acoustic guitars

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The Orpheum brand started in the late 19th century as American banjo company. In the 1930s Orpheum added acoustic guitars and other instruments to their line up, but the brand was discontinued during World War II. From the late 1940s to 1960s the Orpheum brand was owned by Maurice Lipsky Music Company Incorporated of New York who sold Orpheum electric and acoustic guitars as well as mandolins and banjos. At the start of the 1960s Orpheum ceased manufacture of American instruments and production was moved to Italy where Wandré made Orpheum branded Tri-Lam, Rock Oval and other guitars. From 1963 manufacture switched to Egmond, then from 1967-1968 Welson made a violin shaped Orpheum model.


Oriskany acoustic guitars were made by Curtis Rockwell and Johanna Mutti in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania from around 2000 to around 2008.


The Orville by Gibson brand was launched in 1988 when Yamano Gakki (Gibson's Japanese distributor) and Gibson decided to expand the Epiphone Japan model range to include solid body models. The Orville brand was used for these new solid body electric guitars, in honour of Gibson's founder Orville Gibson. These models were a step up from the Korean made Epiphone models but cheaper than the Gibson USA guitars. By 1992 the Orville range include electric, bass, acoustic and classical guitars. The Orville brand was discontinued in 1998, when the Epiphone range was epanded.

Source: Orville by Gibson catalogs 1988 - 1992.


Gibson made inexpensive Oriole branded tenor banjos in the 1920s. There were also a few Kalamazoo Oriole branded acoustic guitars made around 1940.

Source: Catch of the Day: 1940 Kalamazoo KGN-12 Oriole. Fretboard Journal. May, 2014

Hound Dog

The Original Hound Dog brand was founded in 1967 by Rudy and Emile Dopyera as a stop gap for the period 1967-1970 when the Doperya family did not have control of the Dobro brand name. The Dopyera family had invented the resophonic guitar back in 1928. Their Original Musical Instrument company (OMI) built Original Hound Dog branded resophonic guitars in Long Beach, California until they regained the Dobro brand name in 1970 and stopped using the Original Hound Dog brand. When Gibson bought Dobro in 1993 they resurrected the Hound Dog brand for a line of more affordable American and Chinese made resonator guitars.

Source: Gibson Hound Dog press release. Wednesday, November 6th, 2002.


Diego Grinfeld and Dan Orr founded Orfeld Guitars in 2016.  Diego Grinfeld began designing guitars in 2008, focusing on a composite electric guitar design - which he later patented. Dan Orr has been building musical gear since 2006 with an emphasis on guitar electronics, effect pedals and pre-amps.

Source: Orfeld Guitars website (18 October 2018)


Opus was a Harmony acoustic guitar brand. By the early 1970s as a budget guitar maker Harmony was suffering from competion from Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese imports. Mandell Kaplan became  president of Harmony and decided to upgrade the product line, as they could no longer compete in the budget guitar marketplace. The Opus brand was meant to be a move up-market and Opus guitars were hand crafted from good timber. Despite the quality of the Opus instruments, guitar buyers associated Harmony with budget instruments. Opus did not turn around the company's fortunes and Harmony ceased trading in 1976.  The Opus series included four models - all had select spruce tops, block inlaid rosewood fingerboards and Grover Rotomatic machine heads.

Star Fire

StarFire was a budget guitar brand of EKS Technology (Nagoya, Japan) for electric and bass guitars. More recently the StarFire brand has been used for budget acoustic guitars made in China by the Eikosha Musical Instrument Manufacturing Co Ltd for distribution in the UK. Neither is related to the Guild Starfire models.


Don Oriolo founded the Oriolo Guitar Company in 2010. Oriolo had worked in the music industry for most of his career as a musician, songwriter, producer and execuitve at music publishing companies. More recently Don has been the CEO of Felix the Cat Productions, Inc (his father is cartoonist Joe Oriolo -  creator of Casper the Freindly Ghost who also bought the rights to Felix the Cat). He brought his acoustic and electric guitar sketches to the Felix the Cat art department, who developed his concepts into finalised designs. Oriolo’s cartoonish and colorful designs – many of which featured a Felix theme were indtroduced at NAMM 2010. Since then the line up has been expanded with more conventional looking models including acoustic guitars and Kahuna ukuleles.

Source: Oriolo Guitar Company website (16 October 2018)


J. Rusty Shaffer  founded Optek Music Systems to manufacture and distribute the Smart Light (later Fretlight) Guitar and learning system which he invented in 1987. These guitars have LED lights embedded into the fingerboard to show learners where to put their fingers. The earlier models were branded Smart Light (SL) and in 1998 Optek went into partnership with Washburn International to market the Washburn SmartLIGHT Guitar. Some of the SmartLight guitars were manufactured by Samick. Optek Music Systems has now discontinued the SmartLIGHT brand name in favour of the Fretlight brand.

Source: Fretlight website (16 October 2018)


Onyx guitar brand was started by a Melbourne musical instrument distributor who sold Korean made electric guitars and basses from the early 1980s to mid 1990s. They range included the usual Fender and Gibson copies but there were also some Rickenbacker and Mosrite inspired models. The higher end ones were labelled Custom Craft. The early 1990s saw the launch of Onyx superstrats. The brand was discontinued for a while in the mid 1990s but has since been revived and there is a large range of Onyx acoustic, electric and bass guitars which circa 2018 are made in China for distribution in Australia.


Simen Omang makes and repairs early and contemporary guitars with gut or nylon strings. From 2002 to 2005 he trained as an apprentice of Esteban Gonzalez and Julio Malarino in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He then established his own workshop in Norway, moving between several locations until he settled in Lillehammer in 2016. His guitars have been displayed at many exhibitions and festivals in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Argentina. Omang is a founding member and circa 2018 was the leader of the Norwegian Instrumentmaker Assosiation (NIMF).

Source: Simen Omang website (October 12 2018)


Malcolm Weaver studied classical guitar making at Newark and Sherwood College in Nottinghamshire (UK), under the tutelage of Roy Courtnall Summerfield and Tony Johnson, where he qualified with distinction. During this time, he developed a particular interest in small bodied steel-string guitars, which inspired him to explore different possibilities of sound by experimenting with woods, techniques, bracing methods etc. He started making parlour guitars in 2001 and used the Olivewood Guitars brand. His workshop was in Newark, Nottinghamshire. The design of the Olivewood parlour guitar was inspired by the Martin 0045, but was complimented by subtle design features and a distinctive Spanish Olivewood rosette. Although acoustic guitars were his main focus, Malcolm Weaver also produced custom electric guitars and basses. Weaver closed down Olivewood Guitars in 2011.

Old Wave

Old Wave mandolins are hand made by William (Bill) Bussmann. Bussmann has been making mandlins since 1990, and apprenticed with a violin maker from 1992 to 1993. The mainstay of Bussman's business is in mandolins and mandolas, which he produces in about a dozen different shapes and sizes. Typically built to custom order and often for overseas customers.Bussman also makes some highly unsual mandolins, guitars and basses: including an upright  bass made from a Pontiac gas tank and watermelon shape mandolins.

Source: Old Wave website (9 October 2018)


Gerhard Oldiges started making guitars in the late 1970s while still a student at university. On graduation he started an apprenticeship with a guitar maker, and then in 1985 went to work in guitar repairs. In 1988 he attened a guitar buidling course with Jose Romanllios. The next year he passed his mastership examinations and opened his own workshop. He continued his contact with Romanillos and has assisted on his guitar making courses. His own guitars are highly traditional in construction, although he does not rule out contemporary developments in guitar design.

Source: Gerhard Oldiges website (9 October 2018)


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