by Art Thompson, Guitar Player Magazine, May 2010
The vast majority of 12-string guitars are either flat-top acoustics or solidbody instruments, but Harvey Citron and Joe Veillette who, from 1976 to 1983, made basses and guitars under the Veillette-Citron name have some different ideas about 12-string design. The Citron AEG-12 and Veillette Gryphon are also very different from each other — the AEGG12 being a full-sized acoustic-electric with a fairly thin hollow body, while the Gryphon is a short-scale 12, tuned D to D with unison courses. Both instruments can be amplified — though the AEG-12's onboard active piezo and passive magnetic
pickups are individually adjustable, and can be run in stereo, while the Gryphon has just an under-saddle transducer. We tested these guitars with a Genz-Benz Shenandoah acoustic amp and — for the AEG-12 only — a Kendrick Bad Ass Man combo.
Guitarists seeking something really different in 12-string land will appreciate
where the Gryphon is perched. Its short-scale neck and D tuning give it a high-pitch ring that is closer to a mandolin in timbre, while the all-unison courses imbue the tones with a flavor that harkens to lutes and ballalaikas. This compact instrument (which measures 30" long by 12.5" wide by 3.5" deep) has a sweet look, is well constructed in all areas, and has a perfectly applied gloss finish on its mahogany body, neck, and black fiber composite peghead overlay.
Playing the Gryphon takes a little getting used to because of a I8.5"-scale fretboard that necessitates closer-than-standard spacing of the 2 I frets. The wide-ish neck feels excellent, however, so it's just a matter of getting your fingers used to the smaller distance between the frets.
The Gryphon's acoustic sound is bright and tinkling, with a high-pitched voice that might seem better suited to a Renaissance faire than a folk festival. But while you could definitely cut Balkan- or Peruvian-music with this guitar, it also blends beautifully with standard instruments, adding textures that can really embellish and widen the sound. The Gryphon's D-Tar electronics delivered a balanced, natural tone though our Genz-Benz Shenandoah without taking anything away from the instrument's personality. The simple control scheme only lets you adjust volume and tone (you can, however, adjust the bass and treble response via internal trim-pots), but I found it very easy to dial in cool sounds with minimal tweaking at the amplifier's panel. Hard picking didn't reveal any harsh piezo colors, either, which may have something to do with the extra headroom that the 18-volt electronics provide. A pair of 9-volt batteries is required to power the system, but the pop-out holders on the lower part of the body make replacing them a breeze.
The Gryphon doesn't replace a standard 12-string, of course, but it definitely brings some enticing new flavors to the genre, and that's reason enough for it to receive an Editors' Pick Award.
The Gryphon is one of the most interesting 12-strings I've encountered. It sounds very exotic, yet it has a familiar 12-string feel, and it's lots of fun to play. The Gryphon doesn't replace a standard 12-string, of course, but it definitely brings some enticing new flavors to the genre, and that's reason enough for it to receive an Editors' Pick Award.