How to: Purchase Gibson Les Paul at Singapore and bring it back to Malaysia

Many guitar players in Malaysia want to own a Gibson Les Paul in their guitar collection, so as me, i 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 guitars in this country, 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 just a headache to buy it and too much risk to put on, for a person as me, with a limited budget and only got one chance to make a right purchase.


(Swee Lee Music Showroom @ Peninsula Plaza, Singapore)

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 and the “famous sofa owner” Dead Eye Guitars, they provide reasonable price but still have some problems stated above, such as: you have to order, wait for it to ship over and the most important, what if you just don’t like the one you holding?

Since kinda difficult to get it right in here, 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,

Address:
Swee Lee Music Company (Peninsula Showroom)
3 Coleman Street Peninsula Shopping Complex #B1-14
Singapore 179804
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 photo.


(Showroom is crowded when i reached, customer tested on ESP Kirk Hammett Signature Series as above and another uncle testing on Boss ME-80 with a guy explaining the function)

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.

GST refund = Guitar price – (GST 7% – handling fees)
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:

i) while purchasing the guitar, inform the sales assistant on GST return, they will key in your passport number in the receipt
ii) prepare passport, boarding pass, the guitar and go to terminal 1 (if you flying back to Kuala Lumpur)

a) If the guitar comes with Hard case such as Les Paul (total 8.3kg)-> you’ll need to pay for check-in baggage SGD 18 (for 20kg) -> before checking-in baggage, proceed to the Tax Refund Counter at the Departure Check-in Hall, Level 2 (before Departure Immigration) to apply for GST Refund slip -> after that, check-in your guitar. note:* hold the slip and receipt along with you because you will need it to get the cash/credit card refund
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.

I’m lucky that my girlfriend knows how it works, so she guide me through the process. For more information, refer to GST Refund, Tax Refund and Tourist Tax Refund Guide.

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:

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Comments (7)

junghau

Did you get taxed by Malaysian Custom upon arrival in Malaysia airport?

2 years ago
WAKLU

Swee Lee has opened a branch at Lot 10, KL…

2 years ago

    Thanks for the info, Waklu

    2 years ago
Danny Siaw

Thanks so much for your golden info guy… but wander also, how is the pricing at its branch at Lot 10, KL? If its a 2-3 hundred different still worth.

2 years ago

    Danny, not sure for now as the branch in Lot 10 is not ready on that time, as well as our GST 6% and low currency rate.
    For my case, i was quoted 8.3k for the same model by local instrument shop, and i got for 6.7k from sg.

    2 years ago

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