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  1. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I wonder if it's that it looks funny.

    The round hole with the HB pickup strikes me that way. It's not simply the round hole -- the L3 doesn't look funny.

    But, put in that pickup and it does, at least to me. If it was an under the saddle pu I'd feel differently.
    I remember at the time it first came out that I thought it looked funny- neither a flattop round hole or an arched top (though of course it is arched). Also a bit of a hodge dodge of parts from the Gibson parts bin as on so many of the later guitars.

    Having said that, many luthiers make round or oval hole arch tops now, so in a way it was ahead of their time. They do sound really good when I hear them played.
    Last edited by bluejaybill; 11-26-2021 at 06:39 PM. Reason: Edit: Spelling

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  3. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by EastwoodMike
    Is it really a new design? Or a variation on an existing? I thought it was just a signature model in the end, and with an arch top to do this you have to make it visually obvious. Solid bodies like strats or telescope have a kaleidoscope of colours a few pickup variants and maybe a varied headstock or different body/ neck woods. LPs likewise. Hollow bodies don’t get to play with that many colours or glue on bits, but do get to mix up sound hole shapes, cutaway, PU configs, but at then end of the day it seems the whole unique signature guitar option thing did not exist prior to 1970 or so? Up till that point you were an endorser who may have been lucky enough to get a custom shop on request. Has a signature guitar ever become truly mainstream? Some out there may be able to identify named signature guitar models that existed at volume scale prior to 1970? I don’t know if the HR is good or bad- just don’t know of signature guitars that ‘take off’ the same way a stock model design doesm
    HR worked on the design of this guitar for years with Gibson luthiers and Bill Lawrence. There were a string of prototypes and a significant financial investment. This was at a time when the Beatles dominated and Gibson built 400 guitars a day. The HR models were not vanity builds or a gimmick. Just like Gibson promoted archtops, electric archtops, and truss rods, they continued to innovate in the early 60s and beyond.

  4. #28

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    Public taste in general is fickle; the taste of the guitar-playing subset, and its even-smaller jazz guitar component is no less so. Gibson has come out with a multitude of perfectly good designs that nonetheless flopped in the marketplace. The Les Paul guitar itself languished in hock shops for years before a handful of English players discovered value for money in the hefty guitars that now command dizzying prices from the fiscally-equipped. If I ever run across a suitable HRC, I'll make every effort to get one.*

    * Not soon. Just blew the budget on some goodies. Maybe next FY.

  5. #29

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    I have to admit -- I never liked the Gibson Tal Farlow. That pointless scroll, the hyper-pointy pick guard. Um, no thanks, sure it's nice and Tal is a legend, but maybe this one is not for me.

    Then I started reading posts about it here. And I heard how it sounded in the hands of good players. I heard that big deep authentic thunk. And maybe it's just ugly duckling syndrome or the way I often empathize with things pathetic, but eventually I came to love it. And now think I might need one someday.

    I feel that coming on all of sudden now with the Gibson Howard Roberts. Damn this place.

  6. #30

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    Howard Alden played a Howard Roberts model until he fell in with George Van Eps, and got Bob Benedetto to build him a 7-string with a roundish soundhole. He sounded much the same on both, as well as on his more recent more conventional Benedettos, and a Sadowsky in between. Crazy, huh?

  7. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flat
    I have to admit -- I never liked the Gibson Tal Farlow. That pointless scroll, the hyper-pointy pick guard. Um, no thanks, sure it's nice and Tal is a legend, but maybe this one is not for me.... Damn this place.
    Thanks for saying it Flat! I've been biting my tongue for six years. So how do you feel about the Kessel? ;-) (answer: ES 350).

    So I guess that kinda tips my hand. I never digged the look of the Robert's hollow. First and foremost I want the right feel. The sound has a lot to do with that, but so does the look of it. Looks like the perfect axe for Joni M.

  8. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Grass
    HR worked on the design of this guitar for years with Gibson luthiers and Bill Lawrence. There were a string of prototypes and a significant financial investment.
    Thanks for the background Marty. With that much design time, effort and cost there must be more to this model than a different sound hole. More than many would be aware of even. What are some of the other unique features?

  9. #33

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    Don't underestimate how far musicians can go looking for just that personal sound - that oval soundhole can have been a literal rabbit hole!

    Now, regarding round(ish) soundholes vs. f-holes (vs. other-letter-holes) ... what to think of a number of German archtops that have both (Kliira Red King, Hüttl Pique Dame)?


    Do you get a best-of-both-worlds effect or rather the contrary?

    (That deliciously kitschy guitar does have a lot of appeal to me, it's in my budget and has an acceptable nutwidth but I don't really dare order it without at least having seen & heard a reliable recording of one...)

