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  1. #1

    Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion III

    Hey guys, I'm new here
    Would you recommend the Gibson HR Fusion III for jazz? and how it is compared to the Guild X170?

  2. #2
    Likewise new-ish here. I lurked and posted some many months back, but man was the atmosphere toxic in this more tech Guitar and Gizmo section. It sure seems to have gotten more friendly.

    >>>Would you recommend the Gibson HR Fusion III for jazz?

    Sure if you like a 335ish sound. The HRIII is a slightly more hollow sounding (despite the small sixe) but in my opinion definitely in the 335 direction.

    They are a very comfortable guitar both sitting and standing. I had one for two years, but in the end wanted more of a true hollow sound.

    >>>and how it is compared to the Guild X170?

    Different beast than the X-170. I could never get used to the narrrow (1 10/16") nut on most 170s, but love the sound. The Guild will sound noticeably more hollow. There are many of them for sale used and the $$$ is pretty reasonable in most cases. Check on the nut width though. First can you deal with the cramped cockpit of a narrow nut, and swecond confirm the nut width of a particular guitar that interests you.

    I am not at all a Guild hstorian, so I have no idea about the nut width history, but I have seen both 1 10/16 (more common it seems) and 1 11/16 on 170s.
    Last edited by NiAg; 11-21-2010 at 10:11 PM.

  3. #3
    Agree with NiAg. My recollection of my impressions in brief try-outs, neither under ideal conditions;

    HR Fusion - very heavy guitar, much more so than pretty much any 335-style guitar that I have played. Loud as well and through the Blues Deluxe that I tried it (wouldn't have been my choice of amp), I found it difficult (in the few minutes that I had to try it) to get a jazz tone. Perfect for Fusion though - does what it says on the tin.

    Guild - found it difficult to fit my fat sausage fingers into the cramped space on the neck. Shame really. Nice guitar, though strangely not great, probably due to the 0.10" roundwound strings that were on there - even through my Vox amp, sounded a bit weedy.

    Not sure that's helped, really.......

  4. #4
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    The HR Fusion III has been on my wish list for awhile. I think it would be a worthy pickup experiment but the prices keep on heading north. A year or two ago you could find them in the $1,000 US range and now they're heading in the $2,000 range. Oh well.

  5. #5
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    I have had a HR III for a few years now. It is such a georgeous looking guitar and a perfect size/shape IMHO with a good size, fairly large neck that fits my hands perfectly. However it is quite heavy as Mangotango said, but I don't think excessively so, especially when sitting down. I believe the pickups are its only downside. The 490 model pickups used are not suitable for jazz or blues and are heading towards heavy rock/metal territory, I guess to try and catch the fusion sound. Depending on what style of jazz you are playing you can get a good sound with the standard pickups, (hollow/335 is a fairly good description). However with a good set of pickups installed it just lifts it to another level. Highly recommended (with a pickup change).

  6. #6
    Hello everyone,

    I'm new here and have a HR Fusion. It sounds pretty good but, after reading this thread, I'm curious about what kind of pickups you guys would recommend for a truer (?) "jazz sound". I play through an AER Compact 60 and sometimes a Fender Blues Jr. Cool little website ya got going here, btw.

    Sid

  7. #7
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    First, welcome!!! Have fun here!

    Just out of curiosity, what is the year of your HRF and what does it weigh? My 1993 is 7lb. 12oz. which is 7-12 ounces lighter than 335, 137C, and 345's I have weighed, and one player here reported that theirs was SUBSTANTIALLY heavier than mine, IIRC by well over a pound.

    If you want to stay Gibson, you may want to look at standard 57 classics which is / was in most 335's (and many other G branded semi's for that matter) till recently, their sound isn't exactly easy to pigeonhole but if you listen to enough semi's with 57's, you'll get the idea what it would likely sound like in the HRF. I personally haven't found classics that have a variable sound in similar type bodies but some have, and I believe they like the older model 57's, not the + or the 4 conductor models.
    Regards,

    Gary

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    I have heard Dan Wilson playing a HRF III through a Twin Reverb with the Joey De Francesco Trio. He sounded great getting a gorgeous "jazz sound" out of the equipment.

