Korean-made Orvilles a Myth??

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by 1-Take-Wonder, Feb 23, 2006.


  1. 1-Take-Wonder

    1-Take-Wonder Member

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    From a current E-Bay auction:

    The guitar does not have a long tenon and it does not have a serial number. The serial number was a sticker, that started with a "K". All Orville's are made in Japan, including the guitars with a "K" in the serial number. The proof is easy to obtain, by simply calling Gibson on the phone. I also challenged many of the sellers claiming the guitars were made in Korea. Not one could provide any documentation. because it's just a rumor, they are all Japanese. This information can also be confirmed by contacting Gibson USA 1-800-444-2766

    I'm pretty sure this guy doesn't know what he's talking about but the "I contacted Gibson" angle is shrewd.

    If I recall correctly, Tony Bacon's book on the Les Paul states that some were made, or at least assembled & finished, in Korea.

    What do you guys (Lestercollector, Whitehall, etc) think about this?
     
  2. Lestercollector

    Lestercollector Supporting Member

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    I've owned several Orville and OBG's, and in 6 years I've not run accross an actual Korean Orville that I could prove to be from Korea. So, I have no personal experience with this situation. I am not an expert on Japanese LP's, but if I have information on a particular model I will gladly give it.

    Thanks for thinking of me, sorry I can't help much on this one.:confused:


    Joe aka Lestercollector
     
  3. whitehall

    whitehall Member

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    I've owned several O's and OBG's. I have seen many pictures of these K serial number guitars. And have always heard the same thing. I believe there was a run of Korean Orvilles. It's just the way things are done there. I won't buy any guitar from Japan without a serial number. In fact there's so much rip-off/forgery in that whole market these days I just stay away from it all together.
     
  4. AlexF

    AlexF Member

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    this is a tough one, I owned a K series sticker Custom, spec and build wise I couldnt tell the difference between it and the standard (non 'by Gibson')Japanese models. It may well have been Korean, I suspect from all the info out there coming from the Japanese sites it probably was, but in a way it didnt really matter, it was still a really well made copy
    Al
     
  5. 1-Take-Wonder

    1-Take-Wonder Member

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    On my Orville, someone tried to emboss/imprint a serial number into the back of the headstock after the fact...right through the finish! :eek:

    I was EXTREMELY ticked when I got it, but after expending lots of hot air at the seller and paypal (to no avail), and living with the guitar a while, Its as good as any 1 to 1.5k Paul I've played, and I paid a fraction of that. For what its worth it has "Made in Japan" electronics and the pickups appear identical to the serial numbered O's. There's probably truth to the story that they tried shipping necks/bodies/electronics to Korea for assembly and finish work for a while.

    But I liked the guys "call Gibson, they'll tell you" story. That may work for him...
     
  6. Todd Lynch

    Todd Lynch Member

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    This info is from the link I posted above:

    Yes, there were some Orvilles made in Korea to fill the demand for cheap models. There were not many of
    these made, but they do exist and be careful, the craftsmanship is NOT the same on these. The serial
    numbering would follow the same pattern as in my chart, but the numbers were printed on a sticker that was
    applied to the back of the headstock. If you see an Orville model with no serial number, chances are it was
    made in Korea and the owner removed the sticker.
    After 1993, Gibson changed the Orville logo to “Epiphone” Japan, but the guitars were essentially the same,
    with the Epiphones having the same Gibson headstock design. These didn’t last. Gibson gave up on this all
    together after a short stint and mandated that the Epiphones have the Epiphone headstock shape.
    Today, these Orvilles and Orville by Gibsons are extremely rare, and unfortunately, are becoming as
    expensive as the real Gibsons themselves, due to collector interest. They are of equal quality in most cases
    and much more rare than their USA counterparts
     
  7. whitehall

    whitehall Member

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    My understanding was that Orville production stopped in 96/97. Remember that most of these Japanese "experts" are no more than teenagers with websites. None of them have a return policy and they know they can sell anything they want to the Gaijin (us) and there's not a whole lot you're gonna do about it. 99% of the people in America could not tell a Greco from an Orville from a Tokai. In Japan there is an area called Ochanomizu where dozens of music stores sell 100's of different used correct headstock Gibson looking LP copies. They are made of any and all different types of material and run from almost nothing to whatever you want to spend. Headstock decals are as easy to get there as they are here.
     
  8. 1-Take-Wonder

    1-Take-Wonder Member

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    I bought this guitar from an American who was probably clueless, so he unwittingly duped me by telling me it was serial numbered, japanese made, long tenon, blah blah...maybe he knew, but its not worth the energy.

    Interesting perspective on the Japanese though, I have a japanese neighbor who I discussed the guitar importing idea with. Her opinion was that the average japanese seller on a given auction was probably more honest than the typical American based on cultural differences, honor, respect, etc...certainly bad apples everywhere and of course she's japanese so a clear bias, but I'm kinda inclined to agree with her based on past experience with other people from Japan??? thoughts?
     
  9. whitehall

    whitehall Member

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    Well remember, not everyone in Japan is Japanese... And it really is an almost perfect con. The people buying them want to believe they are getting $400 Gibson guitars, you know, they just have a different decal on them.... And since they generally don't have a bunch of Gibsons at home it works. You take a $200 Asshat guitar and put a Greco decal on it.Sell it on ebay to the Americans for $500. And don't forget the $125 shipping. And if it's bad what are they gonna do ? spend another $125 to ship it back ? Look at the current crop of bootleg MIK Tokai's with their plastic peel off serial #. What is the purpose of that nonsense ? The one that floors me is the letter on the Tokai forum from the president of Tokai commenting on the fake MIK models going thru Canada... On the other hand why is it the Japanese are absolutley rabid for American guitars ? Go to any vintage show and you'll see. I don't think Japanese guitars will ever attain vintage prices simply because they are just too hard to authenticate. And the US vintage dealers have known this all along, else they would have jumped in that market long ago. It's just the way Asian guitars have always been made. A handful of factories make 100's of different brands.
     
