Be Careful Buying Blue Note Records Online

I am amazed how many sellers are just plain ignorant on what they are selling, sometimes that can be to your advantage of course.

I cringe though, when I see a Blue Note record billed as an original or having a deep groove when it obviously does not.

Check out what originals are selling for right now. If you have the financial ability to pay that kind of cash, you'd better know what you're doing.

I'm concerned with out right misstatements, like saying a Liberty issue is deep groove, or saying a Blue Note 4003 with the trademark R is a first press, when only pressings without the R are true originals.

Would one sound better than the other? I doubt it, unless you have some super-human hearing, but no R is rarer, and pressed earlier than the trademark R copy; and consequently brings higher prices... you don't want to pay non trademark R prices for a trademark R copy do you?

That could be a few thousand dollars difference in price.

Things like that, you have to watch out for. It's your money, be careful out there. Read on for more detailed tips compiled from my own experience.

The Deep Groove Blue Note Vinyl Mistake

Remember: It is up to you to know what DG means, and what RVG and Ear means. These are ways to identify the year and authenticity of the pressing.
Lots of follow the leader going on the "DG" abbreviation being used on eBay:

Items that are obviously non deep groove records, are being touted as just that, deep groove. For the most part Blue Notes vinyl pressed after 1962 will not have the deep groove. Sometimes a second or third pressing might show up being pressed by the early stampers, and thus have a deep groove on one side and sometimes both.

Many eBay sellers are listing New York USA and Division of Liberty label addressed Blue Notes as a deep groove or "DG" abbreviated, even when the photo clearly shows it is not a deep groove pressing. I have even seen new reissues with that DG abbreviation on the listing.

I nearly smashed my fist through the screen when I ran across a Compact Disc Blue note listing with the DG, huh?. Bad enough when they clog up the search results using "mini LP" as a keyword as it is, but deep groove used for a CD is beyond ridiculous.

The last deep groove

Kenny Drew's Undercurrent (4059) was the last original deep groove Blue Note, and usually only found with one side deep groove.

This deep groove error on an eBay listing could mean hundreds of dollars difference in price, if not thousands to a novice with money burning a hole in their pocket.

I have seen auctions go to extreme heights, when 2 newbies start bidding on a Liberty Blue Note with the deep groove description.

 Perhaps those buyers thought that it was a first press or something? I just don't see any other logical explanation outside of shill bidding.

I see this happen a lot, where a 40 dollar record gets bid up to $200. I wonder how many people end up not paying at all on those?

Almost every first press Blue Note Record pressed after 4059 was pressed by the new stampers, most records pressed before 4060 have a deep groove pressed into the label.

This deep groove identifying feature has nothing to do with the vinyl playing surface its self, except that deep groove pressings are heavier vinyl and do normally sound better. To what degree, you really need to judge for yourself. If you have the coin, my complements.

Follow the Leader?

One time I noticed a late 60's Liberty pressing of Jackie McLean's Bout' Soul, it was listed as DG, this might not sound like much, but it is unbelievably inaccurate.

Unfortunately this abbreviation has become a catch-all Blue Note phrase, many novice sellers don't even understand its meaning.

The novice buyer just believes DG is good, some just think it means vintage, and so that means better sound. Just be careful out there.

What Really is Deep Groove on Blue Note Vinyl?

Which Blue Note records do have a deep groove?

  • 101 Lexington Ave: All originals with this address are deep groove
  • 47 West 63rd New York 23: All originals with this address are deep groove
  • 47 West 63rd NYC: All of these are deep groove as well

Which do not have a deep groove? Most pressed after 1962


Original pressings on this label are not deep groove, some times you will find a second or third press with the deep groove, some times with just one label pressed by the original stamper.

Sometimes, you can find a double deep groove NY USA copy. These NY USA that happen to have deep grooves, are usually reissues of earlier sessions. This where the minutia turns to manure in my opinion, I am a collector, but I began lose interest with this type of heavy lifting.

Division of Liberty:

To my knowledge, every record Blue Note made after Blue Note sold out to Liberty Records is not deep groove, and they quit using the pressing company Plastylite all together.

Remember: If you run into a deep groove NY USA, it is typically not an original press of that title, yet still on the rare side, and might have some extra value to a completest collector.

An Authentic Blue Note New York USA Pressing Must Have an Ear in the Dead Wax
An Authentic Blue Note New York USA Pressing Must Have an Ear in the Dead Wax
I see this one a lot: 

You're scanning the latest auctions, and you see a listing saying Blue Note LP NY USA.

The unscrupulous, or more likely the ignorant sellers are banking on you not knowing that after Liberty Records bought out Blue Note around the year 1966, they quit using Plastylite as the stamping company.

The new stampers just did not stamp the Ear, and this also seems to be the time a lesser quality vinyl started being used.

If you pick up a 50's era Lexington addressed label LP, and compare it with a 1967 copy of Ornette Coleman's The Empty Foxhole for instance, you'll feel the difference in weight.

You see, Liberty was still using old NY USA labels that were piled up probably all over the place, and placing them on the Liberty pressed vinyl. Who knows how long this went on, perhaps as late as 1969?

NY USA copies were supposed to have been pressed from 1962-1966. Imagine paying top dollar for a copy of Tony Williams Spring, billed as a NY USA first pressing, and then finding out that it was a Liberty stamped record circa 1968 with no EAR?

This is the stuff you need to know about, you should have asked about the EAR in the dead wax, don't pay top dollar for it unless they say it there, or offer photographic evidence.

Basically these are just fake NY USA copies. If you don't know any better you might pay a premium for that fake NY USA instead of a fraction for it. Some people don't mind though, just as long as that label reads NY USA.

Understand this though, without that cursive p, it's not an authentic NY USA Pressing.

Honestly, try as I might, sometimes I can't tell any difference in the pressings sound wise... but you should get what you pay for, it's up to you to know what to look for.

I just want to hear good quality music without too much snap crackle pop, but if you're selling and or buying, you want to know this stuff.

Don't forget: It's Buyer Beware With Blue Note Record Collecting

Hopefully my journey as a collector can help you learn enough of the basics to make sure you're armed with the knowledge to make informed decisions as a buyer and seller.

Remember: It's buyer beware out there, you have to accept the responsibility to know what to watch out for.

*Photos are my own.* or used with permission via

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