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Record Club / Acetates / Test Pressings

Record Club Identification

Below is a list of the predominate record clubs in the U.S. Nearly all
pressings issued by these clubs, have some sort of nuance to differentiate
between it and a retail issue. Some have added print on the label or cover
or both... some have custom labels and covers... but nearly all have a
variation to to the selection number, usually a prefix to the original
selection number. Not all titles sold through record clubs are licensed for
manufacture and issue by the club. Many are purchased from the original
distributor or one stops and are the same as retail copies.

To the general public, record club issue are no different than it's retail
counterpart. To many collector's though, they are... some rare and in
demand... some worth less to a collector than it's cousin.

Capitol Record Club
     All Capitol labels carry the prefix #8-
     All other labels carry a 5 digit number beginning with #9

Columbia Record Club
     Custom Label

Columbia House Record Club
     All labels carry the prefix #5- or #50-

Longines Symphonette Record Club
     All labels carry the prefix #7-

RCA Record Club / RCA Music Service / The Record Club Of America
     All lables carry a 6 digit number beginning with the prefix R-

Ken's Music Library
May be freely distributed... Please advise of any additions or corrections...

Acetates and Test Pressings

Acetates and Test Pressings are the prototypes and test models of a recording.
Before a record is mass produced, it is tested to see if it meets both
artistic and technical approval.

Reference disks or "refs" and master lacquers or "masters" are both referred
to as "acetates" because the coating is composed of cellulose acetate. The
core of the disk is usually made of aluminum. Single refs are usually cut on
7" to 12" disks and LP refs on 12" to 14" disks. Most masters are cut on
disks larger than their vinyl offspring because the plating plants needed
room to handle the disk without damaging the cut. The edges of these disks
are also flaky and uneven. Both refs and masters are cut onto a blank acetate
in the mastering lab on an electronic lathe system. Because of the direct
cutting from the master tape, the sound quality on the initial play is
substantially better than it's subsequent pressings. Once refs are play
tested and approved, a master is cut and shipped to the pressing plant to be
electroplated with nickel. Masters are usually cured longer so the oils are
not as fresh. A lacquer with a strong oil smell does not electroplate as well
as a cured one. The nickel plate is peeled away to produce the negative metal
stamp or "mother". Refs may have a label designating the lab or record
company and are usually hand written with artist and title information.
Masters rarely have a label. Acetates are normally packaged in plain paper
sleeves or sometimes boxed with a cover. Acetates are very fragile,
especially lacquers. Even after a few plays, a ref begins to wear quickly.
Masters are and should never be played.

The first pressings to be run off the mother are test pressings. It is after
this second approval that the record is then mass produced... first
promotional copies are pressed, then retail copies. Most test pressings are
labeled... some are not.

Several masters can be cut and plated for manufacturing at several plants or
to accommodate subsequent stamps. The first pressings of a new stamp are
technically better than following pressings, and because test pressings and
promotional copies are pressed on a limited run, they usually are more
desirable and valuable.

Ken's Music Library
May be freely distributed... Please advise of any additions or corrections...