Chinese cheap or counterfeit products.

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I've noticed in the first batch of stats on my videos that the ones that get watched the most are where I have included products that are not genuine. Over the years I've seen the unpleasant results of any discussion on counterfeit goods, particularly when they're Chinese in origin, but clearly many people are buying them for various reasons.

I suppose what I'm saying is that there are varying standards of being upset/angry/disappointed. If somebody saw a genuine big name product on sale that was a grand new, but being sold for 800, it would be a great buy because it was a real good deal - until you discover it was a counterfeit. Legal action against the seller would then be top of pretty well everybody's list. Keeping it, using it and then selling it as a genuine item then makes you criminal too!

What happens if you know it's a counterfeit, but you want to have it because it's really nice and you can live with the fake, for the benefits?

What happens if you know it's a counterfeit, but you just can't afford the original's price?

What happens if you know it's a counterfeit, but you are going to use it on stage, possibly destroy it, or at the very least cover it in dings and dents.

I'll confess to one of these. I saw a really stunning 'Gibson' Les Paul. A truly gorgeous guitar. I bought it in full knowledge that it's not genuine, but it has lived on a wall hanger, under a spotlight for 10 years. I'll never sell it.


I'm a grown up, I know I bought a counterfeit, but I like it. There was a guy on youtube who started a channel being very positive about chinese guitars, but then it sort of turned around and he suddenly became an indignant citizen complaining about them. Pressure I expect applied from a source. Many people who want to record audio have very tight budgets - they need the very low cost software/free software, with old computers and second hand interfaces etc - Is a Chinese copy of a Neumann at 30USD, that works and sounds ok, really bad? It's not going to do Neumann any harm, because apart from the shape, there's little in common, but cheap electrets never sound horrible, and do make usable recordings. I'm thinking about ordering some 100% fake products to review, because some of them could be really useful - but how bad do people think this could be? It's about ethics and morals I suppose. If you want a mic to clip on your snare, is it acceptable to actually buy a mic knowing it's fake? Or, should I do videos from the point of view that you should not be buying them and try to find reasons in a side by side test? What happens if a fake product is actually really good?

If you buy a mic, guitar, radio or other piece of electronics to sell and rip people off, I think that's a criminal thing to do. I already have bought products with the intention of selling them, then discovered they're probably dodgy - and I just put them on the shelf, or use them myself. My ethics and morals won't let me rip people off. I do have some mics that I think are not genuine, but they sound the same. Do I tell people they exist, but not promote the source, letting them do the searching, or what?

Do I show people some of the guitars I bought and do a comparison of one mic against another? Like the guitar fella on youtube, I would be saying loudly DO NOT BUY THIS XXXX, but hoping people would say to themselves, "I'd rather like one of those".

Clearly from the stats, lots of people want to buy these products, but are a bit worried that they will be absolutely awful.

Do I even attempt to touch counterfeits? Most will be clearly not as good as the originals, but what happens if they are? I suspect some 'counterfeits' are actually originals just distributed outside the normal chain, via a manufacturer. Maybe I should just not touch it, but people are asking.

What do you think? Useful/not useful? I don't want to promote buying dodgy products, but people do buy them, and maybe some guidance would be good. This is really tricky. Maybe I could just show the items, do the comparisons and not make any recommendations at all - like the chinese guitar guy does - just saying it as I see it on each item? If people think it a really bad idea then I'll not do it?
 

leddy

Well-known member
I’m generally against any and all counterfeit products. I wish China would just have their own brands that function as a cheaper alternative that might be almost as good. Take Zoom for example. I own/owned portable recording gear from the best: Nagra, Sound Devices etc. I own Zoom too. It’s not as good but it has its place. I hated Zoom when they first started because they seemed to clearly be copying existing products. Same with Behringer. After many years they refine their product and find a niche. I wish they wouldn’t have started off essentially stealing R&D from established brands. I would absolutely draw the line at an instrument. Plenty of inexpensive instruments from the major makers. Wouldn’t touch a counterfeit Fender etc. Just play a cheaper Fender.

I hate that when I go to buy something, I’m paranoid that I might be getting a fake and I need to research how to tell them apart. I’d rather not offer them any more legitimacy, but that’s my opinion.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
I don't like the true counterfeit products, the ones that put the name brand logo on a knock off. It doesn't matter if it's a Shure, a Gibson, a Gucci or a Rolex. If you want to copy a product and put your name on it, fine. Reverse engineering is a fact of life. As long as you don't violate patents or trademark laws, it's fair game. But blatant misrepresentation is criminal.

