GUITAR PLAYER, JANUARY 1999
Bench Tests Piezo Plus (Citron AEG-S)
When it comes to blending convincing electric tones with an authentic acoustic feel, few guitars match the AEG-S ($2,799). The slender, spruce-topped mahogany hollowbody has a single magnetic pickup mounted within its oval soundhole and a piezo transducer beneath an acoustic-style bridge. Some details—such as the modem cutaway and horns, skinny headstock, and mono/stereo switch—recall a Parker Fly. But Citron inverts the Parker equation: the Fly is a solidbody electric that can sound surprisingly acoustic, while the AEG-S is an acoustic that also does electric.
Citron’s custom-wound pickup is central to the guitar’s excellent acoustic tones. It’s a perfect complement to the guitar’s EMG piezoelectric pickup system, adding warmth and low-midrange thump. The blend offers a markedly truer approximation of acoustic sound and feel than a Fly, a Duo-Tone, or the Carvin AE185.
On its own, the magnetic pickup provides a very attractive electric sound. It can grunt and grind, though there’s always a handsome acoustic quality. Like the Carvin, the low register of the AEG-S can suggest a Gibson hollowbody electric, yet there’s also a wonderful Tele-like brilliance. It’s the sort of body-to-bite ratio you’d expect from a good F-hole Tele, but with even more woodiness. This would be a very cool guitar even if it only had tile single magnetic pickup.
The AEG-S is light and well balanced. The wide, tallish frets feel nice, and the slender neck is definitely more electric than acoustic. The contoured heel is very comfortable, and the neck joint feels super-tight. Workmanship is solid throughout, although the necks open-grain wood and painted-looking finish feel a bit cheap. A hand-rubbed oil finish is also available.
The wiring scheme emphasizes power over simplicity—eight controls are a lot for a guitar with just two pickups! Unlike the Carvin, with its single piezo tone control, the Citron offers 3-band EQ. A concentric knob regulates treble and bass, and another two-way knob sets midrange boost/cut and the center frequency. (The dramatic, wah-like sweep of the frequency pot is a cool effect in its own right.) There’s a single passive tone control for the mag pickup, a master volume knob, and a fader to blend the two systems. The mono/stereo toggle lets you split the out via a stereo cable or combine both systems in mono. The cavity is fully shielded, and the wiring is solid.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Combining acoustic and electric flavors is always a compromise, but Citron comes closer to triumphing on both fronts than almost anyone else. The innovative AEG-S offers one of the best amplified acoustic Sounds anywhere—plus a unique and attractive electric voice.
Reprinted with permission from Guitar Player Magazine