How to Spot a Fake Martin Guitar: 8 Easy Tips to Avoid It

As a company known for quality and craftsmanship, Martin Guitars has unfortunately attracted counterfeiters. But how to spot a fake Martin guitar? We will empower you with essential tips on how to differentiate genuine Martin guitars from imitations. Say goodbye to uncertainty and hello to confident guitar shopping

To spot a fake Martin Guitar, scrutinize the serial number, typically found on the neck block inside the guitar, and verify its authenticity with Martin’s official records. Examine the craftsmanship, especially the wood quality, finish, and logo accuracy, as counterfeits often display inferior workmanship. Additionally, pay attention to the guitar’s sound and feel, as rich acoustic quality is hard to replicate.

How to Spot a Fake Martin Guitar

If you are out looking for a new Martin guitar, being able to identify a counterfeit is crucial. Counterfeit guitars often have uneven finishes, sloppy glue work, and misaligned parts. The overall build may feel off and let’s be honest, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Extremely low prices should at least make you cautious.

How to Tell if a Martin Guitar is Real – Specifics

Identifying a real Martin guitar involves a thorough examination of various features. Let’s break down the key aspects to look for.

Poorly done finish of a fake Martin guitar.

The Finish

The finish on a genuine Martin guitar is impeccable. It showcases a high level of craftsmanship with a smooth, even coating. Unlike counterfeits that may have a patchy or uneven finish, real Martin guitars have a consistent gloss or satin sheen, enhancing the natural beauty of the wood. The attention to detail in the finish is a testament to the brand’s quality standards.


The soundhole of a Martin guitar is not just a functional part; it’s a work of art. Real Martin guitars have precisely crafted soundholes with uniform rosettes and clean edges. If the soundhole appears roughly cut or the rosette looks misaligned or poorly glued, it’s likely a fake. The finesse in this area is a clear indicator of authenticity.

Brand Markings

Brand markings are crucial in identifying a real Martin. The logo, usually found on the headstock, should be crisp and accurately placed. Authentic Martin guitars have a distinct font style that is hard to replicate accurately. Any smudging, incorrect font or misalignment in the logo is a red flag, indicating a counterfeit.

Another example of a fake Martin D-45, look at the bridge, pickguard, and rosette.


Martin guitars are renowned for their use of high-quality woods. The texture, grain, and color of the wood in a genuine Martin guitar have a natural, premium look and feel. Counterfeits often use inferior, cheaper woods that lack the fine grain patterns and depth of color characteristic of real Martin guitars. Cheaper guitars are also often made with inexpensive laminated wood, so if you are looking at a model that should be solid and it isn’t, hands off.

The Bridge and Bridge Plate

The bridge and bridge plate are essential for the guitar’s sound and durability. In real Martin guitars, the bridge is solidly attached, with no gaps or excess glue. The bridge plate, located inside the guitar, should be neatly glued and made of high-quality wood. Poorly attached bridges or low-quality bridge plates are telltale signs of a fake.


On a genuine Martin, you’ll find real abalone inlays, which are meticulously crafted, showcasing a spectrum of colors that shimmer and change under different lighting. In contrast, fake guitars often use inferior materials for inlays, like plastic or low-quality imitations, which lack the depth and iridescence of real abalone, appearing flat, dull, and uniform.

Next to missing the natural variations and exquisite detail that make real abalone inlays on Martin guitars so visually captivating, they also produce a lower, dull sound when you hit it with your nail. Real abalone sounds brighter and feels colder than wood more like porcelain or glass instead of plastic.

Serial Numbers 

Every Martin guitar has a unique serial number, usually found on the neck block inside the guitar. This number can be cross-referenced with Martin’s official records for authenticity. A missing, hard-to-find, or non-matching (belongs to another model/ year) serial number is a significant indicator that the guitar might not be genuine.

Sound Quality: Discussing the acoustic differences.

The sound quality of a Martin guitar is distinctive. It’s known for its rich, clear, and resonant tone. Counterfeit guitars often fall short of replicating this sound, producing a tone that is less vibrant and more muted. 

Where Counterfeits Are Found

Identifying where counterfeit Martin guitars are commonly sold can significantly reduce the risk of accidentally purchasing one. 

The vast expanse of the internet, especially online marketplaces, is a prime spot for counterfeit Martin guitars. Platforms like eBay, Craigslist, and even some less reputable e-commerce sites can be teeming with fakes.

The lack of physical inspection and direct seller interaction online makes it easier to pass off fake guitars as genuine. Apart from online platforms, unauthorized dealers, often found in flea markets, pawn shops, or through private sales, can also be sources of counterfeit guitars. 

The inlays are often not as intricate and labels are often poorly done on a fake Martin.

Red Flags to Watch Out for When Purchasing

One of the biggest red flags is an unbelievably low price. Authentic Martin guitars command a premium, and any offer significantly below market value should be approached with skepticism. 

Be wary of listings or sellers who provide minimal information about the guitar. Genuine sellers usually offer detailed descriptions, including the guitar’s history, condition, and specifications.

If looking online, pay attention to the quality of images. Authentic sellers often provide clear, high-resolution images from multiple angles. Blurry or stock images can be a sign of a seller trying to hide the guitar’s true condition or authenticity.

Never let yourself be pressured to make a quick decision, authentic sellers are usually transparent and patient, allowing buyers to make informed decisions.

Also be cautious if the sellers are evasive or inconsistent in their communication, especially when asked about the guitar’s authenticity, history, or return policy.

Always prioritize purchasing from reputable sources, and if in doubt, consult a guitar expert or reach out to Martin directly for verification.


Now that we’ve explored essential aspects to help you identify a fake Martin guitar. We strongly advise you to conduct comprehensive research about your dream model before purchasing

There are counterfeits out there that are very sloppily done and I’m wondering how they are ever taken for the real deal, but there are also some that are harder to spot. So take your time, be throughout in your examination, and never let yourself be rushed. The effort you put into verifying the authenticity of your guitar ensures your investment is, with the right care, keeping its value.

Have you ever encountered a counterfeit Martin guitar, or do you have tips for spotting fakes? We’d love to hear your stories and advice. Sharing your experiences can help fellow guitarists If you found this guide helpful and are interested in more guitar-related content, consider subscribing to our newsletter to stay up to date.

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