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What happened to the Epi Howard Roberts?


croth
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They seemed to have reached a peak in popularity just less than 2 short years ago and interest in them has seemed to have waned.

 

I can't figure it out. Here you have a solid wood, carved-top instrument with an apparently excellent grade spruce and mahogany, along with intricate block inlays, a Johnny Smith humbucker, fine electronics and high quality tuners; in other words, a guitar that, if ordered built by a modern luthier, would cost in the $7-8,000 range, and they're not as sought after as they were a short time ago. I own a 1967 and it compares very favorably with a Campellone Deluxe I also am fortunate enough to own but at twice the price.

 

Can anyone explain this apparent falling out of favor? Anyone else own one?

 

By the way, mine is one of the very few (maybe the only one) that has the electronics floating on the pickguard so that the top remains untouched.

 

122-2204_IMG.jpg?t=1281551459

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I can only surmise that since full hollow body archtops are a very small sliver of the overall guitar market, and single floating pickup type even less popular within that segment, that Epi pulled the model due to minimal sales.

 

Same with most of the Elitist line.

 

Nice HR, BTW.

 

http://www.epiphonewiki.com/index.php?title=Howard_Roberts

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Intersting HR with the controls on the pickguard like that. It seems to me that I recall an old HR coming through here at some point that was made completely acoustic.

Yes, there was a recently posted pic of an original HR that was fully acoustic. HRs are neat instruments, but market interest is small for a fully hollow one pickup guitar, and the round soundhole probably just "doesn't look right" to a lot of folks. Unless you're trying to sell, don't worry about it & enjoy the vintage vibe!

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  • 3 months later...

I can only surmise that since full hollow body archtops are a very small sliver of the overall guitar market, and single floating pickup type even less popular within that segment, that Epi pulled the model due to minimal sales.

 

Same with most of the Elitist line.

 

Nice HR, BTW.

 

http://www.epiphonewiki.com/index.php?title=Howard_Roberts

>

I know this response comes months after the fact, but i haven't had a chance to get back here since. Your observation about the electronics is interesting and knowledgable. It is true that a few of these guitars were made as acoustic models. That was a question I raised when I acquired it. However, in those cases, the serial numbers (or at least the labels inside) were marked accordingly. This one has no such marking. According to a communication with Gibson/Epiphone, they believe that a few were actually produced this way. According to the person who appraised the instrument (Buzzy of Lark Street Music), his opinion was that it all was period-correct and most likely factory-made this way, based on the precision of the installation and particularly the accuracy of the cutout around the pickup. It is also, of course, a true Johnny Smith pickup, exactly as used by Epiphone at the time. And, again, the label is not marked "Acoustic".

 

Either way, it is a wonderful sounding and playing guitar.

Thanks for your input.

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>

I know this response comes months after the fact, but i haven't had a chance to get back here since. Your observation about the electronics is interesting and knowledgable. It is true that a few of these guitars were made as acoustic models. That was a question I raised when I acquired it. However, in those cases, the serial numbers (or at least the labels inside) were marked accordingly. This one has no such marking. According to a communication with Gibson/Epiphone, they believe that a few were actually produced this way. According to the person who appraised the instrument (Buzzy of Lark Street Music), his opinion was that it all was period-correct and most likely factory-made this way, based on the precision of the installation and particularly the accuracy of the cutout around the pickup. It is also, of course, a true Johnny Smith pickup, exactly as used by Epiphone at the time. And, again, the label is not marked "Acoustic".

 

Either way, it is a wonderful sounding and playing guitar.

Thanks for your input.

 

Oops, this reply was meant to be attached to RTH's post, but somehow got attached to the wrong one. Sorry.

 

Anyway, to address your comment, you have a point about hollow body archtops, etc, but this guitar is not from the Epiphone that you know of today. This is a vintage guitar from 1967, just after Epiphone, an independent maker of excellent guitars, sold itself to Gibson. This is one of the last of the "true" Epiphones, not built as a low-end Gibson. Once Gibson acquired the company, and the rights to the guitar, they soon began producing it under their own name. However, Gibson turned it into a laminated guitar, still an excellent guitar and there are probably more pictures of HR playing the Gibson than the Epiphone, but yet not the solid wood, carved top excellence of the first Epiphone HR's.

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>

I know this response comes months after the fact, but i haven't had a chance to get back here since. Your observation about the electronics is interesting and knowledgable. It is true that a few of these guitars were made as acoustic models. That was a question I raised when I acquired it. However, in those cases, the serial numbers (or at least the labels inside) were marked accordingly. This one has no such marking. According to a communication with Gibson/Epiphone, they believe that a few were actually produced this way. According to the person who appraised the instrument (Buzzy of Lark Street Music), his opinion was that it all was period-correct and most likely factory-made this way, based on the precision of the installation and particularly the accuracy of the cutout around the pickup. It is also, of course, a true Johnny Smith pickup, exactly as used by Epiphone at the time. And, again, the label is not marked "Acoustic".

 

Either way, it is a wonderful sounding and playing guitar.

Thanks for your input.

 

Thanks for the info on the HR. Good to know that all of those variations are from the factory. It definitely helps to know this when people come here to ask about thier HR guitars. Excellent info, and I wont forget it. [thumbup]

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I can only surmise that since full hollow body archtops are a very small sliver of the overall guitar market, and single floating pickup type even less popular within that segment, that Epi pulled the model due to minimal sales.

 

Yes, unfortunately full hollowbodies are a miniscule part of the electric market, and floating PU models are much rarer still. Teenagers buy most of the guitars, and they prefer pointy ones with morbid pictures on them (apparently taste is something you grow into).

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  • 1 year later...
  • 4 years later...

Bought one used from Lark Street Music. This is before Gibson opened the Qingdao Factory and was still contracting to Samick and made in Korea. One $$$ short cut was to not have the frets glued in. With a pressed formed top, the wood never matures/opens up over time. A pretty dead guitar compared to the original U.S. made Epiphone I played in '67-72.It had a weird bout as well, getting bigger/deeper but still no tone as an acoustic. Sold it at a loss and never looked back.

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  • 4 years later...

I’m pretty sure (if not positive) I was the original owner of the HR that’s pictured.  The pickguard mounted controls are the giveaway. If it has (unpictured) an almost imperceptible wood inlay (original!) near the neck heel then that’s it.  Wish I’d never sold it. Best jazz tone of the the many archtops I’ve owned in the 50+ years I’ve played. Octave sound to die for. 

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