In the late 1980s Gibson USA licensed Yamano Gakki (Gakki meaning "musical instrument"), one of Japan's largest musical instrument distributors and retailers, to oversee production and marketing of replicas of Gibson guitars in Japan.
Gibson and Yamano Gakki decided not to use the Epiphone brand name for the expanded model range and so the Orville name was chosen instead, Orville being the first name of Gibson's founder Orville Gibson.
Those branded simply "Orville" used Japanese humbuckers and a poly finish, while specimens reading "Orville By Gibson" on the headstock had authentic Gibson PAF style '57 Classic humbuckers and a nitrocellulose lacquer finish.
Made exclusively for the Japanese market and rarely seen outside its country of origin, this Orville is an official Gibson licensed guitar built in the Terada factory in 1991. This particular model is one of the higher end G serial models with a full factory load of Gibson USA nickel hardware as well as pickups. Semi hollow maple body, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard – just like a 335.
This is a great sounding guitar. It has a spanking acoustic tone which translates well through the original Gibson humbuckers. These pickups handle gain extremely well, delivering an articulate array of tones that can be bright and growly or thick and punchy with the flip of a switch, with all with the immediacy of the maple body, and the airy, warm quality of the semi-holllowbody construction.
The mahogany neck has a slender C profile with a bit more shoulder as you travel up the fretboard while still feeling fast and easy to navigate. The original frets are intact and match Gibson spec for width and height, and showing virtually no wear.
The guitar plays cleanly up the bound rosewood fretboard with no buzzing or dead spots, and the guitar conforms to traditional Gibson spec with a 24 3/4" scale length and a 1 11/16" wide carved bone nut. The original vintage style tuners are in place, turning smoothly & holding pitch perfectly.
Weight is 7.7 lbs
The body has a lovely natural gloss finish with a nice transparency which highlights some light birdseye figuring in the maple.
At some point this guitar has suffered a neck fracture which is not uncommon on ES 335s. However, it has been professionally repaired and lacquered, and it’s a beautiful job. The current owner had this work specifically inspected by respected Sydney luthier Charles Cillia, who verified the quality of the repair. It is often the case that once a neck fracture on guitars of this model have been properly reglued, they are often stronger and more stable than when new.
Cosmetic wear is limited to some light scuffing in the picking area, a few small nicks & dents here and there, and faint finish scratches on the back. There appear to be no other structural or cosmetic issues.
This lovely Orville By Gibson benefits from the incredible attention to detail and craftsmanship of its Japanese manufacture, and features all the finer points of a golden era ES-335.
Comes in an old Yamaha hard shell case in reasonable condition.