How many companies are making their "version" of an LA-2A compressor, or a Klon Centaur. It might be a complete clone, it might be a work alike. If you make it, put your brand name on it, not Textronix or Klon.

I was listening to some U87 microphone comparisons over on another forum. Some were REALLY close. Included was the Warm 87, Stam, Beezneez, Peluso, MicParts, etc. Nobody gets upset that Stam makes a virtual clone of the U87. It's actually generally well regarded. At least you KNOW that you aren't buying a Neumann, and aren't being charged for the name. (Interestingly, although the Stam was supposedly a true clone of the u87, it was the only mic in the test that actually had inverted phase from the Neumann. That could present a problem if you mating it with a real Neumann and didn't know. Also, only two people mentioned that issue out of about 200 posts.)

I have an amp that was made by a builder in Asheville NC. It's an AA1164 circuit clone of a 65 Princeton Reverb , hand wired etc. It's a very nice sounding amp, every bit as good as any Princeton Reverb I've played. The only "issue" is it doesn't have "FENDER" on the face plate. Doesn't bother me a bit. Great amp, built by a really nice guy.
 

Gtoboy

Well-known member
I happily buy all kinds of inexpensive gear and try find a use for it. If I can't I donate it to one of the local schools as a teacher neighbor of mine pointed out that just about anything can be of use to the drama dept as a prop even if it's useless for real work!

I draw the line at products using some other companies trademarked logo.

If a product is good enough then use your name, the whole concept of using a trademarked name is deception, no matter how good the product is.

Just an aside correction to Leddy- the first Zoom product was the 9002 and it was a IMHO a completely original design: a portable effects device designed to be attached to ones guitar strap.

Behringer has always been about copying, but with minimum quality/value standards which have kept the company sucessful.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Interesting. The Behringer thing was very vocal twenty years ago - I remember Mackie and Behringer locked in battle, but it has spawned probably the most well received digital mixer series ever!

I'm kind of jury out on the acceptance of clones, but non-acceptance of the branding. I've discovered that quite a bit of a non-music product I'm involved with is actually made in China, and then sold as an American brand, and boxes labelled with made in Malaysia. I can buy these once the original is discontinued. It's usually 5 years, but these used to be called grey imports - so cutting out a countries own dealer network and bringing them in from abroad. The in-country organisation would disown them and refuse spares and service. They were genuine products, but 'unofficial' ones. I note Fender don't get too cross about Chinese Fenders, while Gibson don't like it at all. It does seem that some brands may very well have components sourced from China, and then the necks bolted on in a different country and it's all about percentages. Is a Chinese body, bolted to a Chinese neck, but with American or Mexican pickups fitted in America or Mexico, not Chinese? Is a Japanese radio brand still Japanese if it's made (assembled) in one country from modules made in another.

I think my guide is the word deception. If something is branded Shure, in a box that is copied from a Shure box, and the advert says Genuine Shure Microphone, then you have the right to expect a real Shure. If Thomann buy from the factory in China that knocks out counterfeit SM57s, and it has a Thomann box and is labelled as a TM57, that's OK - when the mic has become good for not having the Shure branding strip?

If I bought a pile of them, removed the wrap around sticker and supplied them in the black unbranded zip case, and said these look like Shures, sound like Shures but are cheaper, that's fine?

I went and searched for the fake U87s - but they're not cheap. I expected a typical copy and less than £100 price ticket, but the fakes seem to be 500+. Would anyone spend that kind of money on something they knew wasn't genuine? What would the point be? I totally get the cash strapped newcomer being tempted by a cheap 58, or 57 (or the Sennheisers) but for the price of a fake Neumann, they could have genuine other brands? Am I missing something?
 

Ed Fones

Well-known member
Anything 'cheap' sells. If you made sports cars and put slow family saloon engines in them, you would still sell more than the genuine 'Real Mcoy' product. A sports car identical to the genuine product would have its fan base because they would argue..........."Yeah looks exactly the same and gets me from A to B just the same as genuine model. It might not go as fast but you cant go over the speed limit anyway. So all that extra performance is a waste."

Fans of copied U87's may say............."Well it sounds almost the same. I can't tell the difference and neither can most other people. Besides you can edit anything nowadays."
 
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Gtoboy

Well-known member
Interesting. The Behringer thing was very vocal twenty years ago - I remember Mackie and Behringer locked in battle, but it has spawned probably the most well received digital mixer series ever!

