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 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.

This is a Press Release

Related News:

Gibson Les Paul Signature “T” Electric Guitar

See where Gibson came in the Top 5 Electric Guitar Brands

Gibson SG ’61 Reissue Satin

Gibson L6S – a reissued version

Fender unveils the Kurt Cobain Jaguar

Krist Novoselic Signature RD Bass from Gibson

Hyper Touch Gibson (HTG) The New String-less Guitar from Gibson

164 thoughts on “How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA”

  1. Fake Gibson Les Paul
    Ray Spitzer

    The China Fakes are shit period and people those selling them as Gibsons should be in jail for fraud and have their asses kicked too boot! I don’t want to hear anyone saying Epiphones are bad. They are what they are Gibson knock offs but controlled by Gibson. Those shitty Les Paul Fakes sound, feel and play like shit. So if you like shit buy and play shit!

  2. China is making guitars for

    China is making guitars for everyone. If having the gibson or Martin name on it bothers you ask them to take it off…

  3. i disagree with everything

    i disagree with everything that has been said. les paul was a great man and he played a stratocaster when nobody was looking. i know this because he told me himself. so shut up an play your yours, whatever it is.



  5. “How to spot a fake: Gibson”

    I have been reading with great interest the comments posted on your web-site above. About Chinese fake les Paul guitars!. I myself have purchased 3 of these fake les Paul guitars over the last 2 years. My first les Paul which I bought back in 2009 was a les Paul Custom Alpine white model, which came with a fitted Crocodile dial skin type leather case. It cost me about $365 USD or £ 230 English pounds. I must admit at the time when i did this I was very sceptical and nervous about what I would get for my money. Because I had read and herd a lot of very negative feedback from other people’s comments on the web. Most of the comments where saying that Chinese guitars where rubbish, cheap copy’s, and plastic imitations of real Gibson’s les Paul guitars that you buy from your local deal/music shop. How wrong they are!. The guitar arrived via the suppliers FREE SHIPPING option to the UK, which is a bonus I think as you don’t have to pay extra costs. When I received the guitar and opened the case, I was blow away by the quality, craftsmanship of the guitar.Although the pick-ups, tuners, tailpiece, are not real gold they look stunning. The Head and the Gibson Logo on the front look right!, and the nut cover has “2”screws on it. I believe that the “Fake guitar” has 3 screws on it. I didn’t know that till I looked on the web.Ok you might be saying. It’s still a fake!. Well yes, but it PLAYS AND SOUNDS AND LOOKS LIKE A GIBSON. When I went down to my local guitar shop they where asking over
    £2,500 or $ 3,939 USD for the same identical guitar. I must point out that I am not a beginner or learner guitar player, in fact I’ve been playing guitar for the past 30years or so since the 1970’s.So I know how to play guitar and know about gibsons. I would dearly love to own a “Gibson” guitar but they are just to expensive here in the UK.Anny way I now own 3 les Pauls. My 2 other les Pauls are a “Jimmy Page Number 1” looks and sounds great, came with fitted leather case. Cost me about $310 USD or £ 196 and my most recent guitar is a
    “Frampton les Paul Custom 57 Black Beauty, with a fitted case. Cost me about
    $305 USD or £ 193 plays and looks great. All I can say is that I am absolutely delighted with my 3 Chinese guitars. But I am a bit puzzled though by the following. Each of the guitars has the “MADE IN THE USA” stamped on the back with there individual serial numbers .So I was a little bit curious about the serial number on my Frampton guitar,so i entered it on to the guitar data base for Gibson guitars.
    Lo and behold this is what came out.

    Frampton Les Paul Custom

    Guitar Info
    Your guitar was made at the
    Nashville Plant, TN, USA
    June 20th, 2006
    Production Number: 399

    Gibson: Nashville
    Gibson’s Nashville plant was opened in Tennessee 1974. All electric models and some acoustic models currently made at this factory. This facility has an average production rate of 220 guitars a day. Each guitar is built by hand and takes about 4 to 6 weeks to complete. Note: Most hollow and semi-hallow body guitars are made at a separate plant in Memphis Tennessee. This facility has an average production rate of 40 guitars a day.

    (Ver. 1.4)
    The Gibson Serial Number Decoder currently supports 5 formats from 4 Factories. From a programers perspective all serial number formats preceding the current format are regarded as vintage. In the case of Gibson that would be apply to guitars made prior to 1977. Please post any comments, particularly bugs in the user feedback section.
    Note: Custom shop guitars are not supported; instead consult this thread for information on dating custom shop guitars.

    Serial Number : 017160699

    So this is my question! Is this fake guitar or not a Gibson? And if it is not a Gibson then why does the Gibson guitar data base say it is a “Gibson”? And why does it say it was made in the Nashville TN, PLANT USA?. I am just wondering has any body else checked there serial numbers on the Gibson data base. Have you had the same result as me? If the above is correct then my guitar is genuine and is a “Gibson” guitar made by them. In which case I would be over the moon about it.

    1. How to spot a fake Gibson

      The serial numbers on the fake Chinese Gibson les Pauls are also stolen, „copied”. You can get real Gibson serial numbers anywhere off the net and re-use them very easily. A serial number is not a reliable way of checking for authenticity.

