As with any popular name brand product, there are bound to be counterfeits that seek to take advantage of people looking for a quality name brand at a low price. Counterfeits are prevalent in the stringed instrument industry due to the many quality brands available: Gibson, Fender, Ibanez, etc. Identifying counterfeits can be extremely difficult.

What’s the Difference between Brand Name and Counterfeit Guitars?

Counterfeit guitars lack more than just the legitimacy of being built by the true branded company. Counterfeits lack the craftsmanship, warranties and resale value of instruments made by well-known brands. Because these instruments are not crafted by a well established brand, you have no protection plan in case anything ever breaks or goes wrong with the guitar.

It is also illegal to resell counterfeit guitars in the United States so those guitars have no trade-in value, while many legitimate brand name guitars have high trade-in value that can increase over time. To keep costs down, many counterfeit companies use lower quality materials and increase production speed, resulting in a lower quality sound and playability than you would experience with a brand name guitar.

How to Identify a Counterfeit Guitar

As counterfeit guitars cannot be legally sold in the United States, they are commonly sold at online auction sites, such as eBay and Craigslist, or overseas websites. The only way to be 100% sure your guitar is official is to buy it from an authorized dealer. If you are buying from a different company or individual person, it’s important to learn how to identify a counterfeit.

Here are some tips to help identify whether a guitar is likely to be a counterfeit:

The Price is Too Good to Be True: Counterfeit guitars are constructed with low quality materials, allowing them to be sold for prices much lower than their licensed counterparts. If a guitar seems suspiciously cheap, you should trust your instinct and not purchase it. Also, a guitar should cost more, not less when bought internationally.

Cost of Shipping: A guitar typically costs around $20 to ship. Higher shipping costs are a sign that the guitar is being shipped from a counterfeit manufacturer overseas.

The Logos Don’t Look Correct: Compare the logos on the guitars to the logos listed on the company’s official website. If they don’t match perfectly or are located in a different area, it most likely is a counterfeit guitar. Counterfeit manufacturers commonly stamp a “made in the USA” logo off center on the guitar’s headstock.

The Craftsmanship is Questionable: Counterfeit instruments are notorious for having poor sound quality and weighing much less than licensed instruments. This is because they are made with low-quality wood and veneers that result in poor sound quality and lighter weights.

You are not buying from an authorized dealer: When buying from online auction sites or international websites, you should be extra careful about the legitimacy of the guitar. Make sure these sites provide close up photos of the instrument’s details, including the serial number and logos.

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