How to Spot a Fake Gibson Guitar

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How to Spot a Fake Gibson Guitar

For their legacy of quality, distinctive sound, and playability, Gibsons are among the most sought-after guitars in the world. Gibson guitars command high prices, typically over $1,000 for relatively basic models and, for this reason, the market has become flooded with counterfeits in recent years. When looking to purchase a Gibson guitar, it is vital that a prospective buyer learns to identify the telltale signs of a fake.


Point of Origin

Many counterfeit Gibsons come from China. It is important to note that authentic Gibson guitars have always come from America. Therefore, any markings on the guitar that suggest any other point of origin, such as a stamp or engraving that says 'Made in China', are an instant giveaway that the guitar is a fake.


Truss Rod Cover

The second most obvious indicator is the truss rod cover. The truss rod covers of real Gibson guitars typically feature the name of the guitar model engraved in cursive and have two screw holes. While the lack of the model name is not necessarily indicative of a counterfeit, as blank replacement covers and custom covers are available, many fake guitars simply have the word "Gibson" in generic vertical font. In addition, fakes often have three screw holes instead of the proper two.



The wiring in Gibson guitars is cloth-covered with braided shielding. Many knock-offs will make use of plastic insulated wiring because it is cheaper. It is possible that plastic wiring is the result of third-party modifications or repairs if the guitar is used, so this is not an absolute rule. However, new Gibson guitars never make use of plastic insulation. In addition, the routing of the wiring should be very tidy in the pickup cavity. A tangled, sprawling, and unprofessional look to the wiring definitely suggests something suspicious.


Scale Length

With rare exceptions, Gibson typically produces its guitars to a scale length of 24.75 inches (62.87 cm) -the scale length being the length of the string from the headstock to the bridge. The chart below lists some of the most popular Gibson models and their corresponding scale lengths.



Scale Length

Les Paul Junior (3/4 scale), Melody Maker

22.75 inches (57.76 cm)


23.5 inches (59.69 cm)

Les Paul, SG, Flying V, Explorer, Firebird

24.75 inches (62.87 cm)

L-5, Super400

25.5 inches (64.77 cm)


As counterfeiters do not necessarily produce guitars to Gibson standard specifications, the measurements may be variable and imprecise. If a buyer has a question about a specific instrument or model, the people at Gibson are usually willing to help determine a guitar's authenticity.


Build Quality

In addition to tone, playability, and the aesthetics of the guitars, the overall build quality of Gibson guitars is one of the primary factors that have made the company a lasting icon in the music industry. In the interest of protecting the legacy of the brand's name, each Gibson guitar is hand-assembled and becomes the subject of individual factory tests to ensure it meets company standards.

With knock-off guitars, quality is unregulated and questionable at best. Counterfeiters build them using much cheaper components and with much less attention to detail than authentic Gibson guitars. Fakes often feature plastic truss rod nuts instead of metal, plastic inlays in place of pearl, cheaper and less resonant woods, and, as mentioned previously, plastic insulated wiring rather than the cloth insulation used in proper Gibson guitars.


How to Buy a Gibson Guitar on eBay

Gibson guitars are widely available through sellers on eBay, and familiarising yourself with the unique qualities of specific models can help you determine a guitar's authenticity before buying. It would be helpful to have in mind a particular model and year for which to search - for example, a 1957 Les Paul (commonly known as the 'Goldtop') or a 1961 SG. Enter your search terms into the box conveniently located at the top of any page. Examine the listed images closely and do not be afraid to contact the seller if you have any questions.

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