Bass of the Week: Citron Guitars Byron “F” Style Bass

Seeing a “violin” style bass is fairly common, but Byron Isaacs decided to go a different direction. Known for his work with Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band, Olabelle, and The Lumineers, Isaacs dreamed up a bass mixed with another small instrument: the mandolin. He approached master luthier Harvey Citron to make it a reality.

“The objective for the bass I built for Byron was to pay homage to the Gibson ‘F’ style mandolin (Byron’s dream), and also embody all of the insights I’ve had over the years in both solid body and hollow body bass construction,” Citron told us. “My job was to create a shape that looks like the ‘F’ style but works as a bass. In its design, I made sure that the proportions would allow the top of the scroll to end up at the 12th fret, which has the bass hang and balance perfectly. I also used recessed strap locks to not offend the shape when without a strap.”

The bass features a 32-inch scale with a unique bolt-on construction that has two bolts in the back of the body and two 1/4-inch lag bolts transversely screwed in through the neck pickup route. Its body is made from Honduras mahogany with an x-braced Adirondack spruce top. “The body is hollow with a separate fully shielded compartment for electronics, and two Honduras Mahogany struts from neck to tail that doesn’t touch the top, back or braces, for body stiffness without hampering cavity resonance,” Citron notes. A three-piece laminate of Honduras mahogany and purple heart is utilized for the neck, which is then topped with an ebony fingerboard.

For electronics, the “F” style bass is fitted with a pair of Citron’s custom blended humbucking pickups with ceramic magnets as well as six EMG piezos. “[The piezos are run] through an internal custom EMG board with 3 adjustable buffer circuits, treble/bass boost and cut,” the luthier explains. “Those electronics merge with an Audere EQ system that is then used for both the magnetic pickups and the piezos.”

Citron Guitars Byron “F” Style Bass Specs:

Construction:Bolt on
Body thickness:2 1/2″
Body:Hollow Honduras Mahogany (1 15/16″ thick, hollow)
Top:X-braced Adirondack Spruce (9/16″ thick at thickest)
Neck:Honduras Mahogany/Purple Heart/Honduras Mahogany
Pickups:2 citron custom blended humbucking pickups with ceramic magnets
Electronics:6 EMG piezos with internal custom EMG board and 3 adjustable buffer circuits, treble/bass boost and cut; Audere EQ System
Controls:Stacked neck pickup/bridge pickup volume, Piezo volume, high mid/low mids boost/cut, treble/bass boost/cut.
Tuners:Hipshot Ultralight
Bridge:Macassar Ebony with Macassar Ebony sub saddle and 4 moveable bone saddles for precise intonation adjustment.
Finish:Nitro Cellulose gloss on body and headpiece, nitro satin on the neck.

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Share your thoughts

  1. Frank

    Can someone tell me what such a bass might cost?? I do understand it is custom made!!

    • Hey Frank, I think you’d have to email Harvey Citron directly to get an idea. He did mention that this was the most challenging bass of his career!

  2. Kaj

    Citron’s F style bass reminds me of the Danish Mørch Bass