At Last – A Genuine US “Let It Be” LP

I have had in the collection for some time now a record that I thought was an original US pressing of the Beatles Let It Be.

You know the one. It comes in a gatefold cover, red Apple label on the vinyl, catalogue number AR 34001, red Apple on the rear cover:


The copy I have had for oh, maybe 30 years, looked genuine enough. That is until I read that this is one of the most counterfeited vinyl records of all time…..

When I started to look into it some more I discovered that what I had in my collection was actually a fake.

And it was only two weeks ago, after finally picking up a genuine copy at a record fair, that I could conduct a side-by-side analysis to spot the differences. Here are the tell-tale signs.

Firstly a close-up of the real cover:DSC01123

And here is the illegal copy:DSC01124

As you can see the skin tones on the photo of George Harrison are much more grainy on the fake. Also notice the white borders around each photo. They are much thicker on the counterfeit.

Next, a close-up of the red Apple label. The genuine copy is first, the fake is second:DSC01115DSC01125

Though this is not a definitive decider, the counterfeit label I have lacks vibrancy. It is washed out and dull. Some stock of legitimate pressings may also have a duller appearance – depending on which Capitol plant they were pressed.

The best proof that you have a legitimate copy is in the run-out area of the vinyl itself. There should be the words “Bell Sound” stamped there on both sides (the fake will not have this). It’s difficult to photograph but here goes. First, Side 1:DSC01117

And Side 2:DSC01121

Genuine Let It Be pressings with the red Apple were mastered at Bell Sound by a guy named Sam Feldman and that’s why you can see his initials “sf” scratched into the vinyl above. Fakes don’t have that Bell Sound stamp, but the people who made the illegal copies did try to imitate the originals by including the “sf” initials too.

Furthermore, depending on the Capitol pressing plant they originate from, legitimate pressings will have either the letters “IAM” in a triangle (Scranton PA), an asterisk (Los Angeles CA), or a mark that is supposed to resemble a rifle (Winchester VA). One of these will be stamped somewhere in the run-out area of the vinyl. It should be properly machine stamped on both sides.

As you can see, mine is from the Scranton plant so it looks like this:DSC01119The fakers tried to imitate this too – but it they did just a crude drawing which you can see here:

DSC01129(By the way, the “IAM” in the triangle stands for the International Association of Machinists Union whose workers ran the pressing plant).

FYI, here is a handy list of the markings from each of the Capitol pressing plants:screen-shot-2022-04-18-at-5.27.19-pmIt was Sam Feldman who also scribbled the words “Phil + Ronnie” on the dead wax. This was for Phil Spector (who produced Let It Be) and his wife, singer Ronnie Spector:DSC01122

Non-legitimate copies also have “Phil + Ronnie” scratched in the play-out area of the disc but the writing is much smaller.

So that’s it. Your guide to real and fake copies of Let It Be.

27 thoughts on “At Last – A Genuine US “Let It Be” LP

  1. Great post. There’s a project just started at to catalogue every LP ever issued (!) and I’ve added a link to this post under the US LIB LP. What you have detailed will be useful info for collectors.


  2. One key difference is, besides everything else, that all fakes have a 2.75″ diameter pressing ring. Capitol’s plants had 1.5″ diameter pressing rings.

    Scranton pressings, besides the glossy paper stock used for the labels, had -13 and -14 lacquers cut by the esteemed Mr. Feldman. The other plants – Los Angeles, Jacksonville and Winchester – used uncoated stock, but the same rule of thumb applies to their pressings vs. fakes as well as to the Scranton pressing you’d gotten. L.A. had a six-pronged asterisk in the deadwax; Jacksonville, a stamped 0 or hand-etched O; and Winchester, what was supposed to be a representation of a Winchester rifle but came off more looking like a tipped wineglass ( · -<| ). My own copies (I have two – another variant lists the Fab Four as arrangers of "Maggie Mae" on the label) are all Scranton. I avoid fakes like the plague.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks WB, I was getting all worked up about my copies, I thought they were fakes because they are not glossy, they’re the uncoated label stock. I wish I had a glossy labeled one! But I feel happy that my copy is not a fake.


    • ‘0’ would signify a pressing from Capitol’s Jacksonville, IL plant. Other genuine pressings – which like Jacksonville would have used uncoated paper stock for the labels (vs. the glossy labels at Scranton) – would have been as follows:
      – Los Angeles (6-pointed asterisk)
      – Winchester ( · —<| )
      Generally, their pressing rings would have been 1.5" diameter, as I'd noted some posts above.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. How do I find out the year that the vinyl that I own was made? I have a genuine copy of Let It Be and I’m just trying to learn more about it.


  4. Just discovered my own bootleg today which I’ve owned for 25+ years…nobody seems to comment on the sound quality, have you a/b-ed real vs boot by any chance?


  5. I have a Let It Be album with all of the earmarks of a US original EXCEPT instead of the IAM indicator there is an asterisk. Does this mean that I have really good looking a counterfeit (lol)?


  6. So I have recently found this album in a stack of my Aunt’s old records, is it worth anything? I saw a copy going for close to $300 on eBay but that doesn’t seem right. Anyone know?


    • I really think the person asking $300 for a US pressing of this album is dreaming. If it where an original UK pressing (that in 1970 came in a box with a book) and it was in very good condition, then yes that woiuld be a fair price.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Get It Be (or, Rashomon on Savile Row)

  8. My album has on side 1- Phil+Ronnie, JS-17,500-15, with 3 small dots under the 15 and a large one next to it, a 2 on it’s back, the bell sound stamp, sf stamp, and an *.
    On side 2- the 2 is upright and is between Phil+Ronnie and the other numbers, and has a marking that looks like [_], with every thing else the same. Do any of these markings mean anything?


    • Hi Mike I’d be reasonably confident that if it has what you describe AND it has the IAM stamp (those letters in a very small triangle – mechanically stamped, not a crude drawing), then you have a genuine pressing. Pretty sure that the * indicates your copy was pressed in Capitol’s Los Angeles plant (6-pointed asterisk). My genuine also has the three small dots you describe.


    • The triangle with the I AM in it means it was pressed at the Scranton PA. plant. An asterisk ” * ” means it was pressed at the Los Angeles plant…a triangular symbol with a line coming out the pointed end means it was pressed in Winchester Virginia.


      • Hi, yes you are correct. My mistake. The IAM stamp means it was made in Capitol’s Scranton pressing plant. The asterisk indicates it was made in the Los Angeles plant. So Mike – you have a genuine Let It Be, manufactured in LA.


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