    2. to the above: very simple

      to the above: very simple answer. the manufacture of your guitar is on the database website snagging information just like everyone else. they pop in a serial number & the info comes up & bang, that number goes on a guitar. very clever but easy to see how they do it. its public information for all to view. cool your happy with your guitars…

  6. I have recently bought an ej200 vs second hand.
    The serial no. is GG06030181 and epiphone has no record of the factory GG.
    Does this mean that this is a fake? Could somebody shed some light on this please?
    (its not like its going to break my heart if it is fake as it plays well and sounds fantastic!)

  7. One piece neck...maybe not

    “Real Gibson guitars use one piece necks”… this is not always true. In virtually all cases the “wings” on the headstock are glued on to save wood. I owned some Gibson guitars, several years ago a 345, two 335s, a LP Custom and a ’70 Deluxe and honestly never paid attention to whether or not the neck/headstock was one piece. Back then I probably wouldn’t have know the difference. I have seen some in recent years that used a scarf joint to attach the headstock, usually at the line of the 1st and 6th string tuners. If done correctly these joints are not easy to detect and the glued joint is usually stronger than the wood. Additionally, it saves a great deal of expensive and increasingly difficult to obtain wood. Regarding how many pieces of wood are used to make a Les Paul body or neck…why do you think their are “dark back” Les Pauls?
    The easiest tip off for one of the Trade Tang or other Chinese Les Pauls copies is the bridge. In most cases they use the “large post” tune-o-matic style bridges like the ones used on Epiphones. Easy to spot. Actually, I prefer this type of bridge…easier to adjust…but it is not a “small post” authentic ABR-1. The other thing you could look for is the pickup rings. On the fakes are they are typically the larger metric sized rings as also used on Epiphones.
    I bought one of the copies from Trade Tang for $352.00 including shipping and case. It would not stand close inspection for authenticity and the electrics (pickups, wiring, pots etc.) and tuners sucked. Fixed all that for about $130.00 The fretwork is nice, it plays in tune and sounds pretty good. Inlays may not be MOP but they look good too. The body is five pieces of mahogany…they veneered the back to look like one piece , but you can see the multiple pieces from the sides. Don’t know about the top, it could be maple but it’s a Goldtop so it’s hard to tell. The gold finish is nice. The neck is one piece of mahogany with a scarfed headstock…nice joint though… got to look for it. I would never try to pass it off as real and will probably not gig with it but if I was sixteen and didn’t have three grand for a LP…I’d love it.

  8. own lots of guitars and the best are from china

    I have many guitars and have been playing for over 30 years. I recently bought a china LP. I switched out the bridge, saddle , nut and tuners (cost about $143 for all ). also bought some Dye and stained the fretboard to get a deeper ebony color. i then took out the cheap epiphone feedback pickups and bought 2 Gibsons pups as well as all new Pots and caps. I completed all the work but have no luck at soldering so i took it to a shop that has been in business for over 35 years. They had no idea it was from China 2 other sales reps there made comments on how great this thing played . I would have to say out of my 14 plus guitars (a few real Gibsons) this one has a great feel and i cannot seem to put it down. Trust me, all they need is a little bit of work and some upgraded parts and you have a 3k guitar feel for about $400. I will be buying a few more of these china guitars and highly recomind them. as for buying American, I feel I am doing my Part by getting all the upgraded replacment parts from the Good Old USA while saving myslef a good bit of money. I really think that these factories in China need to brand theser guitarts with there own name on the headstock and then and only then will Gibson need to wake up .

  9. Scaremongering article actually has incorrect Gibson info!!!
    Mike Trane

    Article reads: “Real Gibson guitars use one piece necks”
    Apart from the thousands and thousands of 3 piece neck guitars Gibson made in the 1970s you mean. Get your facts straight before making generalisations in a public forum and worrying thousands of owners of 70s Gibsons that DID come from the factory with 3 piece necks. You’ll be telling me that my 73 LP Custom with sandwich body, 3 piece neck and waffle tuners is a fake now 🙂 Feel free to come round and inspect it, my Rottweiler will assist you with any queries.

  10. Gibson guitars are way

    Gibson guitars are way overpriced, like anything made in USA by union protected lazy asses.
    When they will stop selling plain boring 1 ply bounded guitar for 2 grands asking 4 grands and more for anything a Korean Epiphone can give you in finish for 500$ they will stop being knocked off…
    My Sheraton with electronic and pickup upgrade for 800$ total own a lot of these overrated boring finished 335…

