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Luthier Spotlight… Harvey S. Citron

Hi everyone in the bass community,

Let me introduce myself…. My name is Harvey Citron, I started playing guitar at age 11, and was always passionate about guitar and music. I played my first gig at age 12, and was playing a weekly dance with a band at a local school.

I began my career as a luthier by wiring an electric guitar a friend of mine had that I met in Architectural School, Joe Veillette. Lucky for me I had some friends that were working at Danny Armstrong’s shop on LaGuardia Place in NYC. Bob Castaldo, showed me how to wire the guitar and Sal Palazolla, who worked with Bill Lawrence at the time taught me how to wind pickups. I then helped complete the instrument—it needed a fingerboard, bridge, tailpiece, fretwork, tuning machines, etc. When we strung this instrument up and plugged it in, I felt like I had experienced a birth. My mind was blown, and I knew I had to build a guitar myself. I bought some neck wood and a fingerboard from Joe and began to build a neck. All of this happened in a 3-day weekend (I took Monday off from my job as an assistant architect).

In the year that followed my first guitar was completed, and I began winding my own pickups, experimenting with building my own coil forms, wire gauges, number of turns, etc. Some friends liked what I was doing, and I began building custom pickups, then customizing guitars with additional switching, bridges, etc. Joe and I decided to prototype a 32” scale electric bass, and electric guitar that through our association with Tom Vinci permitted our showing these two prototypes at a NAMM show in Chicago at Tom’s booth. These axes were very well received, and Joe and I decided to start building Veillette-Citron guitars and basses. From 1975- 1983 Joe and I built about 450-500 instruments (guitars, basses, and baritone guitars).

I realized that running a guitar company with employees was not nurturing me. I’m a designer first, craftsman second. I build to see my ideas come to fruition. I felt like a factory worker in my own business, and there was no time to experiment—we had to pay the bills. Our partnership ended, and I designed and built a guitar that was later produced by “Guild”. It was called the Guild/Citron X92 Breakaway Guitar. In the years that followed I built furniture, played gigs like crazy, and began to write product reviews for Guitar Player, later for Bass Player, and Guitar World magazines.

Michael Tobias moved to my area (we had known each other for years), and he started building MTD basses in his shop on his own. We became friends, and I realized that I had completely lost sight of how much fun it was to design and build instruments on my own. I had gotten into the head space that the only way to build instruments was by having a factory. I built one instrument with parts from Warmoth, experimenting on a “tele” bridge I had thought of. Then I built two guitars of my own design—loved it. I was hooked again. This occurred in 1994. Michael Tobias was an amazing help to me starting over. He was kind enough to show me construction techniques he was using, as well as help me move machines into my new shop. I’m very grateful for his help.

I built three prototypes, and brought them to NAMM 1995 in Anaheim—a 3-pickup electric guitar, a neck-through 5-string bass, and my first hollow bass.

While going to NAMM shows as a product reviewer I was thinking about the possibility of a bass that could balance like a Fender, have the sonic character of both a solid body and acoustic so that one bass would do the trick for a very wide variety of situations. That experiment was successful, and in the years that followed that bass concept has evolved, as well as spinoffs to guitars, experimenting with different woods, degrees and techniques of hollow, pickup design, electronics, etc.

Coming soon… Part 2 / Setup

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Lisa

    December 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Wonderful!!

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