Magazine article Guitar Player

Counterfeit Gibson Les Paul Custom

Magazine article Guitar Player

Counterfeit Gibson Les Paul Custom

Article excerpt

I WAS DOING RESEARCH for one of my Whack Job columns when I came across a link that lead to a link that lead to some thumbnails--but no shots of the head-stock--of a brand new, green Les Paul with a price of $225, shipped directly from China. Hmm. We've all heard about counterfeit guitars, so for a $225 gamble, I decided to see if this was one of those knock-offs.

The guitar arrived by courier in a black sedan--all very Men In Black-ish. I opened the sealed, toxic, styrofoam sarcophagus, and, sure enough, right on the head-stock is the Gibson logo. Etched into the trussrod cover is "Les Paul Custom," and on the back of the headstock are the words "Made in U.S.A.", along with an embossed nine-digit serial number. Very credible. Very wrong.


As you might expect, this guitar is straight-up crap. The frets are scratchy, the fingerboard is dry, and it won't stay in tune. The pickups are low-output, anemic, and microphonic as all hell. Suspicions confirmed. These guitars are frauds. They may look authentic and cool from a distance, but they will never play with the class and distinction of the real thing.


My counterfeit job is of an actual, limited-run model the Gibson Custom Shop produced in 2012. Gibson made 35 of what they called "The Green Widow," and the retail price was around $16,000. I guess I got a deal at $225, but then again, it might take an investment of $1,500 or more to get the faux green widow to play and sound almost as good as a starter Epi-phone. …

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