  11. Fake Les Paul

    I received my fake Les Paul Goldtop yesterday. I don’t need another guitar but my curiosity got the best of me. It was packed well and arrived on time. I is definitely not as pictured at TradeTang. The goldtop finish is not correct but not unattractive. The pickups are microphonic to the point of being unusable. The neck is two pieces of mahogany joined at the headstock…as opposed to 2 or 3 inches below the headstock as I’ve seen on Epiphones, actually a very interesting joint that looks good and seems to work okay. The body is four pieces of mahogany the back appears to be veneered and looks great but you can see the joints at the side. Can’t tell what the top is and don’t care. Fretwork and setup are actually pretty good, it plays in tune. Hardware and tuners are okay…not great, but usable. I really don’t see a big problem with the tuners which is interesting since most reviewers seem to think they suck. The case is not bad for the money..the Gibson logo is a joke and I’ll paint over it. This guitar weighs about 8 1/2 pounds and sustains pretty well unplugged.
    So, I ordered a set of GFS Vintage ’59s and some Alpha pots to get this thing usable. I’ve got a couple of .22uf orangedrops in a drawer somewhere so it’s “electrics” should be okay for about a hundred bucks. By the way, I’ve used GFS pickups on a couple of guitars of my own and some repairs for others and for the money they’re very good.
    All in all for $354.00 for the case and guitar and the hundred or so I’ll spend to get it usable it’s not a bad deal. I’m 64 years old, I’ve been playing guitar for over 50 years, I still gig about twice a month and do some repairs for friends and friends of friends, so I know something about this stuff. If you don’t have big bucks and do have some patience and a little mechanical skill, you can have a decent Les Paul copy for about $450.00…not bad.

  12. Its america's fault

    I’ve always been pro-american-made. but the thing i hate is how prices are so overinflated these days, especially with guitars. so i totally agree with every one of you who have said that. 10 years ago a gibson les paul custom was $1300. even with inflation, prices should not be this high. indeed, chinese are getting way better with technology and manufacturing guitars. And as one person said, a guy in china can operate a cnc machine as well as an american. its not about quality of the build anymore. from reviews i’ve read on the fakes, they play just as well/if not better (once some of the chinese parts such as pickups or tuners are replaced). so i looked into this more, and have ordered a les paul “slash signature” fake out of pure curiosity. we will see in a couple weeks if these people’s testimonials old water. it costed me $320. with parts swapped out once i get it, i estimate $500. once done, i’ll compare it to an authentic one and report back on pro’s and cons between a guitar that will cost me $500 and one that costs $6000.

    What is funny as a side note, is that most parts put on these guitars are made over seas and assembled here. same with fender, etc. now i look at the line of guitars on the wall at a guitar store and see ESP Gretsch Ibanez, etc. all made over seas and play very well. so why shouldn’t these? it all comes down to the stupid logo on the head stock. and like i said i’ll see if i can prove it a $500 copy plays as well as an original and if its worth paying the $5500 difference for a name.

    The only way big manufacturers can ever get away from having their trademarks ripped off is to lower their prices for a year or two. sell a les paul custom for a grand vs $3500. trust me they won’t lose money. but at the same time, they will drive the fakes out because people will pay the $500-$700 more for the real thing. But until gibson starts to lower their prices on american made guitars, people will look away to more affordable models. Fender never went crazy with inflation. i can still buy a top quality signature strat for $1600. Like i said i’ll report back once i get my hands on the fake and check it out.

  13. I recently bought a Les Paul

    I recently bought a Les Paul Standard from China and I love it. Gibsons and Fenders are a ripoff.

  14. guys can you help me out!

    guys can you help me out! was planning to buy a gibson les paul studio and the seller sent me pictures of the guitar. i cannot tell if it’s original or not. could somebody help me out? i dont know how to attach the pics here so will just paste the link.!!!+REPRICED+RUSH!!!!!!+REPRICED+RUSH!!!

      1. Epiphone Acoustic Guitar

        Bougth an Epiphone Acoustic guitar but the sticker on the serial number is with some chinese letters in dif. color like yellow and almost gone.
        I noticed tru a lense, is this a fake one????

        1. not fake epi

          ive personally never heard of an epiphone fake for the simple reason if your gonna fake something its because the real deal is expensive hence gibson,fender fakes,why would someone fake a guitar that only costs 2-3 hundred new nobody would pay 300 for a fake 300 guitar so i dont think you have anything to worry about with your epiphone being fake the only thing its copying is a gibson .

      2. Gibson fake guitars

        I just bot a 2001 Gibson Chet atkins ce wine red finish from a store in Nashville,TN
        I called gibson and gave them my serial number and they Say,they can’t find it in their system.
        They found my exsact guitar with practically my serial number only last digit is a 7 and mine is a 9.
        Is this mean it’s a fake?

        1. Gibson keep pretty good

          Gibson keep pretty good records of their serial numbers, so maybe saying they “can’t find it in the system” is their polite way of saying that it might be a fake.

  15. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    In the UK we have a service for people looking to buy second hand cars … If you send a text message containing the cars registration plate, you will receive a message back stating essential information about the vehicle, including colour, engine size, whether it has been reported stolen or has outstanding finance etc. How about a similar ID by text message for Gibson and Epiphone guitars (text the serial number to 073000 and receive essential info for £150 per text) you could provide a great service to loyal Gibson fans and make some Money out of it!

  16. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA
    Michael Humphrey

    Gibsons of old were, for the most part, well made, hand made, and far superior than any other electric guitar on the market… Norlin years nearly destroyed Gibson and MSRP is now killing Gibson… In this economy today, how many more players or parents of upcoming players, cannot afford a new Gibson… I used to own a music store and thru the years I saw plenty of junk Gibsons along with great many ones… Just because it says Gibson on headstock didn’t always mean it was magic…I have played some of the Chinese Les Pauls and I must say that Gibson has something to worry about… I am not saying it is right for the Chinese to do this, but Gibson opened the door buy outsourcing American jobs in quest for higher profits from these imports… With technology today (CNC machines) there is no reason for a real Gibson to cost 3000.00-6000.00… If you cannot afford a real new one (like most players) you will buy used if you can afford that, and if not, guess what?… Hello Chinese… Wake up Gibson, glory days are over… Make you instruments affordable to all Americans or the Chinese will…

  17. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    PS: In the mid seventies I dreamed and drooled on possessing a Fender Stratocaster. Richie Blackmore, Hendrix and the Shadows looked so cool. I thought that Febnder was a quality American instrument.

