Vintage Guitars

Facts Fallacies & Falsehoods

A Guaranteed Sure Fire Way To Tell The Real From The Rip-off's

Read the whole page for the answer !!!
)))))) IMPORTANT (((((((

Ed Roman Will Custom Build You Anything You Like
For Example The Playboy Guitar Below Is Not A Forgery & It's Not A Counterfeit
We Start With A Real Fender Stratocaster,  We Repaint It, Inlay The Playboy Bunnies
Do The Gold Plating & Set It Up Beautifully  See Our Fabulous Fakes
The Only Difference Is There Will Be No Fender Custom Shop Logo On The Back Of The Headstock.
Our Customer Can Save Approximately $7,500.00 By Opting For One Of Our  Fabulous Fakes  

We Also Have Real Fender Ones In Stock At This Time
We Will Supply A Certified Statement Of Authenticity & A Certificate Suitable For Framing

Fender Playboy Diamond Series 40th Anniversary Marilyn Monroe Stratocaster Guitar


It Never Ceases To Amaze Me !

When I Worked For Gibson Guitars In The Early 90's. The Target Market For Their Line Up Of Medium Quality, Mass Produced, Outdated, Old School Products. Were All Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants & Various Other Professional People.

These are the same people who are trying to recapture their youth by going out and buying a Harley Davidson In the hopes of somehow getting their groove back. These words almost verbatim were conveyed upon me by several of my direct superiors at Gibson. These large corporations today, use mind games on people to program or brainwash them into thinking what they are told to think.

Gibson like Harley Davidson is in the Icon business. I really don't believe they are in the guitar or motorcycle business. They are in the business of placating second childhood fantasy's.

I know a lot of guitar collectors who are very intelligent & well spoken. In most cases they are very informed, educated, worldly individuals.  It never ceases to amaze me how these people bright as they are, will fall all over themselves for some of these con artists at these large corporations. The Gibson VOS & Reissue Models are actually laughable. How does Gibson con these well educated affluent individuals into buying them ?

Ed Roman


A copy of a guitar is not necessarily a forgery unless the person selling it to you tells you it's real"

Vintage Guitars:      A good investment or a sucker's bet??

Read this page before you buy an expensive overpriced vintage instrument.  The Vintage Market peaked 10 years ago and people have been losing money ever since except on a few select models.
People in the vintage business will usually not tell you that the market has peaked. People who have vintage guitars and have lost money will be the first to denigrate me or anyone like me who exposes the truth.

Companies like Gibson & Fender effectively destroyed the vintage market with relics and the prices got so high that counterfeiters abound. 
We are a custom shop and we offer custom guitars. We will build you anything you want. We get criticized for some of the copies we make.  Some people feel that we should not make guitars for people that they could pass off as original antiques. We have come under fire by people we have been insulted and defamed us !!! We will continue to make whatever our customers are willing to pay to have built. What our customer wants to do with it is his business. 


All guitars in my inventory that are sold as vintage will be approximately 25 years old or older. Ed Roman guarantees they are all what we say they are. If any guitar turns out to be a copy or forgery, Ed Roman will buy it back no time limit involved. If the guitar in question turns out to be a 1956 and It was advertised as a 1958 that is not grounds for a return. Ed Roman will make every attempt to try and get the year correct in the description but sometimes it is impossible to be 100% sure.

Click here for our Vintage Guitars For Sale

A little story to brighten your day
Unless you own a 1958 Gibson Vintage Flying V.

Once there was a man who cursed me because I did these restorations to old guitars.  He even spoke badly of me for doing it.  He Downright Flamed Me !!!  ( I guess he felt that certain things should never be changed).

Until one day his girlfriend stepped on the cable of his original 1958 Flying Vee. She stepped on the cable directly in front of the guitar. The cable snapped up causing the input jack to literally explode out of the guitar. It totally destroyed the lower bout in the weak spot where the jack had originally been drilled.  The end result was a splintered nasty mess where the chunk of wood extracted itself from the face of his very valuable guitar.

