Join the FlyGuitars mailing list

Expand the categories below, or go back home

Bass Strings
Buying and Selling
Epiphone
Forum
Gibson
Basses
20/20
EB-0
EB-0F
EB-1
EB-2
EB-3
EB-4L
G-1 Grabber
G-3
Gibson bass story - CMI
L-9S Ripper
Les Paul
RD series
RD Artist
1978 RD Artist (Ebony)
1978 RD Artist (Fireburst)
1981 RD Artist CMT
Controls
Prices & Publicity
Soundclips
Tech. Info
Timeline
RD forum posts
RD prod. totals
RD Standard
SB series
SG Reissue
SG-Z
Thunderbird
Victory
Books
Guitars
Parts (bass)
Publicity
Serial Numbers
Home
Interviews
RSS Feed
Search
Sitemap

Bass at zZounds.com
welcome to Fly Guitars! The home of the hippest, badest, and coolest vintage guitars
New Gibson basses
Short Scale Thunderbird in stock
www.musiciansfriend.com
Gibson Bass Parts
pickup, bridge, tuners
www.guitarandbassparts.com
Gibson Shipment Totals
All Gibson insts. 1937-79
www.amazon.com

The Gibson RD Artist Bass Guitar

Above: 1978 Gibson RD Artist bass in Fireburst finish. Below: 1981 RD Artist bass with Curly Maple Top - in Antique SunburstThe RD Artist was launched in late 1977, after two years of development (see the RD Artist timeline), as Gibsons first active bass guitar. According to the Gibson product development director at the time, Bruce Bolen, it had been designed from a "musical purpose" point of view, "to determine what the musical instrument is supposed to accomplish".

Gibson had worked closely with Moog (at this time both companies were subsidaries of Norlin) and Who bassist John Entwistle, to create a bass that would benefit from the newly emerging electronics being fitted to basses by manufacturers like Alembic. Bruce Bolen explains, in this 1978 quote, some of the vision behind the RD Artist.

Bruce Bolen0One of the particular musical qualities that I personally was looking for in one of the models, was a similar effect to that of a steel player - this being the reduction of the intitial attack and the swell of the note after the initial attack had been made. A steel player of course uses a volume pedal to accomplish this but it was still something missing. Bob designed a special circuit that would achieve this as well as an expansion circuit unlike any other that had been designed to date.0

ModelRD Artist bass
Available1977-81
PickupsMark V humbuckers
Hardware3-point chrome bridge, and Schaller BM or occasionally M-4 machine heads
Scale34 3/8 inch
BodyMaple
NeckThree-piece maple set neck, with ebony or maple fretboard
FinishesNatural, ebony, antique sunburst and fireburst.

Justin Meldal Johnsen with RD Artist bass
Justin Meldal-Johnsen: "the basic tone is cool, particularly with flats". Read more in the GibsonBass JMJ interview
Ralphe Armstrong with fretless RD Artist bass
Ralphe Armstrong: "I liked because it was big and it had a long fingerboard; you can play a G harmonic on it and it had a big sound". Read more in the GibsonBass Ralphe Armstrong interview
Krist Novoselic with ebony RD Artist bass
Krist Novoselic plays and records with several Gibson basses. In the Nirvana days he was regularly seen with a Gibson Ripper, and as pictured here, a black RD Artist bass. Image courtesey Brad Barrish, whatevernevermind.com
It was a very high quality instrument with a terrific array of sounds, but John Entwistle soon stepped away from the project. It didn't sell in huge numbers, but did replace the Ripper as Gibsons best-selling bass of 1978 and 1979.

The RD artist first appeared in the 1978 RD catalogue and then the 1978 Quality/Prestige/Innovation catalogue, along with the RD standard, and a range of RD guitars.


