How to Spot Fake Gibson Guitars

Posted by in Gibson Electric Guitars, Tools

This is the place to learn how to spot fake Gibson guitars. It’s been said that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” but that’s no consolation to you if you’ve just shelled out big bucks for your dream guitar and it turns out to be phony.

Lately China has been cranking out fake Gibson guitars like crazy, and they get away with selling a ton of ‘em on the Net. If you’re buying online, beware of anything coming from China. 

All Gibson guitars are made in the USA, no exceptions. (Gibson’s other brands, like Epiphone, are made overseas however, hence the low price point.)

Also keep in mind that these tactics may change and evolve over time… just use your gut instinct and remember that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!

How to Avoid Fake Gibson Guitars:

  • If the price is too good to be true, be suspicious. Les Pauls cost anywhere from $1,400 to $3,000, if you see one for $300 you can bet something fishy is going on. Walk away!
  • Make sure the guitar is not undersized. While this may be obvious if you’re seasoned guitar pro, you could overlook it if you don’t have a ton of playing time under your belt or you’re buying online.
  • If the truss rod has three screws, take note. Gibsons have two screws on the truss rod cover. Truss rod covers are cheap and easy to come by, so two screws doesn’t rule out a fake, but keep an eye out for this easy giveaway. Also, Gibson actually did use 3 screw truss rod covers briefly in the 1970s, so 3 screws does not always mean fake. However, lots of the knockoffs coming from China feature a 3 screw truss rod cover, so it certainly something that should catch your attention and prompt a little further investigation.
  • Ask the seller where the guitar was made. Again, anything made outside the USA is not a real Gibson.
  • “Gibson” on the truss rod cover? Yeah, fake. No real Gibson says “Gibson” on the truss rod cover. (Epiphones do, however.)
  • If you can, check the pickup cavity and make sure it’s not painted black. This isn’t always doable, especially online, but it’s a dead giveaway on fake Gibson guitars… fraud-u-lent!
  • Pearl Inlays. Make sure they’re actually inlaid, not just on the surface.
  • Give Gibson a shout. As a last resort you can always give ‘em a ring, those guys know their stuff if you can get through. Their number is 1-800-4GIBSON.

Did You Know? When Guns n’ Roses was blowing up in the late 80′s, Slash could be seen carrying around what looked like a 1959 Les Paul. Turns out the guitar that brought back the Les Paul to the world stage was a copy! Slash couldn’t afford the real deal at the time, so the copy (made by luthier Kris Derrig) was one of Slash’s favorites for years.

Tips for Buying Gibson Guitars:

It’s best to go to an authorized Gibson dealer, and there are some great ones online I’ve bought from over the years. I don’t really care for retail stores because they have a lot of bills to pay (lights, rent, etc.) and they pass that cost on to you and me. eBay is cool, but man, these fakes have kinda flooded the market and it’s always a roll of the dice.

Fake Gibson guitars hurt all of us, so don’t support sellers on eBay or anywhere else online hawking these things. Also remember that selling a fake one is a f-e-l-o-n-y


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