    Here he is with another guitar, not sure what model this is ....
    _________
    JazzNote

  9. #9
    Dan's guitar in that performance is an ES446 ....semi hollow...carved top...the braces are carved out from under the top and likewise the body is a hollowed out solid piece of wood.
    [not sure on the actual woods used but I seem to recall spruce top and mahogany body]

    FWIW I recall seeing Bill Frisell playing a 446 in a Just Jazz Guitar mag C early 200's

    I have a 2007 Howard Roberts Fusion 111 and have no problems with the 490 p/u's.
    The neck position sounds really full and warm...flats help [12's or 13's]...but I can get a pleasing
    jazz tone with 10's round wound ....just adjust the RH touch.
    The bridge p/u is fine...not as outstanding as the neck position...but plenty of bite to it.
    Have tried 57's in my current HR [this is my 3rd one] ....hated them and put the 490's back.

    I've probably committed some unpardonable sin there.......

    As far as weight goes....they are not a light guitar ....but my current one is not heavy [to me] weighing in
    at 7.36 lbs. Balances nicely on the strap, my favoured position.

    Sorry that I'm unable to make a comparison to the Guild you mentioned....but it would be a pretty sure
    bet that the HRF111 sounds closer to 335 territory than the hollow body of the Guild.

    I really like my HR and it's a keeper....had it 10 years....but all of this stuff is largely a matter of
    what you like and get used to.

  10. #10
    Yes, dan wilson used an HR Fusion for a while and it was a very bensony sound. Not 335ish at all. He's using a 446 now.

  11. #11
    I bought a HR Fusion III in 1994 and it was my main guitar for 15 yrs. I liked it and the 490s were ok for me.
    I played through a Polytone with one 15, strung with 12 Half Rounds. Not a classic archtop sound but that was ok to. You're not going to sound like Wes or Joe Pass on one although as mentioned above you can get a good Benson tone which was what I was after. I don't believe that any of the HRs except for the original Epiphone ever sold that well. Maybe the early Gibsons like the Artist but I'm not sure. I paid around $950 for mine with a HSC new. I couldn't sell it for $1400 in 2011 and tried off and on for 2 years. I got one offer for $1150 which I refused. I finally put it on consignment and it sold after almost a year (2013 in Houston) for $1500. It was mint. I noticed that the guitar was up for sale again a couple of years ago for $2300. I doubt if it pulled that much even though they're worth it. I believe there's a lot of value for the money and am surprised they haven't been more popular. I suppose the reason is that they're not really a jazz box or a 335 and the only criticism I might have is that even though they sound great the tone doesn't have a lot of character if that's the right word. If a player uses FX though that could be a different story. To be honest if I was in the market for a guitar like that in the future I'd probably go for a 335. And they hold their value better. At the time that I bought mine the 335 was only 100 bucks more and look at what a '93 sells for now.

  12. #12
    Here's a recording of dan wilson playing his HR Fusion. You can clearly hear that it has way more archtop than 335 in it's tone. The recording is horrible but you can get an idea...


  13. #13
    Definitely more archtop than 335.

  14. #14
    I have ES335, and HR Fusion III and ES175.

    The HR Fusion III can substitute for an ES175 allowing the strings to be bent and eliminating feed back.

    Just like "Jazzmaster" and "Bassman," the "Fusion" nomenclature is not necessarily meaningful.

    BTW: I put 500K pots in mine and I liked it better. Little known is that it comes with a treble-bleed capacitor (unlike most all other Gibsons), which I preserved.
    Attached Images Attached Images Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion III-img_0568-jpg 

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moonray View Post
    >>SNIP<<

    I have a 2007 Howard Roberts Fusion 111 and have no problems with the 490 p/u's.
    The neck position sounds really full and warm...flats help [12's or 13's]...but I can get a pleasing
    jazz tone with 10's round wound ....just adjust the RH touch.
    The bridge p/u is fine...not as outstanding as the neck position...but plenty of bite to it.
    Have tried 57's in my current HR [this is my 3rd one] ....hated them and put the 490's back.

    I've probably committed some unpardonable sin there.......

    As far as weight goes....they are not a light guitar ....but my current one is not heavy [to me] weighing in
    at 7.36 lbs. Balances nicely on the strap, my favoured position.

    Sorry that I'm unable to make a comparison to the Guild you mentioned....but it would be a pretty sure
    bet that the HRF111 sounds closer to 335 territory than the hollow body of the Guild.

