Difference between early Tokai and Greco, Burny, Orville SGs

Tokai guitar discussion

Moderators: ian, ned

Post Reply
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Dec 08, 2002 2:51 pm

Difference between early Tokai and Greco, Burny, Orville SGs

Post by dwills » Tue Dec 10, 2002 12:34 pm

I love SG's.

I have known about Tokai for years. I have heard that the newer Korean made SG's are not as good as the older Japanese ones. Is this true?

I have recently become aware of Greco, Burny and Orville (by Gibson). I do know that Grecos predate Orvilles as they came from the same factory in Japan.

My questions are:

1) In terms of quality, which was better: Greco or Burny? What are the differences?

2) How do early Tokais compare to either of those brands?

3) How do early Orvilles campare to the Tokais Grecos and Burnys?

4) And finally: although there is much information about the Tokais and Orvilles online, I cannot find anything on the Grecos and Burnys. Is there a catalog somewhere? What materials did they make their guitars from? Were they "exact" copies of Gibsons (ex: solid mahogany bodies, rosewood boards, etc) or did certain models "cut corners"?

Any information would be greatly appreciated! Thank you. :D

Guitar God
Posts: 1191
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2001 6:00 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Post by ned » Tue Dec 10, 2002 8:04 pm

The Japanese Tokai's are overall better guitars. However, if you don't mind or actually enjoy modding your guitars (change pups, etc) then the Korean models are probably the bargain of a life time.

Can't answer your other questions but I'm dying to know the answer.


Peter Mac
Guitar God
Posts: 1191
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2001 6:00 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

Post by Peter Mac » Wed Dec 11, 2002 3:51 am

Hi Ned,

The "Burny" were made by Fernandes and they offered 2 models :
RSG-75 -63 and RSG-75 -69.
The 63 was a Type 1 LesPaul/SG and the 69 was a Type 2 SG (Angus)
Both had solid mahogany bodies, set neck, bound fingerboard, PAF replica pickups. They cost 75,000 yen.
Tokai only offered the TSG-60 which was the 1963 Type 1 replica and had all the same specs. The new Korean model (SG-35) is not made of mahogany whereas the Japanese SG-60's are.

hope this helps
Peter Mac

Posts: 39
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2002 6:00 pm
Location: Seattle, WA

Post by apmechling » Wed Dec 11, 2002 5:54 am

Okay, I may be of some assistance here. I started selling Tokais on eBay about a year ago and then slowly got turned on to other brands, like Greco, Burny, Orville, etc.

Well, in my opinion, no brand is better than the other. The reason I say this is because all of the early Japanese companies made SGs as well as other models of guitars on a number-quality-cost basis... Take Tokai for example, they made LS-50, LS-60, LS-75, LS-80, LS-100, LS-120, LS-150, LS-200, LS-320, LS-350 Les Pauls. :o So the lower the model number, the lower the quality, craftsmanship, parts, etc. Greco for sure used many different model numbers for their SGs, and you can find some that are just as good or better than most Tokais out there as far as craftsmanship goes. Now pickups are a different story, and I really can't comment on that. The pups in my Greco SGs sound great. Especially my Greco mahogany SG with P-90 pickups. That one rocks! It's my favorite. I sold all of my Tokai SGs when I got that one.

Another factor is that even new Japanese Tokais as well as the Korean models have evidence of cut corners, like on my LS-75Q I used to have. It had a 5-piece neck! :cry: You'd be hard-pressed to find even an older low-end LS-50 with more than a 1-piece neck with "wings."

Sorry to ramble on here, but I have been trying like mad to track down some early Greco catalogs, because they made every single replica on earth I swear. They made about 50 times more replica models than Tokai did, seriously. I'm even trying to get a Ron Wood Zemaitis early '80s Greco Z-3000 now, which will likely cost me $2,000 to get. Definitely worth it. Grecos are terribly under-rated in my opinion.

My SE-600 Super Sound Stratocaster is 2-piece bookmatched ash 2-tone SB and it kills most of my Tokai Springysounds in sound AND in craftsmanship.

