Preliminary . MIJ . FAQ

reborn old

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Jul 24, 2010
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MIJ FAQ : Bacchus, Burny, ESP, Greco, Orville, Tokai

Thread Links :

Detailed info + pics, for MIJ makes:
Burny - Fernandes:
ESP Edwards - Navigator:
Orville - Epi:

MIJ - Les Paul pics thread:


General guidelines that apply to most MIJ manufacturers and models:

1- MIJ Les Pauls can be dated from first digit(s) of serial numbers.
Google your MIJ Brand + "Wikipedia" for serial dating specifics.
2- MIJ models have always been based on sales prices at the time of manufacture,
so a 1978 -1984 Tokai LS-100 cost 100,000 y, 1982-1989 Burny RLG-90 cost 90,000 y etc.

FEB = fret edge binding
LP = Les Paul
MIJ = Made in Japan
MIC = Made in China
MIK = Made in Korea
TRC = truss rod cover


How can I differentiate Korean, Chinese or "fake" Les Pauls from MIJ Les Pauls ?
Most fakes are of Chinese origin. Some spotting tips for guitars not made in Japan include:
1- Three (or one) screw TRC's instead of the standard two screw MIJ TRC.
(exceptions to this include some ESP LP's with 1 screw TRC's and early '70s Matsumoku 3 screw TRC Grecos)
2- White rear cavity covers: MIJ Les Pauls all have black rear cavity covers.
(exceptions to this again include some ESP LP's and early '70s Matsumoku Grecos
with white covers )
3-Different headstock shape or center dimple: Open book headstock indicate a MIJ Les Paul for the Japan market. Center dimple headstocks or different headstock shapes were commonly used on export models and Korean manufactured Tokais.
4- Square nut cross section: Original MIJ nuts all have a 15* slope angle towards the headstock side,
while Korean and Chinese brands often have square, non sloped, nut cross sections
5- Bolt on necks: MIJ models featured below, have set necks. Notable exceptions are the 1999 LS-55 MIJ Tokai with a bolt on neck which had a set neck before and after 1999).
Many Aria Pro II, Yamaha, Ibanez and Matsumoku made MIJ Les Pauls all have bolt on necks with "MIJ" imprints on the neck bolt covers.
6-Larger Bridge support posts: This may be difficult to spot in low resolution pics, but Korean + Chinese thumb screws are typically a mm or two thicker than Japanese made thumbscrews.
7-Neck scarf joints: Any 45* angled joint in the neck between the guitar body and headstock (commonly referred to as a scarf joint) is an indication of a Korean or made in china Les Paul.
MIJ necks are all one piece (not counting the ear pieces outboard of the tuners or neck heels on Grecos, Burnys and 1990's+ Tokais )
8-Dime sized pots in control cavity: MIJ pots are close to quarter size while Korean or Chinese pots are often lower grade penny or dime sized pots
9-Monotone headstock inlays (or suspicious border finish around inlay).MIJ brands below feature pearloid brand name headstock inlays that shimmer when viewed at different angles. They are usually seamless so borders or raised edges around an inlay may point to tampering or a sloppy refinish.
10- No serial number: Except for 1982+ Burny's, MIJ models in this FAQ feature stamped or inked serial numbers on headstock backs just above top tuners. No serial #'s or use of letters in MIJ models that never used letters, are an indication of a made in Korea or made in China model. Some MIK models have serial # decals.
11- Headstock logos: vary from legitimate logos or silkscreening. This usually involves keeping legitimate high resolution headstock pics handy for the brand in question. Google image search will usually have examples. There are small variations in MIJ headstock art and placement year to year, but when there are a number of marked differences in font type, size or placement it should raise flags to look for other differences stated above.
12-Use of other body woods: basswood or other back or neck woods may indicate a MIK or MIC manufacture (including but not limited to: Tokai ALS models, ESP Grassroots). MIJ models used mahogany back and necks. Exceptions include Greco late 70's EG 700 to 900 models featuring Norlin pankake bodies and maple necks and KOA top Custom Shop models from various makers. (Many Custom models feature Mahogany tops.)

