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1993 Nashville Riviera Identification....


jgcable

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Hello, this is my first post.  I bought a Epi Riviera yesterday locally privately.   Serial number on the back of the headstock is stamped and is 8 digits. 1st number is 9 and the 5th number is 3.  Under it its stamped Made in U.S.A.  The guitar is red, it has replacement Seymour Duncan Mini Humbuckers, a replacement Bigsby B7.  This guitar has had several tail pieces on it because there were several screw holes on the bottom. Previous owner told me it had a Frequensator on it, it also had a trapeze (it came with the gutiar) and it now has the Bigsby B7.  Tuners were replaced with the vintage tulip Gibson,.  It came in a hardshell Epiphone case with the gold Epi logo symbol on it.  

The guy I bought it from bought it used. He didn't think it was made in the USA because he didn't think any later EPI's were.  He told me he thinks its a 1995 and was made in Korea. When I plug the number into the serial number finder online it comes up as 1991 Made in Korea.  

Here are the things I can't wrap my head around.    Why would somebody fake one of these guitars but them take many of the original parts off and put replacement parts on it such as the Seymour Duncan mini humbuckers and the Gibson tuners and the black Gibson speed knobs?   I looked up other Nashville Riviera's and the made in the usa stamp on those looks like a slightly larger thicker font than mine but the 8 digit serial number  (all numbers) and the Made in U.S.A stamps look original. At least I think they look original to the guitar.   IMG_1562.jpg.c69172314e244ed446015b6bf748a08c.jpg

 

 

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That's a 1993 Nashville USA Collection Riviera.

If you put the serial number into an Epiphone dating system, it will tell you 1991, but if you put it in a Gibson system, it will say 1993. These tools aren't referencing a database, they are deciphering a code. Any post-1970 USA-made Epiphone has to be treated as a Gibson. Gibson actually has a record of individual serial numbers and guitars, so they can likely confirm that this is a cherry Riviera shipped in 1993.

If you bought it for the price of a 90s imported Riviera, I'm very jealous. I wish I could find sellers who don't believe the information stamped on their guitar and won't research it.

Edited by pohatu771
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1 hour ago, pohatu771 said:

That's a 1993 Nashville USA Collection Riviera.

If you put the serial number into an Epiphone dating system, it will tell you 1991, but if you put it in a Gibson system, it will say 1993. These tools aren't referencing a database, they are deciphering a code. Any post-1970 USA-made Epiphone has to be treated as a Gibson. Gibson actually has a record of individual serial numbers and guitars, so they can likely confirm that this is a cherry Riviera shipped in 1993.

If you bought it for the price of a 90s imported Riviera, I'm very jealous. I wish I could find sellers who don't believe the information stamped on their guitar and won't research it.

Thanks for the reply.  I brought it up to the seller when I met him yesterday.  He seemed to understand what I was talking about but now that I think about it I think he was just going along with what I was telling him. He also told me that it was a copy of a Gibson ES339 so I guess he either didn't believe me or didn't care.  I paid under $500 for it.  I figured if it wasn't real $500 was a great price for the guitar anyway.   I am going to write to Gibson now.  Thanks!  

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Nashville USA Collection Riviera  (From the Unofficial Epiphone Guitars Wiki)

  • 1993-1994
  • Made in Nashville, USA
  • Limited run of 250 guitars
  • Built to exact specifications of original Riviera

Body:

  • Semi-hollow body construction
  • Laminated maple body & top 
  • Solid maple center block
  • Nitrocellulose finish

Neck:

  • 1-piece mahogany neck
  • Rosewood fingerboard with parallelogram inlays
  • Pearl oval inlay on headstock
  • Engrqaved "E" logo on truss rod cover
  • 24.75" scale
  • 1.68" nut width

Binding:

  • Single-ply body & neck
  • Unbound f-holes

Electronics:

  • Epiphone designed mini-humbucker pickups
  • 2 Vol. 2 Tone controls
  • 3-way selector switch

Hardware:

  • Chrome hardware
  • Tune-o-matic bridge with frequensator tailpiece
  • Raised toirtoise pickguard with raised "E" emblem
  • Gold reflector knobs

Colors:

  • Cherry (CH)
  • Vintage Sunburst (VS)
  • Natural (NA)
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1 minute ago, mihcmac said:

Nashville USA Collection Riviera  (From the Unofficial Epiphone Guitars Wiki)

  • 1993-1994
  • Made in Nashville, USA
  • Limited run of 250 guitars
  • Built to exact specifications of original Riviera

Body:

  • Semi-hollow body construction
  • Laminated maple body & top 
  • Solid maple center block
  • Nitrocellulose finish

Neck:

  • 1-piece mahogany neck
  • Rosewood fingerboard with parallelogram inlays
  • Pearl oval inlay on headstock
  • Engrqaved "E" logo on truss rod cover
  • 24.75" scale
  • 1.68" nut width

Binding:

  • Single-ply body & neck
  • Unbound f-holes

Electronics:

  • Epiphone designed mini-humbucker pickups
  • 2 Vol. 2 Tone controls
  • 3-way selector switch

Hardware:

  • Chrome hardware
  • Tune-o-matic bridge with frequensator tailpiece
  • Raised toirtoise pickguard with raised "E" emblem
  • Gold reflector knobs

Colors:

  • Cherry (CH)
  • Vintage Sunburst (VS)
  • Natural (NA)

My guitar had at one time the frequensator tailpiece on it. The screw holes are still there.  The knobs were changed to black gibson speed knobs, the tuners are standard Gibson Kluson style deluxe tuners. I was told they were upgraded although they might be original. They say Gibson Deluxe on them.  The pickguard is 3 ply white,black,white with raised E emblem. Its black and definitely isn't tortoise.  Previous owners might have swapped it out to black to match the black Gibson speed knobs that are now on it.  I measured the nut width and it measures  1.68".  The truss rod cover has 2 screw holes.  The neck absolutely looks like mahogany and its one piece.  

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44 minutes ago, mihcmac said:

That looks like the pick guard mine has on it except the Epi logo is still on mine. Its mint.  That is exactly what the back of my headstock looks like.  Mine has the same case too with the same color interior. 

 

Edited by jgcable
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Wow... so now that I know that I have a potentially $2500-$3000 rare collectors item on my hand I need to figure out what it is actually worth.  The models that are going for near $3K are completely original models.  Mine has Seymour Duncan replacement pickups in it, the tuners were replaced with Gibson Deluxe tuners and the BIG THING is somebody down the road installed a Bigsby B7 which required 2 holes be screwed directly into the body of the guitar. I have to think that it will hurt the value.  

 

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4 minutes ago, jgcable said:

Wow... so now that I know that I have a potentially $2500-$3000 rare collectors item on my hand I need to figure out what it is actually worth.  The models that are going for near $3K are completely original models.  Mine has Seymour Duncan replacement pickups in it, the tuners were replaced with Gibson Deluxe tuners and the BIG THING is somebody down the road installed a Bigsby B7 which required 2 holes be screwed directly into the body of the guitar. I have to think that it will hurt the value.  

 

 

21 hours ago, Supersonic said:

Wow, you got that for $500? Not a bad deal considering it's worth 4 times that much. 

 

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57 minutes ago, jgcable said:

Wow... so now that I know that I have a potentially $2500-$3000 rare collectors item on my hand I need to figure out what it is actually worth.  The models that are going for near $3K are completely original models.  Mine has Seymour Duncan replacement pickups in it, the tuners were replaced with Gibson Deluxe tuners and the BIG THING is somebody down the road installed a Bigsby B7 which required 2 holes be screwed directly into the body of the guitar. I have to think that it will hurt the value.  

I have found that the value may be less effected by having a Bigsby installed than having it removed leaving holes behind. A USA B7 usually sells for around $200.

