How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA
Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and provide consumer protection against the growing problem of counterfeit instruments being shipped from and sold by outlets and individuals in China.
This is a 're-print' of a popular article - there are still many people asking questions about how to tell if a Gibson guitar is genuine.
Originally published in April 2009, this article continues to get a lot of readers and people posting comments and questions below. We hope you find this useful if you're wondering about a second hand Gibson you're looking at buying, or even one that is being sold as new if it's not from a regular Gibson dealer.
Several complaints from consumers who were sold fake instruments has prompted an aggressive move on Gibson Guitar's part to work with government officials and other instrument marketers in an effort to curtail the growing problem. Gibson Guitar advises all consumers to purchase Gibson instruments only from their network of authorized dealers.
Authorized Gibson dealers can be found on the company's website at www.gibson.com and should be referred to by consumers when purchasing their choice of Gibson instrument. A consumer is warned against purchasing any Gibson brand instrument outside of the authorized dealer network and the inevitable risk of purchasing what can turn out to be a fake.
The growing problem, originating out of China, has been reviewed by the U.S. Trade Commission and currently has the attention of Washington. China regularly defends its record in fighting piracy and counterfeit production of merchandise, however many pirated consumer products continue to be sold in various Chinese cities which affect a multitude of international manufacturers across many categories.
"We will continue to do everything in our power to protect our consumers and the integrity of our family of brands," said Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar. "We hope that by issuing this warning our consumers will be armed with the right information to protect themselves and understand what they need to do to insure that what they are purchasing is, indeed, an authentic Gibson instrument."
Consumers can check any of the references below when examining a Gibson guitar in an effort to insure its authenticity:
- Make sure the size is not undersized
- The headstock and headstock logo should match those of authentic Gibson guitars
- Pearl should always be inlaid
- Les Paul Model script is always in cursive
- If the guitar has a 3 screw truss rod it is not authentic
- Check the control and pick up cavities for sloppy routing or wiring
- Real Gibson guitars use one piece necks
- Many fake Gibsons have their pickup cavities painted black inside
- If purchasing a Gibson always ask for the Gibson's Owner Manual and Gibson/Warranty Inspection Card
- Check the wiring, if it is plastic it isn't a true Gibson
In a recent case in North Carolina, a man was charged with trying to sell counterfeit guitars after a 15 year old discovered the instrument he bought from the suspect was a fake. The man was arrested on two felony counts of criminal use of a counterfeit trademark, following an investigation by the North Carolina Secretary of State's Trademark Enforcement Section. The investigation was initiated by a complaint to the Secretary of State's Office from a victim who allegedly bought what appeared to be a Les Paul model Gibson brand electric guitar from the man. The man had advertised the guitars for sale in the local paper.
Auction websites currently have hundreds of instruments which resemble Gibson Guitars and other brands. Some even feature trademarked headstocks and logos. Many of these items carry a very low sale price but exorbitant shipping costs. Upon close inspection the guitars will not feel or sound like a true Gibson and most are not of good standard of quality overall. If a guitar is up for an auction for a straight price or a fraction of what one would cost typically, the consumer is taking a great chance in purchasing it. Gibson Guitar warns against such action. Consumers should be wary of such sales that also offer shipping prices that are more than the guitar.
Illegal merchandise entering the country offer great damages on many levels; and counterfeiting in the United States is a serious crime punishable in a court of law. By Federal statutes, selling and also owning counterfeit merchandise is a felony. By issuing this warning, Gibson Guitar hopes to educate its loyal consumers about such wrongdoings and protect them.
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When you consider how much time and effort you put into getting your rig to sound just the way you want, it makes sense to ensure your guitar cables are also up to the job - after all they're an important part of the tone chain. Also remember that occasionally things will go wrong, so always carry at least one spare cable to gigs and rehearsals.