I'm kind of jury out on the acceptance of clones, but non-acceptance of the branding. I've discovered that quite a bit of a non-music product I'm involved with is actually made in China, and then sold as an American brand, and boxes labelled with made in Malaysia. I can buy these once the original is discontinued. It's usually 5 years, but these used to be called grey imports - so cutting out a countries own dealer network and bringing them in from abroad. The in-country organisation would disown them and refuse spares and service. They were genuine products, but 'unofficial' ones. I note Fender don't get too cross about Chinese Fenders, while Gibson don't like it at all. It does seem that some brands may very well have components sourced from China, and then the necks bolted on in a different country and it's all about percentages. Is a Chinese body, bolted to a Chinese neck, but with American or Mexican pickups fitted in America or Mexico, not Chinese? Is a Japanese radio brand still Japanese if it's made (assembled) in one country from modules made in another.

I think my guide is the word deception. If something is branded Shure, in a box that is copied from a Shure box, and the advert says Genuine Shure Microphone, then you have the right to expect a real Shure. If Thomann buy from the factory in China that knocks out counterfeit SM57s, and it has a Thomann box and is labelled as a TM57, that's OK - when the mic has become good for not having the Shure branding strip?

If I bought a pile of them, removed the wrap around sticker and supplied them in the black unbranded zip case, and said these look like Shures, sound like Shures but are cheaper, that's fine?

I went and searched for the fake U87s - but they're not cheap. I expected a typical copy and less than £100 price ticket, but the fakes seem to be 500+. Would anyone spend that kind of money on something they knew wasn't genuine? What would the point be? I totally get the cash strapped newcomer being tempted by a cheap 58, or 57 (or the Sennheisers) but for the price of a fake Neumann, they could have genuine other brands? Am I missing something?
I am constantly surprised by how many apparently normally thoughtful people will buy into the "bigger, better deal". We all one to believe we can get the best of the deal, and it's no shock that we are often wrong. At least until we get burned a few times and stop looking to beat the system and instead are realistic in our cost/value expectations.

The old saying about a sucker being born every minute seems harsh, but evidence suggests that gullibility is a common enough consumer trait that there will always be some that will make a living at it. We have to learn buyer beware, and it sometimes doesn't stick with everyone. I have found that those young people who rely on the internet or someone else for advice seem to be the most vulnerable oddly enough.
 

Ed Fones

Well-known member
If you required an operation on your brain, would you go to a top surgeon or to some far off country where they offer cut price surgery?
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
If you required an operation on your brain, would you go to a top surgeon or to some far off country where they offer cut price surgery?
When I had cancer surgery, I didn't go to Slone Kettering, or the Mayo Clinic. The local yokels did just fine. I'm still here a dozen years later. I'm sure the cost was much less than if I had gone to NYC for treatment. Your comment suggests that there's only a minuscule number of competent people in the world for any given craft. That's simply not true. Besides, that really doesn't have anything to do with counterfeit products.

There's a tremendous amount of "elite-ism" in the audio world. The counterfeiters feed on that. They see that people think they must have a Gibson Les Paul, and sell knock-offs with dodgy bridges, pretty veneer tops, soft fretwire that wears out and headstocks that say Gibson, with Made in USA on the back. You can buy it on AliExpress for $250-300. Thats not kosher!

Eastman makes a guitar that looks like a Les Paul to the uninitiated. It uses quality Jescar fretwire, real maple and mahogany, real ebony, Gotoh bridges and tuners, SD pickups, Switchcraft, CTS and Sprague electronics. It clearly says Eastman on the headstock. It's obviously an "inspired by" copy, but a very competent copy. I'm sure Joe Bonamassa could plug it in and sound just like Joe Bonamassa, to the point that 99.9% of the listeners wouldn't be able to tell that he wasn't playing his LP, at least until someone looked and then it would immediately "sound like cheap Chinese crap".

It's like the old joke that of the 643 '59 LP bursts made, only 2487 still exist. There are crooks and shysters out there. That doesn't mean that there aren't competent manufacturers who are making products that are equally as good as the "original".
 

Ed Fones

Well-known member
My comment only suggests what you say Rich if you want it to suggest that.

Actually my point was...........you would want the best you could afford.............money could buy.................for the job. Buying cheaper does no matter how you swing it carry a risk of inferior quality. That of course all falls down if things go wrong in any case. But it usually works the way of you pay peanuts and you get monkey's, or buy wise buy once etc etc.
 

