Why are all the really choice Les Pauls in Japan?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by bigbreak, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. bigbreak

    bigbreak Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    113
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2020
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    I browse eBay and Reverb often. I have drooled over many really choice guitars (mainly Les Pauls) that are sold in Japan on eBay. Also, why do I see the same guitar being advertised by three or four different places, with shipping costs between $70.00 and $390.00? Is it safe to buy a guitar from Japan through eBay? Any horror stories?
     
  2. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    18,265
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    The North Coast
    If I were going to buy from a foreign entity, and didn’t know for sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were a legit and trustworthy business... if the guitar really mattered to me that much I’d get a lot of communication going. First and foremost, I’d get them on the phone. It may cost a bit, but it’s worth it. Most business people that sell internationally speak English. We’re a huge market everybody wants to be part of and we generally don’t bother to speak foreign languages, so most other folks learn ours. Get em on the phone and start a legit dialogue.

    Also, get on the forums and ask about the sellers by name. See who’s bought from them and sold to them.

    As far as why the guitars are in Japan- cause that’s who bought them. There is a HUGE market for high end and vintage instruments in Japan. And lots of people with money to buy them. When I was dealing in vintage stuff back in the 90’s we shipped an inordinate amount of high end and vintage guitars to Japan. It was a major part of our business. People like to fantasize about what may still be lurking under American beds in the heartland. I would posit that it pales in comparison to the stockpiles in Japan.
     
  3. Sconnie

    Sconnie Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    28
    Posts:
    1,361
    Joined:
    May 1, 2017
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    There is or was a huge collector market over there. I pretty sure one of those shops will have the actual instrument, the other's list them too and hope to sell it for more than the original listing then rush over to buy it before it sells at the original shop.
     
    Brian J. likes this.
  4. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,295
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2015
    Location:
    Winchester, VA
    I've noticed this also. Lots of Gibsons and American Fenders being sold from Japan and I never understood what was going on.
     
  5. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,326
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
    Location:
    toronto
    Japan is Gibson's second largest market after the USA and I would think it's the same for Fender.
    And if you're talking vintage the Bubble era of Japan made vintage guitars very cheap in relative terms for the Japanese collector.
     
    Jakedog and Fretting out like this.
  6. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    28
    Posts:
    4,215
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2019
    Location:
    Land of Mary
    Trogly just did a show about things being listed by multiple Japanese sellers on eBay, they are usually acting as middle men and don’t actually have the instrument, after you pay them they negotiate with the shop and then buy the guitar and send it to you, if they can’t get it you’ll get a refund

    It’s not really a ripoff because these sellers/middlemen can communicate a lot better with the actual shops than a non native speaker could

    Like the USA there’s a good bit of wealth in Japan and like us they love fender and gibson, a lot of premium vintage fenders are there too
     
  7. t-ray

    t-ray Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

    Posts:
    1,128
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2010
    Location:
    Gotham City
    For the past few years I was gassing for an LP Junior and almost all of the newer re-issues on the Bay were in Japan. (Bought a new 2019 last year and really like it.)
     
    nojazzhere likes this.
  8. Daytona.57

    Daytona.57 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    194
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2014
    Location:
    Calabogie, On, Canada
    I lucked into an Epiphone Limited Edition, Les Paul Goldtop, Alinco II pickups, Slash specs, that was released in Japan. There were 50 overruns, that were sold in Canada. I picked it up used for $400.00.

    It is a very high quality guitar and plays and sounds better than my son's Gibson Les Paul, in his words.

    YMMV

    Edit: content.
     
  9. Peegoo

    Peegoo Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,772
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Location:
    USA
    Not just vintage guitars...premium new-production guitars too. I bought a CS '58 Les Paul Jr DC from a Japanese seller and the transaction went perfectly. I had to buy there because it's a limited edition and they never come up for sale in the US.
     
    Jakedog likes this.
  10. medownsouth

    medownsouth Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

    Age:
    39
    Posts:
    440
    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2020
    Location:
    Tri State, MS
    I’ve bought from Japan, no issues. Global priority EMS got here in 4 biz days: faster than another item I bought w/ priority mail from the SeaTac area.

    iirc anything over 800 will have duties
     
    teletail and Jakedog like this.
  11. Shango66

    Shango66 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,215
    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2012
    Location:
    Australia
    Bought many guitars on eBay from Japanese sellers.
    If they have a lot of past transactions and reasonable post $, go for it.
     
