Citron CB5

September 2001
Scott Shiraki
CB5Download File

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).


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.


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.