60's guy

Active member
In 2015 a friend of mine was considering purchasing a Chibson guitar. He wanted my advjce.
I gave him a half dozen reasons to not buy that guitar.
He dismissed my advice by saying "Opinions are like assholes and you probably think that Donald Trump is a genius".
This thread reminded me of the time that I lost a good friend.

 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I bought a Chinese Hofner style bass and in the photos none showed the headstock, so I asked. They said I could have Hofiner or a different ‘unbranded’ name. I picked that and it’s a cracking bass. They don’t care what it says, they build what we want to buy. I bought some microphones for radios. They looked like what I needed, but said icom in the pic. as the wiring can be a little different I asked if they were for kenwood? They said icom, you want for kenwood? I said yes, must be for kenwood. No problem. I ordered a pile of them. They arrived. they’d removed the icom name and screen printed “for kenwood” on each one!
 

Ed Fones

Well-known member
I bought a Chinese Hofner style bass and in the photos none showed the headstock, so I asked. They said I could have Hofiner or a different ‘unbranded’ name. I picked that and it’s a cracking bass. They don’t care what it says, they build what we want to buy. I bought some microphones for radios. They looked like what I needed, but said icom in the pic. as the wiring can be a little different I asked if they were for kenwood? They said icom, you want for kenwood? I said yes, must be for kenwood. No problem. I ordered a pile of them. They arrived. they’d removed the icom name and screen printed “for kenwood” on each one!
:LOL: You can't really argue with that Rob. They did in away give you what you wanted.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
Back in 2017, @Illsidgus mentioned getting a Chinese Hofner Ignition bass. I was hoping he would post a sound sample but he disappeared from these boards. Maybe that Hofner turned on him 😱:unsure:
 
I know you mentioned China specifically because they are a bit cheaper than the products that Americans build, but I don't understand why we can't have a continent of indentured servants building everything that way we, as Americans can just lay around all day not working and having food shoved in our pie holes by immigrants while not using the nearly free shit those slaves are building and making for us. Sure, Walmart is cheap and nobody wants to pay Americans a living wage to work so we shop there funding the inevitable demise of our way of life by foreign adversaries, but bargains. Amirite?

I think the real question here is can we be considered a modern nation if we have to do anything for ourselves?
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
We have always had a phrase here - "BUY BRITISH" - but it's almost impossible. We're very good at making cutting edge, or engineering heavy expensive kit, but we cannot do cheap. I sent out a small item today to a customer - the item was £5.99.l Postage was £5.05! I thought I had better order some more, from the supplier in China. The price I got was £3.65, converted from USD to UKP, and this includes postage from China to the UK. Postage abroad is subsidised by the Chinese Government. I can buy this product made in the UK. It is £57.46! Until this kind of thing is fixed, both the US and the UK are virtually forced to import goods. I know there are loads of human rights issues and talk of workers there being forced to work for peanuts, but talking to one supplier, she's been asking how us Brits get to work? Her Factory have all been given electric scooters, and all the workers come to work on these now fuel is more expensive. I suspect both our Governments are secretly happy with the status quo - and could do things, but won't!

To Spantini - do you want to hear the Hofner violin bass? I've actually used it on a few recordings, and really like it.


Some of the 'dodgy' stuff has arrived - I have a questionable Shure PG drum mic, a possible genuine or hookey Samson condenser, a Neumann handheld condenser, and a Sennheiser that may or may not be genuine so far.
 

Ed Fones

Well-known member
We have always had a phrase here - "BUY BRITISH" - but it's almost impossible. We're very good at making cutting edge, or engineering heavy expensive kit, but we cannot do cheap. I sent out a small item today to a customer - the item was £5.99.l Postage was £5.05! I thought I had better order some more, from the supplier in China. The price I got was £3.65, converted from USD to UKP, and this includes postage from China to the UK. Postage abroad is subsidised by the Chinese Government. I can buy this product made in the UK. It is £57.46! Until this kind of thing is fixed, both the US and the UK are virtually forced to import goods. I know there are loads of human rights issues and talk of workers there being forced to work for peanuts, but talking to one supplier, she's been asking how us Brits get to work? Her Factory have all been given electric scooters, and all the workers come to work on these now fuel is more expensive. I suspect both our Governments are secretly happy with the status quo - and could do things, but won't!
Not just that but certain protectionist regimes say you cant deal with us unless you adopt our strategies. So unless the UK dumps that communist group of countries all together, you will still be forced to import from China and never be able to 'make your own'.

I will add the UK used to make cutting edge and supreme quality goods before they got mixed up with a certain crowd who just want to weaken and make dependent certain countries.
 
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