China is not the only place selling FAKE Gibson guitars....numerous US ebay sellers have started doing this. The guide I just read about this subject lists many clues to look for, but they all deal with the listing and assumes the listing is from China. Look for signs on the guitar itself rather than just the listing, many many US ebay sellers are ripping people off daily. Les Paul Customs are the most hightly copied by far. Look closely at these signs and you will spot a fake from a mile away.
1. FRETBOARD - All real Gibson Les Paul Customs have ebony (black) fretboards, with the exception of a few rare very expensive vintage models...almost all of the fakes have brown rosewood.
2. Truss Rod Cover - All real Gibsons have only two screws in the truss rod cover on the headstock...about 50% of the fakes have three screws. Also look at the lettering font on the truss rod cover and compare it to a real Gibson.
3. Headstock and Inlay Logo - The majority of real Gibson Les Paul Customs have chrome looking pearl inlay split diamond pattern and logo...the fakes logo will 90% of the time be yellow...this is a dead give away. Also, if the photo is clear enough, look at the very tip of the headstock and see if you can see a clear indention where the "open book" comes together...on fakes the headstock is a smooth arch and only the binding makes the dip.
4. HARDSHELL CASE - If the seller happens to show a case with the guitar...this is your golden opportunity to determine if its a fake for sure. The case on fakes will be much narrower where the neck meets the body than on real Gibson cases...also brown cases with Red letters are fakes and so are cases with raised letters "Gibson". Most fakes have rubber handles and often no locking mechanism.
5. Serial Number- the serial numbers on the fakes are much larger size font that real Gibson, you would have to compare. Also 90% of the fakes are starting the numner with 02 and the fifth numner is usually 5. This is not allways the case, just a rule of thumb.
6. Price - price is a good indicator...$400 to $800 for a Gibson Les Paul Custom..its FAKE. However, many of the US scammers are putting these guitars up for $2000+ on buy it now to try and get you thinking...if thats the case, look at the other signs