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Examining the culture of counterfeit

Duff McKagan plays a Burny Les Paul model while performing with Loaded at the third annual Rock on the Range music festival in Colombus, OH, on May 16, 2009. Since they first appeared in the ‘70s, these replicas have been found in the hands of many high-profile players. In a recent interview with, McKagan praised the craftsmanship of two Burny guitars he acquired in Japan, saying, “It’s a Les Paul, but in Japan they can copy this stuff like exactly ... you can’t get them here because they’re illegal.” McKagan contends that his Burnys achieve his sound better than any other guitar. Photo by Wayne Dennon.

It all started with a few threads posted on guitar forums, including one on, an outstanding forum and the place to go for all things Rickenbacker. The thread dealt with knockoff Rickenbacker guitars going by the brand name of “Rockinbetter,” an obvious distortion of the Rickenbacker name. It also mentioned Rick’s president John Hall and his aggressive manner of going after those who steal or appropriate his designs and trademarks.

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