Hand Made USA Guitar Series #1: Campbell Nelsonic Electric Git-Box

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Campbell Nelsonic Guitar
Campbell Nelsonic Guitar

Campbell American Guitars is a hand-building manufacturer that wields the powers of New England craftsmanship to sculpt stringed instruments of mass vibration.

This Massachusettes-based company’s reputation for hand-building every part of every guitar that comes out with their name on it is mired in more praise than I could summarize here for you, so I’ll spare you the Google search.  People love them.

And for good reason, too.  Their reputation is built on results over marketing hype.  Throughout their career, Campbell American has strived to offer a modern guitar with the look, sound, and feel of a vintage guitar from a generation before my parents were born.  And can you not feel the radiant vibe of the 50s from any given picture of their guitars?

While they have a good number of models (as opposed to a bad number) their more signature model would probably be the Transitone and Nelsonic models.

The Transitone is a very customizable model offering multiple options for nearly every facet of the guitar.  You have your choice of an array of woods for the body and fretboard, including some exotic woulds in your pallet of options, a choice between a Bigsby or Gotoh tremolo, Sperzel or Gotoh tuners, and a crapload of pickup options between single-coil and humbucker options.

The Nelsonic takes the premise of the Transitone and offers it as a more specific setup.  With fewer options for customization readily advertised you have a guitar built of Hungarian mahogany, body and neck, and an ebony fretboard, Gotoh locking tuners, and a Gotoh tremolo.  The guitar has a couple of Seymour Duncan humbuckers slapped in it with a Duncan Jazz at the neck and a Duncan 59 at the bridge.  To sex it up they’ve made the hardware gold.

And when it comes down to hand-built guitars price is often a concern as it can get out of hand really quickly with more and more customization.  I’d done some rooting around and for Campbell American you can expect about $2,000, but probably a bit more if you decide to take the gloves off when you put your customization face on.  In the world of hand-built guitars the price can get out of hand really easily and really fast, so $2,000 as a general idea seems to be pretty fair.

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Kyle Smitchens

Kyle Smitchens is the Guitar-Muse Managing Editor, super hero extraordinaire, and all around great guy. He has been playing guitar since his late teens and writing personal biographies almost as long. An appreciator of all music, his biggest influences include Tchaikovsky, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Steve Vai, Therion, and Jon Levasseur of Cryptopsy.

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