Many guitar players in Malaysia want to own a Gibson Les Paul in their collection, so as me, have been wanted to get one since years back when Gibson released Gibson Les Paul Traditional. The Traditional model that placed in between Studio and Standard where the price tag at USD 2,249 (MSRP).
Now, there are few problems to get a Gibson guitar in this country, the lack of the “exclusive dealer”, stock availability for test up, irresponsible sales person and overprice charged for whatever (shipping, handling fees, bla bla bla…) they counted in. Refer the LYN forum thread here and here. In short, it is troublesome to buy it and having too much risk to put on without testing it. For a person with a limited budget, i have to gets hands-on of the actual guitar to make a right decision.
Had a bad luck on Godin Multiac Steel SA, wrong purchase as it doesn’t suit me. Lesson learned that you have to spend some time (research, review) on the guitar, hands-on the actual unit, play it and don’t buy it yet if you got any doubt else you might regret sooner or later like i did.
However, there are still good guy dealers that can help you to bring new/used Gibson from US or SG, you may try Music Master (where i bought the lovely 2nd hand Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster) and “famous sofa owner” Dead Eye Guitars Calvim, they provide reasonable price and let you test if stock available. However, for new Gibson Les Paul, problems stated above still exist, such as: you have to order, wait for it to ship over and the most important, what if you don’t like the one you holding?
Since kinda difficult to get it right in Malaysia, therefore i look at Swee Lee Music, the main distributor for Gibson at our neighbour country, Singapore. Swee Lee is the only distributor in Singapore, every other shop that sell new Gibson’s are taken from Swee Lee, refer here, even The Guitar Store in Malaysia. Still not believe? check this on Gibson official website, under both Malaysia and Singapore section: International Distributors
(Swee Lee Music Showroom @ Peninsula Plaza, Singapore)
So, Swee Lee is the shop that i’m going to hunt for my first Gibson guitar (as gift from precious one), Les Paul Traditional Pro II 50’s neck Honey Burst. My girlfriend brought me to latest Star Vista Swee Lee branch, but they only have a tobacco burst for the model, so we went to Swee Lee Peninsula Showroom to deal with the cool guy, Fahmy. Details of Peninsula Showroom as below,
Swee Lee Music Company (Peninsula Showroom)
3 Coleman Street Peninsula Shopping Complex #B1-14
Mon – Sat: 10.30 am to 7.00 pm
Sunday & Public Holidays, 12:30 PM – 06:30 PM
For more Swee Lee Music Company branches, refer to this: Branches.
Swee Lee is selling Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro II 50s Neck for SGD 2750, free Gibson Guitar Straps but no discount. For foreigner, we got GST return, so the calculation of what you paying for goes like this:
Price of guitar SGD 2750 (included 7% GST), GST return for foreigner will got is only about 5.5%, because a handling fee for the refund service will be deducted from the GST amount.
Amount of Guitar you paying in Ringgit Malaysia = (Guitar Price – GST refund) x currency rate
My case: (SGD 2750 – SGD 146) x 2.6 = RM 6770.40 (actual amount for 2013 Les Paul Traditional Pro II 50’s neck Honey Burst)
GST Refund Steps reference:
ii) prepare passport, boarding pass, the guitar and go to terminal 1 (if you flying back to Kuala Lumpur)
b) If soft case -> according to the check-in counter staff, you are allow to hand-carry on board although guitar size/weight exceeded dimensions stated in the rule, do refer: Can I bring musical instruments on board?, Checked baggage and this case: Air Asia Complaint (part 1).
iii) Pass through Departure Immigration and search for Central Refund Counter -> show the GST Refund slip together with receipt and passport -> claim your refund by cash or credit card and done.
Yea, it might sound a little troublesome to buy it from Singapore, but IMHO it is worth with reasonable price, buying experience, more knowledgeable staff, able to get hands on the spot and choose the colour. Pros and Cons as below:
i) might save approx RM 1000+ because of eat deep water “dealer” in Malaysia (for traditional pro II 50’s neck honey burst)
ii) much better buying experience, able to spend more time on the guitar, more models to test around, saw Les Paul classic, “normal” traditional, studio and standard hanging there. Fender deluxe model is also available there for around SGD 2200
iii) the sales assistant knows clearly about guitars models available there, unlike those local multi branches “GC or TGS” staffs, if you know what i mean.
iv) 100% genuine products, do understand there are some “fake” Gibson on the market, ex: Epiphone body with Gibson headstock
i) spend on air flight (around RM 120 for promo price), SGD 18 for baggage check-in
ii) need to travel near an hour to the place and hand carry the 8.3kg all the way back to airport
iii) baggage check in also means, prepare for the scratches on your just owned hard case, mine scratched more than 10 places, minor but visible
iv) might confuse on GST refund if there are no experience person to guide you