Issued during Gibson’s infamous “Norlin era,” the original RD Artist has become surprisingly collectible over the years, thanks to its melted-Firebird shape and active electronics from the Moog synthesizer folks. Now, the reissue masters at Eastwood have resurrected the RD with some differences, including a price below the four-figure values of vintage models.
Eastwood’s RD Artist has a basswood body, set and bound maple neck, block pearloid inlays, rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets, black pickguard, chrome hardware, and original headstock shape, a neck cutaway that allows easy access to the 20th fret, and an unusual 25.5″ scale (Gibson’s standard is 24.75″).
Sounds are courtesy of two humbuckers (with individual Volume controls and a master Tone) and Eastwood’s battery-powered Transwarp Drive treble boost, activated with a toggle on the front.
Weighing about 7.5 pounds, the Eastwood is a formidable piece of basswood, but comfortable and solid-feeling. Its neck was set up nicely, displaying the large-D profile so popular these days and sporting a low, quick action. Running through a variety of amps, the axe was a solid tonal performer with a massive rock persona with the Transwarp Drive engaged for riffs, solos, or your standard Aerosmith, Heart, or Styx medley. The booster really gave the output a smack in the face as well as a monster boost in volume (there is a trim control in the control cavity).
It’s easy to like the Eastwood RD. It’s not light, but balances nicely and has all-around good construction and reasonable hardware. Loaded with ’70s appeal, it’s an excellent value with a retro vibe for players who look back on the Norlin era with a degree of fondness. There are more of us out there than you think.
This article originally appeared in VG January 2017 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.