IN a perfect world, the years change for the better. I remember back in the ‘90s when I heard legendary stories of how music store Tom Lee in Hong Kong housed hundreds of guitars and all other sorts of audio equipment inside an entire building. Back then, SM City Cebu had JB Music, Perfect Pitch and A. Salonga Music. Those were the only popular music stores that Cebu had, not counting the ones downtown.
Two decades after and with the internet closing the gap between global cultures and trends, the wonder has more or less faded. When I got to visit Hong Kong for the first time a few years ago, Tom Lee didn’t have quite an effect on me as it probably would have if I were there in the ‘90s. The guitars, the brands, the effects—these were things I’d seen, read about and tried in stores here in Cebu.
Just last week, my first “Made in the USA” guitar finally arrived thanks to a friend who asked family to hand-carry it from Chicago. America doesn’t have the monopoly of well-built instruments at competitive prices—but it sure holds a lot of culture and history behind these guitars. So finally getting my hands on one was a dream come true.
Now, on counterfeits.
These originally made instruments cost a lot of money and it would be a shame if local musicians, hobbyists or enthusiasts pick up a fake. This is different from getting shady deals at surplus stores as those things can be a hit or miss. But I have had personal experience of trying a few guitars around town that have the official brand on it but plays and performs sub-par, leaving some room for doubting their authenticity. Here are three easy tips on distinguishing a real piece from a fake one.
Dealer. First off, you have to know who you’re dealing with and if they are official dealers in the country that are recognized by the brand. If the brand recognizes the store, perhaps you’ve already won one-third of the authenticity battle.
Disparity. We’re not talking just any difference here. We’re talking about a deal that’s “too good to be true.” Some of these handcrafted guitars in the United States can range from as low as P45,000 to as high as P200,000. If you know the guitar you want costs around P50,000 but it’s on sale for P12,000? Turn away.
Defect. Let’s say, the dealer seems legit and the price is right around the suggested retail price by the brand on its website. But what if the consistency’s off? What if the paint job’s not as pristine as you thought it would be? What if the electronics don’t sound as good or the workmanship is second to sloppy? You’ll need to be more discerning here.
What if all ‘Ds’ check and you’re still iffy about the instrument’s quality? Rule of thumb? When in doubt, don’t. Be patient and wait for the perfect purchase opportunity.
In just about any market, it pays to be knowledgeable and well-researched before making a certain purchase. Learn about the many ways you can get your hands on your dream instrument from overseas if you think the ones here locally don’t match your standards.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on August 22, 2017.
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