Understanding Pressings Pt. II: Looking at Pressing Variations!

Understanding Pressings Pt. II: Looking at Pressing Variations!

In the experience of collecting records, we're often given the opportunity to choose through a number of pressing variations that different retailers or pressing plants have to offer. Some pressings are released in limited quantities, in different color-ways, or with bonus material added to the record and it's packaging. Getting to understand what kinds of pressings are out there on the market can help you, dear reader, to better understand the collectibility that the vinyl hobby has to offer.

Let's check out what types of pressing variations are out there!


#1: Original Pressings

Upon the release of an album to the public, the first wave of pressings are often referred to as the original pressing of the record. These original pressings were made from the initial batch of lacquers in the production process and cut from the original master recordings. Once the first few lacquers are worn out, the more the master tapes are used––which leads to more wear and tear that leads to a decrease in quality for the subsequent pressings.


Most collectors find these to be the definitive pressings of the records–– as they often sound the best sound. However, this isn't always the case as there are exceptions because there are some first pressings that sound terrible at launch.


#2: Reissue Pressings


On the other hand, reissues are records that have been rereleased, usually a while after the album was originally produced. Most reissues are created without the use of the same original master recordings to create them, sometimes coming from a digital source or an entirely new remaster. Reissues can also be sought after for collectors, as the packaging, thickness or type of vinyl, and the addition of bonus material such as additional tracks that may add to the collectibility of the record.


#3: Promotional Copies


Back when they were in wide circulation, promotional copies were often distributed to radio stations and around the club scene for stations and disc jockeys to play certain albums/songs in public. Often tagged with a "Promotional Copy-Not For Sale" disclaimer on both the jacket and the label, these copies were some of the first ones ever pressed and distributed earlier than mass retail copies. Although they are made of the same lacquer stampers as those available in retail, rumor has it that most promotional copies sound even better than the original pressings. Some promotional copies may even have different mixes or versions of a certain song, which makes them all the more fun to collect.


#4: Test Pressings


In comparison, test pressings are the records utilized in the production process of these records. With white labels on the disc, these are made to be distributed to the production team and artists so that they may inspect the quality of the record's pressing prior to mass production. Although simple in it's design and appearance, the collectible value of such pressings are high in the aftermarket. Some copies are also distributed hand-signed by the artists, which further adds to why avid collectors value this variation so much.


#5: Limited Edition Pressings

Limited edition pressings are those that are released in limited quantities worldwide, ranging from a production run of 20,000 copies to less than 100 copies pressed. For those avid in the collectible nature of vinyl records, purchasing limited edition records is often satisfying due to the 'chase' nature in collecting them. Most limited editions come in a variety of special colorways, some having bonus material added, special packaging––all of which add to the reasons why these variants are so in demand.


There are limited editions are exclusive to specific retailers or to a certain event, with some being available on an artist's webstore, independent record stores, chain stores, or even at specific record clubs. Some limited editions are also first-run pressings, with production eventually halting once all copies are eventually sold out. However, it is also worth noting that not all retailer exclusive records can be considered as limited edition due to the fact that they are continuously pressed throughout time.


#6: Club Exclusive Pressings


Club exclusive pressings are editions of a record that are distributed via record clubs, not sold in any store or retailers. Most club exclusive pressings feature additional perks for those subscribed, with the pressings having exclusive colorways, art prints, and additional goodies that make them worth collecting. Other club pressings also feature exclusive remasters from triple A sources, which some have considered to be the definitive version of an album.


Popular record clubs that are in circulation today include Vinyl Me, Please (VMP), Flying Vinyl, Secretly Store Club, and the Magnolia Record Club.


#7: Unofficial Pressings


In the past few years, the rise of unofficial pressings has grown significantly with the recent boom in the vinyl industry. Most unofficial pressings (also known as bootlegs) are made due to the fact that there are no currently available official pressings for these albums ever pressed, or the fact that some of these original pressings are too expensive for everyone to buy from the after-market. It can also be noted that majority of the unofficial pressings in the market are that of the Hip-Hop and R&B genres, as there is still a scarcity with some titles from the genre that are in high demand.



Overall, the differing variations of vinyl pressings is something that can be a bit confusing if you aren't too familiar with their differences. Once you've got the jist of what types of vinyl pressings are out there, it can actually help you in deciding which records or specific variations you can collect in growing your collection, or even satisfy the completist nature in some of you!


Final Thoughts

The vinyl industry is rising again as the years go by, and there are so much pressings to choose from at your disposal. Hopefully this guide has helped you to better understand what each pressing variation means, and we hope you enjoyed our brief yet informative Vinyl 101 entry for today, and we'll see you on the next one! ☺️

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.