  10. 1-Take-Wonder

    1-Take-Wonder Member

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    ...but if all you're looking for is a well made classic design, its hard to beat, at least on my limited experience with japanese models, all the BS notwithstanding...I don't care much about what vintage dealers do, and do not go for. The vintage market and the players market do not share many goals in terms of what they buy...witness the tiger stripes versus the plain tops. I think its funny that guys who'll pay 5, 10, 20 grand for a guitar will concede its mostly about the flame and little to do with the sound. this is basically an art collection, not musical instruments, which is fine....but its why I explore other venues.
     
  11. whitehall

    whitehall Member

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    I have a very limited OBG that I love. And the Tokai LS90F was a favorite of mine for a long time, but I love them for what they are, not what they were hyped as being.
     
  12. AlexF

    AlexF Member

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    Blimey there's a can of worms... firstly check out the prices of some of the early top spec Tokais - right up there in the mid one thousands, I call that a vintage price! Secondly, I would be extremely loathed to buy ANY vintage Fender (or even Gibbo come to that), there are so many fantastic fakes and replicas out there. Every original feature is known, every one is replicable, and VERY convincingly so. If you dont believe me, just look how many 'original' custom colour strats have been sold over the last 10 years, then look at how many were actually made. Now which would be a safer buy, a 'vintage' copy or a vintage strat??
    Al
     
  13. 1-Take-Wonder

    1-Take-Wonder Member

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    I suppose in some circles. The way I see it, That's basically the price of entry for any American-made Les Paul.

    I'm guessing Whitehall (I love speaking for people) is thinking more fifties/sixties Paul pricing which is ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE more than that.

    Tens of thousands of dollars change hands over fifties/sixties LPs. Aren't the most pristine museum quality pieces closing in on $100k now?? maybe more? I don't really know, as I'm a player, not a collector.

    I fully expect Japanese guitars to appreciate, but I agree that they will probably never achieve parity with American-made counterparts.
     
  14. AlexF

    AlexF Member

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    Good and fair comment 1 Take, but remember its all about availability too, so few bursts were made, where there were probably thousands more Tokais, and they were a fraction of the price new too, so the escalation is quite amazing and definitely of 'vintage' proportions...
    Al
     
  15. whitehall

    whitehall Member

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    Well put 1 take and isn't there a famous quote someplace from George Gruhn where he states there are more 50's strats now then there were in the 50's ? And yes by vintage I meant 5-6 figure guitars.
     
  16. Guitardave

    Guitardave Member

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    I'm really skeptical of the whole vintage hype....it's gotten to the point where you need to be an expert to detect what's real. I've had several reasonably vintage (early 70's) guitars and honestly the newer stuff has been better with one or two exceptions.

    I'm wondering if 50 years from now my $150 slabneck Chinese Squire strat is going to fetch $15k. It's a great playing and decent sounding guitar....and each one varies quite a bit from guitar to guitar - alot like old Fenders.
     
  17. 1-Take-Wonder

    1-Take-Wonder Member

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    I believe its the same article where he talked about the racks full he had in the early 70's that he couldn't get $200 for...until Clapton walked in and took a few and sent some to his friends...

    If a guy can do a convincing relic on the up and up, I'm sure he can do a few on the down low as well...:eek:
     
  18. fiftywatt

    fiftywatt Member

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    I think the K sticker Orvilles are definitely Korean, according to the informal research I've done. There are Korean made Grecos from the early to mid 90s as well. They usually have no serial number (like the Orville's after the sticker is removed) and painted black pickup cavities. The Korean Grecos are also easy to spot because they have a clunky looking headstock inlay too. The Korean Grecos I've seen pics of still have the long neck tenon, but the Korean Orville's seem to have a short tenon.
    Its a real buyer beware kind of thing. If you get into these guitars and study enough photographs (and face to face examples) you will be able to spot the good ones quickly. The true Japanese "Lester replicas" with long neck tenons can be great guitars if you shop carefully. See example below:

    [​IMG]
     
  19. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    Because info is hard to come by for the Orvilles rumors abound.
    I'll list some Orville facts and then you can make up your own minds.

    The K serial number Orvilles don't follow the same format as the usual serial numbers.
    The K serial number Orvilles don't have any year info in their serials it is just a production number whereas the usual Orville serial number does have year info.
    There are no Korean guitar makers using the letter K for any serial number.
    Some Epiphone Japan Elites made in the same place as the Orvilles have sticker serial numbers that can come off.
    The Orville serial number dates go from 1988 to 1998 and then the Epiphone Japan Elites were made.
    Basically the Epiphone Japan Elites are Orvilles with a change of name.
    The K serial number Orvilles use made in Japan tuners etc.
    My K serial number Orville SG has a long tenon neck joint so some K serial number Orvilles definately use a long tenon neck joint.
    Some of the usual serial number Orvilles and even the "Orville by Gibson" models don't have a long tenon neck joint athough most of the "Orville by Gibson" models do have the long tenon neck joint.

    My theory is that the K serial number Orvilles are made in Japan and might be seconds with minor flaws or leftover stock from the Orville/Epiphone Japan changeover.

    Seeing that the Orvilles are for the Japanese market only, I don't know how much cheaper it would be to make them in Korea and then import them into Japan rather than just making them locally in Japan.

    Importing a Korean guitar into the states is cheaper than importing a Japanese guitar but the Orvilles would be imported from Korea to Japan which is a bit different.

    I really can't see much difference at all when I compare my K serial Orville SG and a usual serial Orville SG.
     

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