BASS PLAYER, SEPTEMBER 2001
Harvey Citron is known for combining tight bass-building chops with forward-thinking design concepts. His latest creation, the CB5, merges the warm and resonant sounds of his Acoustic/Electric series (reviewed February ’99) with the punch and cut of his Bolt-On line (reviewed August ’00).
UNDER THE SONIC MICROSCOPE
In the studio the CB5 exhibited no problems with fret buzzes or noise caused by bad shielding. I cued up a techno-style track and plugged straight into my Digidesign Digi 001 hard-disk system. With the controls flat, the Citron spoke with a smooth and organic sound that complemented the jagged, robotic drums and sequenced lines. Notes sounded even all over the bass, with no hot notes.
THE BOOTY FACTOR
Citron’s goal was to produce a bass able to “blow down the walls.” Consequently, the CB5’s genesis was all about creating a bass with a fat low end. The main ingredients? A chambered ash body, “custom blend” humbucking pickups, and an Aguilar OBP-1 preamp. Citron’s Acoustic/Electric basses have a big bottom end and were influential in his decision to chamber out the CB5’s 2”-thick body. This feature noticeably enhanced the amount of air I could hear behind the notes—definitely more than your regular solid-body bass. Citron wouldn’t reveal too much about his pickups (a wise move since they sound unique), except that they are side-by-side double-coils with one ceramic magnet in each. Humbuckers sound fatter than single-coils, but they generally lack top-end clarity. However, when we boosted the treble knob the CB5 had more than enough high-end range.
Like its amp line, Aguilar’s OBP-1 sounds thick. The 18-volt system adds a powerful amount of headroom, and I was able to dial in enough bottom to rearrange my internal organs through our house Ampeg SVT. I started with the CB5’s bass control halfway up, but I soon realized even that was too much for most of our Soundroom cabs to handle.
Live, the CB5 was a joy to play and hear. I put it to the test at a small club with a notoriously bad-sounding room, playing through a Gallien-Krueger 1001RB powering an Ampeg SVT 8×10 cab in a rock/funk band. The CB5 was super responsive to how hard I plucked, and the electronics gave me enough onboard EQ flexibility that I was able to leave the amp settings alone. The CB5’s punch and low frequencies shook the stage when I wanted it to, and it retained presence and growl when I played softly. After two one-hour sets, the CB5 didn’t wear out my shoulder, and its good balance prevented left-hand strain, which can occur with headstock-heavy basses. The CB5’s substantial body size is not indicative of its weight—the body chambering and aluminum tuning gears and bridge all lighten the load. A Fender player who sat in commented on how easy the CB5 was to play. especially because of its Fender-style spacing at the bridge, thin oval-shaped neck, and the neck’s light tung-oil finish, which felt broken-in and never became sticky under the hot lights.
Citron has successfully merged traditional playability aspects with a powerful pre-amp and custom pickups. The CB5 feels familiar but sounds new and fresh, and its big price tag is fair considering its unique burly tone and top-notch craftsmanship.
Harvey Citron was profiled in Perspectives, March ’01.