Then this same man (Who has paid me well for his anonymity)  was knocking on my door to repair his then valued $75,000.00 guitar. 
(Update 2005  $125,000.00 guitar)
(Update 2005  $175,000.00 guitar)
(Update 2008  $50,000.00 guitar)
(Update 2011  $75.000.00 guitar)

I guess when the shoe was on the other foot,  he didn't seem to mind that I could fix his guitar so that not even he could tell it was repaired. 

When I took the job in I told him that I could definitely fix it, I also told him that I would not tell him how I fixed it. I also told him if he could see the repair I would not charge him for the job.


Believe me he tried to find the repair. When he arrived to retrieve his guitar he came with a magnifying glass and a halogen light. He spent 15 minutes looking for the spot where he assumed we had glued in the wood and made the repair. 

It took him several years to sell the guitar. In effect someone with a 1958 Flying V is floating around out there thinking that his guitar is original.

Here's how I repaired it.  (12 years has passed at the time of this writing) If he happens to read this, then he will finally know how I fixed it.

I split the guitar completely in two and used a whole new piece of wood on the bottom bout of the V. I simply replaced it with a new piece of korina and then refinished the entire guitar. That was the easy part.  We didn't know as much about distressing guitars as we do today. We were using ultraviolet lamps to age the nitro, spraying Freon, freezing & baking guitars to get them to check.

It wasn't that hard to do because the guitar was really clean to start with and it was just an aged clear that we had to make look old. It's much harder with colors like sunburst. White korina doesn't have a distinctive grain pattern that is either memorable or discernable by too many people.

Remember there is only one sure way to buy a vintage guitar and be sure that it is original.

If you buy it at a garage sale or find it in an old attic somewhere and pick it up for 100.00. You can rest assured your guitar is original.  The minute the guitar is tainted with a huge price you can be pretty close to positive that something has been changed in it.

Dealers who specialize in vintage guitars don't like me to talk about this type of thing. In my case vintage guitars are only one small part of the entire market.  So I simply don't care.

I know several very honest Vintage dealers one is located in the Northeast and a couple of others around the USA. Most of them at this time I am very wary of.  I will gladly refer anyone to these dealers if they are buying or selling a real vintage instrument and I cannot help them.

Ed Roman 11/15/10

Total Forgery

Evil Manufacturer Profiteering

Imagine, if you will....

What If, any guitar manufacturer wanted to profit from the Vintage Craze of the early 90's?
I mean all the dealers are getting rich doing it... so why shouldn't the manufacturers get a nice slice of that pie????? (tongue in cheek)

They could simply, reissue copies of their old guitars for 3 to 4 times the price of their normal guitars. Selling them fully knowing that it would be very easy to forge & artificially age.

The people who buy them for such ridiculously high prices could easily turn these into what appears to be original vintage guitars. They could then easily sell these forged guitars for an even bigger profit to one of those more-money-than-brains types who thinks he is buying a real vintage guitar. I am not making any accusations, I am simply pointing out.  What If...........

As a guitar manufacturer myself, I am keenly aware of what it actually costs to manufacture a guitar both by hand & by machinery. If I decided to reissue my original Quicksilver model, it might cost me ever so slightly more to build than the ones I am building today. The difference in manufacturing cost is so negligible, that it doesn't merit any real price increase.

As a guitar builder, It would make sense to me that if the public wanted the old style cosmetics, why not build all the guitars that way. I think it is unfair profiteering for a company to charge $3,500.00 or more for a guitar that costs the same to build as the one that sells for $1,400.00 which is usually already over inflated.

Be aware, today a custom made guitar is no longer considered expensive!!!! 

Due to the ridiculous perceived value of guitars, that all of the major companies are peddling. These corporate bean-counter suits are selling production, machine made and imported guitars, for such high markups!! That it has finally leveled the field for hand builders like us.

Today you can come to a builder like us, and get a complete & total custom made guitar, built exactly the way you want it, usually for about the same price as buying a production made model.

Ed Roman 01/24/04

Other Forgeries 
(White Lies)

When purchasing an old guitar you must be very careful, There are a lot of FORGERIES.

