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Gibson Guitars


The Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co. was founded by Orville Gibson in 1902. Located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Gibson founded the company to make mandolin-family instruments. By the 1930s, the company was also making flattop acoustic guitars, as well as one of the first commercially available hollow-body electric guitars, used and popularized by Charlie Christian.

In recent years, counterfeit versions of the popular guitar ave surfaced. Below are some checklist items to determine if yours is real.


Gibson Guitars - Step 1, picture 1 Gibson Guitars - Step 1, picture 2
1
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!

First of all, if anyone, especially a seller based in China is selling a Gibson Les Paul for an alarmingly low price, you probably want to pass. A good deal is not a good deal if it's fake.

Gibson Guitars - Step 2, picture 1 Gibson Guitars - Step 2, picture 2
2
Here's an example of a fake headstock. notice that the "Gibson" is painted on. The real Gibson, on the left, shows the Gibson is an inlay of Mother of Pearl.

Gibson Guitars - Step 3, picture 1 Gibson Guitars - Step 3, picture 2
3
Here are two more fake headstocks. The one on the left is pretty bad. It doesn't have the Mother of Pearl "Gibson" or crown inlay.

The one on the right was actually on eBay. There is nothing right about that one.

Gibson Guitars - Step 4, picture 1 Gibson Guitars - Step 4, picture 2
4
Next, check for the serial number on the back of the headstock. It should have a serial number on top. Modern numbers are 9 digits but older/vintage Gibson guitars are much shorter. It should also have "Made in USA" underneath the serial number. Only the newer ones have the year on them so it's not necessarily a fake if it's not there.

Fakes usually have the serial number either engraved too deep into the wood or inked (with too much ink). Keep in mind, Gibson never inked serial numbers on the Gibson Les Paul Standard 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 are often too close.

The fake one on the right has no serial number at all. Definitely a fake!

You can search for your serial number at The Guitar Dater Project. It will return the birth date of your guitar and the manufacturing plant. Excellent Resource!

Gibson Guitars - Step 5, picture 1 Gibson Guitars - Step 5, picture 2
5
Next, look at the truss rod cover. On the top screw, the real one has very little space between the screw and the outside of the cover. The fake has much more and is crudely cut.

Gibson Guitars - Step 6, picture 1 Gibson Guitars - Step 6, picture 2
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Next, look at the bridge. The fake one has a screw slot where the bridge recesses on it. The real one is solid.

Gibson Guitars - Step 7, picture 1 Gibson Guitars - Step 7, picture 2
7
Next, look at the binding on the headstock. The real one is thin and the fake one takes up over half of the headstock thickness.

Gibson Guitars - Step 8, picture 1 Gibson Guitars - Step 8, picture 2
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Next, look at the frets. They should extend all the way to the binding. On the real one, you can see the binding actually rides up, just a little, on the fret. The fake doesn't make it to the edge.

Gibson Guitars - Step 9, picture 1 Gibson Guitars - Step 9, picture 2
9
And make sure there are no scarf joints.
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