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Japanese Serials (to be or not to be that is the question)

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Guitar God

Joined: 23 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:58 am    Post subject: Japanese Serials (to be or not to be that is the question) Reply with quote

Out of all the classic 1980s and early 1990s Japanese guitar brands that have no serials I can only see one instance of no serial guitars being made in Korea. There are Tokai Japanese made Grecos with no serial numbers and there are Fujigen Japanese made Burnys with no serials and there are Terada Japanese made Orvilles with no serials. There is only one instance of no serial Japanese brand guitars made in Korea and that is the no serial Grecos made by Cor-Tek (Cort). So the Japanese made no serial guitars win 3 to 1 over the Korean made no serial guitars. I know that Samick and Cor-Tek (Cort) made Korean guitars in the late 1980s with no serials but by the early 1990's Samick and Cor-Tek (Cort) were using serial numbers.

This is where all the confusion and BS comes from. Because some Korean guitar makers didn't use serial numbers in the late 1980s (but by the early 1990s were using serial numbers) then any Japanese brand guitars with no serial numbers are looked on as being Korean. It can't be done that easy (Dumb easy way out). You just can't lump all no serial guitars into one box, each no serial line of guitars have to be taken as individual cases.

The K Orvilles were made when only Terada were making all of the early OBG's and Orvilles (1989-1993). The K Orvilles were sold as low priced entry level guitars around 75,000 Yen and less and when only one guitar factory is making all the guitars, serial numbers don't have to be used. The OBG's and the Orville EB-3 Bass were priced at 90,000 Yen and over and were given serial numbers just like the Gibson's as the OBG's and EB-3's were the top line models. Terada just didn't give the lower K Orville models serials because they didn't have to as the Orvilles were not the main priority in the early years and the main priorities were the OBG's and Orville EB-3's, so when Yamano released a K Orville for sale to a music shop, Yamano dated the K Orville with the feared K sticker for warranty dating.

When Fujigen joins in with Terada in late 1992, Fujigen start making most of the Orvilles from 1993 and it just so happens that Fujigen use serial numbers on the Orvilles they make because now there are 2 guitar factories, Fujigen and Terada that can make the same model and serial number letters have to be used for factory ID's on the Orvilles with Terada using a J letter for the Orvilles they make (after the K Orvilles end in 1993) and Fujigen using no letter at all. In the early years (1988-1995) Terada used a G letter for the OBG's and Orville EB-3 basses up until the OBG's finish in 1995 and from then on Terada uses a J letter for Orvilles only.

With the no serial Tokai made Grecos and no serial Fujigen and Matsumoku made Burnys I suppose Kanda Shokai and Fernandes just left it up to Tokai and Fujigen and Matsumoku to decide whether to use serial numbers as with Yamano leaving it up to Terada to decide on serials for the Orvilles. When 2 or more Japanese (or Korean or Chinese) guitar factories are making the same guitars then serial number letter codes are usually used like in the Ibanez's, Epiphones, and the Orvilles after late 1992. Tokai and Cor-tek made Grecos in the late 1980s without serials at the same time but they were not making the same Greco models.

Serial numbers on Japanese guitars are a mixed bag. In the early 1970s most Japanese guitar factories didn't use serials then in the mid 1970s they started using serials but then you have things like 1977 Grecos made by Fujigen with a Silver sticker serial number. Matsumoku and Fujigen didn't use headstock serial numbers on most of the Burnys they made and Tokai didn't use serial numbers on the Grecos they made. Serial numbering has never been consistent on Japanese made guitars.
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