Chinese Replica Guitars vs The Real Thing?

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Chinese Replica Guitars vs The Real Thing?

Unread post by Saul » Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:34 pm

Just wanted to bring this subject up as I get asked about it a lot via email and on other forums and it's always the same question. Is it worth buying a Chinese replica (fake) vs the real thing?

Well first off I have to say that if you have the option of buying the "real thing" why are you looking to buy a cheap Chinese knock off? That makes no sense at all to me. However, lets delve into the issue a little deeper and perhaps rephrase the question. Are Chinese replica guitars AS GOOD as the real thing? That seems a more appropriate question. What are you getting for your $250/$300? The answer is, usually not a lot!

Let me make one thing very clear though. Just because a guitar is Chinese made does not mean it is poor quality. Far from it. A lot of very familiar brand names source their guitars from China to keep production costs low and enable us, you and me to buy a quality guitar at a reasonable price. the keyword there being 'quality'. The factories these guitars come out of have quality control and that is something many of the knock off outfits don't have.

I have seen and tried a fair few Chinese replica guitars in my time. They are called "replica" now because it get's around various legal loopholes. A "replica" is not technically the same as a "fake", the latter indicating something that is intended to fool the buyer into believing they are buying an original whereas a replica is bought "knowing" it is not an original. Grey area for sure but worth pointing out.

The guitars I have come across have "replicated" Gibson, Fender, Ibanez, Taylor, Gretsch and Paul Reed Smith in both electric and acoustic versions. NONE of them are what I would call high quality guitars although most have more or less been exactly the $2-300 worth that they cost. ALL needed work of one sort or another in order to bring them to an acceptable standard although nothing major and probably not outside the bounds of what you might want to do to upgrade some budget guitars anyway.

Here's the thing though. What you are essentially paying for is a logo on the headstock. Is that really worth the hassle?

To put this all in perspective and I will take a Les Paul and a Fender Strat as examples. For around the same money you would pay for a "replica" Gibson Les Paul or Fender Strat you could buy an 'Epiphone' Les Paul or 'Squire' Strat here in the UK or the USA AND it will be excellent quality, won't infringe anyones copyright, comes with a warranty and a nice fuzzy feeling that you did the right thing.

So when weighing up purchasing what amounts to a logo and a lottery on what materials a Chinese replica is made from and what condition it will arrive to you in OR going into your local guitar store and trying out a budget guitar which you can be sure is well made and of decent materials ask yourself is the Chinese option really worth it? I know where my money would go!


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Re: Chinese Replica Guitars vs The Real Thing?

Unread post by Buzzard » Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:18 pm

Buying a "Chibson" or a "Fengdar" is a choice made by someone wanting to convince that they own the real deal. :roll:

That reminds me of the dimwits that put TURBO stickers on their good but ordinary cars in the 80's. :lol:

I have seen pictures and youtube clips, some of the fakes are looking very close to the real deal,
but the craftmanship and playability doesn't come close.
Still, not bad considering the price, but I would never invest in a fake product.

Same goes for Gucci bags, Rolex watches and A LOT of other brand names copied.
Unfortunately when it comes to money, honour and honesty takes second place for many producers, and customers.

If you're on a budget, Epiphone (Gibson) and Squier (Fender) guitars usually give you a bang for the buck.

It looks like only few or none of Yamaha's guitars have been made as fakes .......
another good reason to buy a Yamaha guitar that usually gives you good quality without costing an arm and a leg.

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Re: Chinese Replica Guitars vs The Real Thing?

Unread post by Asmikace » Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:32 pm

The problem with the replica guitars that there is no way to further out the quality on them due to the lack of branding information beside playing them in person. The reason why brands have value is they have positive reputation that people can be comfortable to purchase and feel that they have a value purchase. While there are great guitar manufacturers in China, there are plenty of lemons made banking of being a replica and no solid way to establish a reputation on their own.



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Re: Chinese Replica Guitars vs The Real Thing?