I also found out recently through some research that Greco stopped making Stratocaster replicas in 1981 due to the possible "lawsuit" by Fender for ripping off their headstock and overall guitar designs... so Fender bought their Stratocaster line out and started Fender Japan in 1982. That's why you don't see Greco Strats dated past 1981. So Grecos are pre-Fender Japan guitars made by a lot of the same luthiers. I also have a mint 1981 Greco SE-600 '54 Reissue Strat and a mint 1982 Fender JV Series '54 Reissue Strat to compare and other than the logo on the headstock, they are really the same guitar.

So as far as SGs go, there are Grecos out there that'll blow your mind if you can get a hold of one, but Burny, I am no expert on other than knowing that I had a few ebony and Ivory SGs a while ago with craftsmanship that seemed a little more solid than the Tokai SGs. The necks seemed to have been set better on the Burnys for some reason.

Again, sorry to ramble on :lol: but I started as a Tokai fan (and still am) but have been turned on to a myrial of other great Japanese companies, many of which are still making guitars today.


Posts: 39
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2002 6:00 pm
Location: Seattle, WA

Post by apmechling » Wed Dec 11, 2002 5:57 am

Oh, BTW -

"Orville by Gibson" SGs are great quality and have Gibson USA pickups stock... the "Orville" line seemed to be very good quality, too, except that they had Japanese-made, Gibson-licensed pickups in them.

I'd rate Orville by Gibson up there with the best of what Tokai and Greco put out in the early '80s, excep Orville made guitars I think from the mid '80s to the early '90s.

Guitar God
Posts: 137
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2001 6:00 pm

Post by guitarboy » Wed Dec 11, 2002 11:13 am

Nice one AP

Do you have any constructional info on the Greco's etc??

Are the tops solid? I've seen a couple on ebay that looked like they were
solid flame?


Guitar God
Posts: 209
Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2002 9:19 am
Location: New Mexico

Post by tokaigeezer » Wed Dec 11, 2002 1:39 pm

For what this is worth:

Here is another explanation of the Greco/Hoshino/Fuji-Gen Gakki connection by Vintage Guitar columnist Michael Wright (as posted on www.ibanezcollectors.com bulletin board 6/25/01):


"To correct myself, Greco was NOT an Ibanez brand name in Japan. First of all, the company was Hoshino Gakki Ten. Their own primary brand name was Ibanez, however, they would put any brand a buyer wanted on their guitars. In 1955 Hoshino stopped selling guitars in Japan, concentrating on exports. They made their own electric guitars from 1962-1965; due to high labor costs they switched back to OEM vendors in 1966. In 1970 they began working with the Fuji-Gen Gakki factory, with whom they worked thereafter. Fuji-Gen made guitars for sale in Japan carrying the GRECO brand name. This belonged to Fuji-Gen and had nothing to do with Hoshino/Ibanez, except, of course, they were the same guitars as those made for Hoshino. Hoshino Hanbai was established in 1981 to again sell guitars in Japan. So, from 1955-1981, no Hoshino guitars were sold in Japan. Greco guitars were the brand of Fuji-Gen Gakki, Hoshino's main supplier but not owned by Hoshino."

Michael Wright writes a column for Vintage Guitar that explores off brands. I don't recall any articles on Greco per se, but you might be able to write him c/o the magazine, as he seems to have a bazillion catalogs of Japanese guitars. Has also written two volumes of "Guitar Stories"

In one of them I read (to my stupefaction) that the Bob Weir model Ibanez Professional (with the ornate Tree of Life vines) I had just weeks before traded in on a cheep Guild jazzer was only one of seven or eight exported to the USA :(

Oh well, can't keep everything and you sure cain't take it with you

hope this helps

Guitar God
Posts: 2431
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2001 6:00 pm
Location: Spain

Post by luis » Wed Dec 11, 2002 4:57 pm

I recently imported a black LPC EG-800 Greco from 1979(the high end Greco at the tine) and a black LPC Burny(Fernandes) no idea the model and dating(I supose an old one) and I got a 2000 Tokai LS-70.The Greco is a tipical 78 Gibson: sandwich body, 3 piece maple neck,volute,...It sounds really good.,it singsThe Burny weights more than the Greco,sounds fair,and it seems 3 pieces no sandwich body,the bridge and tune-o-matic are a llittle corroed, darker sounding.But The LS-70 is the best for me:2 pieces body,1 piece neck,better presence,better headstock shape,and better sound.That is my opinion.I will give it a try again in more detail in a few weeks trying a SD 59 pup on the neck.

Post Reply