What is the best MIJ Les Paul that I can buy for $ X00.00 dollars ?
Depending on your budget, price based model numbers will be your best guide to choices available to you.
Each of the listed makes are fundamentally quality Les Paul copies, but depending on what is important to you, some may be better choices for you than others. This is where researching your choices becomes very important.
IE- if long tenons are important, a Greco Mint Collection or Late model MIJ LP will offer the best selection.
If one piece backs are more important, Tokai / Bacchus / Navigator mid to premium models will offer the best selection.

How can I be sure an internet ordered MIJ LP will be good ?
It is generally agreed that it's better, where possible, to audition a guitar live rather than buy sight unseen.
There is always an element of risk buying online, but if the price is relatively low and you research the model and make thoroughly, in order to minimize surprises based on misinformation,the element of risk is significantly reduced.
There is a good chance the guitar will be what you expected because MIJ craftmanship was reasonably consistent for the brands listed below.

What does the letter in my serial number mean ?
1970's Grecos and later Greco EG Custom models often used a letter prefix denoting the month of manufacture:
ie- A=January B=February ....alphabetically to.... K=November L=December
F prefix Tokais are made in Korea, C prefix Tokais are made in China.
Terrada Orvilles + OBG have G, K or L letter prefixes. Orville J prefixes are made in China.

Why do model numbers change from year to year?
Because models numbers are generally based on values, some manufacturers began making model numbers larger to reflect increased production costs associated with inflation and resulting sales prices. Tokai began this practice in 1985 and still does this today. It becomes very confusing in later years.
Other companies used cost cutting measures like eliminating certain features to hold the line on costs and sales prices.
Fret edge binding was only available on Greco Premium models after 1983, as an example.

Why is my headstock different from the "open book" Les Paul design ?
This is one of the most common practices by MIJ manufacturers to stay within the bounds of
copyright infringement laws along with different headstock silkscreen art that looks very similar to
"Les Paul" script from a distance, including: "Luper Prade" (Burny "Super Grade"),
"Super Real" (Greco), "Love Rock" (Tokai), "Live Road" (Bacchus)
Fujigen was licensed by Gibson to use "Les Paul" and "by Gibson" on ObG headstocks.
These different headstocks shapes are common on export models and models made in Korea.

Where was my LP made ?
These were/are the main Japanese factories producing the majority of MIJ models:
Asuka (Aska): Bacchus 1994+
Cort, Cor-Tek: (Korea) Greco 1988-199? "no serial" models, Ibanez
Dyna Gakki: Greco, Ibanez
ESP: Custom shop, N-LP 280, 380, 480, Kyoto Japan,
LTD-1000, LTD-400, Grassroots, ESP Korean factories,
LTD 250 and lower models - ESP Indonesian factories
Fujigen Gakki: Ibanez, Greco 1979-1991, ObG 1992-98, Epiphone Japan 1998+, Yamaha , Fender Japan 1981-1997 (1st CNC LP's in 1981)
Hoshino Gakki: Ibanez
Kasuga: Heerby closed early/mid 1990s.
Ida (Lida) Gakki: Ibanez, Peerless factory, Korea.
Nippon Gakki: Yamaha , Aria , Norlin
Matsumoku: (Matsumoto Mokkou) Aria, Burny (1982-86 RLG-150, 120, 90 models), Epiphone1970 - 86, Greco 1970's, Tokai (1980 + 1981 inkies),Westminster, (1st CNC LP's in early '70s)*, Plant closed in 1987
Terrada: Orville + ObG (199x - 199x K, L, J serial), Burny (1980-81 FLG-240,150, 90 models) Higashiku factory, Kanie factory + Shirakawa factory
Tokai Gakki: Tokai, Burny FLG (1978),Greco EGC 198?, Grandy (1984-86), Fender Japan, (1st CNC LP's in 1982)*

*Japanese CNC manufacturing accounted for 40% of the guitar making process, 60% of the guitar making process
was still done by hand including planing, fretting, joining, and assembly.

