YouTube channel CGS has posted a very interesting video this month entitled ‘Pre-CBS Strat | How EASY to FAKE’, raising some interesting questions about these extremely accurate copies of legendary guitars. What do you need to watch for when buying an old guitar? How many ‘red flags’ would you recognise?
Pre-CBS Strats: Telling Fake from Genuine
The vintage guitar market has always been a place where purchasers tread carefully. How certain can you be that you are buying the real deal, and not a fake? With the asking prices for vintage American guitars soaring over the last few decades, how certain are you that the pre-CBS Fender Stratocaster you’re hoping to buy is real?
Faking The Details
We all know that just about anything can be faked. If someone really, really wants to copy all the tiny details and imperfections of an original vintage guitar, it can be done. These days, anyone can find all the information about what sets vintage guitars apart, what to look for and how to spot original guitars from the ’50s and ’60s. But so can the people who want to fake a guitar. That opens up the doors for ‘fakes’ that often use trade marks and brand names illegally.
I’m intrigued by the level of detail and attention of the examples shown below in the CGS video. But I am not at all surprised how easy it is to order such an instrument. And I have met several luthiers who are skilled enough to pull off a fake successfully, if they so desired. The detailes include original router marks used to create vintage guitars, or simulating the ‘router chatter’ that you often see on pre-CBS instruments from Fender. Hardware, electronics, pickups and plastics are also available, each with its own set of ‘original’ markings reproduced to fool the eye into thinking that it belongs to a vintage guitar.
There have been famous replica guitars, like the Kris Derrig 1959 Les Paul Standard Slash used on Appetite For Destruction. The guitar was bought by his manager in 1986. But why buy a replica, rather than the real thing? Cost, for one thing. It would certainly be cheaper than an original vintage instrument. Of course, if it’s lost or stolen it’s also much easier to replace. However, what happens to a replica guitar once the original owner no longer has it in their possession? Could it be passed on as the real thing? Or would some unwitting purchaser pay over the odds for a counterfeit instrument?
So, how confident are you that if presented with a guitar such as the counterfeit pre-CBS guitars in the videos below that you could tell it was a fake?
If the guitar you’re eyeing has provenance, including original paperwork, photographs and history, you’d no doubt feel more comfortable about purchasing a vintage guitar. Yet all these things can also be faked, so there is still an element of risk involved. Sure, you may be lucky enough to be buying direct from the original owner of the guitar. But that will become harder over the next few years. The market for counterfeit guitars and accurate clones of a pre-CBS Stratocaster, or vintage Gibson ’58/’59 ‘Burst’ Les Paul Standard, may become even more lucrative in the near future.
There are certainly some well respected dealers of vintage guitars around the world, but even they have been fooled on occasion. And then there are the unscrupulous dealers that sell fakes knowingly to unsuspecting guitar collectors. So would you be able to avoid unwittingly buy a fake pre-CBS Strat? Have you been duped in the past? Let us know in the comments below!
Fake Vintage Guitar Videos