  12. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,522
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2013
    Location:
    meridianam altum centralis
    That makes the most sense. You buy their auction, they then buy someone else's auction, and have it drop shipped to your address. Sort of a DIY Amazon business model.

    PS - you can filter "US only" or other region with the "Advanced Search" feature just to the right of the search bar.
     
  13. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,030
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Location:
    Lions & Tigers oh Mi !
    .

    Japan has a Boomer generation generally ten years older than the US. So they hit all the milestone trends ahead of the US, a canary in the mineshaft. They bought up the vintage guitars out of nostalgia a decade before the surge in the US and are now unloading all those guitars as people pass away. That is what will happen over the next decade in the US too.

    Example is this video on a couple buying an abandoned farmhouse in Japan for cheap. Original owners passed away, the kids lived in the city and have no interest in moving out, so it was let go to taxes. Apparently this is happening all over Japan. Kids don't want to fill their tiny apartments with their parent's dozen or two collection of vintage guitars either. US players are still buying nostalgia.


    .
     
    nojazzhere likes this.
  14. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,368
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    Godzone
    I've bought a number of guitars from Japan including a Jazzmaster. Never had an issue. Japan is Rickenbacker's biggest market because of the Beatles link. They even get special order guits. I've bought a 335 Fatneck Dot and a Gretsch Setzer Hotrod from Atsu who goes back and forth. He's got a pile of Fender, Gibson, Ric, Custom Shop etc.

    He said well off Japanese guys buy them same as they have Harleys, Mercs, Lambos etc.

    Then they may not play them very much and they are 'unda da bed' specials. He buys them cheap and makes a bit of money on them
     
  15. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,019
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2010
    Location:
    Santa Barbara
    Same applied to commercial real estate. The Japanese had $$$ and the U.S. did not, so we sold, they bought. If the Chinese were enamored of US culture -- they're not -- they'd have all the guitars now. We're not in charge anymore. They're taking our stuff all right. Because they have the money. This will change. The boomer die-off in Japan will release vast holdings back into the market.
     
  16. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    10,925
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2013
    Location:
    near Arnold's
    Why do you think the only good LPs are in Japan?

    That’s just silly. Sorry.
     
  17. superbadj

    superbadj Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    45
    Posts:
    5,300
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Location:
    roanoke, va
    I got a Tele from a seller in Japan, via Ebay, and the transaction went great. Plus....check out the speed of the FREE shipping (see link below). The guitar was at a great price already, so I can't imaging why the guy would ship essentially 1-day shipping, but he did:

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/hmmmm-incoming.341569/#post-4340450
     
  18. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    11,860
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2017
    Location:
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    Interesting video. I also watched the two month progress vid that followed.....it was actually better. Thanks for posting.
     
  19. Censport

    Censport Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    758
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2010
    Location:
    Nashville/東京
    Other posters have already pointed out several of the factors (Japan's bubble economy, boomers, etc.). After eight years of living in Tokyo part-time, I'm still amazed when I visit guitar stores. Maybe I shouldn't be, in a city with more people than Canada.

    On the flip side, if you're an American interested in getting a Yamaha SG, your choices in the U.S. are slim, and sellers can pretty much ask what they want. But in Japan, where it's a domestic guitar, I see many examples in every store, priced much more reasonably. Just a few months ago, I picked up a nice all-original SG600 for about $380.

    If you're serious about a particular guitar, the ideal solution is to contact the seller directly and build up some trust between you two. If their English is limited, you can try using both Google and Bing online translators together (copy the Japanese text from one and paste it in the other). Write your email with one sentence in English and the Japanese translation directly below it. Do this for each sentence. You'll see they'll do the same with their reply.

    Personally, I avoid the multiple listings on eBay. But if that's the only way the guitar of your dreams is listed, then try doing a reverse image search or look for the guitar on the Yahoo! Japan auction site to find the original seller.

    EMS shipping should be about $150 from Tokyo.

    Stores can vary on how willing they are to work with foreigners, even in person. I have a great relationship with this store in Shin-Okubo, for example, but the store two doors down doesn't greet me at all, much less wait on me. Not even the usual "いらっしゃいませ!" And some just aren't willing to ship. (It gets much, much worse if you collect vintage JDM cars and parts. Many collectors don't want their cars or parts to leave Japan.) So keep that in mind when introducing yourself.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. Good luck!
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.