MIJ models and features:

Bacchus - Momose - Deviser

BLS-56-Ltd Ed GT: no tunematic bridge,
BLP-59-Live Road Brian (MIK):
BLP-59-Live Road Duke: oiled finish
BLS-59-120 Gold Top:
BLS-59-120 Lemon Drop:

BLP Classic STD H : Laquer finish, Pups: BHV-A5(F).BHH(R)
BLP-STD-M : Mini Humbucker
BLP-STD-FM : Flamed Maple with 1 piece back
BLP-STD-S : P90 style pickup, also comes with Bigsby
BLP-CTM : Custom, Pups: BHV-A5(F).BHH(R) (avail w 3 pups also)
BLP-SP : Special,
BLP-SPDC : Special Double Cut

Burny - Fernandes

FLC - FLG 1975 -1981 "Les Paul model" script

FLC-85 : Custom,
FLC-100: 3 piece back, 2 piece top - center seam, FEB, volute,

FLG-70 :
plain top, CS, BS, GT finishes
FLG-75 : plain top, BL (black) finishes
FLG-80 : plain top, VG, VBS, VCS finishes
FLG-90 : plain top, VOS, VOBS finishes
FLG-100: plain top
FLG-120: plain top
FLG-140: plain top, 1 piece back, plain top, nitro ,

FLG-90 : 1 piece back , thin veneer flame top, L8001 pups
FLG-150: 1 piece back , 3/8" thick flame top cap, FEB, nitro finish, SD SH1 pups
FLG-180: 1 piece back, thicker flame top cap, FEB, nitro finish, SD SH1 pups
FLG-240: 1 piece back, solid flame top, FEB, nitro finish, SD SH1 pups

RLC - RLG 1982 - date , no headstock serial #, "Super Grade" script

RLC-60-70-80: Custom, 2 piece solid top , poly finish , BB, CS, BS finishes

RLG-50: 2 piece solid plain top , FEB, poly finish
RLG-60: '56 edition GT, p-90 pups , FEB, poly finish
RLG-90: veneer center seam, FEB, poly finish,
RLG-120: 1 piece back, 3/8" thick flame top cap, FEB, nitro finish
RLG-150: 1 piece back, thicker flame top cap, FEB, nitro finish

ESP-Edwards *

E-LP70: Two piece back, solid tops, some w double ring tuners
E-LP-85 SD: (now ELP-92) poly
E-LP-90LTS: (now ELP-98) laquer over poly

E-LP-112/124: basic lacquer, SD1 + SD5 pups
E-LP-124/132: super circuit, lacquer, SD1 + SD5 pups
Pure Material : Ltd Ed flame top, 30 prod per year

*ESP Edwards guitars are manufactured in China,
an quality control inspected by Japanese inspectors.


198? - 200?
LPS 140 G: Gold top Standard

2000 - Date
N-LP-380LTD: replaces the N-LP 280 around 2005, 1pc backs, SD pups
N-LP-480LTD: AA solid flame tops, 1pc Brazilian backs, SD pups
N-LP-580LTD: AAA solid flame tops, 1pc Brazilian backs, SD pups

N-LP-380CTM: Custom
N-LP-400CTM: Custom
N-LP-480CTM: Custom


1971 - 1975 "Gneco" headstock logo. Early '70s Greco LP's had 3 screw TRC's

1975 - 1981 "Greco" headstock logo + closed "O" in Greco

EG-380 - EG 480: Chambered body, UD pickups, multi piece back
EG-500: 3 piece top 1980-81, multi piece back, U-1000 pickups
EG-500 C: Custom, 2 piece top, multipiece back, UD pickups
EG-700: Norlin sandwich type bodies, maple necks + large Head stocks, U-2000 pickups
EG-800: Norlin sandwich type bodies, maple necks + large Head stocks, PU-2 pickups
EG-900: Norlin sandwich type bodies, maple necks + large Head stocks, Dimarzio PAF pickups

EGC-900: Dimarzio PAF pickups

Super Real Series EGF late 1979 to early 82 * "Super Real" headstock script

*1982 transition Super Reals: Super Real heastock script, but have Mint Collection model attributes incl long tenons.

