Guitars, Amps and Misc.
The Campilongo Signature Telecaster
My Custom shop Signature Top-Loader Telecaster was introduced by Fender at the winter NAMM show in January, 2010.
It has an exact replica of my neck, and features pickups custom wound to my specs (see "pick ups"). They sound fantastic. My goal was to have a woody, full bodied sound while retaining the character of a great Telecaster.
Jumbo frets, a tall "top hat" toggle for easy switching, and a "T" string tree for easy behind the nut bending are all part of the personality of this guitar - not to mention the easy playability and warm sounds the top-loader bridge brings to the Telecaster table.
Additionally, the bridge plate is flat, without the "lips" originally there for holding the "ash tray" metal cover on older Teles. Personally, I find those lips problematic and a hindrance when trying to pick the low "E" string. I compensate for this on my '59 with a high string altitude at the pickup plate. However, the trade off is high action from the 12th fret up. This "lip-less" plate should make my plectrum life easier.
The Campy model comes standard in "white-ish blond" nitrocellulose finish, the exact color of my original guitar, with a white pick guard. Custom color Orange is available. I'm going for orange.
All finishes will be applied conservatively since I feel most of the great guitars I've played featured "very light" too "nearly nonexistent" finishes. I believe this allows the true resonant character of the wood to shine through. The neck will be lightly finished for a "fast" playability.
As far as pickups go, I'm really happy with what I came up with for my Campy model. I went through dozens of pick ups and tried to combine the best features of what I liked and requested modifications for what I needed. I think the Campy pick ups are powerful, full-bodied and warm, but retain a classic vintage voice. They will come standard and exclusively on the Campilongo Signature Tele and will not be offered separately.
See more photos on Jim's Facebook album
MY '59 TELECASTER
I acquired my Tele about 15 years ago when a generous pal, John Jensen, gave it to me. He did so because I fell so much in love with it. It still feels like my musical home. Thanks again, John.
I have a '59 Fender Tele, three saddle, top-loading bridge with threaded "steel" saddles and slot head set screws. 1959 was the only year Fender produced string through BRIDGE and not BODY. As far as the Toploader -- I think the feel and sound is a bit more "rubbery" than a standard Tele.
Both pickups have had windings snap internally and have been rewound by Seymour Duncan so they are "original" and "Duncan's" at the same time.
Everything else on my '59 Tele is stock except the Gotoh/Kluson tuners (see below). The volume and tone potentiometers, etc., are stock. When I replace parts that wear out, I make sure there's nothing modified or "improved". I'm not saying my way is better, I am simply accustomed to the guitar the way I got it and prefer to keep it consistent.
LATE '67 TELE WIRING
The wiring I prefer has no bells and whistles and allows the player to manually dial in treble (and volume). I don't know what other models and years employ and as I stated, the wiring I prefer is called "Late '67 TELE wiring". This leads me to believe that this Tele wiring combo started in "late 67" My belief is that this "Late '67 TELE wiring " is no longer "stock"... either way, check your wiring people. I think this "tone boost" feature is a real hindrance to personal tone choices and guitar control (in my humble opinion) To eliminate the "tone boost," one need only to clip the .01 capacitor that connects the first and second lug on the volume pot of a "standard" Tele.
I love my '58 Gibson 225...
my '58 Martin 015 (thank you Dave Boat)....
my '70 Martin D-35 (purchased by my mom many years ago from my first guitar teacher, the amazing Bunnie Gregoire)...
and my '62 Strat signed by Roy Buchanan...
Strings, Picks, and Accessories
D'Addario EXL120 strings for the Tele, D'Addario EXL110 strings for the Gibson 225, One Campilongo Signature has D'Addario ECG524 Chrome Flat Wounds which really sound amazing. On my acoustic I use D'Addario EJ13 80/20 Bronze Lights.
The picks I use are the little tiny Fender teardrops- Heavy... I think the model number is 098-0358-500
And I like Souldier Guitar straps http://www.souldier.us/
I like the Kluson copies made by Gotoh. The Kluson tuners are good too - but the Gotoh tuner is loose enough for an easy twist but with no "play" whatsoever.
Although I seem to burn through the hardest substances available, a good nut rebuilding trick is to apply some Super Glue and (seriously) a bit of baking soda in the string slot. This rebuilds the nut slot and sidesteps having to buy, install and break in a brand new nut.
