out of the correct one. The logic behind this is that there are more control involved when a record is released. Everything is scrutinized and when problems occur they are for the most times corrected. The large zipper don’t fit within the space of the gliders and would protude to much that it hard to believe that this would go unnoticed by the designer team during the preparations of the first issue. But when the cat goes away the mice can have a party! Also there are the possibilities that later issues had the large zipper and were packed with first pressings but most likely these combos are produced by collectors themselves when they get hold of better cover to hold there precious first pressing and thereby adding value to it.
    About the label:
    The very first UK edition did NOT have the inscription “A Promotone N.V. RECORD” on the label, because the Promotone company was founded only a few months (in September 1971, exactly, in Amsterdam, Netherlands) after the album “Sticky Fingers” was released (April 1971).
    About the first pressing:
    Matrix / Runout ((stamped )): COC-59100-A3 / COC-59100-B3.
    All other configurations are later pressings.
    About the cover:
    Some argue they have a gatefold version but it was just copies where the glue was not strong or dried out so it came apart.

  2. Curious question stampers mark the pressing in its code .
    My question was the yex number or any prefixes in label that designates a region exported to or made from?
    When the label does not mention made in norway for example but claims it is by. Jacket is their way to know by decca or emi
    To know its region of manufacture

    Thanks for any imput on this

    1. Hi, the catalogue number of a record should indicate where the record was made. The “YEX” prefix indicated that the pressing is a stereo recording and “XEX” a mono.I hope this helps?

  3. Great Article – Thanks for this.

    I’m interested in exploring the variants of manufacturers’ markings – what’s the closest thing you have found in the form of a master list of these different company’s specific markings… assuming you have?

    1. Hi, there are various books and literature on the subject of variants of manufacturers markings for record, you would need to specify which manufacturer that you are interested in would make life easier when searching for information.

  4. Someone told me that if the numbers in the dead wax area or stand that means the record is original they said if the numbers were Etched then that the record is a bootleg. Is that correct?

    1. No that is not necessarily correct some original pressings are etched also.

  5. Thanks for the article. When a record is listed by record dealers by variant what does that mean? For example Beatles ’65. T2-2228-T8-P. Record dealers show that is variant 6, so what pressing is that? 6th?

    1. Hi Joe, Unfortunately I am not an avid collector of US or foreign pressings. I have only ever been interested in UK pressings. So unfortunately I can not help you with this question.

  6. Hey. I need help identifying value of my Beatles second album. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. I am not an expert on US pressings, but by second album if you mean “With The Beatles” UK pressing, then I can help you. Please send me some photos of the cover front and rear and both labels. Also please provide the numbers stamped on the run off grooves? Thanks.

  7. Hi, I have been reading your notes on how to identify a first pressing with interest but, alas, I am left confused due to some inconsistencies when checking details on my record. I have a copy of The Beatles ‘Please Please Me’ which I’ve had since the mid-60’s. On side 1 it has XEX421-1N and stamped 12 & RDO. Side two is XEX422-1N and stamped 14 & RGT at which point I was getting excited! On the label “Please Please Me” and “Ask Me Why”has (Dick James Mus.Co.) but the others you mention are (Northern Songs)… now less excited! Then I see that the ‘A’ in Angus McBean credit is under the “S” on the sleeve… but then I notice the record label is not the Gold on Black as in your photo but Yellow on Black that seem to appear on later pressings. I’m hoping that you might be able to offer an opinion on whether I have a valuable album in my collection or not. Thanking you in anticipation!

    1. Hi, re: your Please Please me record value. Condition is the most importance, for exmple if it looks like it has just come from the shop then it will be very valuable.
      If there is an inscription of “recording 1st Published 1963” on the labels then you will probably have a fourth pressing or later.

  8. Hi I have some ray Charles on decca 2 are only on one side , not for resale ! Stamped on label AML – 2210 -1B HAK 8023 What do these signify – worth anything ! Never been played ! No record cover ,white original sleeve only ! Thanks

    1. Yes I recon that these would be of value to someone and quite collectable.

  9. Does that make a -2 second pressing, and if so how does this differ from a first (is it a significant difference)?

    1. In some instances a -1 matrix is bypassed and -2 is the first press. So to answer your question, not necessarily. I know it is confusing but that is why I posted the article.

  10. i have a Shades of deep purple ..1968 its a xex 689-1 both sides ..mother is 1 both sides ..stamp is G side one and R side 2

    1. Lovely, a nice copy to own.

  11. Hi
    I am trying to decided whether to buy an Buddy Holly LP Reminiscing, released on Coral in 1963 to replace the poor copy I already own. On the one I own it says Recording First published on the one I am thinking of buying it just says (P) and then the date but everything else is the same. My question is this , is the record a later re-issue or was it released in 1963 the same just with a different stamp?
    Any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks Stewart

    1. Hello Stewart, Unfortunately I am not an expert with US pressings. My guess is that the pressing differs because it may have been pressed in a different state or factory. Best to consult a dealer in the US for this. Hope this helps? Jake.

  12. I recently purchased a 1st pressing large zipper Sticky Fingers album by the Rolling Stones (COC 59100 A4 B4 TML Rolling Stones matrix and etchings). The album HAS Promotone stamped on the vinyl.

    Am I right in concluding that the vinyl is a first pressing but second issue as Promotone was stamped in September of 1971 after the initial release in April of that year? I know album covers can be swapped so they are not always the best way to judge but I believe first pressings had the large zip.

    Any feedback would be gratefully appreciated.



    1. Hello Shaun,
      You are correct to assume that you have a 1st pressing 2nd issue. The 1st issued cover featured the large ‘PAN’ zip.
      I hope this helps?
      Kind Regards,

      1. The plural of vinyl is vinyl.

        1. ok thankyou.

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