I chose this guitar because I couldn't find the same in a Gibson model. If this guitar were lost or stolen I'd try to find a replacement, but doubt I could. The stock pickup is pretty poor-sounding, and that's its main drawback. That's easily fixed, however, and a worthwhile modification. The other drawback is its tendency to feed back at higher volumes, but this can also be remedied by a good guitar tech. My favorite aspects of this guitar are that it looks, plays, and sounds great, and hardly anybody else plays one...
Model Year: 1997
Price: $700.00 (new)
Where Obtained: Renegade Music (mail order)
Korean-made, laminated maple body/mahogany neck; single Florentine cutaway with oval soundhole; rosewood fingerboard w/ m.o.p. inlays; wine red finish; tune-o-matic style bridge; non-locking tuners; gold-plated hardware.
This guitar feels and plays quite well. I had to have my tech add a strut under the bridge to cure a tendency to feed back. Replaced the stock pickup with a Kent Armstrong (the stock pickup was too hot and the tone too strident), and now sounds great. The nice wide neck is great for comping, and single line runs work nicely too, and the action can be adjusted fairly low (I use flatwound 012's). A very nice jazz guitar for a reasonable price, with the modifications noted.
I play this guitar through an old Roland Cube-60 amp with no effects, except for the amp's on-board reverb. Sounds very 'round' with good woody tone, and nice jazz 'bark' when playing percussively. It compares very nicely to my '66 ES-175, and I use the 'Howard' almost exclusively, except in higher-volume playing situations. Not recommended for anything other than jazz playing, really.
I do a decent bit of live playing with this guitar, and no problems noted. Once/year or so I have my tech set it up, and it stays in tune very well. Not really affected by climate changes, etc. The gold hardware oxidizes easily, but a little 0000 steel wool fixes it right up.