Edited by mihcmac
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I've heard of those....yes, quite legitimate and at $500 you committed theft....yours was made on April 20, 1993 ....the   one pictured below (mine) was made on June 7, 1993.... $2500 is reasonable to expect to pay for one of these.. There were only 250 in the run. The majority of them were cherry red with a few in sunburst , even fewer in natural and an exceedingly few made in black

.66688253_10214272188590478_9011858525458

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7 hours ago, Gralst said:

I've heard of those....yes, quite legitimate and at $500 you committed theft....yours was made on April 20, 1993 ....the   one pictured below (mine) was made on June 7, 1993.... $2500 is reasonable to expect to pay for one of these.. There were only 250 in the run. The majority of them were cherry red with a few in sunburst , even fewer in natural and an exceedingly few made in black

.66688253_10214272188590478_9011858525458

Thanks for the info.. I am still waiting for Gibson to respond after I sent them the pics. I guess its a real one. Now I need to figure out what to do with it.  I am not a collector and this guitar is not the style of guitar I play. It certainly is nice though. 

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8 hours ago, jgcable said:

Thanks for the info.. I am still waiting for Gibson to respond after I sent them the pics. I guess its a real one. Now I need to figure out what to do with it.  I am not a collector and this guitar is not the style of guitar I play. It certainly is nice though. 

What to do with it?  How about play it. Yes, you got a great deal on it and yes, it's a very good guitar(on par with a Gibson ES-335 in and of its day) but it isn't some esoteric collectors item worth a vast fortune. Considering its alterations and modifications I'd say it's "worth" ~$2000-$2200. The thing about guitars, any guitar for that matter is that their"worth" isn't always their "value". Worth is a number which can be quantified. Value is the subjective, personal appraisal of an item. If the guitar isn't of a type you'd find  of use or utility then your wise action would be to sell/ trade it for something that does satisfy your requirements and desires. I'm not sure what you expect Gibson to respond with. The guitar (to state a cliche which I detest) "is what it is" and what it is is a 1993 Nashville-made Epiphone Riviera Reissue with: Changed machine heads and other modifications.. While changing to the Gibson Deluxe from the stock machines was an improvement in utility, from an originality/collector perspective it lowered the collector "value" by about 5% since installing the Gibson Deluxe machines required an irreversible routing of the mounting hole. The Gibson Deluxe machines however had a neutral impact on the guitar's "worth" since in actuality it was an improvement to the guitar's utility although the modification did have a permanent effect on the guitar's originality. Next, Again, while the SD Mini Hummers are an improvement in the utility and tone, they aren't "original" to the guitar which in the collector marketplace is a 15%-18% reduction in market worth and in market value (collectors want originality). Fortunately the changing pickup mod isn't irreversible. If you happen to have the original pickups great, a collector may want them. I can't imagine any "player" wanting the original pickups as they were the worst sounding, microphonic pieces of crap I've ever heard in a guitar in any price niche. I replaced mine with new, old stock 1966 Gibson Mini Humbuckers which themselves are of considerable vintage market worth but the originals are kept in a Zip Lock in the neck pocket storage should someone desire originality in the unlikely event I was ever to sell mine(Just a note here.- Over the past twenty years or so I've owned two other USA Riviera RIs.  A sunburst '93 and a cherry '94. In 1999 I traded my 1966 Riviera for a 1965 Casino because having the'93 reissue satisfied my needs and desires re: a Riviera. I then acquired the other two RIs but they never did much appreciation in the vintage market so I moved on from them. The vintage "worth" factor is dependent upon the customer's "value" perceptions which is often directly correlated to a player of note and high profile using that instrument. The only player of note that was known for playing an Epiphone Riviera RI was Lenny Kravitz and he was a paid endorser and not a huge profile player so he didn't set the collector market afire). OK....now for the possible deal breaker/game changer. The Bigsby. Anyone with an awareness of the vintage guitar game knows that if you have two 1959 Les Paul "Bursts" or two vintage  ES-335s in exactly the same condition but one has a stop tail piece and the other has a stock Bigsby the Bigsby guitar will always be worth less. Perhaps as much as 25% less. Outside of a limited niche market Bigsby vibratos are not a desirable element of mainstream guitar buyers. In fact, most of the players I personally know who installed a Bigsby did so because they"looked cool" and before they realized what an adverse effect they had on a guitar's tone except for certain applications. As far as a Bigsby's cost as with anything once installed and then removed it becomes a used piece of hardware worth about 40% of its original cost but reducing the worth of the guitar it was installed on by maybe as much as 30% owing to the irreversible screw holes and installation damage incurred. What all this mean is YES. Your guitar is a great guitar, completely legitimate with a substantial market worth. As a guitar it is in deed ,and not just in the wishful thinking of some owners of the brand, equal to a Gibson ES-335 in materials, finish and construction. It did have less than stellar pickups and the Frequensator tail piece isn't embraced by everyone but it's still a nice guitar. Not being of enough worth to provide a retirement in the Caribbean or of great universal collector desirability it is still a guitar worthy of ownership pride. If it isn't the guitar of your dreams or doesn't cover your needs you should probably sell it and get a guitar that does. I would suggest an honest appraisal from a reputable dealer such as Gruhn's and I'd suggest selling it yourself if possible. Most dealers will rape you on the consignment fees etc. Not because they're all evil demons but because they're in  business for their survival, not yours. When they sell one of your guitars it's one of theirs that they don't sell which means they lose on their profit as well as their overhead costs and have to make it up somewhere. Best of luck and if you have any other questions I'll be glad to help if I can.

