Gear reviews and "guitar player interviews". The Guitar Zombie is the fastest spreading blog about guitars, amps, effects and other stuff.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

2nd article about counterfeits guitars from China

In my articles on Chinese copies, fakes, counterfeits or whatever you call them we are now focusing on three examples that I purchased through the web. The whole idea of this was to find out how these guitars actually are, in terms of quality and how to spot that they are counterfeits. In the last post I discussed the phenomenon of Chinese siunterfeits at large. I also did a survey here in sweden that showed that 36% of the readers actually had bought a counterfeit, for different reasons. I assume it´s like that even i your country. 

It is not criminal to buy a counterfeit, but it is criminal to manufacture and sell it as "genuine" and brand it with someone else name. The problem for a buyer is that one support this murky criminal business.

I also want to state out that I do not support counterfeits and my intention is NOT to help they market their stuff. My intention is to enlighten you to spot counterfeits and stay out of these guitars.  But I also wanted to investigate the Chinese actual ability to manufacture guitars nowadays. Last time I tested a Chinese copy was 10 years ago, and it was actually a very bad experience.

Nevertheless. If you read the different forums it seems to be a good chance to find good instruments, and thats probably the growing problem for the business. But you also risk to get a really crapy one.

I first chose to buy a really cheap guitar, a purple Telecaster branded "Fender". It cost me $160 including shipping. A real bargain don't you think? That means it´s in the price range of "absolute beginner's guitar." The target audience is obviously people who want to buy a really cheap guitar, either as a gift to some child or to hang it on the wall to "flash" of friends or as decoration.

After 12 days, the piece landed in a yellow packages of cellophane. Very well packaged, I must say.

At a first visual inspection of the guitar it seems really good. The finnish is clear as a bell a "Gitar Zombie Purple". The lacquer work is absolutely stunning, even though the pattern looks very "corny" to me. The neck is straight and there is a truss rod in it, which is often claimed opposite. It also comes with a tool for adjustment plus a strap that is too short, a guitar cord in plastic and two completely unusable guitar picks. The whole impression is "cheap".

I plugged it into my Vox AC15. Oh My God .... It sounded really bad, I doubt that you should even call the sound "electric guitar". Really lousy pickups and obviously they're bad wired. Plonk and flat throughout and the strings seem to be more wire than strings. I thought that a string replacement might help a little.

When I restring the beast, I discover that the strings have the wrong distance between the E string and A string. A construction error, the saddles are the wrong.
I ran to my local dealer, Halkans´s Rockhouse i Stockholm,  and got a new set of saddles and then straight back home to change them. And then the next problem slapped me in my face. It is virtually impossible to intonate the piece, it´s impossible.

The strings are badly high and the tuners are really bad, they actually barely works. It doesn't  matter if I adjust the "locking screws" either.

The guitar is a complete disaster, I gave up....

My hopes were down to minus 10, the day after, when I brought home another similar yellow packet. began I actually regret that I started the project at all.

The conclusion is that a $160 guitar clearly is a warning signal. Surprised? No, not particularly.


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