Feature Articles/Guitars

This page features a specific guitar in the collection and lists a few historical facts on them, sources include Google searches, features in magazines and interview with guitarists etc….

First one in the series is the Gibson RD (updated 6 April 2018)

The Gibson RD series (guitar and bass) was the result of Gibson wanting to emulate a developing synthesizer market, which was thought to have taken customers away from guitars. Although not similar to the popular Les Paul series. The RD series had a longer scale (25½” as opposed to the more usual 24¾”; the bass guitar in the series had a 34½” scale), maple body shaped somewhat a fusion of Gibson’s explorer and Firebird and and pre-amplified (active) electronics. At the time Gibson was Nor,in owned which also owned the Moog Music Company. The active electronics were designed by Robert Moog, founder of MM, shortly before he left his own company, and included a compressor/ Expander operates with toggle switches. Five models were made: however the RD Standard and RD Standard) Bass did not have the active electronics available on the Artist, Custom Artist, and Artist Bass.

RD Artist 1977-82

The best known and top of the line RD, the Artist featured active circuitry with switchable bright mode, treble and bass boost, compression and expansion. It did not have a passive mode. The electronics consisted of a 9v battery powering a circuit board the length of the body, accessible from the back cover. It was also available as a bass. The neck scale was shortened in 1979 to 24¾”, a return to the standard Gibson scale used on other solid bodied guitars. The post ’79 instruments are less desirable today than the original ’77 Artist, which has become something of a modern classic. In recent years, RD Artists have become quite collectible among collectors and players alike.

RD Custom 1977-79

The Custom featured active circuitry with a switchable bright mode. The electronics consisted of a 9v battery powering a circuit board smaller than the Artists, but still of significant size, accessible from the back cover. No passive mode.

RD Standard 1977-79

The Standard was passive only, with none of the circuitry of the other two models. Also available as bass

RD Standard Reissues 2007 and 2009-2011

The Standard was reissued in Silverburst only, in a limited edition of just 400 guitars, as Gibson’s 48th “Guitar of the Week” series of 2007. In 2009, the Standard was reissued as a “limited run” model in Japan, available with an Ebony or Trans Amber finish. This reissue became available in the United States, as the RD Standard Exclusive, in 2011. Considerable modern changes were made to the reissued versions which made them quite different from the 1970s models; among the most notable being a mahogany body, rosewood fretboard, 24¾” neck scale, lack of the Moog electronics, and no contour on the front face of the main body wing. The 2007 model featured two Dirty Fingers pickups, whereas the 2009-11 models featured two Burstbucker Pro pickups.

RD Artist 2014

The RD Artist model was resurrected in 2014 as a Gibson Limited Run Model. This model included GEM Gibson Active pickups and the Gibson 120th Anniversary 12th fret inlay.

RD Artist 2018

The RD Artist model was again resurrected in 2018 as a 40-year anniversary Gibson Limited Run Model. This model is currently in use by a number of rock bands including the excellent Swedish outfit Ghost. Some pics feature the RD Standard 2018, although a RD Artist 1977/8 in Tobacco Sunburst can be seen in pic 3