campbell american guitars

Fuze shows off his Campbell American Transitone in his backyard while at home in Boston.
Photo by Rich Gastwirt.

The genre-fusing “Fuze” talks funk, punk, and the microtonal madness fueling the Screaming Headless Torsos’ new LP, Code Red.

Twenty years ago, David Fiuczynski was at a level most people only dream of attaining. He boasted blistering speed, superior funk chops, advanced chord knowledge, and a fluency in multiple idioms and styles. His 1994 album Lunar Crush—which he co-led with John Medeski of Medeski Martin & Wood—is what first made jazz fans and guitarists sit up and take notice. Even more paid attention when his band, the Screaming Headless Torsos, began recording, touring, and performing in and around New York.

Besides focusing on his sophisticated-yet-visceral approach, the attention garnered by Fiuczynski (aka “Fuze”) over the years has often centered on his incorporation of non-Western tonalities in genres with a Western foundation. And much of thathas to do with his gear. For a period he was an unapologetic abuser of his guitar’s vibrato bridges. And when the world music he studied in college inspired him to really dive in and experiment with microtones—the notes between notes of typical 12-notes-per-octave Western music like rock and blues—things changed even more. A 1992 gig in Morocco further opened his eyes—Fiuczynski realized some notes sounded better when you played them out of tune on purpose. He then experimented with fretless and quarter-tone guitars (instruments with frets added betweenthe frets), and transcribed indigenous music using tuning systems germane to those cultures.

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Beautifully playable and feeling perfectly broken-in right out of the case, the Space Biscuit from Campbell American Guitars is a space-age looking, rock-solid instrument that can sound gloriously traditional when you want it to.

If your first look at the Campbell American Space Biscuit prompts a double take, it’ll be helpful to understand the genesis of its design. “There weren’t a whole lot of choices available when I first started playing guitar,” says Dean Campbell. “Basically, I had to choose between a Fender, a Gibson, or a Japanese electric, so I went with an import—a Black Jack.” Decades later, Campbell draws on all three of these influences for his own creations. But it’s clear that those less-celebrated imports made a very big impression—big enough to inspire the radically cool and sweet-playing Space Biscuit.

Up until this year, Campbell American produced around 300 instruments per year—smart, boutique electrics in a range of styles, with specialized features like custom-voiced electronics and vintage-style nitrocellulose lacquer finishes. Campbell recently decided to decrease production so he can focus more on the joy and art of lutherie than the stress and craziness of running a business, but all that means for interested buyers is that you’ll want to get orders in sooner than later.

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The Space Biscuit would be right at home in George Jetson’s man-cave

Boston, MA (August 23, 2012) – Campbell American Guitars today announced the release of its latest model, the Space Biscuit. Drawing inspiration for the body shape from the guitars that guitarists of a certain age grew up playing as their “first guitar” the Space Biscuit would be right at home in George Jetson’s man-cave. Dean Campbell and his crew have vastly improved upon these early inspirational designs to create a very unique guitar that plays and feels like the custom designs many have come to expect from the Campbell American shop.

Living up to their “truly custom” approach to guitar building the Space Biscuit has the option of an Alder, Linden or Mahogany body. The guitar is outfitted with Campbell American Standard pickups built especially for the builder. The guitar also features a Hipshot bridge, Rosewood or maple fretboard with12.5 inch radius, 25-½ inch scale, Gotoh tuners and a Tusc nut. The electronics features CTS pots with two volume and tone controls and a three-way switch. As with all Campbell American guitars many standard colors are offered and custom colors are also available and all are finished with Nitrocellulose lacquer.

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