    In the late seventies, I slugged it out in a factory for 6 weeks during summer break and finally got one. There was a gap between the neck and the neck cavity. I could fit a 50c coin in it. The thread in the vibrato block (made of aluminium) was so soft that the vibrato arm flopped around in it. The neck plate did not properly secure the neck. The action was atrocious and the sound, well, they had just switched to swamp ash bodies, and the treble was ear-piercing. Need I go on?

    Even though US Strats have improved substantially since the last Fender take-over, Made in USA is not necessarily the best.

    Most Chinese Strats are better than the 70’s garbage I paid almost 2,000 German Marks for.

  18. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    ALL major, and minor guitar manufacturers, have flocked to Japan, Korea, and now China, to manufacture their guitars at a more competitive price. There are two reasons for this: 1) to offer more affordable guitars (competition is tough) and 2) to make more money. I should know this as I have been in the industry for a few decades.

    Chinese guitars 10 years ago were just as poor quality as Indonesian or Korean guitars were when they first started off. But I have toured factories in more recent times that manufacture guitars that rival a US made guitar. Some of the manufacturing techniques and facilities are even better than those found in the US and Europe.

    If western manufacturers still believe that it is OK to charge 10 times more for a western made guitar compared to a similar product made in China, then they are deluded. Quality is pretty much equal depending on the factory. And Chinese learn fast. However, there is a moral issue in passing off a Gibson, Fender etc when it is not the real deal. The other side of the coin is that I have been to legitimate Fender, Gibson/Epiphone and Ibanez manufacturers in China – and the quality of those guitars was abominable. They are still sold at a premium price in the west that they do not deserve.

    My advice is, major manufacturers: give the buyer a choice to buy a proper guitar at a proper price; and as to the Chinese manufacturers: honesty and integrity goes a long way.

  19. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    But if Gibson supposedly has 5 factories in china, and use Gibson parts shipped from the USA, how would that make it a fake?

    I want to order an ES 335 tomorrow, any advise on knowing if retailer in china is legit, is appreciated…Thanks Guys,,,ps, ive never played but i want a 335 to start with

  20. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA
    Gibson and Epiphone LesPaul owner

    To those thinking Gibson should drop their price to counter counterfeiting…they will never do that. The main reason is that what is expensive is seeken for, what is cheap is well…cheap, see the logic! Its the basis of capitalism. Even if you can get very good fake Lespaul, people will still want a genuine Gibson just for the sake of showing up how much class and money they have….or had lol

  21. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    i bought a chinese gibson “Res Paur” as i call it. I bid 73 cents and won. they get you on the shipping (might as well just purchase a legit epiphone). anyway i dropped a seymore duncan dimebag in the bridge and it sounds great. i appreciate the novelty of it and i don’t intend on selling it. its just funny. since then i’ve also purchased a rolex in chinatown NY for $50 and the bezel already popped off. my girlfriend has a bunch of coach purses that are pretty well made too. takes me back to the $10 oakley sunglasses i used to buy in D.C. on grade school field trips. the way i treat watches and sunglasses i’d be an idiot to buy the real thing. the guitar on the other hand is pretty sweet but i am in the market for an ES335 (a real one) i figure its only fair to Gibson.

  22. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA
    tony martin

    I usually buy American, but i bought 2 gibson copies from China and i must say i will buy a third one, These 2 gutars that i bought for $315.00 each looks, sounds like the real gibson, I think its time that gibson start lowering their prices. The guitars i bought fret really low and sound great.So if the Chinese can make them for a starting price of $250.00, why cant gibson lower their prices.Im not going to pay thousand of dollars for something that can be made for $250.00.

  23. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    Gotta agree with Carl here, using the Guitar Dater Project ( to authenticate serial numbers – but not guitars! – is only half of the battle, I can see how it would be a big job for Gibson to build a proper online database of all the guitars they have ever made (serial matched to original model spec, finish etc) but it is possible nevertheless since they can and do authenticate guitars if you call them, this would go a long way towards rebuilding a prospective buyer’s confidence in making a purchase which is sometimes as much as the cost of their car, and in some cases more than the cost of their house…

    Originality issues aside, I have two genuine LPs – a cherryburst Norlin-era LP standard (which had Grovers out of the factory incidentally, must’ve been one of those years) and a black 2005 custom – and one Chinese replica (white custom) bought at the end of last year out of curiosity. The weight is the same, the neck and hardware is SIMILAR but not exactly the same as my genuine custom, but it plays and sounds fine (again, similar but not exact) and the first thing I wondered was why the factories making these guitars don’t make them under their own brand and become respected legitimate brands in their own right.
    The answer is of course obvious: These aren’t legitimate companies and don’t want to be, they’re happy making their “cash in hand” profits and not paying taxes, and using the Gibson brand is ideal for pulling in buyers while their own brand would struggle without serious cash being spent on marketing and sponsorship, it’s just not worth it to them.

