Members | Sign In
Old CGS Forum > Your Guitars

Buying a Chibson FAQ

posted Jun 27, 2014 17:09:20 by MichaelWamback




CGS :-)

So, you are eager to buy your first Chibson but you have a ton of questions. There are definitely things you need to be aware of, from "is it legal" to "what can I expect for $250".

Is it legal to buy/own a Chibson?

(Disclaimer - I'm not a lawyer, so this is based on my research)

In most countries it is legal to purchase and own a counterfeit item, with the exception of France and Italy. But it's best to check the laws of your country before ordering.

In terms of the United States, it is legal to import one counterfeit guitar every 30 days, provided you carry it into the country on your person. If you are having the guitar shipped to you, it can be subject to confiscation if it violates trademark. This does happen from time to time, and while most sellers will refund your money in these cases, there is no guarantee you will get your money back. You can request your Chibson be made with your own name and logo - which will minimize the risk of confiscation. Some sellers will do this for free, while others will charge a nominal fee.

If your guitar does get confiscated, you will get a letter from US Customs letting you know and offering you a chance to appeal the confiscation. You will also get nasty letter from Gibson's lawyers demanding that you provide them with the names and addresses of the person who sent you the guitar. I would suggest you invoke your right to remain silent, but as I said, I'm not a lawyer.

To avoid the possibility of Customs inspection, sellers will often use an incorrect zip code or other tricks to route the guitar through ports of entry that tend to be less risky. This can cause delivery delays.

Can I sell my Chibson to someone else?

The short answer is "no". It is against the law in pretty much every country to manufacture or <u>distribute</u> counterfeit goods. If you sell your guitar, or technically even give it to a friend, you are guilty of distribution.

Be aware also that ordering a lot of guitars in a short period of time could put you at risk of getting flagged by Customs and accused of intent to distribute counterfeit goods. So I would strongly recommend you order guitars individually and space your orders well apart. Bulk ordering is just not a good idea, even if you do intend to keep them for yourself. It's one thing to know that you just wanted 25 cool guitars for yourself, but another to have to prove that in a court of law.

How do I choose a seller?

You really have to do your homework. Not all of these sellers are created equal, and most are middlemen getting guitars from a handful of factories. Check feedback on here and on the AliExpress website.

Once you have narrowed your choices to a couple of sellers, establish communication with them. Look for sellers who speak decent English and who respond well to your emails or messages. Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions.

Communicating during the build.

Keep in mind that Asia is a different culture, and (unlike Japan) you will be dealing with people who have never been outside of the country for the most part. So they are used to their way of doing things, which is completely different from how things work in the Western culture.

If an issue does arise, it is essential that you keep all communication with them calm and polite. If you get angry with them in your email, or come off as very demanding, they will tend to go silent on you. It's how they deal with conflict in China, they just turn their back on you and tune you out - which can be understandably frustrating. Keep in mind that you will have a better chance of working with them if they consider you a friend and have some sympathy for you.

If you send them a barrage of email while they are doing your build, asking for continuous photos and updates, you also risk having them tune you out.

Be patient and polite at all times, and you have a better chance at working with them to resolve an issue.

Ordering a Chibson, what can go wrong?

Keep in mind that your expectations need to be realistic. You are ordering a cheap copy of a guitar from China, not a $2,000 guitar from your local guitar shop. If you are expecting Gibson quality for $250, you will be sadly disappointed. With Chibsons, you have to find the charm in them for what they are.

Common issues are uneven frets, poor quality nuts, poor electronics and other hardware and minor blemishes on the finish. Some of these guitars are exceptionally well done, but many will have small issues. Almost all of them will require work to make them good - which is why we suggest you consider them a "project guitar" and not something that you expect to play out of the box.

In many cases, there will be slight color variations from what you order and so forth.

To minimize the risk of being disappointed, ask the seller to send you photos of the guitar with your name in the photo (so they don't just use stock photos.) Indicate that you won't sign for delivery and will return the guitar if you don't get photos to sign off on before the guitar ships. Most sellers are more than happy to snap a photo or two to make a sale.

(And please note, some of these sellers use photos on AliExpress of the real guitars, so be aware of that when choosing a seller. Make sure you get photos of the guitar they are intending to ship to you before you sign off on the order.)

It is also not unusual to run into production delays with many sellers, particularly if you are having a custom order done. Many of these guitars will ship within 10 days, but sometimes an order can stretch into weeks or even months.

One piece necks and ebony boards.

Many of us will ask for an ebony fretboard on the guitar, which is normally a $20 upgrade. Most of the time the fretboard will be ebony, but the occasional unscrupulous seller will stain a rosewood board to look like ebony.

In terms of one piece necks, most Asian sellers interpret that to mean "no scarf joint" and the neck will have a heel joint when it arrives. If you want a true one piece neck, you really need to be specific with them about not wanting a scarf or a heel joint, but the entire neck should be one piece of wood. There is always an upgrade fee for a one piece neck, since it requires the use of more material to produce. Again, usually somewhere in the range of $20 or so.