EG1000 C: Custom, Dry Z pickups, ebony board

EGF-850 : PU-2 pickups, some Brazilian fret boards, 1980 only
EGF-1000: Dimarzio pickups, Brazilian fret boards 1979-1980 only,
EGF-1200: Dry Z pickups, Brazilian fret board,
EGF-1800: Dry Z pickups, Brazilian fret board,
All models feature FEB, nitro finish,
EGF-1800 is solid flame topped special order models, center seam 2pc back, few 1 pc backs, lower SR models are veneer tops.
EGF-2500 solid Quilt tops, limited special orders in 1980 only, dry Z.

EGF-1200 only model with honey burst finish + usually the fattest ('58 profile) necks of all LP replica's.

Mint Collection. 1982-1995 open O in "Greco" until mid 1991, no headstock script (except 1982 Super Real).

All feature a long neck tenon, rectangular bell TRC
Models EG59-85 upward, have Nitro finishes.
1982 (and many 1983) models have FEB.
The middle two (xx) numbers in Mint Collection model numbers designate the LP year featured and similar neck profiles,
with 56-58 being thickest and 60 being smallest. Middle numbers include 57,58,59,60, and 68 for Customs only.
EG-xx-450: chambered body , Screamin pickups
EG-xx-500: 3 piece solid top 1980-82, heel cap, Screamin pickups
EG-xx-600: GT Hot Lick (P-90) or minibucker pickups
EG-xx-650: laminate flametop, Screamin pickups
EG-xx-700: 2 piece top, mild flame, no heel cap, Screamin pickups
EG-xx-850: laminate flametop, Double Trick pickups, CS finish
EG-xx-1000: laminate flametop, DRY-1982 pickups
EG-xx-1200: laminate flametop, DRY-1982 pickups and 50's style necks, some of the EG58-120's
EG-xx-1800: solid flametop, DRY-1982 pickups
EG-59-2400: rare limited editions,feature solid flametops, fatter flamed maple necks, gold hardware, ebony fretboards..

EG-68-800 C - Wine top Tobacco burst, Double Trick pickups
EG-1000D 1989-91 Seymour Duncan pickups.

From 1988-1990 Greco licensed Cort (Korea) to produce no headstock serial # EG models, featuring black plastic fret boards,
angled end (rather than squared end) cavity routs, squared nuts + TRC area bevels.
In mid 1991 Greco returned to the closed O on most Mint Collection models.

Orville - ObG - Epiphone (Japan)

Orville by Gibson, and Orville produced at Fujigen Gakki and Terada.
Fujigen serial #'s are either 5 digit (with a blank after the 1st digit) or 6 digit numeric.
Terada have the same 5 or 6 digit format preceded by the letter G
(and a hyphen instead of a space with 5 number serials.)
The 1st number signifies the year, (the next 2 the month for 6 digit #'s only),
followed by the serial # ie-, y xxxx,, G.y-xxxx

Orville by Gibson - Manufactured for Gibson by
Fujigen - models featured long tenons.
Terrada - models mostly featured medium tenons and G, K or L serial number prefixes

ObG LP Reissues (LPR ) late 1992 to early 1995
- Gibson USA wiring, controls and pickups, nitro finishes, blank TRC, FEB,
Rare, ObG RI flametops are rarer still.

ObG LP Standard (LPS) 1988-1993, no FEB "Standard" on the truss rod cover, but are otherwise identical to the ObG reissues.

ObG flametops are usually laminate, with only a few solid flametop examples (LPS-FM).

Orville - Japanese electrics and Orville P.A.F pickups, they are finished in poly, not nitro, some Orvilles had Photo-flametops,all looked the same.

