Last Saturday I dropped a few things off at Goodwill in Des Moines and wandered into the Pawn Xchange Cash America whatever the heck it is now to see if they had anything new in the store. Walk in look at at the lower rack and see “Gibson” in mother of pearl.
Made in U.S.A., serial number engraved, Peter Frampton signature model, $199. $199? Hold up. This is a couple thousand at least, what’s going on here. Go out to the car, where my phone was charging, look up the guitar model, see a couple on eBay that are $4K, look up and it’s 6:01pm, Shop’s closed. Opens tomorrow at 11 preserving my find until tomorrow when I have my cash and maybe something to pawn.
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Did more research online that night, much wondering about the hows and whys something like that wound up at a pawn shop. Knock-off? Who is knocking off Peter Frampton Les Paul‘s? Seems odd. Pickups had gold covers, could have been unique to that year, could have been done by the owner. Looks identical to all other pictures. Probably stolen.
Show up at 11:10 Sunday morning, plug it in to an solid-state Marshall. Very pleased with the way that it played, everything works, so far so good. Lady offers $150+tax. Sold.
Get home to look up the serial #, and it is for a regular production Les Paul, not a Custom Shop model. Real Peter Frampton’s have a PF starting out the SN. Disappointed to say the least, but I kind of suspected that this was the case. The control knobs are slightly off too, not perfectly parallel. At least it isn’t stolen and I have 30 days to return it.
If you build a nice guitar wouldn’t it be a good idea to put your own name on it? This thing sticks out like a sore thumb to anyone familiar with Gibson (not me, other people) or anyone with a computer or smartphone could look up the serial number. My guess is that these are going to primarily third world countries, places without widely available Internets.
Fuzz Box Girl has a guide on how to spot a counterfeit Gibson on her blog.
Also, Peter Frampton recently found his original Les Paul.
TL;DR If it seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is. You need an exit strategy.
P.S. Don’t worry about me, I kept the receipt and it went back to the pawn shop on April 25th. Got a call about my craigslist ad May 4th for $375, went back to pawn shop and it was sold again. C’est la vie.