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1981 Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion Vintage Semi-Hollow Sunburst w/ Tim Shaw, Tarback & Case


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Up for sale, a 1981 Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion in exceptional, 100% original condition and in perfect working order, complete with a hardshell case. This uncommon Gibson signature model was designed in collaboration with jazz guitarists, session veteran and educator Roberts, featuring a semi-hollow single-cutaway body with a maple body, maple center block, and a maple neck capped by an ebony fretboard, loaded with a unique pair of Gibson humbuckers (one Tim Shaw, one Tarback).

The slightly scaled down thinline body measures 14 3/4“ across at the lower bout and 2 5/16“ deep, and this guitar has a resonant, immediate acoustic response with great natural sustain and glassy articulation. At the heart of this Howard Roberts is its pickup pairing; a Tim Shaw PAF in the neck position and a Tarback at the bridge, with sequentially numbered ink stamps on the pickup baseplates, dating to January, 1981.

The Tim Shaw PAF represents Gibson's first, and arguably one of their most successful, attempts at recreating the magic of their late '50s humbucker design. Offered for only a few short years in the '80s, the Shaw PAFs have unoriented, rough cast Alnico V magnets, plastic spacers, and poly-coated wire, achieving the harmonic complexity, power, and tonal clarity of the original PAF. The Tarback in the bridge position has fewer winds than most Gibson humbucker designs, resulting in lively treble detail. The black epoxy that gives these pickups their name also ensures great feedback rejection. This Howard Roberts Fusion weighs 8lbs 13oz, professionally setup here at Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar with 11-49 strings, low action, and spot-on intonation.

Neck Specs:

-Wood: Maple
-Shape: Slender C, measuring .805” 1st fret, .975” 9th fret, 1.035” 12th fret
-Fretboard: Ebony, dot inlay
-Frets: Medium jumbo, faint wear beneath B and High E strings on frets 1-5
-Scale Length: 24 3/4”
-Nut: 1 11/16”
-Tuners: Schaller-made (Gibson-branded), keystone buttons
-Serialization: Serial dates to ‘81, Gibson Japan import sticker on back of peghead

Body Specs:

-Wood: Maple, maple center block
-Pickups: Tim Shaw PAF, Tarback, January, 1981 ink stamps (181) on baseplates
-Controls: Volume x2, Tone x2, Three-way pickup selector
-Hardware: Nashville bridge, TP-6 tailpiece
-Plastics: Four-ply pickguard, black speed knobs
-Label: Square Kalamazoo label visible through bass-side F hole

The gloss Tobacco Sunburst nitro lacquer finish highlights subtle curly figuring in the maple on the back, and cosmetic wear includes buckle rash on the back at the lower bout (not through the finish), light scuffing along the strum path which is largely constrained to the pickguard, and a few minor dings on the body as a whole, largely along the lower bout perimeter. The neck profile retains its smooth gloss, with a scant few shallow nicks.

A modern Gibson USA brown tolex hardshell case is included. The instrument and case both smell faintly of smoke.