Gibson RD Artist

Solid bodied electric guitar

The three versions of the RD artist. left: the RD 77, middle: the RD 79, right the RD CMT. There are a number of differences, in electronics, hardware and also scale. These are summarised below.

Model: RD 77
Available: 1977-79
Pickups: Gold-plated series VI humbuckers.
Active / Passive: Active, 9V
Body: Maple
Neck: Laminated maple. Ebony fretboard with pearl block markers. Bound headstock with pearl inlay. Neck bound from 1979.
Width at nut: 1 11/16"
Frets: 22
Scale: 25 1/2"
Hardware: Schaller tuners, tune-o-matic bridge and stop tailpiece. Gold-plated throughout. Black speed knobs.
Finishes: Antique Sunburst, Ebony, Natural, Fireburst
Notes: Two volume, master treble, master bass controls. 3-way pickup selector, 3-position mode switch
 expansion/comp.
 neutral
 bright/lead
Model: RD 79
Available: 1979-81
Pickups: Gold-plated series VI humbuckers.
Active / Passive: Active, 9V
Body: Maple
Neck: Laminated maple. Ebony fretboard with pearl block markers. Bound headstock with pearl inlay. Neck bound from 1979.
Width at nut: 1 11/16"
Frets: 22
Scale: 24 3/4"
Hardware: Schaller tuners, tune-o-matic bridge and TP6 tailpiece. Gold-plated throughout. Black speed knobs.
Finishes: Antique Sunburst, Ebony, Natural
Notes: Two volume, master treble, master bass controls. 3-way pickup selector, 2 mini toggle switches
 expansion/comp.
 bright/lead
Model: RD CMT
Available: 1981
Pickups: Nickel-plated series VI humbuckers, with cream pickup surrounds
Active / Passive: Active, 9V
Body: Bound maple with curly maple top
Neck: No headstock inlays
Width at nut: 1 11/16"
Frets: 22
Scale: 24 3/4"
Hardware: Schaller tuners, tune-o-matic bridge and TP6 tailpiece. Nickel-plated throughout. Gold speed knobs.
Finishes: Antique Sunburst, Antique Cherryburst
Notes: Two volume, master treble, master bass controls. 3-way pickup selector, 2 mini toggle switches
 expansion/comp.
 bright/lead
1981 RD Artist CMT

A fine example of a CMT RD Artist, with a particularly nice top veneer

When the RD Series of guitars and basses were first designed, the Gibson Research and Development department wanted to pack their electronic innovations into the most suitable body. The RD guitars were styled at the same time as their active circuitry was developed, in this way the design of this instrument was a completely integral process. The result of this integral design is quite obvious - guitars and basses that are balanced and effective without gadgetry or ornamentation

The RD series consisted of three guitars and two basses, but this was certainly the flagship instrument. All advertisements featured the new active Artist models - which is not surprising as these were certainly very new and groundbreaking guitars

RD Artist headstock inlay

The scale of the RD77 was 25 1/2" - the longest Gibson guitar produced. When it was replaced with the more traditionally scaled (24 3/4") RD-79, the longer-scale RD-77 was still available as a custom order, at the same price. These new RD-77s still had the RD-79 expansion/compression switches.

In March 1981, Gibson announced to dealers a limited run of 100 RD CMT guitars, for delivery in April. Ths guitars had mixed features; a slab body with a curly maple top, bound and with no contours. Hardware was nickel plated rather than gold, and there were no pearl inlays, just a Gibson decal. The price list released at the same time (April 1st 1981) has no mention of any RD guitars, so these were very definitely an end-of-the-line model. Was this Gibsons attempt to shift some RD Artists at a reduced price?

The RD Artist guitar and bass had a unique new "Flying f-hole" headstock inlay design. It was created by Gibson design artist Chuck Burge - an f-shaped soundhole with wings, and a lightning bolt in it's center to represent the active nature of the instruments.

Electric guitar advertisements originally published from 1978 onwards. Click on the images for larger copies. Check out other vintage Gibson advertisements

Gibson RD Artist - Passive Active Gibson RD

Gibson RD Artist - Passive Active Gibson RD (1978)
Advertisement from the magazine Music Life (April 78), which comes from Japan. The functionality of the RD artist guitar is explained in detail (In Japanese)
[more]

Gibson RD Artist - There Is No Energy Shortage

Gibson RD Artist - There Is No Energy Shortage (1979)
Late seventies advertisement for the RD Artist guitars and basses, detailing the active electronics and the expansion/compression features built into these guitars
[more]

Gibson RD Artist - The Active Sound Of The 80s

Gibson RD Artist - The Active Sound Of The 80s (1979)
This advert features three Artist series guitars; each with active electronics designed by Bob Moog: the RD Artist which had been around since 1977, the semi-acoustic ES Artist and Les Paul Artist,...
[more]

Gibson RD Artist - Power Play - Basses Loaded

Gibson RD Artist - Power Play - Basses Loaded (1979)
This advert for the RD series actually appeared on two consecutive pages of the magazines in which they were printed. The top half, for the RD Artist guitar on the left, the RD Artist bass on the r...
[more]

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VINTAGE 1978 GIBSON RD CUSTOM ELECTRIC GUITAR NATURAL FINISH

Current price: $1999.00
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Gibson RD Artist '78 Used w/ Hard case

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jan Comment left 22nd January 2014 20:08:18 reply
I have been offered a 1979 RD guitar. MY doubt is if this guitar is TOTALLY ACTIVE or if it can work as an ordinary guitar also. Is it dual active/passive or does it ONLY works with the 9V battery,and how long does the battery last . thanks a lot Jan price is arround U$2.500 is this price ok ?