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how to spot a fake counterfeit gibson

Updated on August 23, 2017

How to spot a fake gibson guitar, the best way to not get ripped off!

(Before I start, the picture on the left is for 4 fake Gibson guitars)

Prior to buying any Gibson guitar, it is very important to determine the authenticity of your instrument, fortunately for you: we are experts in Gibson guitars and all of our guitars have been verified with Gibson, all of our serial numbers are registered with Gibson USA, so when you buy from us the authenticity of our instruments is guaranteed.

If you choose to buy from someone else please make sure you check the authenticity of the instrument, Gibson guitars are expensive guitars and a huge investment like this requires some research


How to determine if a Gibson guitar is fake or not from the serial number and the specs, how to spot a Chinese fake??

(The picture next to this section is for an Original Gibson les paul traditional plus 2012)

Before I start I want to point out that I have bought and sold hundreds of Gibson guitars and that gave me enough experience to spot a fake from miles away, I gotta say though Chinese counterfeiters are starting to improve their fakes to the point where it's almost impossible for a beginner to know whether a Gibson is made by Gibson USA or some factory in China!

1-Determining if it's a fake or not from the serial number:

The first thing you need to look for is whether the serial number is inked up or engraved, fakes usually have the serial number either engraved too deep into the wood or inked (with too much ink), here you need to be careful: it is true that Gibson never inked serial numbers on the Gibson Les paul standard, Gibson Les paul classic, studio etc but they did ink the custom shop series and some Les paul classics, another thing to look for is whether the numbers are too close, fakes have the numbers too close to each other, if you see any of these signs pickup the phone and call Gibson on 1800 444 2766 then select 1, you will be speaking with either Bob, Benton, Roger, Vincent, Darryl or John, if you get transferred to a voice-mail don't leave a message because Gibson ALMOST never returns calls, they are too busy and with thousands of voice-mails sometimes it takes weeks before they can reply, just hang up and call at another time, if you are on hold for a while that's a good sign

Once someone picks up give them the serial number and try to verify the authenticity that way, they might ask you to provide pictures just to make sure ( sometimes serial numbers are not registered in the Gibson data base but this does not necessarily mean that the guitar is fake) so submitting pictures to Gibson will help you further.

2-Determining if it's a fake or not from the specs:

The first common thing that Chinese fakes have is the 3 screws truss rod cover, Gibson never made truss rod covers with 3 screws, another thing: the shape of the headstock is usually off, the top corners of the headstock on a fake are too sharp and they stick out further than the tiny split in the middle of the top edge of the headstock, the decal is usually completely wrong, get any picture of an authentic Les paul and compare the les paul signature of an authentic Gibson to the guitar you are looking at, the inlays on the fretboard are either too small, on the wrong frets or completely different inlays.

The bridge is another obvious thing to determine if a Gibson is fake or not, Chinese fakes usually have the bridge secured by a flat head screw or a Philips like screw, Gibson don't use screws to secure the bridge.

Pay attention to the pickup ring screws, fakes always have different kind of screws, all you have to do is zoom in a picture of an authentic Gibson and then compare the screws, if the one from the authentic are not like the ones you have that means your guitar is most likely a fake.

Another huge huge no no: Gibson truss rod can only be open with a truss rod tool, Chinese fakes you can open them with an Allen wrench, make sure you ask the seller to remove the truss rod cover and take a picture of the truss rod, that will definitely be the best way to know for sure.

The most faked Gibson guitars are: the les paul supremes, the les paul Zakk Wylde:

The supremes usually have wrong inlays, or inlays on the wrong frets or inlays too small and the les paul signature on the headstock has the wrong size and the graphic on the headstock is too small, the Zakk Wylde is usually very easy to spot because Chinese counterfeiters can't afford to build guitars with ebony fretboard or maple fretboard so what they do is settle for the rosewood fretboard which means:the brownish kind!!! well all Zakk wylde bulls eye, camo etc have either the black ebony fretboard or the yellow maple fretboard!

zakk wylde image on the back of the headstock is not well centered.

I hope this info helps all Gibson enthusiasts avoid buying a fake.

Please make sure you report fakes to Gibson and if the item is an auction on Ebay report it to Ebay

( ebay have some Gibson specialists who work with them around the clock, they usually remove listings within 24 hours)

Fake and original truss rod cover
Fake and original truss rod cover

New update: compare images of original with fake

Here is side by side an image of a fake truss rod cover ( the one with 3 screws is the fake one in this case) the one with 2 screws is the original one, however in the next module I will provide more images of the newest fake truss rod covers because Chinese manufacturers realized that their fakes were easy to spot, so in the next module I will show you the newest fake truss rod cover!

