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necrosis1193 11-20-2010 05:01 AM

Is it too good to be true? From a nameless Chinese seller? Click here!
I'm sick to death of every other day opening this forum and finding someone asking the same damn question again and again - "I found this expensive US-made guitar for *Insert sub-300 three-digit number here* on *Chinese wholesale site here* Is it worthwhile?"

Short-and-sweet, no, it's not. Fingers crossed this gets stickied since something like this up at the top should at least catch a few of the threads. Want more detail? Read on. Let me just say now though that not all Chinese/Korean/wherever copies are illegal copies - Only the ones claiming to be genuine Gibsons, Fenders, PRS', etc. are - Ones that openly acknowledge they're copies are legal.

First off, give this thread a read before even considering buying something you think may be fake. If you can see it in-person(ie, a secondhand seller), maybe print some of these out to check it with. They're a little dated and some of the pictures have been deleted since some of the sites have been taken down, but they're still relevant as long as you use logic and a little common sense with them - Something you should do with any purchase even if you know it's legit. ;)

Second, here's a simple rule of thumb that always applies - If it's too good to be true, it probably is. This is common sense, but so few people use it. It shouldn't need to be said, so here it is.

Finally, before you decide "Well this guitar is still a nice deal", be aware of three things; First, you're probably going to be paying for the shipping from China. Most UGers are either in the UK or the US. Shipping across about half the US for a Les Paul off eBay is about $50. Imagine that for the guitar to come all the way from China. Same size and everything, fi not bigger since it's in that box with all the packaging.

The second thing to consider despite it seeming like a good deal is that it's nothing compared to the guitar it looks like. Most of these copies are about the quality of a Squier Bullet or an Epiphone LP-100; Nothing to be proud of, the kind of thing that's just made to carry off the lot before breaking down. The old adage holds firm - You get what you pay for.

On a final note, it depends on local laws and such, but a lot of places take counterfeiting very seriously. In most states, it's not just a felony to sell one of these - It's a felony to buy one or own one, especially knowingly. They'll probably let you off if you got duped and are calling to report the seller or something, but if you try to sell it secondhand to a shop that does a background check to make sure it's not stolen or anything, expect charges.

Anyway, I'm tired. Use common sense, good judgement, the advice in this thread, and much more crucially since this is mainly an attention-grabber for anyone thinking of posting on this subject, use the above linked fake guitar thread, and you can avoid one of these counterfeit pieces of crap. Might post more in the morning, or copypaste some posts from the fake thread with updated photos and such. Good night, and good luck.(In your guitar-shopping! :p: )

Alucard817 11-20-2010 05:12 AM

I would like to add to Necroses1193's post if I may.

Knowingly buying a counterfeit IS ILLEGAL in the US, Canada and most of Europe.

In the US you face heavy fines, and or jail time for knowingly purchasing and/or selling counterfeits.
So not only are You breaking the law by buying one of these POS guitars, you're also enabling this to continue. Sites like tradetang, pass these guitars off as real, and when the buyer realizes they were ripped off they too will pass the guitar along as a genuine article.

This is a major problem for not only the buyer's (us) but it's also a major problem for legitimate retailers as well.
We see countless thread's here with titles such as "Is this fake" or "Is this brand X guitar real". So please as Necrosis said, if you find a 3,000 dollar guitar on a website thats selling for 300 bucks, use some common sense.

Offworld92 11-20-2010 05:31 AM

I wholeheartedly agree with this.

Maybe the thread title should be changed to something people who are looking to ask about whether or not something is fake would look at.

(That sentence felt really grammatically incorrect, but eh.)

scaronyourface 11-20-2010 05:37 AM

I was thinking of buying a fake chinese gibson les paul.

Skinny91 11-20-2010 08:44 AM

Lots of good info, and very needed with all the threads about chinese copies. Seconded for sticky.

siverstorm 01-10-2011 12:49 AM

Thirded for sticky...seriously

hydraone 01-10-2011 12:50 AM

Put me down as a agreeing to the sticky.

sstony 01-10-2011 07:25 AM

Thats why I only buy originals and not copies.

monwobobbo 01-10-2011 09:14 AM

it it not illegal to buy these guitars. there are no laws stating this. the assumption is that the consumer doesn't know for sure. it wouldn't be worth anyone's time to prosecute some kid that thought he was getting a great deal. buying with the intent for resale (if provable) yes but the average guy on the street no. selling is another story and is illegal (or a very gray area). laws are set up in these cases to protect consumers but they also kind of think that most of us are to dumb to know the difference. i'm thinking that the number of threads on this proves that assumption.

Green_Jelly 01-10-2011 09:23 AM

Originally Posted by monwobobbo
it it not illegal to buy these guitars.

