Understanding Early Capitol Records “rainbow label” Prefixes.
Many sought after titles were released by Capitol Records in the 60’s including albums by the Beatles and the Beach Boys. When you are looking up the value of albums in a price guide, or just looking at the label for that matter you will take notice of the album’s lettering and numbering. This will consist of up to four letters (prefix) and up to five numbers.
So what do all of these letter and numbers mean? “Who cares” is what most people would say but it interested me so I did a little research and figured I would share what I have learned.
The numbers at the end are easy. This is the album number. Short and sweet. The number shares no more secrets about the album. The letters on the other hand are full of information about the album.
There is always at least one letter. If the album has only one letter than this letter is identifying the “price code”. This was used for sales reference when the album was released.
If there are two letters the first letter will always be an “S” meaning that the record is in stereo. The second letter is the pricing code.
If there are three letters, than again the record is in mono (trust me, there is no letter “S” at the beginning). So the first letter is the price code, the second letter is telling us how many records are included with the album (A=1 record; B = 2 records; C=3 records; etc..). The third letter is telling us that there was some kind of special packaging (example: gatefold cover).
If there are four letters than it is the same as the three letters sequence except that there is an “S” at the beginning telling us that it is in stereo.
So from the information provided above I came to the following conclusions:
- One letter prefixes are always mono.
- Three letter prefixes are always mono.
- Any prefix that begins with an “S” is in stereo.
- If there are three or four letters, the second to last letter is telling us how many records there are included with the album (A=1 record; B = 2 records; C=3 records; etc..)
So there you have it, your useless trivia for the day.