Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions and associated answers:
1. Where did you buy your guitars?
2. How much did you pay for your guitars?
3. What seller should I use, who is a good seller that you can recommend?
I can NEVER make a recommendation for any particular seller or site because in my experience, even those that I have had great service from or who have sent me the best guitars have at some time let me or somebody else down with quality control or customer service.
4. Is it legal to buy copy/fake/counterfeit guitars from China?
It very much depends where you live. In the USA and the UK it is not illegal to buy or own such products but it is totally illegal to sell them. As such I am able to buy and review these guitars perfectly legally but I will never sell one on, or even promote the idea of other people buying them.
In other countries, including France that I know of, it is also illegal to buy counterfeit goods. Be sure you know what the law is in your country before you even consider buying, or you may end up the wrong side of the police station walls. At very least you should NEVER order items with infringing trademarks or logos. As far as I am concerned that applies to my advice worldwide!
My channel and this website are purely to assist people interested in buying guitars, copies or their own design, in China and letting them know the pitfalls and issues around the process.
5. Can I buy, how much do you want for your guitar X?
For the very reason above, that it is illegal to sell a fake product in the UK, I can and will never sell one the Chinese copies. If and when I wish to dispose of one then I will remove all trademarks and clearly and indelibly mark the guitar as ‘Made in China’. Alternatively I will put the instrument out of use and strip it for re-usable parts for my projects.
6. You say that you do not agree with the fake trade, so why do you run the China Guitar Sceptic Channel and buy and show them. Surely that is raising awareness of them?
The vast majority, of those viewing my You Tube Channel or visiting this website, are already aware that Chinese fake goods including guitars exist. That is usually what they are searching for and how they find me. It is reasonable then to assume that a very small percentage stumble upon one of my videos and it enlightens them to the existence of China guitar copies.
The motivation and reason for the development of my channel was initially to debunk the myth that you could get a decent guitar in China easily. Since then its been focused to continue to inform, assist and protect potential buyers against the pitfalls and downside to the industry.
I am very much against the fake trade in principal and in practice. I have heard so many horror stories about poor customer service, awful quality control and customers being ripped off for significant sums of money.
What my channel offers is practical and honest advice based upon my demonstrated experience with buying, setting up and using these guitars. People have come to trust my intent and my honesty through the candid reviews of Chinese guitars I have posted. I am honest about the good points but also show the faults and try to discourage people from buying fake guitars from China.
My channel and this site are in no way in support of the fake trade and I have already developed one serious alternative to buying fakes in the form of the MILTON MT1. It is my intention to help reduce the fake trade further by introducing a quality controlled line of alternative guitars via MILTON GUITARS UK.
7. How much work do you need to do on the Chinese counterfeits to make them useable?
Most of them, in short, VAST amounts. The issues range from simple blemishes to complete catastrophic breakages in the physical problem area. Almost all of them require complete replacements of all of the electronics, especially pickup’s which have historically not only been microphonic squealers but also never have a nice tonal range to them even after wax potting. They are not a ‘vintage un-potted sound’, they are a squealing pig in a bucket kind of sound.
Every one of the guitars except the Chartin D45, have needed a complete set up including:
– nut repair or replacement.
– bridge repair or replacement.
– saddle and intonation adjustments.
– truss rod severe adjustment.
If you are not looking for a project to hone or learn your craft in working on guitars, then the Chinese copies are definitely not for you. As a project for a keen enthusiast who wants to gut the guitar and set it up just how they want it they can be a good project provided the wood and build is good. That is so unreliable it still does not make the risk worthwhile. I have had two guitars, one with a broken neck and one with a severe bent back bowed neck and neither will ever be completely right.
8. What should I ask for or say when ordering a Chinese guitar?
My best advice remains please DON’T. You will be buying yourself worry, work and more cost.
If however you just ‘have’ to buy one then:
– Look through many sellers and find one with the best rating and feedback
– Be polite and work on simple but good communication – remember the language barrier, it is harder for them and many are using translation software
– Be specific about your requirements including finding and sending example pictures
– Remember the language barrier and be simple and clear in your communications
– Get EVERYTHING in writing via the messaging portal on the site you are buying from
– Use ESCROW and a protected credit card to make payment – ESCROW hold your funds until you are happy
– Ask for photos of the actual guitar they are sending before you allow them to post it
– Take no notice of tracking codes until they are working as they are often issued early to buy time to complete the build
– Expect to run the risk of your guitar being confiscated at customs – especially in the USA – this will be your loss
– On arrival video yourself opening the shipment as this will be great supporting evidence for an ESCROW dispute and claim in the event of damage
– If you find only minor problems the certainly ask for compensation from your seller before releasing funds, but be reasonable and do not be greedy as you will end up losing out more in the long run
– If you have a problem try to resolve it with the seller before raising a dispute. You will get your best offers during the period between raising the issue with the seller and ending up in formal dispute
– If you go to dispute have copies of all the evidence to send for ESCROW including: copies of the initial messages for the order, shipping delays, copies of pictures sent as representative of YOUR guitar before it was posted and of course most importantly that video of you opening your shipment proving the damage was not done by you but before it got to you.
9. Will I pay import duty or tax on my Chinese guitar purchase?
In the UK, yes, I have paid between £30 and £50 for every one of my orders. Parcelforce, who are always the carrier in the UK from my experience, get the guitar via customs in Coventry. VAT is charged based on the weight, shipping cost quoted and the quoted value of the guitar written by your seller on the shipment. Don’t bother getting them to write ‘gift’ as it won’t wash and you often get charged more. Parcelforce always add their £16 odd for administering the process.
In the USA it seems to be hit and miss if board control add a customs fee or not. Only about half the people I know have paid and the others paid nothing.
Other countries will vary according to your governments policies. Again be sure you are fully aware of them before you consider making a purchase.
10. You are a hypocrite aren’t you? Saying ‘do as I say, not as I do?’
Yes totally. However my intentions have always been honest and honourable. You make your choice – I hope I have informed it that’s all. :o)
11. Can I help you in any way as I think you are providing a great service?
Yes. I am always looking for sources of information.
News stories, your feedback on guitars bought in China and your technical expertise and knowledge offered on a subject covered by any of my content are always very welcome please. I also need moderators and help with the forum and contributors to publications I send out. So if you have an article you would like to submit or a tutorial please CONTACT me and let me know.
Of course if you would like to send me money then donations are never frowned upon! ;o)
Do you have a question that I have not answered here? If so please feel free to email me via the CONTACT PAGE and I will answer as soon as I can. :o)