    I really like my HR and it's a keeper....had it 10 years....but all of this stuff is largely a matter of
    what you like and get used to.
    I've wondered why the HRF was so maligned by so many. I'm guessing that some of the reported HEAVY ones had a maple center block, mine has a Balsa (Gibson calls it Chromyte) block. I've had mine 4 years or so and it too is a keeper.

    As far as it sounding more like a 335 than a hollow body, mine definitely changes character going from a polytone to a tube amp and in the former sounds more archtop like than in the latter where it sounds more semi hollow. Maybe that's where the disparity in opinion on its sound comes from.
    Regards,

    Gary

  16. #16
    I had a HR Fusion for a bit....it had the "fingers" tailpiece.

    I remember when I was thinking about buying a Benedetto-type archtop w/ a floater, I brought along the HR to A/B it against. Pretty much opposite ends of the spectrum...the Benedetto-type floater was just an entirely different animal, and it was really, really cheap ($650 with a hard case).

    Sound-wise the HR was OK...but not really "jazzy"....not a lot of "bloom" on the notes, and not a lot of dynamic (volume) variation...I even had round wounds on it, which I don't use much, and it was just more solid-body-ish to my ear, than even a 339 (which I have now). (I like the 339 a lot.)

    The body size was nice, but not light, and the fingers tuners are kind of a pain to replace strings with.

    Joe Vinikow at archtop.com sold the HR for me, and got a good price. The HR Fusion looks snazzy, but I think I'd look at a 135 or a 137 first, and try to A/B them against a HR.

    All these guitars exist on a spectrum: solid body....semi's....thinline hollows....bigger hollows....bigger hollows with set-in pu's ....bigger hollows with floaters....true acoustic big, archtops is kind of how I see, and hear them.

    Obviously, people can and do, draw their lines in different places...so try away, and please yourself.

  17. #17
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    Here's the man himself:



    "But if they all play like me, then who am I?" (Lester Young)

  18. #18
    I see Howie was of the can't-be-bothered-to-trim-my-string-ends school.
    "Hipness... is not a state of mind. It's a fact of life. You can't decide to be hip, you know? It just kind of happens." --Cannonball Adderly

  19. #19
    Thanks for the responses everyone. My electric is the HR Fusion III. I purchased it used a few years ago at Guitar Rez in Austin and I'm not sure when it was built. It weighs around 7.2 lbs. It's comfortable enough with a strap; doesn't seem too heavy and has a decent balance when I'm holding it, either sitting or standing. I'm in the woodshedding stage of my (?) jazz career and was just curious if different pickups might give me a purer tone. Pretty sure I'm getting ahead of myself here as a distraction from practicing . I appreciate the feedback, the discussion, and the tunes. Thanks again.

  20. #20
    Join Date
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    In an earlier post in this thread I said I thought my HRF III was improved my a pickup change, but didn't mention which pickups I tried. The HRF III being all maple is quite a bright guitar so I looked for pickups to tame that brightness. Duncan Seth Lovers, by the description seemed to fit the bill so in they went. Whilst the original 490s were OK for a more rock sound the Seth Lovers were a significant improvement for jazz (& blues).

    Seth Lovers rightly get a lot of love here, but will not suit every guitar, but with the HRF I think they are a perfect match.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by IanD View Post
    In an earlier post in this thread I said I thought my HRF III was improved my a pickup change, but didn't mention which pickups I tried. The HRF III being all maple is quite a bright guitar so I looked for pickups to tame that brightness. Duncan Seth Lovers, by the description seemed to fit the bill so in they went. Whilst the original 490s were OK for a more rock sound the Seth Lovers were a significant improvement for jazz (& blues

    Seth Lovers rightly get a lot of love here, but will not suit every guitar, but with the HRF I think they are a perfect match.
    Blues and jazz are the styles in which I'm mainly interested in playing electric guitar so that's a big help.

    Thanks!

  22. #22
    I'd suggest trying different pickup heights before you make a change as that can make a big difference too.

  23. #23
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    My old HR Fusion III woke up after dropping a set of Gibson Classic 57's in her.
    Enjoyed it for many years, then sold it after being seduced by another pretty face.
    Here's my old 'big red'...


  24. #24
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    I've always wanted one of these,

    but have spent my time and money pursuing things higher on my wish list

    They sound great on those videos

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