Test pressings

Among the listed test pressings you wonīt find all test pressings that have been ever made, but you will find those that I have seen or heard of. There were probably made Test pressings of at least all different vinyl releases, one for the UK version, one for the German version etc, but as long as I donīt have seen or heard of a Test pressing of a certain release, I wonīt list it. It is however possible that some manufacturers used ordinary labels on the test pressing copies so it is impossible to separate them from stock copies. This is what a person working for Iberofon in Spain says: "The first 5 copies pressed with each father were used to test the quality, and if it was requested, we sent white labels test pressings to the label. If not, these test pressings were pressed with the final labels and distributed to the Iberofon employees for free". Most of the general information about Test pressings that is to follow here is from a Nirvana discography that I donīt think is updated no more, and from a person in the UK who has been working at a pressing plant, but I have put in a few references to Motorhead here and there.

Test pressings are by far the rarest Motorhead items out there, except for acetates of course. They are mostly made to test sound quality in advance of a longer run, but are also sometimes meant to be testing the colors on vinyl as well. Test pressings usually have plain white labels, or studio labels, instead of record company labels, and are usually pressed on black vinyl. Sometimes the labels have other colours as green, blue, red or yellow or there is no label at all or even a label from a completely different record. There are for example Motorhead test pressings with blue labels. The reason for different colours of labels is probably because they simply used what was available as they were never intended to be seen or heard by the public. Test pressings of CDs also exist. Test pressings are also sometimes used as promos, and may come with an info sheet or a press kit. Test pressings are pressed in a very limited supply, usually not more than ten, so they are hard to find, but some which were used as promos may exist in larger supplies. As far as I know, the only way test pressings differs to white label promos, that is completely white without any print or information that says it is a promo, is the quantity. They look the same. It is unusual for a test pressing to run to more than 25 copies. Some copies might have a date stamp. According to a person who claims to have been working for Mayking only 2 or 3 copies of the test pressings got stamps in the 80s. I suppose this is only for records pressed by Mayking.

Matrix codes for vinyl test pressings should always be the same as the regular issue, because the mastering plant makes the master plates, and sends them to the pressing plant, which tests the plates before they press the records. The mastering plant leaves a "signature" (the matrix code) on the master plates, and this appear on all records pressed out of that master. The person who claimed to have been working for Mayking says that "each time a new cut is ordered then you'll get a few test pressings for it. When you see "A2" or "B3" or "A-2U-1-1-1" then that will tell you what cut it is for that side; A2 being the second, B3 being the third etc etc".

CD test pressings are not necessary, as the master made to press the CD can be checked by computer against the original digital recording. If there are any errors, a new master is made. This is the good thing about digital recording, it is all a series of ones and zeros, so in theory the CD that you have is identical to the CD master and also to the digital recording. Nobody has to listen to it to check that it is ok, it is all done by computers. With vinyl many things can change the sound in the process between leaving the cutting studio to ending up in a record shop, and it can only be checked by listening, but less so with CD, and at every stage a computer compares to the original.

A person reported "working for 15 years in CD production no one ever asked to have a test CD made." But my guide lists a few test pressings, are they mislabels? I would say that even though CD test pressings aren't needed, some CD-R acetates are still "test pressings" (I write test pressing in quotes, because they are not really test pressings), simply to make a few versions of the CD for in house use (give to executives and other prominent persons etc), not for a massive promo campaign (though some can end up as promos).

CD-R acetates are cheap and easy to get out quickly. You have the data on a computer, and just burn the discs. This can be done as soon as the disc has been mastered, there is no need for further preperations. So you can quickly send them around to the people who are involved with the release. This is not suitable for large quantities though, as that would take too long.

I would classify a CD-R acetate as a "test pressing" if it was made in a low quantity (much less than 50) and that the cleary were not used in massive promo campaigns. Maybe I should've found a better definition than "test pressing". Well, in house CD-R acetate maybe.

Matrix codes for CDs varies more for the different pressings, than vinyl records do. I won't assume matrix code for a compact disc "test pressing" is the same as the regular issue. There aren't "master plates" used like on vinyl pressings.

Many vinyl test pressings have rubber stamps or handwritten text on the labels, and many does not have any text at all. The text added by the label/ pressing plant is often minimal, just the catalog number and side of vinyl, and they often only write it on one side. In many cases much/ all of the text has also been added by later owners, hence the text is not "official". However, it is almost impossible to determine wether the text was written by the label/ pressing plant.

In general, test pressings should be made for all vinyl releases. This guide lists all test pressings which have surfaced, or refered to in the past. Some of the info may be very vague, but currently, it's all there is.

Fake Test pressings?
Sveral Motorhead test pressings costs GBP 100 or even more. You could therefore think that there will exist fakes. All you have to do is to get a white label on an ordinary stock copy and voila. However, it is not very easy to make it look real. One way would be to remove the label and replace it with a white label. But that would probably leave quite some marks. Someone said it would be possible to bleach the label and wash away the original colours with a cloth. That also sounds very difficult to do without leaving marks and the dealers I have been in contact says they have never heard of that. They say it would probably destroy both the vinyl and the label. There are also very crude attemps where someone has just stuck a white sticker over a standard issue. There was no attempt to remove the original label, they simply stuck an oversized label over the existing one and of course it stood very proud against the vinyl. One collector in Germany says there were fake Motorhead test pressings "made a long time ago" but the story does not tell how these were made.

I have heard of fakes of other bands being in circulation. The bands that I know of for sure are METALLICA and AC/DC. I have heard from people who have seen those. The majority of fakes are factory pressed items by MADONNA, U2 and a load of rare DANCE MIX 12" singles. These are pressed by the same people who press bootleg and counterfeit items. They are pressed in quantities of around 500 to 1,000 and often have perfect shiny labels. A genuine test pressing will sometimes have the roughest and most dubious looking labels and even sometimes have a stick on label that may have been put on by hand. When you have an original and a fake of the same item together they are easy to tell apart, but the problem is that you usually only see the fake and unless you know what to look for there's not much chance of spotting it. Genuine test pressings will have the exact same matrix numbers and other markings as the normal press. Simply because they are pressed from the same plates.

Here you can read about how plasticplatter, aliasthecompass, bluepyevinnie, ariadnar2006 and several other sellers on Ebay fake white labels and sell them on Ebay!

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