Another fake truss rod cover ( this one has 2 screws)

Look at the shape of this fake headstock, the area where the screw goes is too circular, that's common with chinese fakes!

Compare an original Gibson bridge to a fake one
Compare an original Gibson bridge to a fake one

Most of Fake Gibson les pauls have this fake bridge

The bridge on the top of the picture is a fake, the one on the bottom of the picture is an original Gibson bridge!

Here is some recommended auctions for Gibson les paul standard, classic, custom, traditional, slash limited edition 1600 only ever produced supreme, es 335 etc



Please make sure you bookmark this lens and visit it as often as you can because we are adding more and more details about The fake Gibson guitars that are being manufactured, Chinese factories are learning something new everyday but the more they learn the more we learn and they can never make their guitars as good as the original GIBSON USA, I buy and sell hundreds of guitars per month so I consider my knowledge a treasure!

2001 gibson les paul classic premium plus ( discontinued edition)
2001 gibson les paul classic premium plus ( discontinued edition)

Making a good investment from your Gibson guitar purchase!

When buying a Gibson guitar it is also important to remember that Guitars are like cars once it's out of the store it depreciates however the good news is that Gibson guitars do not depreciate as fast as other Brands and might actually go up in value, another good thing: Gibson always discontinues certain editions, it is always good to go for: the discontinued editions, limited editions, limited runs and guitar of the week models.

Here is an example: the gibson les paul slash limited edition vintage burst ( Only 1600 ever produced), when they first came out in 2008 they sold brand new for $2399, now they can sell for $2650-$3000 but of course the guitar has to be in excellent condition.

To recap: you need to buy a decent discontinued or a vintage or a limited edition whether used or new but one key ingredient is to take a good care of your guitar, make sure you clean it, polish it regularly, make sure you treat the fretboard as well with something like a DUNLOP fretboard conditioner, when storing your guitar make sure you do not leave it on a rubber stand because that will react with the nitrocellulose of your guitar, make sure you put it inside it's hard shell case, keep the guitar from very high and very low temperatures, make sure it is not exposed to high and low humidity, don't smoke near your guitar, don't store them near pets or leave a hard shell case opened because your cat or dog might be tempted to leave you a surprise.

I hope this will help you guys watch over your investment and I am more than sure that if you follow these tips your guitar will increase in value

Duel Debate Module

To me Gibson guitars are the best ever manufactured, gibson produced many models so I am curious to know what models interest you guys especially if you have to choose between the pre 1982's non weight releived standard, the post 1982 weight releived standard, the chambered standard and the traditional serie

Earn $10 gift card within 15 sec
Earn $10 gift card within 15 sec

What is your favorite Gibson guitar and why?

AS A THANK YOU FOR READING OUR LENS, HERE IS HOW TO $10 gift card for free today in less than 1 min

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New Guestbook Comments

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    • pcmitchum profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens man! People underestimate how important it is to be educated when buying gibsons (or any guitar) from a third party!

    • Ardyn25 profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm much better informed...great lens. Thanks for stopping by my lens...I appreciate it!

    • worldsguitarcom profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      @a-dude-named-mike: Can you email me pictures of your truss rod because based on what you are saying I am 80% leaning toward it being fake, I can confirm from the pictures, by the way necks without a truss rod might be straight the first year or two but then they start becoming bowed up, original truss rods turn easily unless there is no more room and the truss rod reached its max, here is the original truss rod tool that works on all les pauls:

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I enjoyed you article about the fake Les Pauls. I own one (I've had real ones also, just so you know). My question is regarding the truss rod. The one in mine appears to be a hex wrench type, and most import guitars use either a 3mm or 4mm hex wrench. 3mm was too small; 4mm seemed to fit but didn't turn it. Instead, it seemed like the wrench began to turn inside the socket of the truss rod, so I immediately stopped out of fear of stripping it out. I've heard of rare instances where fake Les Pauls had no truss rods at all, but there is definitely something in there, just not sure what. It may be a truss rod, but I don't know because the wrench didn't appear to fit right or turn it. But the neck is almost perfectly straight so I'm wondering if it could possibly be that straight if there were truss rod in it. Also, do you have any experience with "difficult" truss rods in fake Les Pauls? Thanks!

    • worldsguitarcom profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      You're welcome Josh, will be posting more soon, there is thousands of Gibson guitars out there and many musicians don't know the difference between all these models so I am going to do my best to share my knowledge with fellow musicians.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Good to know - thanks for letting us know!

    • worldsguitarcom profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      You are welcome, I will be posting more lenses about the different types of les pauls, what each model is suited for etc

      Thanks for the comment!

    • JK Sterling profile image

      Jim Sterling 

      8 years ago from Franklin, Tennessee

      Thanks for the lesson.


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