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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gibson RD Artist

Here's an email I received earlier from Guitarz reader Karl:
I recently found an interesting guitar on German eBay. It's said to be a 1977 Gibson RD Artist.

The RD series were produced between 1977 and 1979. According to www.vintageguitarz.org it contained three six-string guitars and two four-string basses.

The six-strings have a 25.5" scale and 2 humbuckers (active and passive, depending on the model). Body and neck are both made of laminated marple, the fretboard of ebony.

Actually I've never heard about this before (but before I starded reading Guitarz I didn't know Gibson's Kalamazoo and Corvus either) and I wonder whether it's a collectable item, quality instrument or just some kind of student model made to close a gap in Gibson's price list.

Karl Dreyer
Hi Karl, as far as I remember the RD series were top of the line Gibsons at the time, but have vanished into near obscurity as have many other models including the relatively recent Blueshawk and Nighthawk models which were said to be fantastic guitars but just didn't capture the public's imagination (basically they weren't Les Pauls!). The RD Artist was the top model in the series and featured active electronics courtesy of Bob Moog - yes, the now legendary Moog synthesizer guy. That's why there's such a large access panel on the back of the guitar pictured here. However, from what my memory is telling me, these active electronics weren't too popular with guitarists and were a major contributing factor to the downfall of this model.

No doubt other Guitarz readers will be able to name players who used the Gibson RD (Artist or otherwise) but the only one that springs to my mind is Bram Tchaikovsky of The Motors (who remembers their hit "Airport"?) and also his own eponymously-named band, and who endorsed the RD Artist back in the day.

Quite a few of the RD Artists that come up for sale on eBay have the Moog electronics removed and/or doctored. They seem hard to come by in their original condition. Personally, I've always liked the guitar visually; unfortunately I've never had the opportunity to try one for myself. I'd call it a quality instrument, but obviously with the original active electronics it's not going to be to everyone's tastes.

G L Wilson

Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - now in its 10th year!

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