  10. #34

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    I'll bet Loar put up with a bunch of crap back in the day. His design though served a purpose- a cutting, loud midrange sound. This dislodged the banjo from that spot in the band.

    In the early to mid 60s Gibson worked on the bracing of the Howard Roberts through the prototypes. They ended up with essentially a backwards V shape. There are tone bars of each side of the round hole that are widest apart toward the neck and become closes toward the tail. The two bars do not overlap or join. There is another tone bar that's maybe two inches in length that connects the longitudinal bars.

    Here is one of the tone bars near the neck. You can see the neck block and the routing for the pickup.

    Why didn't the Howard Roberts guitar design prevail?-20211127081729-jpg

    The quality of the internal work is excellent. Next time I change strings I'll get better pics.

    The size of the round hole was experimented with.

    The point is that this guitar was not a flashy gimmick any more than the 335 or the Les Paul. It would have made a better impact on the guitar world if rock hadn't stolen the show.

    Here is the Asian version with the massive sound hole next to the Kalamazoo. I've never played one but it's not the same.

    Why didn't the Howard Roberts guitar design prevail?-1999-epiphone-howard-roberts-red-1-jpgWhy didn't the Howard Roberts guitar design prevail?-howardroberts76_front-jpg

    Here's the Kalamazoo HR.

    Why didn't the Howard Roberts guitar design prevail?-100_0941-jpgWhy didn't the Howard Roberts guitar design prevail?-100_0942-jpgWhy didn't the Howard Roberts guitar design prevail?-100_0943-jpgWhy didn't the Howard Roberts guitar design prevail?-100_0944-jpgWhy didn't the Howard Roberts guitar design prevail?-100_0945-jpg
    Last edited by Marty Grass; 11-27-2021 at 01:29 PM.

  11. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    I never digged the look of the Robert's hollow. First and foremost I want the right feel. The sound has a lot to do with that, but so does the look of it.
    Yeah, we hear with our eyes to some extent. It's unavoidable (unless we have vision problems) because 25% of our brains are dedicated to visual processing.

    I got to play one of these (Gibson Custom HR) at a jam session years ago. I was very skeptical, but it felt nice and sounded fine- felt about like an ES-175. The owner had disconnected the mid knob, unfortunately, so I wasn't able to try that out. Rick Severson has a video comparing the Epiphone HR with the Gibson that demonstrates the mid knob nicely. It was a clever circuit with useful sounds.

  12. #36

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    For those who don’t know, here’s a great deal of info about these guitars. HR clearly was very involved in the design.

    http://utstat.utoronto.ca/mikevans/h...s/guitars.html

  13. #37

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    For my money it is still one of the coolest designs ever, and for jazz guitar pretty much tops the hipness scale.* It seems to me that the oval soundhole (and believe me, I'm a huge fan of traditional f-holes) really helps the player with near-field input - ideal for studio work and small-combo settings.**
    I may have missed any discussion of the third knob (some kind of mid-range control?). Can anyone out there enlighten me?

    * Neck and neck with the Tal Farlow, in my book, with the Barney Kessel a close second. It's a squeaker!

    ** Okay, we're talking niche of a niche here, so marketing-wise,




  14. #38

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    I've owned one and played a few. I think they suffer a lot from "neither fish nor fowl" syndrome. The round sound hole suggests that it ought to have a better acoustic tone than a normal archtop ... but it doesn't. The archtop indicates that it ought to feedback less than an acoustic ... but it doesn't (at least not much). Other than the association with HR, it's hard to pin an identity on it and that in turn makes it hard to sell. I learned the hard way that customers like to hear an identity or an added benefit that can be described in one short sentence. The HR needs an entire paragraph. (The primary attraction to me is the 25.5" scale length but even that is a turn off to a lot of archtop players).

  15. #39

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    I have Samick/Korean Epi HR and like it a lot. If I start to gig again, I'd probably take it to some in place of y Artist Award. Plays easily, gets a nice tone through an amp and is loud enough for home practice without an amp. I'm surprised at its acoustic properties because of its laminated top, but it's much closer to the carved top AA than the laminated X170 f-hole.
    Last edited by brad4d8; 11-30-2021 at 11:55 AM.

  16. #40

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    It doesn't sound like a flattop to me. It does seem to have a better bottom end and less brightness than traditional archtops acoustically, but it's not really an acoustic instrument.

    The electric sound is really luscious. It is a little different but not inferior to the L-5.

  17. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flat
    I have to admit -- I never liked the Gibson Tal Farlow. That pointless scroll, the hyper-pointy pick guard. Um, no thanks, sure it's nice and Tal is a legend, but maybe this one is not for me.