I own many amps but I prefer the weight, portability and sound of Princeton Reverbs. I own two '66 Princeton Reverbs, three 70s...
two '70's Vibrolux Reverbs (one has solid state rectifier instead of a tube), a 70's Deluxe Reverb....
and a 70's Vibrochamp (the most amazing vibrato sound ever created)....
The variety of speakers in my Princeton amps:
a) Celestion G-10 for a throaty "compressed" sound. This speaker isn't too bright so sometimes I'll use it for "jazz" sounds as well.
b) 60's "Gold Back" Jensen C-10 N. My favorite speaker. The more advanced the the Jensen speaker alphabet (as in Q verses N) the less the wattage capacity. The N Jensen C-10 seem to be robust enough to handle maximum volume, de-tuning and whatever else I throw at it. The highs are cutting but still pleasant.
I replace all my amps with "new old stock" tubes. Any of the available NOS's are, in my opinion, an improvement over "stock" Russian or Chinese tubes. Also, if you're like me and play 45 year old amps on "10" for six months you should expect to have to replace tubes and speakers more than you'll like. Remember... When it comes to tone, there is no such thing as a "free lunch"!
I bias all my amps on the hot side. Princeton amps are normally biased at about 22. My Princetons are biased at 30 - AT LEAST! Sometimes over-biasing can add unwanted overtones, so use your ears. Biasing hot also shortens speaker and tube life, but in my humble opinion, it's great while it lasts. (Hey, that "free lunch" line is around the corner, pal!)
THE FENDER REISSUE
I endorse the Fender Princeton reissue and I think the guys at Fender did a great job. I'm proud to endorse the amp. A video of what I have to say about the reissue can be found here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHVG4kDurtY
In a nutshell... No matter what year my amps were manufactured, my personal tastes include replacing tubes and speakers in all of them. So check out the info I've supplied here on this page and draw your own conclusions. Tone is a subjective and quite often confounding thing. Learn to trust your instincts. You'll be glad you did.
Out here in New York I really like amp tech Eugene at Southside Guitars. Southside is a small "guitar clubhouse" brimming with happening vintage guitars and gear. Amp wiz Eugene knows Fender amps like the back of his hand... and also makes really great guitar effects. Quick turnover times too....
South Side Guitars
303 Grand St
MAIN DRAG MUSIC
A big room with a good selection of guitars and amps. Good for consignments too.
Main Drag Music
info [at] maindragmusic.com
330 Wythe St Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211
THE AMP LAB
On the West coast there is none better at amp repair then Keith Reinegger at the Amp Lab in Campbell, CA. As far as I'm concerned he's the "Zen Master". Tell him "Jim Can't-Be-Long-Now" sent you.
279 Dillon Ave # 1
Campbell, CA 95008
Whenever I'm in California, I have my guitar set up by Luthier Kenneth Harper. He does GREAT WORK and the most perfect setups my fingers have experienced.
Harper Manufacturing, Makers of Fine Stringed Instruments
email: twangster_1999 [at] yahoo.com
7246 Browns Valley Rd
Vacaville, CA 95688
John Sworen does a great job...
144 N. Beverwyck Rd., #208
Lake Hiawatha, NJ 07034
EFFECTS AND GIZMOS
Crazy Tube Circuits Stardust "Blackface"
One of the best sounding, touch dynamic overdrive pedals I've ever played... The Stardust Pedal was very intuitive and it took me 4 seconds to dial in a great sound and a perfect balance... I was totally inspired by my sound all night.
The Stardust Blackface has what I've been looking in a overdrive for a long, long time. A pedal that gives me some great beefy authentic vintage amp sounds, without having to crank the amp to overkill settings.
I easily dialed up some "Sticky Fingers" on steroids sounds, and achieved some thick Buchanan-isms too. Tone knob and volume swells were easily attained... Most importantly, my tone and volume controls are still responsive to fairly subtle variations.- many "ballsy" overdrives (OCD Pedal) eliminate the controls on the guitar.
Please note - I haven't tried to use Stardust "Blackface" Overdrive Pedal as a subtle booster yet, but for a "Santana Abraxas" like sound, this little powerhouse hit a home run.
I also love the Boomerang Phrase Sampler... maybe I'm alone here, but I prefer the simplicity of very first model. It's a great musical tool to use during lessons, for writing and for practicing soloing over changes... I also like to use the Boomerang Phrase Sampler for short vibey looping... in the Miles Davis like "High Space" and I've used it many times for non-Campilongo sessions....
