When it comes to guitars Howard Roberts name is on several fine instruments. Some were custom made and some were mass produced. All were made to his specifications.
Throughout his life, Howard favored Gibson and Epiphone archtop guitars. Early on Howard played an Epiphone Deluxe with a DeArmond pickup. He acquired a Gibson L-5 with a DeArmond pickup attached and later a Gibson L-10.
In the 1950's Roberts acquired a Gibson ES-175 with a single neck pickup. This was his main guitar throughout the '50's. He had a second ES-175 with a square hole cut into the guitars back. No one knows why he did this to the instrument.
Roberts was approached by CMI to design a signature guitar. His goal was to produce a guitar that he could hear over the amplification when he was playing. CMI assigned this to their newly acquired Epiphone division.
You can see Howard's Epiphone cherry red prototype in the classic book American Guitars, by Tom Wheeler. (If you do not own this book - get it!) Roberts thought the Epiphone guitars were too fragile and too expensive. There is a possibility the pickguard vibrated against the top of his instrument. The color pictures in American Guitar show that Roberts stuffed a matchbook between the scratchplate and the body.
Gibson maintained the elaborate headstock pearl inlay, which was on the original Epiphone model. The Gibson version sported a regular sized humbucking pickup or twin humbuckers.
There is also a Gibson Howard Roberts Custom model that was available with a Frequensator tailpiece, which was designed to make the length of the bass strings longer for a tighter feel, and the treble strings shorter for easier lead work.
Next Gibson designed the Howard Roberts Fusion III.
The final Gibson Howard Roberts guitar is the Howard Roberts Fusion. This guitar was made to handle both rock and jazz. It features twin humbucking pickups and a stop tailpiece, which cuts down on amplifier feedback.
The bar pickup was replaced with a P-90, later a humbucker was added to the bridge area. The guitar was painted black with white binding. The control knobs, headstock, pickguard, and tuning keys were all changed.
Howard Roberts designed the H.R. Chroma guitar as a teaching instrument. Only a handful were of these produced. The strings are multi-colored to correspond with the notes in the Howard Roberts Chroma instruction book.