Stones on DECCA

Decca Test pressing vinyl LP’s

General info on Test Pressings

A test pressing is a record that is pressed for the purpose of checking the quality of the vinyl. There was a quality control department at the factory that checked all stages of the manufacture of the record. They would always press a number ot testpressings when the first stamper was made for a new LP. Copies were sent to the mastering engineer as a reference copy in case there was any problems with the record. When the quality control department passed the record for production a finished sleeved copy was sent to the studios to put in the record library as a reference copy.

When was a test pressing taken

Test pressings were taken every time the pressing plant got a first stamper from a new Master Laquer. This would be the same as when the matrix number itself was changed. Changing mothers or stampers did not need a new test pressing as it was generally thought that the grooves are ok as a test had already been take from the identical grooves. Three test pressings were always made and sent to the mastering engineer at the cutting studio. The test pressings were delivered to the studio in inner sleeves only. If you find testpressings with stock sleeves, then this means that the vinyl and inner bag has been put into a sleeve at a later stage.

Test pressing labels

As a general rule you will find that the labels used have the following color codes:

Mono pressings – Blue label
Stereo pressings – Pink label or two colored with the upper part pink and the lover part blue
Stereo pressings from the 70’s – Orange label
Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out has been found with Apple labels

All labels has a line of black bars around the edge of the label. These bars are so called Strobo bars for checking the speed.
The text on the labels were mostly handwritten but there are also labels existing with the information printed / pressed. Information to be found is usually:

The name of the artist
The name of the record
The matrix number
The catalog number

Again, thanking Geroge Bettyes for a lot of interesting information. Without him, I would not be in posession of the above given information as well as a lot more not published here for obvious reasons.

Decca and London

As we know, the initial set of the first USA London Records LP’s were pressed by Decca in England. This means that we also can find some of these US LP’s as test pressings made by Decca in England. Decca did not se any difference in LP’s intended for the domestic or export market so all test pressings are looking the same.


Three copies were delivered to Deccas cutting studio for every new matrix number / first stamper for every LP and single that Decca made. This would be a rather large amount and there was no space or reason to store all of them.

Quoting mastering engineer Mr L aka George Bettyes:

“We mastering engineers used to throw the test pressings away for scrap because we used to get so many”

This means that not very many original test pressings has survived into modern days. This has opened up a market for counterfeit material. A few collectors specialized in test pressings have indicated that at least half of the test pressings being offered for sale on the market today are in fact counterfeit copies. So, before you buy any test pressings, please do your homework.

Pictures of test pressings

Again a warning has to be given. These pictures may or may not be from actual original test pressings. There may be counterfeits in the set of pictures. Pictures are only for reference as for how an original test pressing may be looking like.

Decca Mono LP’s

LK4661 Rolling Stones No2 mono pressing. This has matrix number /1A so it may be one of the first test pressings made for No2.

LK4852 Between The Button mono pressing. Matrix number –2A indicating a test pressing for the second matrix made for the mono Between The Buttons.

LK4955 Beggars Banquet mono pressing.Matrix number 4A, test pressing for the fourth mono Beggars matrix.

RSM.1 The Rolling Stones mono pressing. Matrix number -2A. All 200 copies of the final LP has -2A on the first side. This indicates that the first matrix -1A was rejected in the quality control and did never reach the production stage.

LK5019 Through The Past Darkly mono pressing. Matrix P -1A, test pressing from the first matrix.

LK5025 Let It Bleed mono pressing. Matrix -2A, test pressing from the second matrix.

Deviation from the standard, LK4605 Rolling Stones No1 mono pressing on pink label. Matrix 3A, test pressing from the third matrix.

Deviation from the standard, a Satanic Majesties Request in mono on pink label.

Decca Stereo LP’s

SKL4852 Between The Buttons stereo pressing. Matrix 6K, test pressing from the sixth matrix.

SKL4786 Aftermath stereo pressing. Matrix -5W, test pressing from the fifth matrix.

London LP’s

A Mono LL3493 named as Have You Seen Your Mother but originally issued in US as Got LIVE If You Want It. Pressed in UK but with the US catalog number. Matrix -2A.

Stereo PS493 Have You Seen Your Mother Live. Pressed in UK but with the US catalog number. Matrix -1W.

70’s Stereo

SKL5165 Rolling Stones Golden B Sides. Stereo test pressing of a record that was never issued. Matrix -1W.