Not every great guitar traces its roots back to the so-called “Golden Age” of American Guitars, which is widely accepted to be most of the 1950s and then into the mid-1960s. In fact, a lot of awesome instruments have come along since then. The semi-hollowbody Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion III Model originally made its debut in 1980 and has been continually refined over the years since then. Though it still has all the classic Gibson features, like a laminated maple top, back, and sides with multi-ply binding, a one-piece maple neck with rounded profile, and two humbucking pickups, today’s Howard Roberts Fusion also has a deeper cutaway for better access to the upper frets and what Gibson calls the “fingers” tailpiece, with individual string angle adjustments. Looking at this guitar, with its beautiful vintage sunburst finish, it’s easy to imagine the wide range of music styles it can handle. Yes, it was designed primarily as a “jazz box,” but in truth, it’s so much more.
The best way to describe this guitar is to say it combines all the best features of Gibson’s two most iconic guitars, the Les Paul and the ES-335. Thanks to the onboard humbuckers, the Howard Roberts Fusion III can sound very much like a Les Paul when driven through a suitable amp with lots of overdrive. It’s also capable of great subtlety, which has always been the hallmark of great Gibson jazz guitars. Roll the volume back just a bit, select both pickups, and you’re in B.B. King blues country. Through an appropriate amp, you can easily solo in the style of session great Larry Carlton. The one-piece maple neck has a nice rounded profile – it’s not as big as those huge 1958 Les Paul necks, but neither is it as thin as the 1960s “slim-taper” neck profiles. More than a few guitar players who pick up a Howard Roberts Fusion III are surprised at just how good the neck feels. Naturally, a guitar this amazing comes standard with a plush-lined black, smooth levant hardshell case.