I recently was looking for a used Les Paul. I saw a Les Paul Supreme on Craig’s List for only $750! – They normally retail at $3,400+.
I had high hopes that this was a seller who just wasn’t aware of what he/she had and I would score. Luckily, the seller was honest and emailed me back with info stating that it was NOT a USA made Gibson and it was a replica.
I was surprised, since the photos showed “Gibson” on the headstock and even the truss rod cover, fret inlays, and the supreme headstock detail logo was all in place. These were low quality photos, so you couldn’t see all of the details clearly.
I was baffled and upset that there was a company making replicas that actually say GIBSON on them. I understand that Epiphone is Gibson’s sister company that does make their products overseas for a lower price, but they clearly say Epiphone, not Gibson.
I did some research and found this posts which sells several replicas. There are pics, and I would say, from the images, these replicas are pretty dead on and look nice. Neck thru body construction, and they even have what appears to be Grover tuning knobs.
That site also has fake Ibanez Jem 7’s, and a few other models. Although the site does not promote the products as real Gibsons, and Ibanez’es, they do not make a huge attempt to indicate they are NOT real. An experienced guitarists or buyer, would realize that the low prices ($180 – $250) are sign that something is wrong. But, there are those younger and less experienced who may be fooled. The other issue are those who are purchasing with intent put them back on the market as a true Gibson! I am choosing NOT to support this market, and I hope others make that choice too. It only leads to a contaminated market and makes buyers, and collectors weary about buying one of the best guitars ever made.
I was really pissed when I saw an image that they imprint a serial number and “Made in the U.S.A.” on the back of the headstock! You can even see that they package it inside a Gibson branded cardboard box, almost identical to the actual ones. This is more than a replica, it is a premeditated counterfeit!
I understand if a company wants to replicate one of the best guitars out there as many have, but don’t try to make a counterfeit.
I found a nice post about this on eBay from a fellow guitarist who is also concerned about this. Here are his tips, although, you can see from the photos, that some will be hard to tell, as the truss rod cover in these images do only have 2 screws and the logo looks very convincing. Down to the angle and placement.
1. The guitar is located in China or some other Asian country. No Gibsons are manufactured in China, all Gibsons are US Made. Gibson has satellite companies like Epiphone that manufacture overseas and are much less expensive.
2. The sellers sometimes state that the country of origin is China, apparently in a half hearted attempt to dispell that the guitars are real, even though they stamp Made in USA right on the guitars.
3. There are some subtle differences between the fake Les Pauls and the real thing. Look closely at the headstock front. Most of the fakes have a Gibson logo that is of a thicker font than the real Gibson logo and is aligned almost horizontally at the top of the headstock. The real Gibson logo is a thinner font and is angled with the G started near the post of the D string tuner. The real key is to look at the truss rod cover. Real Gibsons have a bell shaped truss rod cover with TWO screws. Every fake I’ve seen has a cover with a similiar shape but with THREE screws. Also, the copies of Les Paul Standards often say “Gibson” right on the truss rod cover, NO Les Pauls say Gibson on the truss rod cover, some Epiphone Les Pauls do but those aren’t made in the USA and say Epiphone at the top of the headstock not Gibson.
4. These guitars that are often stamped with legitimate looking serial numbers but they don’t always match the true manufacture years of the real Gibson guitars.
5. All high end Les Pauls come with nice Gibson cases, these fakes rarely include a case.
6. ASK THE SELLER – many of them will admit that the guitars are made in China, and remember, no Gibsons, especially those that say Made in USA, are made in China.
Gibson Counterfeit Site
Here is another post about the fakes and unfortunately, tells the sad story of a 15 year old who was scammed with a fake Les Paul.
Check your serial number
You can visit this site and enter in the serial number for a validation check. The only thing is, this will only tell you when and which Gibson factory it was manufactured at, it will not tell you the model.
It is possible that a fake could be using a true serial, so please be aware of that when making a Gibson purchase.
Just beware when buying one. Know your seller or retailer and make sure to double check every little detail!