A post in a forum lining to us (thanks for linking to our article, by the way) led me to a new source for counterfeit Les Pauls. I’m going to focus on two, a white Custom and a Zakk Wylde, but this site has all sorts of Les Paul knock-offs. Like usual, I don’t want to send anybody to this site, so I’ll keep the name a secret to everybody but the trademark holder.
Here’s the white Les Paul:
Looks fairly good, though the back bout is a little wonky maybe. It is hard to tell, but it looks like regular tolex to me, instead of the Gibson snakeskin. The writing looks a little blurry on the case, but that could be the low quality image. Let’s look at another.
Again, I think the back bout is a bit off, and I don’t recognize that Gibson sticker as anything recent. The red smudge is where I blurred the seller’s logo. Often times, the binding on these guitars will not have the proper number of layers, but we can’t tell that from this image. The biggest giveaway is coming.
Gibson serial numbers are stamped into the wood and painted over, with the exception of several Reissue models, which use stamped paint. The paint on these is usually irregular, splotchy and a little off of a perfectly level line. On a painted white Les Paul, the serial number is hardly legible. If we try to decode the serial number, we find it was made on the 200th day of ’05 and then we come up a digit short, since after July of 2005, they went to a 9 digit serial number.
Time to check out the Zakk
The bulls-eye is in the right place. Case is still obviously not a Gibson.
Serial number is just a few off of the last guitar. Hmmm… Let’s move down the neck a bit.
Wait, is that a nice shiny finish on the back of the neck? Zakks are finished, then the back of the neck is sanded to raw wood.
This site sells these guitars for $374, about the same as a medium end Epiphone Les Paul. I saw one of these on a classified site (actually identified as a copy) for over $700, just so you know the markup on the counterfeit you’re buying from that guy. For $375, you get a questionable guitar with no warranty and no one to stand behind its craftsmanship. Better to go with the real deal.