There are many types of forgery guitars on the market. Some of them are done on purpose and many of them are done innocently & unsuspectingly by their owners.
About 11 years ago a good friend of mine decided to sell his early Les Paul. This guitar was a very rare example of a Les Paul because of the color and the quilted top. He has owned this guitar for almost 20 years so both of us are certain that the guitar is authentic, however over the years he had made a number of changes to the guitar. He swapped out one of the original PAF pickups for a Dimarzio in the 70's, He changed the nut to brass in the 70's. He replaced several of the pots in the 80's and in the 90's he had to replace the bridge. Luckily he never did anything with the tuning pegs or it would have been a major problem, because holes would have been drilled.

He brings the guitar to me because now he wants to a PRS. He tells me he wants to get strong money. I told him that no one would pay what he wanted with all those changes. So he now wants to put the guitar back to original. (this happens all the time). When this guitar is all rebuilt no one not even me will be able to tell the difference. Anyone who is foolish enough to make a statement like "They can't fool me" or "I can always tell" is living in a fools paradise.

I have been going to "Vintage" guitar shows for about 21 years. It seems to me that there are many more guitars available today to buy than there were 16 years ago. How can that be? I mean how is it possible for dealers to have 15 to 20 vintage Strats in 1999, when in 1991 there were only a few to be found. What's up with that!!!

Here's one for ya'

Be careful of cheap lower cost tuning pegs. Don't think you can replace them later. If you do you can ruin the value of your guitar. It's extremely hard to find a good set of tuning pegs, that will  retrofit correctly on your guitar. Most will not use the same screw holes as the original.
My shop has replaced more than 100 Gibson necks on old vintage models where the tuning pegs had extra holes which ruined the value and the originality of the guitar. If you have a $60,000.00 1959 Gibson Les Paul that someone redrilled the tuning pegs on. You can always bring it to me.

$3,500.00 later you will have a new neck with an original set of tuners a matching finish and a signed non disclosure statement. That I will never reveal to anyone that I modified or repaired your guitar!!!


Ed Roman Has Several Theories
 1. Are these guitars magically materializing at yard sales?  (Yeah Right)

2. Did these guitars bring so much money back in the 90's that it made sense to start counterfeiting them?

3. Did forgers & eBay maggots buy factory reissue guitars & artificially age them so they would look like old guitars?


I suspect that #2 is definitely much more likely than #1, And you can believe me many of those Vintage Guitar Dealers already know exactly what I am telling you. I can also tell you they turn a deaf ear to it and try to pretend that it's not really happening. As for #3, I strongly believe, that several large companies have fueled the illegal flame by putting out stupidly overpriced reissues to appeal to the forger.

It has come to my attention that there is a large cottage industry in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and even the Philippines that re-manufacture Gibson parts, Fender parts and even completely counterfeit 50's & 60's complete Fender Guitars.  I remember 25 years ago a company in the Philippines was producing a guitar that was almost exactly like a Stratocaster. It had Fenders Logo and patent numbers on the tremolo plate and it even had the big reverse "F" logo on the Tremolo cover plate.

Gibson Lawsuit

Recently I accidentally acquired some instruments that looked so close to the original models that I started to suspect that companies like Tokai were actually building the original instruments for many of the major corporations.  I did some investigating and I found a company called Skye manufacturing in Korea was shipping thousands of Humbucking pickups to a large well known supposedly American guitar company.  These pickups were shipped FOB Seoul Korea at $2.10 each. including a chrome cover. I actually have a copy of the invoice and I will show it to anyone who asks if they are at my store.  I also have a copy of the Bill of Lading, customs declarations and even a signature on the bill of lading that the pickups were received. 

I got into a 3 year lawsuit, with Gibson Guitars  regarding some guitars I received that were exact copies right down to the trussrod covers, headstock shape and double diamond trademark. There were only 16 of them.  I will gladly show anyone an actual guitar. 
If you can tell it apart from the original model I will be very surprised because I cannot. The picture above looks like rosewood, I can assure you it's actually real ebony with real MOP inlays. The only difference is the name brand and it's inlaid with the same material and the same font as the original.  Now I'm not just talking about cosmetics here. These are the same guitars or I'll eat my hat. I bought 16 of them from an American importer who had them drop shipped out of Canada direct to me. Now get this.  I paid the meager price of $362.00 each including all freight costs from Korea & presumably a 20 or 30 dollar markup from each of the 2 importers who handled the guitars.  Dealer cost on the exact guitar with the famous name on it is over $2,300.00 not what the customer pays mind you.  that's what the dealer pays.  Presumably the customer pays close to $2,700.00 per guitar.  what a ripoff !!!!                                

