Campbell American Guitars came out of a simple idea to build guitars using talent and resources available right here in the US. For me the intrigue is in the idea that guitars don’t have to be bought as templates.
As is often the case, companies like this are born out of a need to address what’s missing in the current market. And what exactly would that be? Simply customizing is not it. It is what you get from a custom guitar even if you didn’t know what it was. Makes sense?
Guitarkadia: What did you grow up listening to?
Dean Campbell: I’ve always had fairly broad taste when it comes to music, so I was listening to a lot of different styles, rock, jazz, blues, soul, folk, and classical. There is so much good music out there that I’d need two or three pages to list all the composers and musicians whose music I admire.
G: Do you play? What was your first instrument?
DC: Yes, I do play but not as often as I’d like. I’m far too busy building guitars to have a lot of time to practice. My first guitar was a Japanese Blackjack replica of a violin bass. I moved on to a Guild S-50 shortly after.
G: When did you realize you were more interested in guitar making? Did it come out of a lack of something in the guitar?
DC: I’ve always had an interest in tinkering with and repairing guitars and it just progressed into the building of instruments. There were aspects of design and options that I wanted to see in an instrument.
G: How did you know who’d be in your team when you started out? Why did you pick the people you did?
DC: I didn’t know at first, over time I’ve worked with different people. There are two individuals in particular with whom I have been working with for years now, Charles Lavallee and Bill Colwell, and both are involved in just about all aspects of the design/ build process.
G: Who bought the first Campbell American Guitar? How was that guitar different from the one (s)he’d been playing?
DC: A fellow in the Boston area bought the first guitar. We have made many changes in components, control locations, and lacquer application. Other than that, they remain quite similar to the original pieces.
G: How many guitars do you make in a year? How has keeping all levels of production within the U.S helped you? Who are your typical clients?
DC: That depends on what type of instruments we are building and of course, demand. It has varied greatly over the 7 years we have been in operation but never more than 500. Keeping all levels of production here has never been a question. That is one of the reasons I started this company.
I wanted the entire process done here, period. High quality guitars built by skilled and dedicated people.
We do not have typical clients; there are session players, professional recording artists, collectors, and even some beginners, playing our instruments.
G: How will 2009 be different from the previous years? Are you trying new things?
DC: As you know, this will be a challenging year for everyone. We have been very fortunate in that we continue to receive orders for our instruments. We greatly appreciate the support from all the folks that purchase one of our guitars. We will be introducing a new model in the late spring of 2009, I can’t let more than that out at this time.
Following pictures are courtesy of Dean Campbell.