It’s no secret, that I have been a big fan of Bill Nelson since my older brother introduced me to Be Bop Deluxe in the 70’s and had my head turned by their electric performances in Bristol’s Colston Hall. Over the years he has moved about musically, often very dramatically and continues to produce music more than 50 years after his first independently produced album, ‘Northern Dream’.
So as a guitar player I always looked up to him and when it was announced in 2005 that he was putting his name to a signature guitar, I knew I had to own one of the 100 that were to be produced. I trusted him to know what he valued in a guitar and if his name is on it, it’s is probably going to be very nice indeed.
And it is. Handmade by Campbell American guitars.
When it eventually arrived in 2006 after a lengthy journey from Massachusetts via a now defunct guitar shop in Bristol, I was stunned by the quality of the instrument. Rocket ship red with a 50s space ship vibe and gold fittings, it was everything I hoped for and more. It plays like a dream too and just required tuning on it’s arrival although I understand the guitar shop did a bit of setting up too.
There was one problem with a crack in the finish where the bolt-on neck joins the body- and I had a go at minimising the effect. after a bit of work with wet and dry I contacted Dean Campbell who built the guitar in the first place. He is a really nice guy and couldn’t have been more helpful. A few days later in the post, a small bottle of the cellulose red paint arrived enabling me to reduce the crack to almost nothing.
After 12 years of a great deal of use, it is starting to require a little bit of tender care. It’s developed a ground hum, the frets are worn down, the volume pot needs replacing and the push/push coil-tap on the bridge pickup is stuck on single coil. Nothing that a good luthier in the form of Nigel Jones locally here in Devon can’t sort out for me!
All the guitars I ever owned up to this one paled into insignificance and I actually gave away the Strat copy I bought off a friend purely because he needed the money! It had hollowed out frets (loved for thrash metallers, but not by me).
Ringing the Changes…
So now I’ve got the thing back from Nigel sans the hum which he fixed for me, I’ve decided to try dropping from 10 gauge strings down to 9s. This involved a little bit of setting-up. The Low E, A and D strings were rattling against the frets up at the headstock so to temporarily rectify this, I cut pieces from the High E string and inserted them in the nut cutouts, which worked although the D string slot required the slightly heavier B string. A bit of tweaking at the bridge and it feels great again.
So to see this beauty in action, why not take a look at our BeatPoets video which features this lovely guitar albeit in black and white!