    Then I started reading posts about it here. And I heard how it sounded in the hands of good players. I heard that big deep authentic thunk. And maybe it's just ugly duckling syndrome or the way I often empathize with things pathetic, but eventually I came to love it. And now think I might need one someday.

    I feel that coming on all of sudden now with the Gibson Howard Roberts. Damn this place.
    I have run the same range on Tap Farlows. Like Trinis, Barney Kessel's and others, just a bit of an odd combo of features. Sometimes seem randomly pulled from other models.

    But a lot of them sound great, play great, and maybe a re a bit more affordable than the big guns of that era?

  18. #42

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    All I know is I bought a red 74 in 2017 for $1950, then resold it in August for $2900.

    And for that I am thankful.

  19. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    I've owned one and played a few. I think they suffer a lot from "neither fish nor fowl" syndrome. The round sound hole suggests that it ought to have a better acoustic tone than a normal archtop ... but it doesn't. The archtop indicates that it ought to feedback less than an acoustic ... but it doesn't (at least not much). Other than the association with HR, it's hard to pin an identity on it and that in turn makes it hard to sell. I learned the hard way that customers like to hear an identity or an added benefit that can be described in one short sentence. The HR needs an entire paragraph. (The primary attraction to me is the 25.5" scale length but even that is a turn off to a lot of archtop players).
    Yes, I think you hit the nail on the head there. Exactly my reaction upon trying one.

  20. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    I've owned one and played a few. I think they suffer a lot from "neither fish nor fowl" syndrome. The round sound hole suggests that it ought to have a better acoustic tone than a normal archtop ... but it doesn't. The archtop indicates that it ought to feedback less than an acoustic ... but it doesn't (at least not much). Other than the association with HR, it's hard to pin an identity on it and that in turn makes it hard to sell. I learned the hard way that customers like to hear an identity or an added benefit that can be described in one short sentence. The HR needs an entire paragraph. (The primary attraction to me is the 25.5" scale length but even that is a turn off to a lot of archtop players).
    ”Neither fish nor fowl” is a great quote that is applicable to many, many situations.

    I agree with this observation 100%. People like to categorize things. If they can’t categorize it, they don’t like it so much.

    My other favorite quote that is similar is “Be ye either hot or cold, but be ye lukewarm and I will spit you out.” (Paraphrase of Rev 3:16)

  21. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Grass
    Here's Howard's infamous screen test with Ann-Margret.

    Was there a guitarist in that video???

    Now we know why HR wore the dark sunglasses.

  22. #46

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    Looking at the increasing prices it seems the model is steadily prevailing. The oval sound hole is a direct link to the original Gibson's made by Orville. So HR had some appreciation of the original designs and brought them into a modern amplified context making it a more traditional archtop! More roots than a L5! ...

    Now if everyone would just get on that sissy Joni Mitchell flying fish bandwagon the prices will drop and I can get a bargain.

  23. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavalier
    The oval sound hole is a direct link to the original Gibson's made by Orville. So HR had some appreciation of the original designs and brought them into a modern amplified context making it a more traditional archtop! More roots than a L5! ...
    Why didn't the Howard Roberts guitar design prevail?-7567ecae-36c9-4296-920f-9b3859bbff28_1_201_a-jpeg

  24. #48

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    What's the rumpus? Take a nice '20s L-4 (add a 14th fret neck/body joint - a few were made this way, probably custom orders/prototypes), add a post-war L-4C cutaway, finesse a few details and, presto changeo - an Epiphone Howard Roberts. Then add some cheap juice to it and, lo and behold, the Gibson Howard Roberts.

    I dig the 24 frets on this one.
    Attached Images Attached Images Why didn't the Howard Roberts guitar design prevail?-gibs-m-29l-4-f-jpg Why didn't the Howard Roberts guitar design prevail?-gib-l4-24-76378-fon11045a-jpg 
    Last edited by Hammertone; 12-01-2021 at 01:17 AM.

  25. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Grass
    Here's Howard's infamous screen test with Ann-Margret.

    Oh My!

  26. #50

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    Long ago I lost my interest in flair in gits, cars, motorcycles as well as women. If it plays, handles, rides, and can get by a month without problems (not necessarily in that order or tied to any of the previously mentioned) I found I can live with just about any feature with the exception of a tremolo on a guitar :-)

    Gibson has floated many excellent ideas over the years which most have fallen flat in sales and are long gone. As far as guitar success stories go, what turns tire kickers into buyers (or not) always mystified me. IMO the visual part trumps sound in too many cases.