When I bought these guitars I had no idea that they would be EXACT copies, I assumed incorrectly that I was getting the standard look alike guitars that I had been buying from him for many years. They were close but there would have been no lawsuit, because there were enough minor differences where Gibson didn't care.

Looking back at the situation I should have returned the guitars when I got them But I was afraid that the importer in Canada would have stiffed me for the cost of the guitars. I'll be careful never to let this happen again.

This lawsuit with Gibson wasn't a problem for me because I was insured to the hilt for just such an eventuality. I am very careful to insure myself for malicious and frivolous lawsuits. Meanwhile Gibson has expended huge sums on legal fees a useless pecker contest.

They could have simply called me and I would have dismantled the guitars and sold them for parts. I always try to cooperate with companies when it comes to matters of Intellectual property.

Over the past 10 years I have been offered almost every part imaginable. PAF pickups, complete with sticker and authentic cigarette smoke mildew smell. Fender Jazzmaster tailpieces complete with Fender Logos and patent numbers, Strat & Tele necks complete with authentic stamp and signatures, Pick guards with 60's dated authentic stickers. At the Fall Philly 1997 show there was actually a guy walking around with Fender neck plates complete with the original die marks on the holes. He would actually make any plate with any number you want he was even giving out a phone number (that is rare). Usually these people want you to buy the items on the spot, pay cash and then they quietly disappear. There was also a guy who had a whole table of decals, I swear this guy had every single obscure decal that Fender ever made. I have since heard that Fender sued him and now he no longer goes to the guitar shows, But I would bet anything you can still buy them from him somehow.

In 1995 I personally was in a small dimly lit room where I witnessed 8 Japanese nationals working on 9 tables recreating Fender guitars. These guitars were accurate in every way. These guitars were being signed inside, serial numbers, stickers and decals were being meticulously applied and there was even an ultra violet system to age the lacquer. There was classical music playing and no one spoke a word while I was there. I had the distinct feeling that these people did not speak English.

I have been around electric guitars since 1964, well over 35 years, and I could absolutely not tell if these guitars were real or fake. Anyone who could tell would have my deepest respect.

There is a local Trunk Gypsy* (Guitar guy who works out of his car) who I guess is more knowledgeable than me. He has told me several times that "He could easily tell the difference between a real PAF pickup and one of the imitations." He was recently in my shop. He was buying some original Fender bodies from me. (Hmmm I wonder why). He happened to have a pair of what seemed to be original PAF pickups. He told me he had "Scapped them out of a '61 SG that he bought for $300.00." His exact words. I asked him what he replaced them with? He replied that he aged some stock Gibson pickups and was going to sell it that way. He wasn't trying to sell me the pickups. We were just talking. I had in my possession a PAF copy that I presume was Asian made because I bought it from a nameless Oriental gentleman for $100.00. I told him that this pickup was presumably not real. I told him I had acquired it for a customer who wanted to put his Les Paul back to semi original condition for the purpose of selling it. He became defensive about his pickups, Claiming to me that his were real. I had never made mention of his being real or fake, he just became defensive for no apparent reason. The pickups were virtually identical in every way, The sticker was right, etc. I said to him let me see yours, let me hold them both in my hands at the same time, I would like to know how you could tell the difference. (Well of course that never happened)

Incidentally a pickup, any pickup costs less than two ($2.00) dollars to manufacture. Do the math 35 cents for a little wire, 33 cents for a plastic bobbin, and 6 magnets that are probably less than a nickel each. All you need is a $300.00 winding machine. I will bet money that the packaging on a new Gibson pickup costs more than the pickup costs to manufacture. All the cost is for the advertising, endorser royalties & packaging.  

Addendum 2008

 (Today with all the tremendous price increases I am estimating 5.00 for a pickup)

My point here is very simple.