Pedal Steel Black Box
After receiving the Black Box months ago from my good pal (and guitar effects guru) Dave Boat - I finally gave the Black Box a test run last Monday at the Living Room ... and it performed marvelously. I used a Peterson tuner, OCD Fuzz, and Cry Baby wah all in line and I still retained my "pure" sound. I was able to apply tone swells and volume swells manually and my stock potentiometers responded in small increments. There might have been a tiny smidgeon of "highs" lost but that was less then anything substantial - I went to the amp and brought the tone up one notch... and all was good. Most importantly, I didn't hear the "mud" that an effects chain creates that is so uninspiring and annoying....
Last, but not least - here is my pedalboard I used on the Martha Wainwright tour ... absent is my beloved Cry Baby Wah Wah.... When using multiple effects, I find it helpful to write my pedal settings in the shape of a knob on masking tape, or duct tape (see below) This helps me to have a "base setting" that I can adjust. Since every room and venue is different, having a "base setting" allows me to start with a precedent that works.
Although I've enjoyed or complained about sound checks 4 hours before showtime, it seems everything is moved or stored or changed... and it gets narrowed down to 3 frantic minutes while the crowd is waiting impatiently- after the house music was mistakenly turned off and the entire band is looking at you, waiting...
After making a quick visual check and I can move on to something else like tuning, or checking amp settings etc. etc. ...and HOPEFULLY I won't mistakenly click on my Boss RC-20 and have that confounded drum machine blasting!
Guitarists I Like ....
"Brisbane Bop" with Jimmie Rivers on guitar had a huge impact on my playing. I studied that record for years before actually meeting Jimmie in 1996. I was lucky enough to meet Jimmie Rivers in a small restaurant in Placervlle, Calif where he held his every Sunday residency. I walked in the place (I forget the name, The Blue Gill or something like that...) and couldn't believe the sound coming from a corner in the restaurant was the unmistakable sound of Jimmie's guitar style. There was no stage and Jimmie and his band played on the carpeted restaurant floor. This is no hard-luck story, one could feel the joy and camaraderie transmitted into sound as the band played. This wasn't "Brisbane Bop" but it was well played swing by excellent, talented pros. Jimmie was teasing the waitress to bring him a drink while he joked, smoked, taunted and took everything around him. He spotted me and during the break walked over. He was interested in me, why I came. When I told him his guitar work was big influence, he became self-effacing and emotional. He really couldn't understand the interest "Brisbane Bop" was receiving. When I asked if the "Jimmies Blues" solo was worked out, he roared with laughter and cried out "We were all drunk!" I was lucky enough to sit in with the band. They were all really nice and supportive despite my nervousness and occasional musical shortcomings. Later Jimmie invited to visit his house and meet his wife Maria. I overcame my fear and called a few weeks later. This led to many thrilling opportunities including playing his "Retirement Show" at the Great American Music Hall and to a few guitar lessons.
His guitar lessons were amazing! He was very into sharing his concepts and was thrilled I was interested. I couldn't help think that being 70 years old had him feeling like someone should carry on the flame. He'd show me ideas and say "People go nuts when you play this at the end of a song!". He was not Mr. Music Theory, he called Emi7b5 (prefacing A7), "Little C7" but he had a profound genius in cutting away all the useless fat and showing the essential "meat". Many of his ideas were based on Jazz trumpeter Bill Davison and Charlie Christian via Barney Kessel. He once said the only solo he liked from "Brisbane Bop" was "Rose Room" in which he plays the Christian solo pretty much note for note. Jimmie could break down and simplify like a true Zen Master and many of his concepts I still draw upon and share.
Andres Segovia - Guitar
I recommend any Segovia LP from his incredible era on the Decca label, but “Andres Segovia - Guitar” called my name in a special way. Aside from Segovia’s brilliant playing and insights into the composers compositions, the Suite Compostelana (Federico Mompou) is played with an astounding beauty. To my ears, Mompou writes music that sounds like it’s from another Planet -but it’s a heavenly planet, with soft warm rains, occasional non-threatening storms and comfortable foliage to rest upon. Guitarists - there is a wealth of beautiful music to be enjoyed from Segovia’s fingers.