I'm not going to argue with you about American laws, but in most of European countries it is. :)

monwobobbo 01-10-2011 12:08 PM

Originally Posted by Green_Jelly
I'm not going to argue with you about American laws, but in most of European countries it is. :)

cool. can't speak for elsewhere but in america they don't send you to jail for buying counterfeit materials. as i mentioned it is assumed that the buyer wasn't aware that what was purchased is fake. i would assume that there are provisions in other countries laws for this as well. i can't imagine it would be worth the effort to try and prosecute everyone who buys (knowingly or not) items that turn out to be counterfeit.

for the record i don't approve of knockoffs just pointing out a misconception about the laws governing them.

siverstorm 01-10-2011 05:52 PM

Thank god this was stickied.

Now there's no excuse to see another "tradetang?" thread....

Offworld92 01-10-2011 07:36 PM

Even though you know we will.

No one reads stickies.


siverstorm 01-10-2011 07:38 PM

Yea but we can justifiably get mad and call them stupid now :D

CannedBullets 01-10-2011 08:19 PM

I think customs confiscates counterfeit goods that try to come into America.

xCalebHD 01-10-2011 09:19 PM


Washburnd Fretz 01-10-2011 10:50 PM

Even if someone did order one of those POS guitars....
They will most likely be the victim of the old bait and switch and get something totally different.

necrosis1193 01-11-2011 05:36 AM

Originally Posted by Washburnd Fretz
Even if someone did order one of those POS guitars....
They will most likely be the victim of the old bait and switch and get something totally different.

Remember kids, if you order a counterfeit guitar, istead of a guitar, you'll get one grumpy Chinese bobcat! :p:

Right then, hooray sticky! :D Thanks to everyone who supported the stickying of the thread, I appreciate the help. ^_^ Right then, let's get some fresh, not-outdated content up in here, shall we? To start, we'll look at the three most popular guitars(Two Les Pauls and one JEM) on one of the more common sites, tradetang. It's late, but tomorrow I may try to add the fourth and fifth biggest(Another Les Paul and another JEM)


The first guitar we'll look at, their best seller, is a "1993/98 LES R8 MURPHY AGED KILLER REISSUE" The first thing that seems off is the year - Why would a wholesale company be selling a guitar from the nineties? Granted Gibson does a lot of weird things(Such as the serial numbers - They say on their own site that sometimes a dozen guitars can have the same serial number), and the five-year gap is a bit odd, so the 93/98 may be genuine. I'm not a big Gibson guy, so I can't be certain there, but I think it's odd. Anyway, continuing onward to more definite proof.

The first hints are the images. They don't look bad - It's hard to make a R8 look bad. :p: They do look like NGD photos Jim Amateurphotographer took of his new guitar that went up on Google though. I don't think any professional product photographer is going to say "Alright, now lets get the neck joint" I doubt even many of us would.

Now, as said, sadly, this is using stolen photos of someone's genuine Les Paul, so we aren't really going to glean any red flags from the images, so let's move on to the text.

Originally Posted by product description
This a brand new guitar. The sound quality of this guitar is absolutely marvelous. I believe this instrument will please most discriminative professional player. This style professonal guitar is compelely new and nice.

First off, no official reseller will go with a four-sentence description over the official description. No product description should be this short. The grammar should also be a red flag - Any worthwhile company in China trying to sell to the US would hire a translator to make sure all the English is good and appealing to US buyers, they wouldn't have things like "This a brand new...", "will please most discriminative professional player." or "This style professional guitar..." And they'd probably be more pedantic about it than just say it's "New and nice"

Continuing to "package", we find it "come with a beautiful box", and that cases aren't included. Barring one or two exceptions(None Les Pauls), every Gibson from the Les Paul Studios up come with a hardshell case. Even if it were a legitimate seller, if they're not giving you the case, buy elsewhere.

To finish this one off, I just want to add a little bit they have at the end that gave me a little chuckle - "Thank you for your interested. We will try our best to satisfied our every customer."

Now then, onward, to #2!


Unlike our first product, the second-highest isn't yelling at us, labeled "2010 New arrival les custom shop electric guitar flames top" Flames top is funny and odd enough right there to warrant some suspicion, but we'll continue anyway.

As you may have guessed from the watermark, our man selling this one is "Dave". I don't know about you, but I've never known of a single international wholesale company so small that it only has one salesman with the name "Dave" they can just call Dave. The fact the "Short description" is the same sentence two-and-a-half times(It assumably cut him off the third time) isn't helping, but let's move onto more concrete evidence instead of the conjecture of one man.

Like the above, this isn't actually a bad looking guitar - And based on some of the inaccuracies, "Dave" isn't lying when he tells us "I can guarantee the real item are the same as the picture", so this time we can pick at this thing for visual cues that, yes, it's a fake counterfeit. For reference, Here's a Sweetwater Guitar Gallery link to the genuine article of what I'm pretty sure this guy is trying to imitate.

