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Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion III Black, 1997

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The Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion III, the last iteration of the Howard Roberts models, appeared in 1991 and was built until the model was discontinued around 2010, though it went out of production between 2003 and 2005. The first Fusion models appeared in 1979.

Howard Roberts was a prominent American jazz guitarist, session player and teacher, born in 1929 and died in 1992. As part of the key LA session crowd The Wrecking Crew, Roberts played on many recordings, TV show and movie scores.

Roberts had helped design his signature Epiphone oval-hole archtop electric, introduced in 1961, based on the ES-175 design, with an oval soundhole and a single ‘floating’ or neck mount pickup. This use of the ES-175 body allowed Gibson’s parent CMI (Chicago Musical Instruments, also the owner of the Epiphone brand since 1957) to use existing forms and jigs. These Epiphone guitars were built on the same production lines as Gibson until US production halted in August 1970, with the first Japanese built models arriving in the USA in spring 1971.

Gibson introduced the Howard Roberts Custom in 1973, based on the Epiphone models, and this was built until 1981. The Howard Roberts Artist, built from 1976 to 1981, visually upgraded the woods and binding used, and gold plated the metal hardware. The Howard Roberts Fusion model is quite different from its predecessors, with thinline semi-hollow construction; the body has F-holes instead of an oval hole, is thinner and has a center block of ‘Chromyte’, a Gibson marketing term for what’s basically lightweight balsa wood. This adds significant feedback resistance without also adding a lot of weight. With these changes, a pair of humbucking pickups were added, the 490R and 490T models. The body is laminate Maple, with a Mahogany neck and an Ebony fingerboard; neck binding was added in 1978.

Early models, the Fusion and Fusion II, used a combination tune-o-matic bridge and TP-6 fine tuning stop tailpiece, though some models use a basic stop tailpiece. The Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion III added a gold-plated Oettinger-style ‘finger’ tailpiece with an adjustment screw for each finger. This tailpiece also appears on Le Grande models. However, the adjustment screws on this tailpieceare for string tension, not pitch; they allow balancing of the ‘feel’ of each string. The Oettinger style tailpiece dates back to the 1920’s when it was a relatively common but higher end banjo tailpiece.

Here we’re looking at a Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion III dating to 25 August 1997 and built, like other thinline models, at Gibson’s now-closed Memphis plant. This example carries a gloss black finish with gold plated parts, and is in physically good condition except for a bit of touched-up finish damage to the top; it appears as if something impacted the top between the bass side of the neck pickup and the side, causing a pair of cracks. This was touched up long ago and is more visible in some lights than others. There is no structural damage. The guitar is otherwise complete and original. It plays well, has a good feel and is well balanced, and sounds good. These models typically have a higher price; this one has been adjusted downward reflecting the finish damage.

This Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion III is sold with its original brown hard shell case.

Price: $3,250.00 CAD
  • Model: Howard Roberts Fusion III
  • Year: Current
  • Finish Gloss Black
  • Class: Used
  • Serial Number: 92377544 Dated 25 August 1997 Memphis TN
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 05/03/2021

  • Consignment Item

  • Including original Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 7.48lbs 3.4kg
  • Scale Length: 628.6mm 24.75in
  • Nut Width: 43.03mm 1.694in
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