Here Comes The Payoff !!!
The next piece of information I am going to tell you. Is probably the only sure fire way you can tell if a guitar is 100% original or real. This information may sound a little off the wall at first, but when you think about it for 30 seconds.

 it doesn't take too much brain power to see that,     I have to be right !!!!

So Here Goes:

The only way sure-fire guaranteed way to know if a Vintage Instrument (or anything for that matter) is truly original and unchanged is if you purchase it from someone who does NOT know the value of it. The minute the value of the instrument enters into the pricing equation then the chance of originality is tainted.   In other words if you pick it up at a garage sale, you can bet it's real !!!!

This does not hold true on lower cost Vintage Instruments because there would be no reason for someone to go to the trouble & cost of recreating it. For example a Dan Armstrong guitar would be more likely to be original than say a 62 Stratocaster because replacement parts are simply not available cheap. A Mosrite would cost more money to reproduce perfectly than it could fetch. But a 1962 Stratocaster could easily be accurately reproduced for less than $600.00 and even in today's waning Vintage market still fetch $13,500.00 easily.  (Update: Mosrite prices have now gotten high & now there are many fake Mosrites out there.)

Remember if the value far exceeds the cost like a 1962 $180.00 (list price when new) Stratocaster selling for $17,500.00. Compared to an old Stratocaster at a tag sale or from Grandma's Attic for $100.00. I would bet money that in almost every case Grandma's $100.00 one was actually more original than the $17,500.00 one.

It's just as easy for a counterfeiter to make fake $50.00 bills as it would be to make fake $1.00 bills. Which one do you think he is going to make.

Fun Questions to Ask

My shop alone did at least 2000 brass nut conversions in the 70's.

I ask you: Where did those all go?  (I can't remember seeing a brass nut anywhere for almost 20 years)

Here's A Big One

How about those extra tuner screw holes that were on every single old guitar in 1988. Where did they go??

I'm not guessing on this one.  My shop removes them,  How do we remove them you ask. You cannot plug them because the grain runs north to south if you plug the they will show even if you refinish the guitar within 6 months. this will expose your refinishing and turn you into a crook if you get caught.

The only way to fix this problem is to remove the neck completely and replace the entire neck with a brand new piece of presumably aged mahogany.  Remove the fascia overlay on the old neck and laminate it to the new neck thus preserving all the logos and decals. Then the neck gets carefully refinished and aged. Affix the original tuners and now your guitar is perfectly original.... I wonder how many rich doctors and real estate agents have those guitars in their collection. All the while assuming their guitar is the real thing. I hate to burst your bubble but I have done a large number of those jobs. 
I am currently charging $3,500.00 to do this, For that price I will also sign a non disclosure statement, Promising never to reveal to anyone that this work was performed on your guitar.

My shop used to sell over 200 (low estimate) Dimarzio pickups a month during the 70's. Most of them went into Les Paul's & Strats.  (Seymour Duncan Pickups were not available then)

I ask you: Where are they now? What happened to all those original pickups.  (I used to toss them in the garbage) They never did sound that great and nobody wanted to buy them. I remember my wife tossing out a whole box of them.

Today I have at least 400 sets of PRS pickups that I removed from new & used PRS guitars in the last 5 years. No I am not throwing them away!!!  Just because I was stupid once doesn't mean I'm still stupid. Currently no one wants them so maybe I'll hold on to them for several decades and see if people are still as stupid as they are today. I have a $1,177.00 dollar Craftsman Toolbox sitting chock full of PRS pickups. Currently (1997) the toolbox is more valuable than the pickups. 

I have been going to guitar shows for many years, I remember going to shows in the late 80's and early 90's the few dealers who were present had very few old Fenders and Gibsons. Now when I go I see many dealers with over 25 Vintage Strats alone.

I ask you: Where did all those older guitars come from???

My shop alone did well over 1000 Floyd Rose Conversions on Stratocasters, Les Paul's, SG's, and once even a 1983 Moderne. (I only mentioned the Moderne because we did the conversion for a person who today is a large vintage dealer himself. I usually rib him about it every time I see him)

I ask you:  When was the last time you saw one of these guitars anywhere?
What could have happened to them?

Think About It !!!!