Let's start with pic #1, the body. First and probably most obviously, is the missing pickguard. Granted a lot of people do this for aesthetics, but no mention is made of it, and it sure as hell shipped with it if it's real. The second hint is the finish - Most Les Paul Customs of this variety, from what I can find, unless vintage, seem to be plain-top. This is probably just an optional thing though, so not a huge thing. On the other hand, the finish is. The inside of the burst is much darker than any cherryburst LP Custom I can dig up.

That's about all I can pick up, so let's go on to the neck. The inlay actually seems like it'd look nice, but I can't find a single Les Paul Custom that has a floral vine inlay. It's either a one-off, which even in China wouldn't just be $368.82, or it's a fake. With the only real detail photos can tell of the neck gone through, let's move on to the real telltale giveaway for this pantomime, the headstock.

The headstock on this guitar is egregious. There is not a single Gibson Les Paul Custom I can find that has a golden truss rod cover, or that silly circular inlay instead of the diamond inlay. Moreover, the tuners are lookalikes of Grover Kidney Beans, not the more angular Sperzels our genuine model shows off. The rest of the guitar is passable, if suspicious, but this just kills any illusion it has to a real guitar.

Now then, onto #3, our first JEM!

necrosis1193 01-11-2011 05:36 AM

*Split for length*


Alright, I lied. This guitar isn't actually a JEM - It's a "Free shipping, The best selling ,One color shell carving flower electric guitar neck ibnaez 7v" So we'll call it "Free Shipping" for short, since we don't mention shipping costs, so there should be no confusion.

Once more, I'd like to give you a genuine model to look at. Unfortunately, Sweetwater doesn't have a 7V in right now, only a 77V. I'd give you Evo instead since Steve recently uploaded a nice, comprehensive gallery, but I know for a fact plenty of hardware on Evo has been replaced due to wear-and-tear, so that'd lower the validity. Instead, Here's a nice, if large, image of someone's legitimate JEM. Pretty, ain't it? So is Free Shipping, but not quite as much so. Let's take a look.

Free Shipping is actually one of the more faithful counterfeits I've seen so far. She actually shows up multiple times on the first page of a Google Image search for "Ibanez JEM", and with good reason - Unlike the others, her tells are very subtle, and you'd have to go in looking for them to know them without a very discerning eye. That's exactly what we're here to do though, so let's dive in.

As always, we'll start with the body. The first tell would be the pickguard - Whereas most JEMs have 18 screws, Free Shipping only has 17. What inane cost-cutting measure removing one screw was, I'll never know, but it's there and it's helpful, best not look a gift horse in the mouth.

The only other giveaways I can spot on the body are subtle, and one, you could own a JEM and Free Shipping and never spot. The first of the three others is the middle pickup. I can't be sure, but it looks like the pole pieces on Free Shipping are gold, much like the humbuckers, whereas a JEM has regular grey polepieces.

The second is the tremolo. Whereas a JEM has a Lo-Pro Edge, Free Shipping sports a licensed Floyd. Nowhere on a JEM will you find the words "Licensed under Floyd Rose patents" Which brings me to the one you could own both and never notice - The tremolo arm. Every Edge tremolo ships with a black bar, while Free Shipping has a gold bar. which looks better is taste, but which is real isn't.

That about concludes the body, and I can't see much on the neck, so onto the headstock, the teller-of-all-origins!

The first issue on the headstock is the truss rod cover. Not only are the screws too large, the two near the neck are much too visible - They're practically under the string bar on a JEM. As well, they're too far from the sides. Like on most guitars, a JEM has them far to the edges, while they're a bit inward on Free Shipping. After the truss rod cover, we have our final piece of evidence, the headstock shape. The jut off for the check mark on a genuine JEM looks like it was intentional - It's long enough to be an integral part of the shape. Free Shipping on the other hand, has a smaller, smoother jut. It's small, but it's enough to look off next to the real thing.

Sadly, that's about it for Free Shipping; Like I said, she's a very good copy aesthetically, and you have to either have a good eye or be looking for it to prove her fake, though spotting the subtleties between her and her Japanese sister is doable. The description is damning though. Unlike the others, I can't copypaste anything because it's a convoluted mess that I can't tell fi there are any problems with the description. It's far from professional though - Not even a nine-year old selling bracelets she made off eBay who's never typed before would make something so incomprehensible, much less a legitimate, legal reseller.

That'll be all for tonight, anyone interested in helping is more than welcome. :D

Destinyrider22 01-15-2011 02:29 PM

lmfao "biggest feature of this piano is..." i love pianos without keys its like a guitar

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