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c.1968 Epiphone Howard Roberts Standard

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Serial #: 960745 Body size at lower bout: 16" Scale length: 24 3/4" Nut width: 1 11/16" Neck depth: .77/.93, 1st/10th frets

Materials: Solid carved fine grained spruce top; arched maple back and sides; solid mahogany neck; solid rosewood fingerboard with split-block pearl inlays; pearl peghead inlay and logo; five-ply top binding, bound back and neck, original bone nut.

Hardware: All original hardware includes Gibson Johnny Smith floating humbucking pickup; nickel Kluson Super 'Waffleback' tuners; chrome trapeze tailpiece with raised parallelograms on crossbar; twin volume and tone controls with gold reflector knobs; three-ply w/b/w beveled pickguard, compensated adjustable rosewood saddle, gold reflector cap volume and tone knobs.

Notes: Featured on untold thousands of major studio recordings, movie and TV soundtracks as both a sideman and soloist, the late Howard Roberts may well have been the most prolifically recorded jazz guitarist of all time. Like his contemporary Johnny Smith, Roberts also consulted in the creation of a number of technically innovative instruments. Introduced in 1964, the Epiphone Howard Roberts Model combined an arched 16" Florentine cutaway body with a unique oval soundhole, a design with roots in Orville Gibson's very earliest guitars.

Borrowing the newly designed Johnny Smith floating humbucking pickup, this innovative guitar became an instant classic, with it's elegant neck, versatile voice, and stylish looks. Most importantly, the Epiphone original is the only model with a solid carved soundboard, and has an acoustic voice far superior to any of the later all-laminate Gibson HR reissues.

Built in Gibson's Kalamazoo plant, the Epiphone Howard Roberts was made for only six years, and was the firm's first round-hole archtop since the prewar L-4. Indeed, apart from the soundhole, the body of the HR is otherwise essentially identical to Gibson's acoustic L-4C model, with fingerboard inlays borrowed from the prewar Epiphone Spartan model.

This fine example is one of the last produced before the model was discontinued in 1969, and is remarkably free of pick, thumb or fingerboard wear, with signs of use mostly confined to a patch of buckle wear on the back, a small finish scratch near the knobs, and a slight bend in the D string tuner shaft. Also noteworthy is the original Johnny Smith pickup in a chrome finish, a version unique to this model alone.

At just 5lb 10oz, the guitar is happily light in weight, and well balanced on the lap. With smooth low action over fine original medium fretwork, the guitar has a fresh high-precision setup over a gentle D profile neck. The acoustic voice is distinctive as well, with a warmth and sustain reminiscent of some of the classic prewar archtops. When Gibson revived the Howard Roberts model in the mid-70's, it was converted to a fully laminate design, delivering a mere echo of the acoustic resonance of the Epiphone originals.

(Interestingly, while the instrument has a serial number from 1968, the factory logs show no examples of this specific model shipped that year, so it was most likely built in '67 or possibly '69, when just 9 examples left the plant.)

Often revived, but never equalled, the original Epiphone Howard Roberts is a rare and uniquely versatile instrument, and one of the better kept secrets of Gibson's Golden Years. One only: call now.

Setup: Trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.

This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel roundwound strings (.012). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.

Case: Deluxe black plush lined hardshell case.























































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