    Bottom-line is: If you want a Gibson, save up and buy a genuine one. Do everything you can to authenticate it before you buy it and look after it well. But if all you need is “near enough” quality and the Gibson look then take the risk, you’ll know it’s a fake, sooner or later someone else will tell you it’s a fake (and perhaps at the most embarrassing moment) but please don’t ever try to sell it to anyone as genuine – this is the most worrying thing about these guitars.

  24. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    On thing I just totally do not understand from the manufacturers, is why they don’t set up a web access serial number system.

    You could key in the number, and it would display what it represents. Referring people to 1999 additions of the Blue Book, etc, is a joke. I’m sorry, but Gibson, Fender, and others could do a lot more to be cooperative in letting US assist them with weeding out the copies. Do a web search of Chinese LPs, and you get dozens of sites offering them direct. Now here’s the sad part, some are awful, but some are dead on excellent copies.

    I’ve seen one recently that fooled me in fact, and I’m a store owner! Right now, I would not purchase an LP off E-bay, and in fact I would not even consider purchasing an actual Gibson LP until Gibson sets up a website to authenticate the serial number (a site that could also be used as a registry… so if I put in the number, it could tell me if it’s already registered to someone else!)

  25. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA
    keith richardson

    I see so many discrepancies in what is considered to be fake and authentic, it’s driving me crazy. One comment from RICK states that a fake Gibson would have an ebony fretboard instead of a rosewood fretboard…BS.

    I’ve seen references to the “connected”or not connected or even the complete absence of the dot on the “i” on the headstock inlay…BS. (totally dependent upon year model,and stock of necks available at the time of manufacture…there are a lot of back-stock components)

    I’ve seen references to the 1,2,3,5,30 etc.. piece necks…again,..BS.(one piece neck with glue on ‘WINGS” for the headstock ‘outer edges’) Two screws in the truss rod cover…fact. (however, thats an easily forged modification) therefore, not a good indicator of authenticity. Headstock size, again ..BS (these varied with model years) so unless you know what you are looking for, headstock size is meaningless. Inlays; are you forgetting that for many years, you could order custom inlays from the factory? Keys (machine heads) give me a break!! Factory keystones, or (greenies)were so often inferior to after-market alternatives that that is NO indication at all, Grover keystones were(and are) such a viable replacement that to NOT go with them is sheer idiocy all to it’s self. (better quality for starters…)replace the word Grover in place of Gibson on the deluxe series and you can’t tell the difference(except for quality).

    I have spent MANY years studying these guitars, saving my money, for a REAL LP, and looking for a viable compromise (hoping to find something to be “satisfied” with) that I found it impossible to find a suitable “duplicate” which matches the craftsmanship, much less the prestige of owning the “REAL DEAL” that I finally resigned myself to just getting by with inferior JUNK until i had enough saved up yo get my “holy grail”. Through research and years of meticulous study, patience and determination, I found what I wanted. I’m not sorry, and I would not trade it for all the knockoff pieces of s@*t the rest of the world has to offer.

    So if you are happy with the copies you have…good for you!! But I know what I have, and I know that 10 years from now , it will be worth a hell of a lot more than what I gave for it, I’m happy..and proud… enough said.

  26. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    I plan to buy a Gibson LP Custom Black Beauty tomorrow if it plays nice – local purchase from a guy who needs some money. Says the pickups have already been swapped out for real Gibsons (we will see).

    I am buying it to play and maybe even make it a relic. I don’t have to worry about sweating on or scratching a $3000+ guitar – sounds good to me.

  27. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    It seems there are a few of you out there that have purchased and are pleased with your Chinese Les Pauls. I am not touring pro. I don’t even play in gigs. Just love to jam with friends in the privacy of my home. For those of you who are happy with your “Gibsons”, where Did you purchase it from? I have heard and read some don’t come with truss rods…? I am in no way supporting illegal contefeiting but I can’t seem to under why Gibson rapes their customers for their guitars. As far as I’m aware, it’s the machines, tools, and sometimes even the same wood + hardware.

    The only difference is, you have black & Mexican people working for minimum wage whereas you have Chinese people working for they’re version of minimum wage out there. I do agree with everyone that selling them to make a profit is illegal and wrong. But for those few of us who just enjoy playing couple times per week, shouldn’t be reemed for wanting a decent looking economical guitar. But that’s just one man’s opinion.