Unread post by Saul » Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:45 pm

There are some reliable "replica" makers in China. I know of at least two with whom the pictures you see are of the guitars they make...not stock photos and they deliver on time however you cannot get past the fact that these are basically cheap guitars with a brand logo on. They play "ok" and I guess would be fine as room furniture but anyone looking for a close approximation of the real deal in terms of sound and playability will be sorely disappointed.

There are so many good quality branded guitars you can buy locally now for very little money that I feel it is just not worth spending your hard earned cash on a Chinese replica.

People often say that brand products are overpriced. Why for example pay £600 for a Louis Vuitton bag when you can get a replica for £30? Simple, the replica will be made from cheap materials and will most definitely fade and fall apart in a couple of months time. It will look pretty shabby long before that though. The real Louis Vuitton bag will be made from high quality materials and will last years without fading or looking in any way worn out.

People do not realise the amount of work that goes into a genuine item like a bag! Same with watches. I have a "replica" Louis Vuitton skeleton watch here. It cost $15 including postage. The watch itself looks fine but you could not seriously use it to keep time. It works...occasionally but as it is mechanical not quartz it invariably stops and of course it is supposed to be self winding so that obviously doesn't work. The leather strap fell apart within about a month.

I bought that watch as an exercise in comparing a cheap replica with the real thing and no...unfortunately I do not own a real Louis Vuitton watch but I have checked them out in the stores. At a quick glance you would be easily fooled but as soon as you look more closely it becomes VERY obvious which is real and which is replica. The real one just oozes quality and has a solidity about it that the replica will never have.

Guitars are the same and with Acoustic guitars the differences between genuine and "replica" are even more pronounced. You can get away with a lot with an electric guitar but no so an acoustic. The tone wood and the bracing method used in construction play a massive part in how the guitar sounds.

Often a guitar that is supposed to be of solid construction (solid top, back and sides) will actually be made of laminate which in of itself is not bad if the right materials are used but the Chinese replica will often use the cheapest of woods, often never intended for guitar construction. So rather than being well balanced with rich overtones you end up with something that sounds rather dull and lifeless and that you definitely do not want to pick up and play.

There are plenty of good quality budget acoustics for under £300 and I would urge anyone looking in particular at a Chinese replica acoustic to forget it and go for a Yamaha FS/FG or one of the other good makes out there. You definitely will not regret it.


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Re: Chinese Replica Guitars vs The Real Thing?

Unread post by Buzzard » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:02 pm

I don't mind the replicas, it's the FAKES I object to. :|

Just about ANY guitar maker makes strats , teles and les Pauls, usually with a little personal touch in the details.

The FAKES are the ones copying the brand name, origin of build and even a fake serial number.

I applaud countries banning products like that, and destroying fake shipments trying to enter the market.
After all it's counterfeit products, that's illegal and basically bad taste. :evil:

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Re: Chinese Replica Guitars vs The Real Thing?

Unread post by parametric » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:09 pm

Agree . . .!

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Re: Chinese Replica Guitars vs The Real Thing?

Unread post by jeff-carolina » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:04 am

Well put gentlemen!
I always wonder how many people are trying to sell their fake as the real thing? As mentioned it is getting harder to pick the fake from the real, unless one really knows the manufacture/model and can detect the subtle differences.



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Re: Chinese Replica Guitars vs The Real Thing?

Unread post by Saul » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:38 am

jeff-carolina wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:04 am
Well put gentlemen!
I always wonder how many people are trying to sell their fake as the real thing? As mentioned it is getting harder to pick the fake from the real, unless one really knows the manufacture/model and can detect the subtle differences.
This is why I think it's important to air the issue on forums like this. Some fakes are easy to spot...IF you know the particular model of guitar your looking at. Others are cosmetically at least almost identical to the genuine article. It is only when you pick it up and play it that you realise something is not quite right.

Buying a new guitar is not an issue if you stick with well known stores but the used market is a complete minefield for the unwary.


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