I hang my HR1 next to my US made Gibson without reservation. If you get the chance to buy one, do it. I paid $250 used for it. I didn’t know the model when it appeared on Craigslist (neither did the seller) but found enough to identify it as a Howard Roberts model. When I finally set eyes on it I was not disappointed to learn it was a MIK model. The fit and finish is top notch. I plan to keep it and won’t sell unless I magically find a Gibson model for the same price (won’t happen!).
There’s a reason Howard Roberts models are coveted. Their body shape projects and, when paired with a floating pickup, offers a tone that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s also extremely comfortable. I’m 5’8” and was surprised its 16” bout fit me so well.
I’m hardly a jazz player, but find this amp pairs well with my JC40 or Deluxe Reverb. It sounds buttery, creamy, and I’m able to pull out tones that my other p90, single coil, and humbucker-equipped guitars can’t achieve.
I’m HR1 is a 1996 model. I would argue these mid-90s Samick-made guitars are as good as any 2020s hollow or semihollow model you can find. The maple sides and top, whether laminate or not, create a punchy projection. Notes carry well. The real treat is the neck and finish work. The neck is slim and feels like an electric. It allows the playing to move up and down the frets with ease. Achieving perfect intonation is easy. The inlays look fantastic, and the craftsmanship is there. The neck is perfectly set and all the finish work is on point.
The only thing that’s worth changing is the pickup. Between the pickup placement, which I feel is a little low hanging off the bridge, and somewhat anemic output, I sent mine to Kent Armstrong for a re-wind. Even with the stock pickup it’s a great guitar that I’ll be keeping. If you can find one for under $600, buy it. You’ll be glad you did.