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2 minutes ago, Gralst said:

What to do with it?  How about play it. Yes, you got a great deal on it and yes, it's a very good guitar(on par with a Gibson ES-335 in and of its day) but it isn't some esoteric collectors item worth a vast fortune. Considering its alterations and modifications I'd say it's "worth" ~$2000-$2200. The thing about guitars, any guitar for that matter is that their"worth" isn't always their "value". Worth is a number which can be quantified. Value is the subjective, personal appraisal of an item. If the guitar isn't of a type you'd find  of use or utility then your wise action would be to sell/ trade it for something that does satisfy your requirements and desires. I'm not sure what you expect Gibson to respond with. The guitar (to state a cliche which I detest) "is what it is" and what it is is a 1993 Nashville-made Epiphone Riviera Reissue with: Changed machine heads and other modifications.. While changing to the Gibson Deluxe from the stock machines was an improvement in utility, from an originality/collector perspective it lowered the collector "value" by about 5% since installing the Gibson Deluxe machines required an irreversible routing of the mounting hole. The Gibson Deluxe machines however had a neutral impact on the guitar's "worth" since in actuality it was an improvement to the guitar's utility although the modification did have a permanent effect on the guitar's originality. Next, Again, while the SD Mini Hummers are an improvement in the utility and tone, they aren't "original" to the guitar which in the collector marketplace is a 15%-18% reduction in market worth and in market value (collectors want originality). Fortunately the changing pickup mod isn't irreversible. If you happen to have the original pickups great, a collector may want them. I can't imagine any "player" wanting the original pickups as they were the worst sounding, microphonic pieces of crap I've ever heard in a guitar in any price niche. I replaced mine with new, old stock 1966 Gibson Mini Humbuckers which themselves are of considerable vintage market worth but the originals are kept in a Zip Lock in the neck pocket storage should someone desire originality in the unlikely event I was ever to sell mine(Just a note here.- Over the past twenty years or so I've owned two other USA Riviera RIs.  A sunburst '93 and a cherry '94. In 1999 I traded my 1966 Riviera for a 1965 Casino because having the'93 reissue satisfied my needs and desires re: a Riviera. I then acquired the other two RIs but they never did much appreciation in the vintage market so I moved on from them. The vintage "worth" factor is dependent upon the customer's "value" perceptions which is often directly correlated to a player of note and high profile using that instrument. The only player of note that was known for playing an Epiphone Riviera RI was Lenny Kravitz and he was a paid endorser and not a huge profile player so he didn't set the collector market afire). OK....now for the possible deal breaker/game changer. The Bigsby. Anyone with an awareness of the vintage guitar game knows that if you have two 1959 Les Paul "Bursts" or two vintage  ES-335s in exactly the same condition but one has a stop tail piece and the other has a stock Bigsby the Bigsby guitar will always be worth less. Perhaps as much as 25% less. Outside of a limited niche market Bigsby vibratos are not a desirable element of mainstream guitar buyers. In fact, most of the players I personally know who installed a Bigsby did so because they"looked cool" and before they realized what an adverse effect they had on a guitar's tone except for certain applications. As far as a Bigsby's cost as with anything once installed and then removed it becomes a used piece of hardware worth about 40% of its original cost but reducing the worth of the guitar it was installed on by maybe as much as 30% owing to the irreversible screw holes and installation damage incurred. What all this mean is YES. Your guitar is a great guitar, completely legitimate with a substantial market worth. As a guitar it is in deed ,and not just in the wishful thinking of some owners of the brand, equal to a Gibson ES-335 in materials, finish and construction. It did have less than stellar pickups and the Frequensator tail piece isn't embraced by everyone but it's still a nice guitar. Not being of enough worth to provide a retirement in the Caribbean or of great universal collector desirability it is still a guitar worthy of ownership pride. If it isn't the guitar of your dreams or doesn't cover your needs you should probably sell it and get a guitar that does. I would suggest an honest appraisal from a reputable dealer such as Gruhn's and I'd suggest selling it yourself if possible. Most dealers will rape you on the consignment fees etc. Not because they're all evil demons but because they're in  business for their survival, not yours. When they sell one of your guitars it's one of theirs that they don't sell which means they lose on their profit as well as their overhead costs and have to make it up somewhere. Best of luck and if you have any other questions I'll be glad to help if I can.

