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GuitarPedia + Orville / Orville by Gibson / Epiphone :
Hi! A warm welcome to you. It is our pleasure to share these information. However, because there are no official history on these companies, they are written to the best of our knowledge and experience. We too are learning as we progress and would ask for you to use these information at your own discretion.

If you know of additional information or any errors, please help us as well as others reading from our site by writing in to us.

Background of Orville

Orville if you do not already know is the name of the founder of Gibson. Orville started in 1988. When Gibson saw that they had the potential to make copies like that others that started the Fender copies, they followed Fender's foot steps in commissioning them to make lower, more affordable grades of Gibson. Their factory was located in the FujiGenGakki plant along side many other famous Japanese brands.

Orville actually carries 2 different names. One is just the word Orville and the other is Orville by Gibson. So the million dollar question anyone would ask is - what is the difference??

Quality difference between Orville and Gibson

As far as everything under the sun is concern, they are both the same. The one and only difference is that Orville uses Japanese made pickups, where as Orville by Gibson uses original Gibson USA PAF 57 Classics pickups. However, there are some out there that claims Orville by Gibson also uses original Gibson hardware like bridge, tailpiece etc.

These are excellent axes. There are many out there who believe that they match the quality of Gibson or even surpass their standards. So, when Gibson wanted them to make "lower" grades of Gibson guitars, it was actually a benefit to those who cannot afford the originals and those who do not care about brand names or logo.

Orville necks are slimmer than their lawsuit counterparts. Their neck width is somewhere between '59 and '60 or like a slim '60 neck. There is no chunky neck among them.


Through the serial number, you can find out the production year and month of the guitar. This is done using the serial numbering method. Some of the Orville by Gibson have a letter beginning the serial number which correspond to the month of production, i.e, A : January, B : February, C : March etc. But again, not all their guitars have such serialization. There are some known to have serial numbers consisting of 5 digits. There are believed to be reissue models - the same way Gibson serialize their reissues.

The first digit corresponds to the year of that decade that it was made. So the problem arises when you try to identify guitars made in 88 and 98 because both would have serial starting with 8. However, with some experience, the difference can be told through a close examination of the aged guitar.

You probably would like to note that in the mid 90's some guitars were actually made in Korea. Many believe it to be the year 1996. These are identified by the letter "K" that starts on their serial numbers. The other thing about these Korean made Orvilles are that the serial numbers are in sticker form. Hence if you find an Orville with no serial number, it is likely a Korean made with the serial sticker removed.

It is believe that there are differences in quality between a Japanese and Korean made model. But to each his own.

Epiphone takes over

Subsequently, in the later part of the 90's Gibson stopped commissioning Orville to make lower grades guitar and started Epiphone. In this season, all knowledge and skill of making these copies were transferred from Orville to the guys in Epi.

Epiphone quality management was just as superb as Orville in the early stages, however this control began to decline at the later part. The early Epiphones (identified by the exact Gibson headstock design) are great, however I feel Epi of today (their own headstock) does not come close to Orville's Standard. My advice is to get an Orville if you can afford or find a piece.

The guitar market is treating the Orville brand as a collector's item. These guitars are rare and it's price are escalating due to collector's interest. Don't be surprised if you find them close to the price of a Gibson.