To Make the Wood S
around 1990-91, I started to get serious about
working full time, trying to build archtop guitars, and my production started to increase.
I was still building some solidbody instruments, but then I did the Classic American
Guitar Show in Long Island in ‘ 93 – the first
year they held the show – and that was my
first really good commercial exposure. That
pushed me further into the direction of
doing the archtop thing.
How many archtops have you made
The last one from this batch was number 339.
buy a Gibson it’s a good quality instrument
– it’s not going to fall apart. You’re probably
not going to have any serious problems with
it, the build quality is good, but it’s just in
some of those details. I still own some Gibson
guitars that are really nice.
Why should someone consider buying a
Campellone rather than a Gibson?
If it were up to me, I would just as soon buy
a Gibson as one of mine, if it was a nice one.
But why would other people consider me over
that? I think a lot of people just like the idea
of a guitar that’s built by one person.
they look like old guitars. A lot of builders
now are doing stuff that looks more contemporary, kind of picking up where D’Aquisto
left off. They are experimenting with different
woods, different sound holes, all that kind of
stuff, and that’s ok. It’s a different look with no
plastic binding, no inlay; it’s a minimalist kind
of thing. I’ve seen some of those instruments
and they’re very nice instruments – they have
a good volume level, a good balance and all
the things that make a guitar good – but they
don’t really sound like a forties L- 7.
Do you feel like yours recapture that?
A lot of the designs [on my instruments], like
Yeah, that’s my goal actually. I like
to build what I like, and I like those
old guitars, so when I started building that was the vibe I was going
for. So I think maybe that’s the
main thing that distinguishes my
work from that of other builders.
those fingerboard inlays, I’ve taken directly
You are very rooted in a tradition-
al style and there are many Art
Deco points on your instruments.
from architecture on local buildings. Both
the five-piece and the three-piece keystone
inlays are designs that I have seen over win-
Yeah, D’Angelico really kind of
crystallized that. As for the Gibson
stuff, I don’t think they were necessarily going for the art deco look,
although that’s kind of how it came
out. But when D’Angelico started
building, you could tell a lot of his
designs were screaming art deco.
And that got me thinking along
dows on concrete buildings.
How do you think your guitars compare
with Gibson’s quality these days?
Is it because it is more handmade?
Well, they’re at least as good, if not better!
Like I said, I’m a Gibson fan and I haven’t seen
a lot of new Gibson stuff, but inevitably with
factory instruments, there’s always something
about it that says, “I came from a factory.”
Believe me, I use as many tools as I can – the
less handwork I have to do, the better. I
gladly accept the help that power tools can
offer. But the thing is, it’s one guy building a
guitar from start to finish, which a lot of people like the idea of. They figure the quality
and the attention to detail are going to be
better, so I think that’s why a lot of people
would choose to buy one of my guitars over
a factory-made instrument.
A lot of the designs [on my instru-
The joinery and the binding, that’s where I
ments], like those fingerboard
inlays, I’ve taken directly from
architecture on local buildings. Both the five-
piece and the three-piece keystone inlays
are designs that I have seen over windows
on concrete buildings. The design for my
stepped tailpiece was inspired by a door han-
dle plate in my aunt’s apartment building.
tend to see it most…
That reminds me of some of the antique
stores I have been in that carry nothing but
hardware from the houses built between
1920 and 1940. Every piece – the plumbing
fixtures, the registers, window hardware –
everything has little artistic design elements
like this. The craftsmanship is amazing.
Yeah, the little things. I’ve got a couple of
Heritage archtops that are really, really nice,
but on most of them there’s always some little
thing that says, “someone really wasn’t paying
attention when they did this.” But as far as
the quality of those instruments overall, if you
Why they would choose my guitar over an
instrument made by another builder? There
are a lot of reasons for that. It could range
anywhere from the price and style to personality. One of the things that I think is unique in
terms of the appeal of my instruments is that
I did a lot of artwork when I was a kid and I
have a really strong art background. So when
I came up with the designs for the decorative
appointments I really tried to make everything
work together, like a motif and