 )))))) IMPORTANT (((((((

"A copy of a guitar is not a forgery unless the person selling it to you tells you it's real"
Be EXTRA careful when a dealer says he doesn't know the history of a guitar. This is a way of protecting himself if the guitar is bogus or fake. Sometimes a dealer will tell you the guitar is on consignment.  When in fact he may own it outright.  In this way he escapes any responsibility if you find out it's bogus later.

As people get older the guitars that become valuable are the ones that were played 20 to 25 years back.  So pay attention to trends instead of buying emotionally.

Hello Ed Roman,

I'm beginning to think that fake vintage guitars are actually better than real vintage guitars. The real vintage guitars I've seen are heavy, have clubby thick necks, have noisy switches, are buzzy, and have faded pickups. The new fake vintage guitars I've seen are lighter weight, have easier to play necks, new switches, have new louder pickups, and seem to be assembled better.

The mint condition vintage guitars I've seen are mint because they weren't playable and/or didn't sound very good - so they didn't get played all those years. The beat up worn out vintage guitars I've seen are the ones that were built right and did sound great so they were played all those years.


 Preface By Ed Roman

People have flamed me, and bashed me because I have exposed many myths about so called "Vintage Guitars".  Nobody wants to be told that their guitar is a fake.  In fact most people simply respond by calling the person an A-hole who has burst their bubble by showing them the fake.  I remember going around the Dallas show in the late 90's and showing several dealers my secret mark on their supposedly vintage guitar.

I have always offered a service to convert a guitar to a vintage one.  I have never sold a fake one as "The Real Thing" I call them "Fabulous Fakes"  What my customer chooses to do with it after I do the work to it is his business and not mine.  So Buyer Beware !!!1

now read this letter below


Howdy Ed
Just a little something for your rant page.
In the 70's I was a guitar playing teen and spent a good deal of time hanging out at the only "vintage guitar" shop in my hometown. The proprietor of this establishment "took me in" so to speak, and "employed" me on occasion to help with various menial jobs around his shop..
Summer of 77 I assisted him and his luthier in the construction of at least six fake 59 LP bursts
basically he stripped and retopped older Goldtop LP's and pilfered PAFs and other hardware from ES-175s and the like, sprayed a traditional burst on them, then after drying had me arrive daily over a period of 2 weeks (late July or so, very sunny and hot) wherein I would scale an extension ladder to the shops rooftop, and line these "bursts" up on the roof, and sun bleach them, one hour for each side.
Over lunch one day I asked why he was making these "fake burst" copies, I will never forget his answer.
He said that "Japan has a booming economy, and the little gooks are going to buy up all of the 'good vintage guitars' and we Americans will never see them again......and also because the profit margin is so good".
I wonder how many of those fake "bursts" have since returned to this country and are being touted as "the real deal" at what?200+K a piece? LOL
This gentleman is still in business (think Arlington guitar show) and still making a killing off of "vintage guitars"
I have never been the same about vintage guitars since that summer, and while I do own a couple of them vintage Gibsons of course, LOL), they were basically destroyed before I purchased and rebuilt them.
I have read some awful crap regards you (personally )and about your shop (professionally) on the 'net. and often wondered why some folks had such a hard-on about you, after a thorough reading of your website I am now of the mind it is because you are successful, and spot-on truthful regards the world of guitars.
keep on keeping on, and I do hope to do business with you someday.
Best regards.....................E.

Comments: Ed..

Just a quick message to let you know how RIGHT ON you are about the dangers of \" Vintage guitars\"...I don't know much about guitars but I know a hell of a lot about 18 th century antique furniture--

How is this for a fun fact? There is more 18th century furniture available now then there was 200 years ago--Since at least half of the genuine old stuff has been lost to floods and fires how can that be???

Simple!!! All the same reasons you list for the dangers of old guitars... When something becomes worth $200,000 or more there will soon be a lot of them on the market! How do you make a 18th century piece of furniture...simple ...use old wood and old tools leave it on your roof for a couple weeks... Surprize!!! $200,000 out of pieces of an old barn...You are right on man!!!!! buyers beware!!!

Jim Papageorge San Diego, CA