RD Artist controls

The four dials on the active RD guitars were a volume for each pickup, as would be expected, a treble control, and a bass control. The unusual thing about the bass and treble controls was that they operated in the range 5 to -5, with 0 being the neutral position. Listen to this clip - it demonstrates the RD bass at its most mellow (neck pickup, bass 5, treble -5) and then again at its most brash (bridge pickup, bass -5, treble 5 expansion and bright mode). This was recorded with a second version Artist bass; the earliest versions were not able to employ expansion and bright mode simultaneously. These sounds are extremes, but the RD can do anything in between.

Gibson describes the first-version RD controls in the RD-77 owners manual, and the 1978 RD control description flyer. For differences between the first and second versions, see the 1978 RD Artist and 1981 RD Artist pages.

Expansion, compression and bright mode circuitry

The RD Artist requires a 9 volt battery to operate; it has no passive mode. When the input jack is removed from the instrument it draws no power, so to prolong battery life, it should be left unplugged when not in use.

RD Artist bass compression graph

Compression - neck pickup only. As can be seen in the graph, compression reduces the fundamental attack, and 'compresses' each note into a long sustaining signal.

Listen to this clip of the RD Artist neck pickup (bass 0, treble 0); the first few notes are without compression, the second few notes are with. Notice the way the second clip sustains for significantly longer.





RD Artist bass expansion graph

Expansion - bridge pickup only. Offers a very fast, explosive response, with a rapid decay.

Listen to this clip of the RD Artist bridge pickup (bass 0, treble 0); the first few notes are without expansion, the second few notes are with. Notice the difference.

When both pickups are selected, the neck will undergo compression whilst the bridge is subject to expansion



Bright Mode - affects the output of either (or both) pickup, and as the description suggests, accentuates the treble frequencies. This final clip demonstrates both pickups (bass 0, treble 0), without, and then with the bright mode activated.





US ebay listings

Pickguard for Gibson Les Paul Guitar Pin Up Girl 4 RD

Current price: $22.16
buy it now
Time left: 6h 6m
Pickguard for Gibson Les Paul Guitar Hawaiian Print RD

Current price: $22.16
buy it now
Time left: 6h 11m
Pickguard Pick Guard for Gibson Les Paul Guitar RD Lace

Current price: $22.16
buy it now
Time left: 6h 13m
Pickguard Pick Guard for Gibson Les Paul Guitar RD Boot

Current price: $22.16
buy it now
Time left: 6h 13m
Pickguard 4 Gibson SG Standard Guitar Pin Up Girl 4 RD

Current price: $36.33
buy it now
Time left: 6h 23m
Pickguard for Gibson SG Standard Guitar Resurrection RD

Current price: $36.33
buy it now
Time left: 6h 27m
Pickguard for Gibson SG Standard Guitar Hawaii Print RD

Current price: $36.33
buy it now
Time left: 6h 29m
Pickguard for Gibson SG Standard Guitar Paisley RD

Current price: $36.33
buy it now
Time left: 6h 31m
Pickguard for Gibson Flying V Guitar Paisley RD NEW

Current price: $44.00
buy it now
Time left: 6h 39m
Pickguard for Gibson SG 61 RI Guitar Pin Up Girl 4 RD

Current price: $24.81
buy it now
Time left: 6h 41m
Pickguard 4 Gibson SG 61 ReIssue Guitar Resurrection RD

Current price: $24.81
buy it now
Time left: 6h 44m
Pickguard 4 Gibson SG 61 ReIssue Guitar Hawaii Print RD

Current price: $24.81
buy it now
Time left: 6h 46m
Pickguard for Gibson SG 61 Re Issue Guitar Paisley RD

Current price: $24.81
buy it now
Time left: 6h 48m
Kit Pickguard 4 Gibson Les Paul Guitar Pin Up Girl 4 RD

Current price: $36.33
buy it now
Time left: 7h 46m
Kit Pickguard Cover 4 Gibson Les Paul Guitar Paisley Rd