  28. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    I own a number of Gibsons .. vintage [69 custom, 2x 76 customs, 68 SG, 71 SG-1], custom shop [VOS 58 re-issue], standard model [goldtop paul] … all great guitars! I bought a 2004 Supreme [verified Gibson] looked awesome … and what a pc of crap .. extraordinarily heavy, 3 frets were improperly seated so the high E slipped under neath them regularily … sounded like crap … poorly designed body [way too thick for any comfort] .. a total disappointment … sold it within 3 months and lost my shirt … recently picked up a FAKE Gibson Les Paul Custom w/ spalted maple top for 300 w/ tweed Les Paul Case … I will change out the fake EMG’s but fit and finish were incredible … and a 3/4 inch thick bookmatched spalted maple cap w/ an incredible flame as well flamed maple neck and bookmatched flamed maple back [balance of body is poplar or basswood 2 pc]… probably the coolest top I’ve seen on anything …and I’ve seen lots!… and even w/ the fake EMG’s it sounds good [not great yet but it will by the time I’m done with it… and no guilt about screwing w/ an expensive guitar], plays incredible [had the frets dressed as that’s a typical problem [50.00] … I collect Japanese 70’s guitars as well .. Ibanez, El Degas,Fender Japan, early 80’s Squires .. and I luv that stuff .. def have a great vibe of their own!
    I also own a number of PRS’s and Fenders … vintage and newer … so I am well aware of what makes a great guitar … selling fakes for big dough is DEF WRONG!!!!!! … but if you know what you are buying and it works for you … more power to you!
    Vintage for investment … copies for players … works for me!

    It’s all about Rockin’ on your favorite axxe so let’s keep it that way!

    1. indeed, i have a 1972 Les

      indeed, i have a 1972 Les Paul Deluxe with a 3 piece neck, pancake body & 3 piece top. Great guitar but the build quality i think was sub-par in those days…

  29. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA
    John Bochraider

    Yea,some Chinese Les Paul’s are junk, but if you get them from a “good’ factory you have got yourself a gem. I dealt with 2 factories. All Les Paul’s from one.

    An S.G. from another one. The S.G. is junk but the Paul’s are A#1 Every bit as good as American. I also bought a 08 special for $2500.00 from an American outlet for comparison and it arrived with a broken neck. They returned it and it ain’t a damnedbit better than the classy Chinese Les Paul’s that I paid $400.00 each.

    Its true. Like the T.V.industry and automotive, China can do as well or better with the guitars.Sign me……satisfied!!!

  30. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    i went to korea for 6 months as a missionary. and as a member of the music ministry i play the guitar and of course i am an avid fan and collector of guitars for many years was there that i knew the plight of these chinese guitar makers. in the city that i was assigned, i have come across about 5 independent guitar factories.they were not big factories. about the size of 2 double-wide trailers i should say but they have all the tools and the skills needed to make such fine instruments. you wanna know why? because they used to work in the factories of famous USA guitar brands that has been outsourced/relocated in china and korea. because of the fast turn-over of workers in those american factories, the workers who got laid off find themselves starting there own small scale factories,building guitars with the same tools, woods, electronics,designs and skills they learned from working with our USA outsourced factories there in asia.

    now if you tell me the guitars they made are of poor quality and don’t sound right? i dont think so. those independent guitar makers have the same blue print as the ones who worked on the “real” factories. they know where to get the wood, the electronics and etc plus they have the skills because they actually worked there before. in summary, they build it the same way.

    i bought one guitar from one of those factories and begged not to put or copy the “famous” logo into it. brought it home here in nashville TN. and you know its home to the “famous” one. played it thru the same amp, same set up as i’ve had for years and it sounded THE SAME as the ones that are made in nashville USA: the one’s that ive collected over the years.

    i think thats the price you pay for outsourcing overseas. we cant blame the companies either since labor wages are cheaper overseas.MADE IN USA guitars are always expensive since we are paying just about $15/hr for our homegrown workers. but talking about the guitar and everything about it, well its the same thing front and back and then some.

  31. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA
    Eric Van der Noot

    A last comment to finish with this …

    Some Asian companies are Agents (partner companies) of American brands who actually make these Asian made guitars FOR the American brands.
    These Asian companies DON’T SELL COPIES, no, no, no, they sell ORIGINALS … whenever the agreements allow them to trade part of their production for themselves.

  32. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA
    Eric Van der Noot

    Apart from what I said in the comment above, there are GREAT instrument makers in China, who build REAL HANDMADE fine instruments, out of aged fine woods.
    I’ve seen some beautiful archtops, with tops which ARE NOT made of cheap plywood (some guitars of WELL KNOW expensive American makers use plywood tops, if you see what I mean !!!), and there guys are proud to “sign” their handmade beauties, and you’ve got a nice Chinese company Brandname on the headstock with real luxurious pearl inlays.
    You want to buy cheaper … no problem, but then buy an ORIGINAL MODEL from an Asian instrument maker, you’ll reward the skill and the perfect executed work of Asian guys who really love their job …

  33. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA
    Eric Van der Noot


    NOW LOOK AT ALL THESE (if the links are still active by the time you click on them).
    These are FAKES made in China, you can observe, check, point out the obvious differences, so you won’t get fooled.
    Check well, click, enlarge photos.
    These FAKE things may be sold somewhere, but not in America anymore.
    Here are some Chinese Companies who trade these items, most probably not the companies who make them, but, anyway :
    There are a lot more to be found around Asia.
    Here are some guitars :

    Well, you can check for hours …

    There is one problem to mention :
    Epiphone, and it’s copies that are made in Asia.
    The guys overseas are used and paid “peanuts” to make “rather good” authorized copies of standard American guitars.
    They have the plans, the machines that cut these instruments … they’re just trying to make a living.
    If Epiphone moves back to the USA, there will be a couple of happy American skillfull handworkers who’ll get a job, and everybody will know that Gibson and it’s partner companies make better days for American people.