Thanks so much for the thoughtful and detailed response.  Not that it matters but the story of how I got this guitar is this. I had a Fender Mexican Strat up on line trying to sell it locally. I was asking $450 for it. It had a Babicz bridge, great pickups and electronics and it played and sounded great but I needed the money to buy a new snow blower.  I listed it and after about a few days a guy offered to trade it for this Riviera.  I only had about $350 total into the strat and when I looked up import Riviera's I saw they were selling regularly for around $500+ used so I traded the guy. He told me it said USA on the back. We had a discussion about it and I mentioned several times that it might be a real one and he was convinced it was a 1995 made in Korea because he had punched the number into the Epiphone database.  I found it hard to believe somebody would fake stamp an Epiphone but he wanted to trade so we did.  I wasn't looking for a Riviera... and the fact of the matter is its too heavy of a guitar for me.  I understand that the changes that were made to it negatively impact the value so I will certainly take that into consideration.  I am going to list it locally but only after I get the documentation from Gibson on what it is.  Personally.. I think its ashame somebody put the Bigsby on it and drilled those 2 holes in the body. The Bigsby really makes the guitar heavier and its unbalanced.   It does sound very good.  I am surprised on how bright the bridge pickup is. I would have thought the guitar would be a little on the mellow side but no way. This guitar is so bright on the bridge pickup that if I played it live I would probably be on the neck pickup the entire time.  

 

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Hello Everybody.  I just got the email response from Gibson USA after sending them the detailed pics they requested.  Its legit.  It was made the 110th day of 1993 in Nashville, TN as part of their Nashville USA Collection.   Very limited production.  

Very excited about this.  Thanks for all the help.  

 

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  • 2 years later...

I think the Duncans are stock. Gibson had not yet began reissuing mini-humbuckers in 93, so the got them from SD. I have one of these in Vintage Sunburst. I had a pair of late 60s/early 70s patent label minis, so I had them installed in place of the stock pickups. Real minis are slightly smaller than the Duncan version. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

They are Gibson minihumbuckers iirc. I have one and love it to death. A large neck profile, but extremely comfortable.

top notch instruments

Mine replaced a late 60s ES 330, and is in every way a superior instrument. 

Edited by David Morley
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