The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

⚌Reduced‼ Gibson MHB Roy Orbison ES-335 Black, 2006


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This is a rarity! The Gibson MHB Roy Orbison was based on the early 1980s ES-335 Orbison used in 1987 concerts and with The Travelling Wilburys. 70 were made, this is #37, and the MHB stands for ‘Memphis Hand Built’.

Based heavily on a stock ES-335, there are minor hardware differences. The tuners are Grover Roto-Matics with Keystone style metal buttons, and the tailpiece is a TP-6 with fine tuners, very helpful in critical situations like recording. The pickups are a ’57 Classic set. The truss rod cover has the Roy Orbison signature engraved.

And of course, it’s black!

This Gibson MHB Roy Orbison appears essentially unplayed. There is no fret or finish wear, and the pickguard still has its protective film and label.

Interestingly, the labels of several examples, including this one, contain what’s possibly an error. The model name is listed as “MHB”, and apparently should read “Roy Orbison”, and the serial number is “ROY37” – on the Certificate of Authenticity and the read of the headstock, the serial is “Roy 037”.

The original hard shell case is included and contains the Certificate of Authenticity and a ‘Pretty Woman’ folio.

Roy Orbison was a highly influential figure in American music from the mid 1950’s into the 1960’s, having a distinctive voice coupled with great songwriting and guitar skills. Starting with his first weekly radio show at age nine, in 1956 he cut his first songs for Sun Records and was soon writing for other artists like the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and Rick Nelson. In 1959, he released ‘Only The Lonely’, his first, but definitely not last, big hit. By this time he was signed to the dominant Nashville publisher, Acuff-Rose.

From the Roy Orbison website:

“A few things contributed to Roy Orbison’s success. The songs, the production, and the performance were key factors. The songs were completely original in structure, sound and style. Totally innovative compositions, that didn’t exist until then. It became a style. Fred Foster really went for quality instead of quantity. He was willing to splash money on a session without any guarantee of payback. He was also willing to take a chance on a sound that did not conform to accepted market norms.


In May 1963, and with the success of “In Dreams”, Wesley Rose eventually accepted an invitation for Roy to tour England on a bill with The Beatles, who meant nothing in the United States at that time. The tour was sold-out in one afternoon. On the first night, Roy did fourteen encores before The Beatles could get on stage.

Roy Orbison was one of the few hit-makers to hold his ground, and even to increase his popularity in the wake of the so-called British Invasion. He did it by maintaining a matchless quality of releases, with an original variety of content, structure, tempo and rhythm. He was also an extremely subtle song craftsman, making changes during the course of a session, or between sessions, adding the final commercial gloss to a song.

“Oh Pretty Woman” was recorded on August 1st, 1964. It was written by Roy together with his new writing partner Bill Dees and it became Roy’s biggest hit, and in fact the most popular song of all time. Released in August in the US and in September in the UK, it went to number one in every country of the World. By most estimates, the song sold about seven million copies that same year.”

Price: $3,750.00 CAD $4,500.00 CAD
  • Model: Roy Orbison
  • Year: 2006
  • Finish Gloss Black
  • Class: Used
  • Serial Number: ROY37, dating to 2006 at Gibson Memphis and #37 of 70 built.
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Excellent
  • Date Posted: 26/06/2023

  • Consignment Item

  • Including original Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 8.228lbs 3.74kg
  • Scale Length: 24.567in 624mm
  • Nut Width: 1.715in 43.57mm

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