(If you do have a scarf or heel joint, it won't affect the structural integrity of your guitar. In fact, these joints can actually make the necks stronger than a one piece neck - so the advantage of a one piece neck is purely cosmetic.)


Many of these will arrive with pickups stamped "Epiphone", but there is debate about whether they are real or not. Many times the pickups won't be potted and be microphonic. Many of these guitars have mini pots and all of their electronics will be of dubious quality. Most of us will chose to completely rewire these guitars with quality parts.


Most of these guitars are structurally sound, but most will require a setup. The fretwork has gotten a bit better over time, so in some cases it will be as simple as replacing the nut, adjusting the truss rod and bridge height and you will be good to go.

In many cases, however, to get a good action with no buzz it will require leveling the frets. If you can do this yourself, it's not a big deal. But if you have to pay someone to do it for you, you can expect to pay anywhere from $80 to $150, depending on where you live. So keep this in mind of you are on a tight budget.


The bridges on these guitars are normally not very good quality. While they will work, you will normally get a lot of rattle from them (TOM bridges in particular.)

Tuners are generally decent on many of these guitars, but on some they will slip and will need to be replaced with better quality. But wait until you get the guitar before you order these, since there is a decent chance the tuners it comes with are going to hold tune, especially with a good nut.

When it's all said and done, it's not unusual to invest about $200 in parts (tuners, nut, bridge, pots & caps) to get these guitar into shape, plus up to an additional $250 if you have to pay someone to do the work for you. And this doesn't include the cost of pickups, which can be $75 for a pair of pickups from GFS, or as much as $200 for brand name pickups. So consider this when you are looking at the cost of the guitars.

What can go horribly wrong?

We've seen guitars arrive with damage to the body and broken necks. In these cases, most sellers have been willing to offer a discount, or to send out a replacement body/neck without hardware so you can swap over the hardware from the damaged guitar. In some cases, sellers have been reluctant to make things right if the guitar arrives damaged, resulting in the need to go through the AliExpress dispute process to get a refund. This can involve shipping the damaged guitar back to the seller (by a method that has them sign for it) at your own cost. This can cost upward of $250 or more, depending on where you live. If AliExpress asks you to do this, you will also get a refund for your shipping cost once the dispute is settled.

With this in mind, most sellers would prefer to send a body and neck, since it's cheaper for them than paying the return shipping.

If you are going through the dispute process, there are various deadlines you have to meet and steps involved. You will need to pay close attention to all of this.

In rare cases, the guitar you ordered will be completely different from the guitar they ship. It's not common, but it does happen.

The biggest issues normally are color variation, or a quilted top when you were expecting a flame top - and again these things are not common but not unheard of either.

It's best to open and carefully inspect your guitar before acknowledging on AliExpress that you have received it. Immediately open a claim if there is an issue, and work with the seller to resolve the problem.

Can I customize the guitar?

Yes - many builders are happy to do custom work for you, from logos to unusual body shapes. In many cases, their custom work has been amazing. But it also seems the risk of something going wrong proportionally increases as you go in the direction of customization - as opposed to their off the shelf guitars. Make sure you send them drawings and photos of what you want. Again, because of the communication issues it's easy for things to get lost in translation. And even with photos, sometimes things will be a little off such as your custom logo or specific color.

But having your dream guitar built at an affordable price is one of the big benefits to working with these sellers.

In the end, think of it as a bit of an adventure. I always like to treat ordering a Chibson the same way I would playing a game of roulette at the casino. If you win, you are going to get a great guitar at a super affordable price. If you lose, you are going to be out a few dollars. So please obey the #1 rule of gambling - never wager more than you can afford to lose.

(Disclaimer - CGS and myself do not advocate the purchasing of guitars that infringe on trademark, and strongly recommend having your Chibson made with your own custom name and logo at the very least. It would also be great if you could have them do a custom headstock shape as well, since that is also a trademark normally. This thread is for information purposes only, as a way of assisting first time buyers of Chinese guitars. Nothing in this thread is meant to infer that we support the violation of trademark rights.)

[Last edited Oct 21, 2014 12:02:39]
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
page   1
10 replies
Edrix Ledesma said Jun 28, 2014 07:10:34
Very nice! Thanks for the info!
GianCarlo said Jun 28, 2014 12:28:45
thank you soo much for this man its super helpful!
ChibsonsandMore said Jun 29, 2014 14:36:35
Another good question to add to the list would be a time table.

Just how long does it take to receive the guitar after ordering?

First off, you should decide if you wish to buy something customized or what a seller has in stock.

If you're looking for something they have, you should ask the seller what all guitars they have in stock and ready to ship. Some have stock, others do not. If you find one that you like, ask the seller to take some up close photographs of it with a piece of paper that has your name written on it. If you order an in stock guitar, expect them to take 1-5 days to start the shipping process, and give at least a full week or two for it to arrive. Some people have received in stock guitars in as little as seven days from buying, others close to three or four weeks.