Current price: $36.33
buy it now
Time left: 7h 50m
1979 Gibson RD Artist,RD Custon,RD Standard electric guitars print Ad

Current price: $8.45

Time left: 2d 34m
Vintage Circa 1977 Gibson RD Artist Custom Bass w/ Moog Electronics & Hard Case

Current price: $2195.00
buy it now
Time left: 2d 52m
1979 GIBSON RD STANDARD OWNERS MANUAL WITH WARRANTY CARD

Current price: $10.99
buy it now
Time left: 2d 3h 13m
70's Gibson RD Guitar PICKGUARD Artist Standard Custom Pick Guard

Current price: $99.99
buy it now
Time left: 2d 9h 40m
Single or Full Sets Gibson Vintage Reissue Premium Electric Guitar Strings 10`

Current price: $3.34
buy it now
Time left: 2d 19h 43m
See more results on eBay here


UK ebay listings

Vintage Circa 1977 Gibson RD Artist Custom Bass w/ Moog Electronics & Hard Case

Current price: £1308.26
buy it now
Time left: 2d 52m
Single or Full Sets Gibson Vintage Reissue Premium Electric Guitar Strings 10`

Current price: £1.99
buy it now
Time left: 2d 19h 43m
Gibson Masterbuilt Premium Bronze Acoustic Guitar String 3rd .022 U Light Gauge

Current price: £0.99
buy it now
Time left: 3d 23h 6m
VINTAGE 1970's USA GIBSON LES PAUL SPEED KNOB SET SG RD 1977 1978 1979

Current price: £29.79
buy it now
Time left: 6d 20h 8m
GIBSON BEAUTIFUL RD CUSTOM CIRCA 1977 WOHSC

Current price: £950.65
buy it now
Time left: 8d 1h 6m
1970s Gibson Speed Knob Set of 4- RD SG Deluxe Special Standard Custom Roberts

Current price: £47.68
buy it now
Time left: 8d 22h 38m
New Gibson USA Guitar / Bass Hard Shell TKL Case 4 SG RD T-Bird ? Worldwide Ship

Current price: £119.20
buy it now
Time left: 10d 16h 37m
1973 Vintage Original Gibson Les Paul Pots and Caps 23rd week of 73 44PT1

Current price: £105.50
buy it now
Time left: 10d 22h 58m
1979 GIBSON RD ARTIST BASS - BLACK - ORIGINAL CASE

Current price: £1895.00
buy it now
Time left: 13d 16h 4m
1977 Gibson Strap Button Set with Screws For Les Paul SG L6-S S1 Marauder RD USA

Current price: £23.83
buy it now
Time left: 15d 7h 31m
1978 GIBSON RD ARTIST BASS & GUITAR PINUP AD

Current price: £4.76
buy it now
Time left: 16d 1h 53m
Gibson RD CMT 1982 RARE

Current price: £1579.45
buy it now
Time left: 16d 17h 46m
1974 Gibson Strap Buttons w Screws For Les Paul SG L6-S S1 Marauder RD USA

Current price: £13.24
buy it now
Time left: 19d 8h 40m
1980s Gibson Strap Button Set & Screws 4 Les Paul Sonex SG Invader RD Challenger

Current price: £20.85
buy it now
Time left: 19d 9h 22m
VINTAGE 1973 USA GIBSON LES PAUL GUITAR SPEED KNOB SET SG RD 1974

Current price: £53.05
buy it now
Time left: 26d 21h 1m
See more results on eBay here

Comment on this article

All comments are moderated. Name and email details are required.

Name
Email address
Your comments

Anti-spam question - just to prove you are human

How many legs does a spider have?

Bass Strings
flats, rounds, all scales
www.musicsupplystore.net
New Gibson basses
SGs, Thunderbirds, Les Pauls
www.musiciansfriend.com

Home | Sitemap | Contact | Bass Strings
Vintage Guitar Information | Vintage Guitars For Sale