Photo by Rich Gastwirt.
Fuze’s Custom Campbell American Doubleneck
David Fiuczynski’s main axe—the FuZix—is a custom Campbell American with a fretless 6-string neck on top, and a standard 6-string on bottom.
“This is probably the best instrument I’ve ever had,” Fiuczynski says. “It sounds great, looks great, and is light for a doubleneck.” The guitar wasn’t Fiuczynski’s first attempt at building a doubleneck. There were others—including a failed effort with Campbell. “I made a doubleneck the way I wanted it, and it sounded like shit. I used to be very specific; mahogany body and rosewood neck and blah blah blah. But Dean ruined all that.”
Campbell American’s Dean Campbell agrees, though he uses more charitable wording. “He set the specs on what he wanted. We disagreed with him and I told him as much. In the end—much to his credit—he came back and said, ‘Well this isn’t really doing what I wanted it to do. Maybe I should have just listened to you [laughs].’”
The first big departure for Fiuczynski was the choice of wood for the chambered body. Campbell used American Linden, better known as basswood. “Basswood grows all over the world,” says Campbell. “There are better species of basswood and better grades that can be used for making an instrument. A lot of basswood you’ll see has a lot of knots, it’s green, and it’s used for molding, the inside of a cabinet, or something similar. But you find really nice, slightly tighter grain linden or basswood, too. It gets a bad name because not that many people use it, but it is a great tonewood.” According to Fiuczynski, the guitar sings, and he especially loves the way it feeds back at higher volumes.
Another big change was the upper horn, which is extended so the guitar will hang comfortably when worn up high. “David came by the shop several times and we showed him different things that we were kicking around,” Campbell said. “We showed him some drawings and he told us what he liked. We made some rough cuts with wood that was lying around the shop as well.”
The necks are a flattened C shape, with a 12.5" radius. According to Campbell, “Those two necks are a little more rounded and a little bit thicker than our standard necks.” Fiuczynski likes it that way, though. “I might actually make them thicker [on future versions], because the neck is really part of the sound. If it sounds unbelievable, I’ll just grin and bear it.”
The bridge for the lower neck is a double-fulcrum Hipshot vibrato. “He liked the pivots because he could drop it more, raise it more, and get more than a half-step [of pitch change],” Campbell explains. But the guitar does not have a locking nut, and Fiuczynski says the rationale is simple. “I don’t monkey around on the bar the way I used to. I mean, a dive bomb is cool, but how many times do you do that in a set? And with a locking nut, you lose the sound of the headstock.”
Speaking of the headstock, Campbell’s unique shape enables lower tension and allows the strings to run straight from the saddle, through the nut, and into the machine head. Fiuczynski uses .011–.050 string gauges for both necks, even though the fretless is shorter. “What I like about that is that the strings are a little floppier,” he said. “It has a type of acoustic sound in a very electric way.” The Campbell Standard pickups were designed by Steve Blucher at DiMarzio and are a slight deviation on the PAF formula.