Jimmy Bryant and Speed West - Country Cabin Jazz
Most Jimmy Bryant and Speedy West is out of print so I would recommend "Stratosphere Boogie " on the Razor and Tie label.Jimmy and Speedy are the quintessential pairing of pedal steel guitar and electric guitar played with a rollicking, humorous and heavy musicality- over well constructed tunes. This is instrumental music played with a delightful virtuosity. Also a must hear- Buddy Charleton with Leon Rhodes who in some ways, play more legitimately (for lack of a better word) demonstrating a studied knowledge of Jazz- where Speedy and Jimmy seem to be inventing a new form of music, as they play it!
Roy Buchanan - "Roy Buchanan 1
I was lucky enough to discover Roy when I was 12 years old when I purchased Roy's 1st Album on Polydor (I still have it!). It’s a landmark LP, and a "must have" for Telecaster players. Roy invented or help define, volume pot swells, tone pot swells, behind the nut bending, squealing harmonics, steel guitar voicing on standard guitar and more. These techniques come from a place of expressive artistry, allowing Roy to exhibit and convey a mournful, expressive quality in his music. I read somewhere - that Roy was trying to say "help me" when he played. Roy certainly helped me. Thanks Roy.
Ramones - It's Alive
Recorded in London in 1977, this historical event that spawned the English Punk movement. Recorded raw and bright, this double record set captures our boys from Queens when they are on their way up - urgency, bravado and sexuality is captured in these track along with the brilliant lyrical simplicity "...Sitting here in Queens, eating refried beans..." with the monolithic power the Ramones single-handedly invented. I love the Ramones.
Miles Davis - Tribute to Jack Johnson
I first heard this record in High School and I was astounded by the amazing amalgamation of Miles, John McLaughlin, Michael Henderson and Herbie Hancock interpret Sly Stone and James Brown in their own inventive way. John’s key of E power chording resembles John Lee Hooker meets Pete Townshend. Absolutely wonderful!
Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols
I am still amazed by the originality and raw power of this record. It still sounds as vital and important to me as the first time I heard it. I wish more records made today were as challenging and "uncorrupted" as this one.
Pioneers of the Jazz Guitar
This CD features guitar greats Eddie Lang, Carl Kress, Lonnie Johnson and more. This wonderfully satisfying era is where amplification and recording methods allowed players to but down their banjo's and play the more dynamic 6 string guitar. The songs and performances are eventful and charming.This music is from an era where shoe-gazing singer songwriters would probably be knocked down by drunken sailors. Because of this, the musicians virtuosity is always presented in a melodic and yet an aggressive and accessible way. A "must have" CD that in my opinion, anyone can enjoy.
Music of Spain, Julian Bream
Virtuoso Julian Bream covers the compositions of turn-of the century composers Granados and Albeniz. A great journey into guitar music at its best.
A Session with Chet Atkins
I own over a 100 Chet albums and I think most of them are incredibly musical. His output is amazing and almost always high quality. This record is among his first. Like most his records, the songs are charming and to the point. It also features Homer and Jethro in the rhythm section and Jerry Byrd on steel guitar. What an all-star cast! [This album is not available, but Guitar Legend: The RCA Years and The Essential Chet Atkins: The Columbia Years are -ed.]
Nocturnes 1-11, Chopin/Nikita Magaloff
Wonderfully moody and deep compositions played with the poignant understanding of Nikita Magaloff. These Nocturnes always sound surprisingly "modern" and contemporary. Nikita Magaloff's fine touch is a user-friendly environment for listeners that are leery of sometimes bombastic Classics. Beautiful music.
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
A great era of Lennon. Minimalistic rhythms, primal scream and vulnerable love songs. In some ways, an underrated album. I've been inspired by this record since I was a kid.
A Mod A Mod, Ernest Ranglin
Virtuoso reggae guitarist Ernest Ranglin cleverly plays pop standards with a charm and playfulness that is worth a thousand listenings. [This album is not available, but In Search of the Lost Riddim and Rocksteady are -ed.]
The Chess Box, Muddy Waters
This era of Muddy Waters is some of my favorite blues. Right up there with John Lee Hooker, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Hound Dog Taylor. This Chicago era is where blues music is commercial enough to have song form but not rhythmically pigeonholed. Little Walter's harmonic croons and wails while Muddy sings with a king-sized bravado. Check out the track "She's Alright" for an example of pre-Budweiser commercial blues that has a dangerous and menacing nature.
Julie Is Her Name, Julie London
Her first album that features the fine guitar playing of Barney Kessel. This was recorded in a sparse and moody setting that I never tire of. Amazingly vibey--Julie's breathy vocals are beautiful and she gives the material a clear and mature reading. "Cry Me a River" made its debut on this record.