  34. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA
    confusion reigns

    So, bought a used 2008 Epi lp Custom Black Beauty on eBay the other day – app 500. Waiting to receive but after reading of the rampant counterfeit Epi BBs out there I decided to double check the pictures posted on the auction. Now I was convinced it was a fake because the Biggest sign of fake is the letters denoting the origin preceding the date and manufacture number are larger than numbers following. So, cursing my naivete, I went to Guitar Center to look at “REAL” models and guess what? Both lp Customs (2008 models) I checked have the Letters larger than the numerals!!! GC selling FAKES as NEW?? Whom do I believe? I am waiting to pass judgement once the guitar is in hand. Good luck all in getting what you think you are paying for…

  35. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA
    robert g sweet

    I have read alot of these comments. first thing, The USA Gibson truss rod has always been a nut the cover on the flying v and firebirds have more than 2 screws .and almost always if the guitar has binding and the original frets the binding will be knoched around the fret unless of a refret. the neck on older gibsons are one peice with 2 ears on the out side peg area 70s necks were three piece necks with ears on the peghead not all gibson headstocks logo was inlaid they used silkscreen logos on the lowend models. and alot of the newer gibsons use a overlay the gibson logo has change a little bit from time to time some had no dot on the i some the dot was all the way past the logo and some had a dot touching the G some were open b and o some were closed depending on the year. of the guitar LET THE BUYER BE WARE!If you are not shure? ask someone who my know. to go with you or look at it ask questions have them send pics of the truss rod without the cover anything there are things to look for on a real gibson the bridge uses studs not bushing on the older guitars and gibson did make some guitars with a bolt on neck hope this helps

  36. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    My son has a natural talent for guitar. Some say it is because he is lefty, don’t know but in 10 minutes looking at tabs on internet he rocks it out. He loves guitars in general.I had an old guitar from the 70’s that is a knock off warlock, we tore it down did some flipping and made it left handed.Sounds great. He bought himself a low end Ibanez, sounds great.He has become more infatuated with Gibson LP’s but even he said he wouldn’t pay that price when he hears his guitars. I bought a knock off Zakk Wylde LP from China, looks great, copied every detail perfect according to all lists to tell a fraud. So for 300 bucks and another 120 for real good pick ups he has an awsome guitar. It sounds great and the workmanship is near perfect. But we knew what we were getting. Take a chance, you might get great and you might get burned. I won’t chance it again as i probably wouldn’t get lucky again. One time for a kid to learn on with minimal investment, well worth it

  37. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA
    Guitfiddler Dave

    Hmmmm, so called “lawsuit” guitars from Japanese and Korean manufacturers in the 70’s generally never said gibson or fender or gretch on them, but were so good that the american companies won the lawsuit on similarities that were that actually competitive, not brand counterfeiting but “quality”. And today, gibson and fender counterfeit their own “US made” products in the same factories, and call them epiphones and squires. I’ve had crap gibson sg’s, double-cuts and explorers – I personally figure if it’s a painted gibson its crap ( I love my korina x), and if its natural woods it may be “worthy” of over a grand, on a per guitar basis – every one is different – painted are all the same. With fender – (geez – they still haven’t figured out that their bridge designs inhibit proper intonation, particularly the high E string) – fenders – hmmm Ibanez and Aria (matsomoku) and Hondo copied them better and low and behold, stand on their own afterall.

    Today,gibson and fender have bought most of the other real american competitors, Charvel, Jackson, Kramer, Parker once proudly stood out and apart from their competition. We’re left with less choice, and next to no, or zero american produced price competition. The US competition of today actually just lines the pockets of companies like G&L, who can get twice to 3 times the value of the parts because gibson and fender are so so so way overpriced. Are we really the idiots they take us for? Is it really worth more just because its made in america?

    And today, many “lawsuit” models get great praise, are sought after, and even counterfeited. Just about every Ebay listing that mentions “lawsuit” really isn’t one and yet somehow these listers think it advantageous to claim. Why – because most “lawsuit era” “copies” were great guitars, good enough that fender, gibson, and our government even said so.

    I found this thread looking around after ordering a “black awesome” guitar from a chinese ebayer that sure looks like a Les Paul Custom with a gibson logo and gibson printed plastic pickup protectors and case. Its not here yet,(i’ll update when it’s here)but if it is a real gibson with real gibson parts, I might make some money selling it immediately since it was so inexpensive. I could certainly put authentic gibson hardware on it if it isn’t already, and sell the hardware marked up as a les paul copy. Or I could keep it of course, only I’d know the truth. If someone ooohs and ahhhs over my guitar because it says gibson, I’ll know the truth about them too.

    I can only hope that whatever this guitar ends up being, that it feels and plays like my 79 Aria Pro II PE-1000, the best “les paul” gibson Never made. Can I live with paying close to $300 for a set neck les paul copy…?Less than epiphone…ummm hell yeah. There are lots of hundred dollar set neck copies out there today though, not like in the 70’s and early 80’s. Spose I could have done and Agile or Davison and gibson it out for abit less, so I figure I’m paying about $1-200 for the gibson name to be on the guitar, and thats alot better than $8-1200 for the name. But it would sure be something if that dude over there in Jainsing just couldn’t fathom having a guitar with “made in USA” stamped on it.

