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Yes, Counterfeit Guitars Are Still A Thing, Unfortunately

Counterfeit guitars seized image

I think just about everyone would agree that when you make a gear purchase you want to feel like you’ve gotten what you paid for. Regardless of the price, if it’s the real deal we feel justified for laying out the big bucks. The problem is when you buy something that turns out to be fake, which is what could’ve happened recently until some sharp sighted U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Washington Dulles International Airport spotted something that didn’t seem right. What they found were 86 counterfeit guitars with a street price of over $260,000.

Agents from the CPB’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise worked with Gibson, C.F. Martin, Fender, Kramer and Taylor to determine that the guitars violated U.S. trademark protections. Included were guitars with fake signatures from Slash and Angus Young, among others.

The guitars were manufactured in China and slated to be shipped to addresses in 31 states, including 10 in California and four in Virginia. The guitar with the highest value was a Slash-signed Les Paul that reportedly had a retail of $8,000.

This isn’t the first time this has happened at Dulles either. On March 31st officers confiscated 36 more counterfeit guitars from China with an estimated value of $160,000.

The problem here is that most buyers would probably be unaware that they were purchasing a fake (if it was a dealer, shame on them). That might only come to light years down the road when it was time to resell, only to discover that the $8k guitar you though you had was only worth a couple of hundred at most.

The problem is, I’ve played some of those fakes and they’re really good. They play well, sound okay (the pickups were a bit of a letdown, but very replaceable), and would be hard to spot with anything other than a trained eye.

Hat’s off to the CPB agents that did their job well in this case.

[Photo: © U.S. Customs and Border Protection]
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