With more and more guitar manufacturers emerging in the Far East, it is now possible to manufacture a guitar which almost exactly resembles a genuine Gibson Les Paul in every detail. Now that a large amount of these guitars have been shipped to Europe, it is no longer as simple as just avoiding any Far Eastern guitar auctions. Here are some simple ways to spot a fake Les Paul.
1. The truss rod cover (the plastic plate on the headstock just above the nut) on genuine Gibsons has only two screws, in line with the neck. Fake Gibson truss rod covers have three screws in a triangle shape.
2. The bridge studs on a genuine Gibson do not have screw heads apparent on the top of the bridge. On fake Gibsons you will see that the studs have slots for flathead screwdrivers on each side of the bridge.
3. Genuine Gibson Les Paul necks have binding which covers the fret ends. Fake Gibsons do not have this detail.
4. Fake Gibson Les Paul Customs can usually be spotted by their brown fretboards (usually some form of cheap rosewood). Real Les Paul Customs have black ebony fretboards.
5. If the guitar is shipped with a case, genuine Les Paul cases are very tightly fitted to the body of the guitar. Fake cases usually don't fit the guitar very well. Note that it's VERY unusual to see a real Gibson Les Paul without a case.
6. Gibson Les Pauls retail for around £600-£1,000 for a Studio Model, £1,200-£2,000 for a Standard model, and more for Custom Shop models. If you see a Gibson guitar retailing on a buy it now for significantly less than that, it is most likely a fake.
Be aware that even if the seller has pointed out that the guitar is not a real Gibson, you are still buying a counterfeit item. Fake Gibsons are badly made, often defective, uncomfortable to play, and sound terrible. They're made from inferior woods by workers who have no luthier skills. Even if what you're paying is very cheap for a real Gibson, that does not necessarily mean that a fake Gibson is good value for money.
Note: These comments don't apply to brands such as Greco, Tokai and Burny, which manufacture copies of Les Pauls under their own trademark. A Fake Gibson is a guitar that has not been made by Gibson and yet bears the Gibson logo.