Gibson RD

Solid bodied electric guitar

From top to bottom, the Gibson RD Artist, RD Custom, and RD Standard guitars

From top to bottom, the Gibson RD artist, RD custom and RD standard guitars

The Gibson 1978 RD guitar and bass catalogue

Gibson 1978 RD guitar and bass catalogue

The 1978 electrics catalogue entitled Quality / Prestige / Innovation

Gibson 1978 Quality /Prestige /Innovation catalogue

The RD series made it onto the cover of the May '78 Gibson price list

Gibson price list May 15th 1978

The Gibson RD line of Guitars was unveiled in 1977. It consisted of three six-string guitar models (RD artist, RD custom and RD standard) and two basses (RD artist and RD standard). RD stands for research and development.... and this range of instruments certainly was a technological leap forward for the Gibson company. At the centre of this innovation was the RD Artist guitar and bass. Not only were they Gibsons first active instruments, but they were also equipped with Moog (another Norlin company) expansion/compression circuitry.

Throughout the 70s Gibson experimented with guitars that were completely different from its older mahogany solid-bodies. Taking ques from other manufacturers, and coming up with ideas of their own. Newer models had been made from maple (L5-S, L-6S) with a bolt-on neck (Marauder and S-1) and now were being taken one step further still with the RD series; aswell as active electronics, the guitars were Gibson's first extra long scale instrument (25 1/2" as opposed to the usual 24 3/4"). According to early literature, were designed "with size, shape, and density of materials, chosen for their brightness, brilliance, sustain and comfort"

Bruce Bolen

The Gibson Product development director at the time was Bruce Bolen. in this 1978 he explains the vision behind the RD artist.

One 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.

RD guitar users

RD Artist
Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters)
Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
Alan Kendall (Bee Gees)
Rob Dean (Japan)

RD Custom
Dave Grohl

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US ebay listings

Gibson 1977 RD Custom

Current price: $1699.99
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1982 Gibson GK-55 Artist Active Moog Black RD Ebony Fingerboard

Current price: $895.00
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Gibson RD 79 Style Guitar Template MDF 0.50"

Current price: $80.50
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Gibson RD 77 Guitar Template MDF 0.50"

Current price: $80.50
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Time left: 29d 22h 16m

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RD gassss Comment left 8th July 2012 16:04:49 reply
RDs are some of the best guitars Gibson ever made. When will they put out a true reissue with moog board. I want one. Mega GAS!