If you're buying a customized model expect the process to take much longer. Build times range anywhere from a month to a few months depending upon the seller. In most cases, they will tell you that it should be done in one months time, but there are often delays. As mentioned above be sure to be polite and patient during this process. If the time they quoted you for building has passed, send them a message and inquire how much additional time is needed without sounding pushy or irritated. Once the guitar is finished, you should ask the seller to take photos of the product with your name on a piece of paper next to it prior to them shipping. Again, it can take 1-5 days to start the shipping process and another week or two before it is delivered.

It's also important to note that the time a shipment stays in customs is... well, subject to variance that no one knows about. Some pass through in mere minutes, some take a week or more to get through. Do not freak out if your guitar spends a few days in customs.
Fanofguitars said Jun 29, 2014 21:00:10
Michael has written an excellent FAQ. I'll throw this into the mix. This is an observation I made yesterday. The quality of these builds will vary greatly between each guitar. I finally got my PRS-less copy from a seller. Looks beautiful with covers on. Has the usual issues that come with these Chinese built guitars. Poor quality nut, excessive glue, little blemishes on paint, etc. Stuff to be expected. But they didn't route the tremolo bridge hole all the way through. And inside the covers it looks butchered. So even getting one without hardware, looking very pretty, these guitars find ways to surprise you. Some people settle, in their minds for a minimum of quality of a Squier and still find themselves disappointed when the guitar comes in worse than what they wished for.

Another thing that gets overlooked when chasing your dream guitar, but is important to consider, is they way these types of guitars feel in your hands. If you have played with real high quality guitars, you will notice the difference immediately. The rough edges on a fretboard. Excessive glue here and there. Thick clearcoat on a neck. In my case, I have decided to wait a few days and let my whirlwind of emotions wind down. I'll go back to guitar and see how it feels in my hands before deciding if I want to put in all this nice hardware and pickups in mine.

Please consider the fact that if you do not like your ax for whatever reason, whether you are not satisfied with the look, feel, sound or playability, you really shouldn't try to sell it off. Do you really want to get into trouble selling a counterfeit guitar? Something to consider when going this route.
GianCarlo said Jul 02, 2014 12:50:19
hey guys if ever in the future, god forbid, i ever receive another guitar with broken parts and i decided to have that specific part replaced from the seller do i instantly open a dispute so that i can be under the protection of aliexpress or tell the seller first?
basically whats the proper protocol on broken or damaged guitars?
ChibsonsandMore said Jul 02, 2014 14:40:17
Dispute ASAP. The faster you file the claim, the more reasonable it appears that you've taken the right steps.

File the dispute
Send the seller a message after opening the dispute to detail why you filed the dispute a little more.
NEVER close a dispute if a seller asks you to, unless you've received your guitar/parts/refund/etc.
GianCarlo said Jul 02, 2014 22:30:08
what if it takes another month for that specific part to be made again? can i be under the protection of aliexpress for that long?
sjcrowe6 said Jul 08, 2014 00:35:25
The problem with filing a dispute ASAP is that you start a clock for dispute resolution that the Seller may not be able to meet. For example, the guitar is shipped and you file a dispute for non-delivery, the Seller has no choice but to cancel delivery and have the guitar returned. If Aliexpress issues a refund and then the guitar is delivered the Seller will be screwed. In fact, several Sellers have been cheated by Buyers in just that manner.
broscup said Aug 20, 2014 17:25:11
Great FAQ. Should be a sticky. Great additions in the comments as well.
I'm a drummer who loves guitars and doesn't practice enough.
TrickyRicky said Aug 23, 2014 16:47:29
This is abbreviated from a post I put in another thread but is valid here:

More than a few people have been upset when their Chibson experience failed to meet their expectations. It appeared to mess up their lives, at least for a while. e.g. the order took weeks or months to arrive but the listing said 7 to 10 days, tuners didn't match the picture, hardware was a few millimetres out, £150.81 guitar wasn't a true replica of a £3,016.13 one, tracking numbers caused stress and anxiety, shipping went via places no one had ever heard of and they thought the seller most likely was a scammer.

For a guitar to experiment on, a used Squier, an Epi like an LP100 or something similar off eBay may a better option. They're built to a standard, they won't have had quality control issues and they go for rummage bin money. Little lost if things go awry.

Too much thinking and worrying about these PRC instruments seems to make for mishaps. Those who'd sent lists of demands or plagued the sellers with e-mails (pre or during the process) are the ones who have had the biggest disappointments. I always say that if you are going to buy online from these websites you have to take a view. Michael repeatedly advises caution and states over and over that China is a different culture and to not expect western values to be matched.

But still people come here and fail to take it onboard. If they read through the forum they could find out everything they need to know.
"For some, the safest thing is to steer clear of these guitars."
This topic has been locked by a moderator, you can no longer reply.