In early 1995, Orville by Gibson was discontinued, and in 1998 Orvilles were rebranded as Epiphone by Gibson (Japan).
These were only produced for 2 years up to year 2000,
Japanese Epiphones are identical to Orville's but with an Epi headstock inlay.
There were no replacements for the Orville by Gibson models.
J serial Orvilles are made in China


All Japan made models have 7 digit numeric serial numbers. with the 1st number(s) indicating model year.
There are 3 different headstock scripts:
"Les Paul Reborn" - 1978-early 1980
"Reborn Old" - early to late 1980
"Love Rock" - late 1980 to Date

There are 3 different TRC styles:
Bell shaped TRC - 1978-1980 (some re-appeared in 1983-1984)
Pointed Bell TRC - 1981 - mid 1998
Arch shaped TRC - mid 1998 - date

LC-60: 2 piece top,2 piece back, poly finish

LS-50: 3 piece top, multi piece back, poly finish
LS-60: 2 piece top,2 piece back, poly finish

LS-80: Gotoh 57 PAF pickups
LS-100: dimarzio pickups
LS-120: veneer flametop
LS-150: solid flametop
LS-200: special order model

All LS-80 - LS-200 models feature nitro finish, 1 piece backs, 18* heastock angle, FEB to 1983
Tokai models did not begin using inflation corrected higher model numbers until the LS-55 in 1985.
LS-70 GT + LS-75 GT limited edition models were introduced in 1981

1986 - present

Models below LS-92 are no longer made in Japan.
ALS prefix models are made in China (ALS-47, ALS-48, ALS-53 etc)
current MIJ models:
LS-92: plain top, 2 piece back, long tenon, poly finish
LS-98: veneer flame top, 2 piece back, long tenon, poly finish
LS-140 F:veneer flame top, 2 piece back, long tenon, lacquer
LS-160: plain top, 1 piece back, long tenon, US electrics, lacquer
LS-165 S: GT, P-90s, 1 piece back, long tenon, US electrics, lacquer
LS-260: solid flame top, 1 piece back, long tenon, US electrics, lacquer
LS-420: LS-260 specs but with Brazilian fret board, higher grade flame top
LS-540: LS-420 specs with Brazilian back + premium flame top

LC-98: Wine red + BB finish, 2 piece back, long tenon, poly
LC-195 S: BB,ebony fretboard, 1 piece back, long tenon, US electrics, lacquer
LC-200: as above in Wine red finish


2010 and newer Greco and Burny models often have a "5" last digit in the model number, with models below xx-85 usually being made in China.

The biggest mistake I see first time buyers make over and over again, is buying based on how a top looks instead of based on guitar construction and how a guitar plays, sounds and feels, compared to other guitars. It becomes an impulsive emotional purchase instead of an informed logic based purchase. With so many choices out there, first time buyers can avoid a lot of mistakes by resisting initial impulse buy urges, getting all the info on makes and models within their budget, including reviews and informed opinions of other owners, and buying only after there are no questions left to ask. There is always another guitar that will appeal to you right around the corner. In many cases, spending a little more up front, will provide a lot more value, and reduce the need to spend more later (hardware upgrades etc, etc).

Thanks to : GammyBird, muccax, Ohjay, o0mobius0o, slapshot, tonebone + wulfman for their contributions to this FAQ thread.


Senior Member
Dec 23, 2010
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all the eg 500 with a solid top i have seen ,, has a 3 piece top
and all the eg 450 with chamberet body has a 2 piece top
greco from 1980-82 super power models :)

all the best

reborn old

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Jul 24, 2010
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Thanks Otto, :)
I've changed this, and will check earlier catalogs too.
Unfortunately, I don't have 1982 + catalogs,


Senior Member
Mar 14, 2011
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How do we get this thread to be sticky-ed?


Senior Member
Aug 21, 2010
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from Side Story of Japanese Vintage Guitars

reborn old

Senior Member
Jul 24, 2010
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Nice find ! Time line aspect is much more intuitive than a list. Thanks .. :)


Senior Member
Aug 21, 2010
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i dunno how accurate it is or the years but ya know... just something to look at
what chance would there be for interested people to be assigned a particular guitar to take detailed photos of?I know it's a long shot & asking for trouble but it would help
For example at the moment the flg-140 is in disassembly mode


Senior Member
Oct 13, 2007
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J serial Orvilles are made in China

The J serial Orvilles are Terada made and Terada started using the J letter after the Orville by Gibsons stopped in 1995.

The G letter was used for the Terada made Orville by Gibsons and when they stopped in 1995, Terada went to the J letter and there were only Orville models from when the Orville by Gibson stopped in 1995 to when the Orvilles stopped in 1998.

