Gibson has been known for producing the world’s finest archtop guitars ever since founder Orville Gibson invented the format way back in the 1890s. In 1969, the company decided to celebrate its artistry in the best way it knew how: by making the most elegant, finely crafted archtop guitar conceivable. Dubbed the Citation, and only created in extremely limited numbers, this model became an instant collector’s item, and has remained one throughout its sporadic production runs.
In an era otherwise not known for the production of exemplary archtop guitars, Gibson luthiers of the late ’60s decided to go all-out in their manufacture of the new Citation. They employed the highest grade solid spruce for the top, which was hand carved into a graduated arch; likewise the back and sides were carved from highly figured solid maple. Dressed in multi-ply black/white binding, abalone cloud motifs were inlaid in its ebony fingerboard and its headstock was inlaid with an abalone fleur de lis. Miniature fleur de lis were echoed on its ebony bridge base, while the highly figured maple pickguard echoed the curl of the maple in the back and sides. Additionally 24 karat gold plating was used for the hardware on this guitar. The summation of this indulgence in elegance was nothing short of breathtaking.
Body and Hardware
In keeping with the electrification of the finest acoustic archtop guitars, the Citation received a floating mini humbucking pickup, mounted to the forward edge of the pickguard. The single volume control was also pickguard-mounted, so nothing would disturb the full resonance of its 17”-wide, 3”-deep body. Played unplugged, the Citation exuded the warm, rich luster of the finest carved-top acoustic archtops; plugged in, it purred with smooth, deep tones befitting the finest professional jazz guitars.
Gibson’s Custom Shop continues to produce the Citation in extremely limited numbers, and it remains the most elegant and sought after of Gibson’s archtop guitars, supremely toneful and exquisitely beautiful. Today’s example retains all the traditional appointments of the original—the unique scrolled Citation tailpiece, abalone fleur de lis and cloud inlays, abalone truss rod cover and the “Gibson logo”, bound f-holes—and remains an elevated representation of the luthier’s art. It is also still made to the 25 1/2” scale length and 1 11/16” nut width that so supremely suits a large-bodied archtop. Each Citation comes complete with a Custom Shop case and Certificate of Authenticity.