BASS FRONTIERS, MAY/JUNE 1998
Citron BO4 Hands-on Review
Harvey Citron has been building and designing guitars and basses since the early 1970s. His name may ring a bell to most of us from his work with Veillette-Citron during the mid 70s through to the early 8Os. Today, Harvey Citron is designing and building guitars and basses under his own surname in his shop in Woodstock, New York. Citron is home to a number of different guitars and basses both neck-thru and bolt-on configurations as well as acoustic/electric guitars and basses too.
Our test model was a BO4, BO standing for bolt-on of course. Can you guess what the designation for the neck-thru models is? Yep, you guessed it NT. Anyway, our test model came as a lined, fretless, 4 string. By the way, there is no extra charge for a fretless bass from Citron, BRAVO!! The dimensions were really straight forward with a 34” scale length, 1–5/8” at the nut and spacing at the bridge. The instrument immediately felt comfortable.
The body is a two piece Swamp Ash body with a two piece Curly Maple top. Between the body and the top is a thin stripe of Maple that has been dyed black, thus giving a nice line to the shape of the body. The neck is a three piece laminate of quartersawn Hard Rock Maple which is then topped with an Ebony, lined fretless fingerboard. The headstock is topped with a piece of Curly Maple with a thin stripe of dyed black Maple just below it, just like the matching body. There is a small volute at the bass of the headstock. The neck is joined to the body by means of the standard four-bolt configuration. We were able to slip a.010 feeler gauge into the neck joint at certain points but nevertheless, the neck was bolted solid to the body and never once shifted or moved. The heel was well rounded and angled slightly so it didn’t get in the way of those upper registers. The bottom cutaway also allowed for some of the larger hands in our test shop to get up to those higher registers without any problems. The entire instrument is then stained red and finished in a hand rubbed polymerized tung oil. This really gives the instrument a nice warm feel and sound. Especially to the flattened oval neck. The instrument is accented with gold plated Gotoh tuners and a gold plated Wilkinson bridge along with gold plated control knobs.
Citron offers a number of different pickups with his instruments along with his own line of custom blended pickups. Our test model came with a set of Bartolini humbuckers powered by a Bartolini 18 volt system. The controls are pretty standard including a master volume, pickup blend, treble, mid & bass boost/cut, and a three-position midrange selector switch. The midrange selector switch has three preset positions for different variations of mid boost. The control cavity was a little hectic but it was nicely shielded by copper foil throughout thus eliminating any unwanted noises. It was also covered with a matching piece of Swamp Ash instead of the usual plastic, just like the truss rod cover. Nice touch!
I thought the Citron BO4 played and felt very nice right out of the box. It didn’t need any adjustments whatsoever. The natural wood really gave the instrument a nice, warm, woody feel. That, along with the Bartolinis also allowed for a variety of full, warm, woody tones too. The bass had an overall singing sort of quality to it. Something which is hard to find in most fretless basses.
Funny how we keep coming back to that word again. It might have something to do with Citron’s affection for wood in his instruments. The neck felt very comfortable and friendly. Again, the natural wood allowed for a very fast and sleek feel to the neck. Just like an old worn P bass or Jazz bass neck would feel. The other thing that I really dug about the bass was the fact that it is fairly light and well balanced when strapped on. I would have liked to have tried out a fretted model as well just to ease my own curiosity. Our test model was more than enough though to tell that these basses are top quality instruments. If you’re looking for a top quality, hand made, custom instrument, the Citron BO4 is definitely an instrument you should check out.
Reprinted with permission from Bass Frontiers Magazine