The J letter was also used for a while on the Terada made Epiphone Japan guitars just after the Orvilles were stopped and then Terada eventually went to a T letter for the Epiphone Japan guitars.

So Terada stuck with the J letter for the late Orvilles and early Epiphone Japan guitars.


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Oct 15, 2010
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DC you seem to be a wealth of information, do you have any info on late 70s early 80s Navigator serial numbers format?

reborn old

Senior Member
Jul 24, 2010
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The J serial Orvilles are Terada made and Terada started using the J letter after the Orville by Gibsons stopped in 1995.
... So Terada stuck with the J letter for the late Orvilles and early Epiphone Japan guitars.

Seems I had J and L Orville serial prefix info reversed.
I will have this edited in the final draft
Thanks for spotting this and J prefix production dates doublecut. :)
A good memory aid for prefix letters is:
G= Gibson pickups (ObG), J= Japan pickups (Orville).

I will leave out the J Epi serial # prefix info for the time being.
All the Epi Japan serial #'s I've seen so far, have an F prefix.
Earlier ones may very well have had a J or T prefixes however. :)


Senior Member
Oct 13, 2007
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The early Epiphone Japan serials are the same as the later Orvilles with no letter being Fujigen and a J letter being Terada.

For the later Epiphone Japan serials, Fujigen started using a F letter and at the same time Terada started using a T letter.

It can get a bit confusing with all the chopping and changing of serials but there were reasons for it as older models stopped or newer model lines started and Fujigen and Terada had to ID themselves by the serial number letter or using no letter at all, as Terada and Fujigen were often making the same model guitar.

For the early Orville by Gibsons from 1988-1992 there was only Terada making them and I suppose Terada used a G letter just in case another guitar factory entered into making Orville by Gibsons which happened in 1992 when Fujigen joined in and used a no letter serial.

The early Orvilles from 1989 to 1992/3 were not as important as the Orville by Gibsons and were just left unserialized by Terada (the K Orvilles) and then Fujigen took over making the Orvilles in 1993 and used a no letter serial.

The Orvilles became more important over time and the Orville by Gibsons were eventually stopped.

When Terada got back to making some Orvilles after the Orville by Gibsons stopped in 1995, Terada started using a J letter for their Orvilles and Fujigen just kept using the no letter serial and this continued for the early Epiphone Japan serial numbers after the Orvilles were stopped and then for the later Epiphone Japan guitars Terada went to a T letter and Fujigen went to a F letter.

reborn old

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Jul 24, 2010
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Thanks again, I will add the Epi Japan info in the final draft.
(It's to late to edit this prelim draft and add you as a contributor.) :)


V.I.P. Member
Feb 13, 2009
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the bit about epiphone japan leaves out the LQ models. also, i seem to have a fujigen made burny rlg-90 :hmm:


V.I.P. Member
Feb 13, 2009
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it's an instant sticky as well, obviously. more information here than pretty much anywhere else!


Senior Member
Oct 4, 2011
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Greco EGF-850 Super Real..... Are made in 1979 as well even with Brazialian Boards

This one is from mid December 1979



Also here is an 1983 Greco EG58-120 wiuth stock DRY 82 pickups



reborn old

Senior Member
Jul 24, 2010
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I'll try to post an edited version this week + ask Alex if he would like to sticky it. Thanks everyone, for your contributions.

Greco EGF-850 Super Real..... Are made in 1979 as well even with Brazialian Boards

This one is from mid December 1979

Thanks Cliff,

I know for sure there were 1979 EGF-1000's with Braz boards but
the only EGF-850 I've actually ever seen with a Braz board is Wulfman's 1980 .
Other examples I've heard of were all 1980 models.

Do you believe the pictured 1979 EGF-850 has a Braz board ?
...unclear about this part of your post.

I'll edit the final draft so Braz board years won't confused with
EGF production years.

Love your Greco collection BTW. :)


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Nov 26, 2010
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Burny FLG-90s were not just one piece backs. I had one with a two piece center seam back.

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