    And by the way – I’ve invested in quite a few cheap chinese guitars that have been really decsent, and resell in the same price range that I bought them in, just like a gibson is expected to do. A couple have been keepers (I like Windaroo) and I’m betting in 20 years we’ll all be appreciating the current chinese competition for guitar mastery – have you seen the chinese bridge designs – and maybe we’ll get another company in the real mix like Ibanez and Aria blossomed worldwide in the 80’s.

  38. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    Hi, I have read all the aforementioned posts with interest. I have 2 fake Les Pauls bought knowing what I was getting on Ebay in the UK for silly money – one Supreme and the other a sunburst Custom – both excellent guitars. I also have a Burny Black Beauty and to be honest all are great guitars for a fraction of a new Gibbo. It is all about getting what you paid for – some Gibbo’s can be bloody awful as others have said but so long as you know it is a fake and not passed off as a real Gibbo then I do not see any harm as, if we could afford a real, good one then we would by one. I also have 3 fake strats, although not from China, and these are great as well. If i see others at a good price then I will buy more.

    Keep rocking.

    Bob, London, UK

    1. Gibson Fakes
      Keith R*******

      I have as you will probably be aware been playing the guitar for a few years, and although I mainly play Fender Telecasters now, I also play Les Pauls, I own around 1100 guitars and I also bought a couple in China when we played over there, I can honestly say that the ones that I have seen and played are great, BUT there are also a lot of crap about, and although I do not agree with the fakes and the copying Gibsons Fenders or any other make, if the kids or people buying these are happy, so be it, but all you guys that are calling them, please look at one or two before passing judgement on something you have probably have never touched played or even seen,
      Best Regards to All,

      1. Have you ever bought a fake guitar by mistake?

        Keith, you have more experience at buying guitars than most of us, have you ever been caught out by a fake?


  39. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA
    B B McGraw

    I bought some 2nd quality Chinese Epiphone parts like necks and bodies and the quality was pitiful. Plywood bodies,warped unfixable necks,crummy routing,brittle ‘chippy’ paint and even a grubby black handprint under the clear lacquer of a tobacco sunburst Junior!
    HOWEVER – I await the delivery of a Chinese “Gibson”. I’ve been assured 4 times it’s “just like the one in picture”. I chose a Les Paul heritage faded in cherry sunburst. Now IF I’m stung I paid £228($371)all in with “Gibson” hard case and EMS shipping to my door.I’m covered with Paypal also.
    You tube clips convinced me to take the plunge. I’ll post the result when it arrives!!!!

  40. Re: Gibson Guitar continues to protect its intellectual property rights and... How to spot a fake: Gibson warns of counterfeit guitars sold in USA

    Back in 1975 I purchased, brand new, a 1975 Gibson Les Paul Custom (black, 2 pickup) from an authorized Gibson factory dealer. It had all of the correct documentation, the serial number (stamped in the wood, not painted on) matched the Gibson production sequence for that year, and it had a Gibson hardshell case. In other words, it was the real deal. Ebony fretboard, 2 screw truss cover, etc. Genuine Gibson, Kalamazoo, MI. Gibson validated the warranty and sent me a personalized lifetime warranty card for my wallet when I mailed in the registration postcard, too.

    It came STOCK with gold plated GROVER tuning machines. Apparently Gibson either had problems with their own tuners or ran out of them and had to make do with Grovers for at least one batch that year. So DON’T assume that factory installed Grovers are an automatic “fake” tell-tale.

    Somebody asked if the tell-tales about fake Epiphones are the same as those for fake Gibsons: NO, THEY’RE NOT!!!! Go to and check the factory photos of Epiphone electrics–they all (or mostly all, I didn’t check EVERY photo) have truss rod covers with THREE screws instead of the two screws used by Gibson (this, by the way is probably why the fake Gibsons usually have 3 screws–it’s what the counterfeiters see on the real Epi’s, so they assume that it’ll be the same on the real Gibsons).

    As for anybody INTENTIONALLY buying a “replica” Gibson with the fake Gibson headstock, you’re only fooling yourself if you think it’s as good as a real Epiphone replica of the same model. The Epiphone factories keep getting better and better at making guitars, and the quality goes up markedly as the price of the instrument goes up. On top of that, the phony “replica” will NEVER appreciate in value, and if you ever resell it, knowing that it’s a phony but not telling your buyer that it’s a fake, you will be liable for both civil and criminal prosecution (which will cost you THOUSANDS of dollars to defend, even if you win the case).

    As for buying a Gibson or Epiphone through eBay, I doubt that I would feel safe to buy any item that did not include at least six or eight different CLEARLY FOCUSED photos of key areas (front and back of headstock, neck joint, fretboard, front and back of body, close-ups of serial numbers and labels/stickers, views through sound holes, etc. I probably would NEVER buy a solid body guitar through eBay (you notice that there’s not too much of a problem with ES-175 and ES-335 copies–too much trouble and expense to manufacture them, with much less demand). The less common the axe, the less likely it is to be a counterfeit, but you’d still better know EXACTLY what the real thing is supposed to look like!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *