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You Say Dulcimer Fretboard, I Say Dulcimer Fingerboard

Adventures of a dulcimer builderA dulcimer doesn’t have a neck but it has something under the fingerboard that sort of serves as a neck. Calling it a neck doesn’t really make sense but when the dulcimer has a fingerboard on top of the object that shall not be called a neck then appropriate terminology becomes even more confusing.

For no particular reason I refer to the lower portion of the assembly as the fretboard and call the fingerboard overlay the fingerboard. When describing a fretboard with a fingerboard on it I refer to the assembled unit as a fretboard.

In the photograph above I’m gluing the fretboard assembly to a dulcimer soundboard.

The soundboard is clamped to a flat workboard. Two clamps come in from the sides holding scraps of wood that rest against the sides of the fretboard at either end. This makes it easy to accurately place the fretboard in the right spot and helps prevent it from moving while I apply the clamps.

I use an old trick to clamp the full length of the fretboard down using only two clamps. A long, warped piece of wood is used as a clamping caul with the concave side facing down along the length of the fretboard.  When I clamp both ends down the flattening of the warped wood exerts pressure along the entire length of the fretboard.

You can follow more of my my action-packed adventures as a dulcimer maker by following me on Instagram.

Alice In Chains – Dirt

I Heart Guitar - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 06:33

Man, I’m continually blown away by how well Dirt by Alice In Chains holds up today. For all its darkness and brutal honesty there’s something strangely beautiful about it. It’s not an easy listen. You can tell even at this stage that the band was surrounded by and drawn towards self-destruction. The lyrics speak not just of addiction in an abstract sense, but of surrendering willingly to it, throwing yourself into it and letting it take you over completely. Embracing the hopelessness and the fuck-it-ness of it all. 

When I first heard the record, I couldn’t relate to that at all. Hell, the biggest addition I had was playing guitar, and I managed to turn that into something constructive. But as I got older I started to understand Dirt a little more. I was never a drug guy but I came to understand self-destruction, hopelessness, the compulsion to see how far you can take something that is bad for you, how low you can get before you admit you need help, how much you can dislike yourself before you decide to either do something about it or give in. 

There are a lot of albums I love that I don’t particularly feel like I need to listen to regularly any more, just because they’re so burned into my brain. But this one keeps calling to me and I keep hearing new things. And although Dirt has been out there in the world for 25 years now and has been a part of my life since my teens, I don’t listen to it for nostalgia. I listen to it because it feels like a living, evolving document of the human condition. It’s filtered through the lens of depression, addiction, desperation and surrender but as a listener you can superimpose all sorts of demons onto it and hopefully exorcise them in the process. 

Dirt is still not an easy listen. If you’re a sensitive soul, you’re going to feel a lot of things and you’re probably going to want to just sit in silence for a few minutes afterwards, letting your mind come back from wherever you’ve just been. But it’s a very worthwhile listen too.

The post Alice In Chains – Dirt appeared first on I Heart Guitar.

Categories: General Interest

La Campanella

Creative Guitar - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 12:28
Categories: Classical

John Abercrombie - His Life and Guitars

The Unique Guitar Blog - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 08:20
John Abercrombie with a Les Paul
John Abercombie, passed away on August 22nd of this year. Abercrombie was a well-know, world class jazz guitarist, with a lyrical style that is hard to pin down to one genre. Abercrombie was aslo a composer and bandleader. His style changed and evolved throughout the years.

Born in 1944. Abercrombie took up guitar at age 14 and learned Chuck Berry, Bill Haley, and Fats Domino tunes. He later discovered Jazz by listening to Barney Kessel recordings.

Young Abercrombie
with 1920's Gibson L-4
John attended Berklee College of music where he gigged with other students at a local jazz club. It was there that he was invited to join a band made up of Hammond organist Johnny Smith, sax player Michael Brecker, and his brother, trumpet player Randy Brecker.


For awhile, Abercrombie shared a room with fellow student Jan Hammer.

When the gig with Smith ended, Abercrombie moved to New York and signed on to play in drummer Chico Hamilton's band. He was soon in high demand as a sideman.

Abercrombie attributed the beginnings of his style to Kessel, Wes Montgomery, and Jim Hall. He also drew inspiratation from Miles Davis and Bill Evans. John Abercrombie became one of the pioneering figures of Jazz/Rock, which he states was developed out of necessity due to lack of role models.

John Scofield, Bill Connors,
Steve Khan-John Abercrombie
In an interview he said, "I had to figure things for myself. I grabbed onto every device in my arsenal, including my knowledge of harmony and the guitar, the few little fuzztone or pieces of gear that I used at the time, and tried to fit it in. When I'd play with Jack and Dave Holland, or some other players, I responded to what I was hearing around me, and let the sound of it all teach me what I was supposed to do." (excerpted from an article by Ted Panken.)

Young Abercrombie
By 1969 Abercrombie joined a Jazz Rock band named Dreams, which featured the two Brecker brothers and drummer Billy Cobham.  Abercrombie played guitar on several of Cobham's albums. This band shared the stage with several prominent rock acts, including the Doobie Brothers.

At one point on the tour, Abercrombie decided this was not the direction we wanted to pursue for his music or life style.


He moved back to New York and became an in-demand session player, recording with Gato Barbeiri, Barry Miles, Manfred Eicher (who founded ECM records), and Gil Evans.

By 1974 he teamed up with college acquaintance Jan Hammer and drummer Jack DeJohnette for a recording called Timeless. This album was critically received and established a foothold for Abercrombie with ECM records.

Abercrombie with  the Gateway Trio
In 1975 he formed the band Gateway with DeJohnette and bassist Dave Holland, and recorded two albums Gateway and Gateway II.

After the Gateway albums Abercrombie altered his style to a more traditional Jazz style. He recorded several LP's and was leader of the group.

The Abercrombie Quartet, which recorded the LP of the same name and another simply called M.

Abercrombie went on to perform with the groups bassist, George Mraz and guitarist John Scofield. Abercrombie's style included Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion, and plain, but very lyrical Jazz.

Abercrombie with an Ibanez Synth
In the mid 1980's he experimented with a guitar synthesizer in performance. From the 1990's to the 21st Century Abercromblie performed with an ever-changing group of players, settling usually on trios with a drummer and organist, though occasionally other instrumentation was added. Throughout his career he remained loyal to the ECM label.


Abercrombie with Guild Starfire


John Abercrombie played a variety of different electric guitars throughout his career. The earliest photo I can find shows him playing a Guild Starfire. Around the same time he was also playing a Guild F-50 acoustic guitar.




Abercrombie with his mandolins

Around 1976 Abercrombie says he was recording with Ralph Towner. and was looking for a different sound. He went to Manny's Music in NYC and found an old Fender 4-string electric mandolin.


He tried to play in fifths, the way most mandolins are tuned, but did not want to learn new fingerings. So ever since he has tuned it in fourths, as on  a guitar. Since then he acquired several more electric mandolins, that appear to have been made by Kevin Schwab of Minneapolis. Since his mandolins are tuned an octave higher than a guitar, Abercrombie refers to them as Piccolo guitars.

With Les Paul
Note Acoustic brand Amps
Early in his career, Abercrombie played several different Gibson Les Pauls.

At the time in his career he seemed to be partial to Gibsons, as he is seen here with a Gibson SG Custom.




Abercrombie with Sadowsky guitar
At some point early in his career, John Abercrombie became acquainted with luthier Roger Sadowsky.  Sadowsky had already made guitars for John Scofield. Abercrombie acquired a Telecaster style model with 3 pickups, two humbuckers in the bridge and neck position, and a single coil in the center.

This guitar had a Strat-style vibrato.

Abercrombie with a Sadowsky Tele



He later had Sadowsky build a more traditional Tele with a humbucker in the neck position and a single coil in the bridge.






Ibanez Synth Controller



By the mid 1980's John had began experimenting with a synth controller and synth that was provided by Ibanez.







With Ibanez Artist

Around the same time Ibanez provided him with two Artist 2619 model that he used for quite a few years. These guitars have been in the Ibanez catalog since 1976. He stated he preferred the Ibanez to his gold top Gibson Les Paul, which had small humbuckers. He also stated that the Ibanez pickups had a fatter sound.




With a Heritage Guitar



As John got older he discovered different guitars, including this Heritage solid body model.







With a Peter Coura Guitar


He also played an electric model made by luthier Peter Coura.









With a Soulezza Guitar


Around 2015 he had a headless guitar built for him from Spanish luthier, Fernando De Oleza, who creates extraordinary guitars under his brand, Soulezza Guitars.




With a McCurdy Guitar


Abercrombie also played a beautiful green guitar made by New York City luthier, Ric McCurdy. 





With Brian Moore DC1P


During Abercrombie's final years, he seemed to favour guitars made by Brian Moore. At first Abercrombie used a Brian Moore model DC1P. The body shape was similar to a Les Paul, however it had Moore's unique headstock, which has two strings on the top and four strings on the bottom.



Brian Moore -
John Abercrombie DC19.13USB
Many later photos show Abercrombie playing his own signature Brian Moore model DC1P.13USB John Abercrombie signature model. This guitar has a beautiful semi-hollow spruce top, mahogany back, and side, twin Seymour Duncan pickups, a unique 7 way switching system, Moore's back loading input system, and two very unusual F holes.

The guitars headstock has Moore's 2 on the bottom, four on the top tuning machine arrangement.

Acoustic Amp



Young John Abercrombie started out playing through amps made by Fender, Mesa Boogie, and the now defunct Acoustic Company.







Polytone Mini Brut



Later in life he preferred jazz style amplifiers like the Polytone Mini Brut.







Walter Woods Electracoustic

He also owned a Walter Woods amplifier. This was one of the earliest models of transistor amplifiers, and it was made for bass players.

Walter Woods amplifiers were class D, and had a very high output, from 120 to 1200 watts, which aided to project the bass signal. Despite the output, the amp itself was in a fairly small package. It needed to be paired to a separate speaker cab.

There are some videos of Abercrombie playing through a Carr Viceroy amplifier.

On the road Abercrombie preferred Roland Jazz Chorus amplifiers; either a JC-120 or a JC-77. He did not carry these with him, but in his contract rider, the club or facility where he was playing was required to rent one of these amplifiers.




Categories: General Interest

Totally Guitars Weekly Wrap Up September 1st, 2017

On The Beat with Totally Guitars - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 20:04
Master Your Favorite Tune with the online guitars lessons from Totally Guitars! Totally Guitars News Podcast This week TG Central was just about recovered from the guests of August when our fearless leader, Matt Williams swooped in for a cameo. It had been a few months since his last visit but years before that one. […]
Categories: Learning and Lessons

Musica espanola de guitarra 2

Creative Guitar - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 04:54
Categories: Classical

Musica espanola de guitarra 1

Creative Guitar - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 04:52
Categories: Classical

The Impractical Guitar Maker, Part 1

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 19:59
...some contemporary luthiers refuse quite bluntly to deal with anything that has the slightest scientific "flavor" to it.

Gila Eban, luthier, 1990

The last couple of days I have been leafing through the James Krenov trilogy, The Cabinetmaker's Notebook, The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking and The Impractical Cabinetmaker. As a classical guitar maker, I really don't need these books anymore, as I have said before, I make guitars, not cabinets.

Squares, rectangles and triangles don't interest me, shapes that are based on the human body do.

I keep Mr. Krenov's books because of all the little bits of advice on how to enjoy life and to see the world around you that he hid and tucked away in paragraphs about dovetails, sharpening, woodworking education, etc.

I am not a big fan of his writing style, a little too verbose and perhaps too sentimental, so these days I scan the pages looking for words that are familiar and excite me like spokeshave, friend, and curved edges and then I read.

Yesterday, as I was thumbing through The Impractical Cabinetmaker, which I first read way back in 1992, I glanced at a paragraph at the end of "Woodcraft Today", and remembered that the last few lines in that paragraph gave me much hope and encouragement back in then, which I took very much to heart.

This is what Mr. Krenov wrote:

The only good advice worth offering is: Keep your goal in mind. Get some fine wood in little bits and pieces, but get it. Put it away to dry properly. Improve the heating in the shop. And all the while think about finding or making better tools. You'll need those fine tools to do that real work. So when the time comes and you get that chance you will be ready.

This then made me think that I should explore The Impractical Cabinetmaker chapter by chapter from the point of view of a guitar maker and post about it. I sallied forth and re-read the first three pages of that chapter because I wanted to read his definition of an "impractical" craftsman.

He is the craftsman for whom an atmosphere of much-to-sell is a hindrance to doing his best always--and living accordingly. He is an idealist who wants to survive to have the chance to work with wood, but not at the price of having woodworking become something less than he hoped it would be.

Hmm. I guess that makes me an impractical guitar maker.

I say I am an impractical guitar maker because I enjoy making guitars and then selling them to people who have been affected (look it up if you don't know what it means) by the sound and playability of my guitars. That is far more rewarding that doing market research to figure out how to tap into and make money from the latest fads of the classical guitar world.

The latest fad is the same it has been since I started studying the classical guitar in 1974, it is to buy the same guitar that the hottest classical guitarist de jour is playing. In the 1970's-80's you had to play a Ramirez No.1A guitar because Segovia, Parkening, Boyd and Niedt all played them. Today you need to play a "double top" guitar by Dammann, Price, Smallman, Connor or someone else who has succeeded in making a guitar sound like a piano, because current greats likes Russell and Barrueco, etc., all play double top guitars.

Perfect practice makes you a better player.

Owning a really good guitar that you love will make you practice more, but popular makers don't always necessarily make the best guitar for you.

The are no jigs or outside moulds in my shop to create "the perfect shape" of a classical guitar, which some makers insist upon to make them "competitive" in today's global classical guitar market. I use a solera, a dished out work board to hold the top and neck while I attach the sides and back. A solera lends itself to asymmetry, which as I have discovered helps give the guitar a voice, a great voice that affects the human psyche.

Does this make me a better guitar maker? Not using power tools or jigs or moulds?

Maybe it doesn't, but as Mr. Krenov said, keep your goal in mind.

My goal is beauty.

The beautiful sound of a guitar that carries throughout the cosmos.

Variacions on Catalan Song

Creative Guitar - Wed, 08/30/2017 - 21:06
Categories: Classical

What’s Your Approach To Effects?

I Heart Guitar - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 17:03

What kind of a player are you: straight into the amp, or do you build your sound through stompboxes or effects units? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because the maturity of digital modelling means there’s a third alternative: “It’s all in my Kemper/Helix/Axe-Fx/etc” so sometimes it’s just an amp, sometimes it’s a bunch of effects, and sometimes it changes from verse to chorus.”

Me, I’m typically a straight-into-the-amp player. Generally I follow the EVH approach of using the guitar’s volume pot to adjust the amp gain, and most of the time I’m on the dirty channel whether I’m playing distorted or clean. I still love my pedals though and I’ve been collecting them since I was 13 years old so I’ve amassed a few favourites in that time. The Z.Vex Fuzz Factory, the Jim Dunlop Q Zone and Buddy Guy Cry Baby, the DOD FX25 Envelope Filter, the BOSS OC-2 Octave. And then there are my beloved Seymour Duncan pedals (As many of you no doubt know, I’m SD’s social media guy and I’m pretty loyal): the Forza and 805 Overdrive are my go-to drives even though I have …way too damn many overdriven to choose from. The Catalina Dynamic Chorus is the only chorus I’ll ever use now. And the Pickup Booster is so simple yet so classic. Can’t wait to get my hands and feet on an Andromeda Dynamic Delay too.

I guess the dream setup for me personally would be something like, say, a BOSS ES-8 so I can dip effects in and out while still effectively getting my main tone from the guitar and amp. The way I approach effects is very similar to what I recall Chris DeGarmo saying in a Guitar World interview back in the 90s: I see my tone as a beam of light, and effects as a prism to shine it through. I always want to keep the spirit of the sound intact, and I know that Marshall so well in terms of how it responds to my playing, what it can do, and what it needs a bit of extra help with.

One of the things that excites me about the Andromeda is that it’s MIDI-capable, and so is the ES-8, so if I get the two I’ll be able to build Andromeda preset changes into my patches. Kick in a Pickup Booster or 805 with some ducking delay for a hotter lead sound, switch on a nice atmospheric reverse delay for my rolled-back-volume cleanish rhythms, hit the OC-2 and a fat analog delay sound for big riffs of doom …actually I’m thinking of using a Seymour Duncan PowerStage 700 power amp to power a pair of wet speakers so I can have a wet/dry/wet setup for delays, chorus, reverb and pitch shifting, still taking advantage of my ‘straight-into-the-amp’ approach on the gain side of things while also getting the most out of my pedals for the ambient and really ear-catching stuff.

What about you? How do you approach your use of effects?

The post What’s Your Approach To Effects? appeared first on I Heart Guitar.

Categories: General Interest

Angel Vivaldi and Andy James Release New Video for ‘Wave of Synergy’

Charvel Guitars - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 09:33

Angel Vivaldi and Andy James, who are about to head to Europe for the “Wave of Synergy” tour, have shared a new music video for the track of the same name.

Watch the two exchange guitar wizardry in the video below. Interested in seeing them live? Click here for VIP Masterclass Tickets and here for General Admission Tickets.

Categories: Manufacturers

Starting a Classical Guitar Rosette Design

Brokeoff Mountain Luthierie - Sun, 08/27/2017 - 15:53
A friend of mine is a wonderful guitar builder. His habits are almost opposite of mine. If you look at his workbench, you will wonder how in the world anyone can ever work there. Yet he makes these world-famous guitars, coveted instruments.

James Krenov, The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking, 1977

Bluebird skies this morning in this part of Colorado, but no black bears, moose or elk hanging out around our place, only wildflowers are making any noise.

I did complete a project today, a blending board for my wife. I posted that on Instagram, you can check it out there, but what I want to share this afternoon was an attempt to do some work in my studio.

Last year I purchased a wonderful piece of curly Claro walnut from Northwest Timber which I re-sawed into guitar back and sides. The pieces weren't big enough to make a full size classical guitar so I decided to use the wood to make a close copy of a guitar by Antonio de Torres, his SE117 guitar.


It is a three piece back with maple fillets.


This is a lightly bear clawed Sitka spruce top set that I bought from Alaska Specialty Woods about six years ago that is a great match for the Claro walnut.

Torres SE117 guitar is a very small guitar by today's standards, it is even smaller than a so called "parlor" guitar. The string length for the original guitar is just under 24 inches, a standard classical has a 25 5/8" string length, and the body length is just under 18 inches, if I remember correctly. Compare that to a modern classical guitar length which hovers at or above 19 inches!

What this really means to me is that I need to make a custom rosette for this guitar, the sound hole is smaller than a standard classical guitar. The pre-made rosettes that I buy from Luthiers Mercantile are made for the larger guitars, they are too big for this tiny guitar.


I pulled out black, white, red and green veneer to see which colors would go best...


...with this redwood burl.


I have had this burl for about seven years and I haven't done anything with it yet. Now is as good of time as any.


The rosette should be stunning with this Sitka spruce. I need to come up with a good color scheme, something like a cherry or walnut fillet to start a WBWBW, then a WBW Walnut or Cherry WBW and then the burl with the same WB combos to complete the mirror.

Of course, since I pulled out all the veneers and thin pieces of cherry and walnut, along with the detritus left over from thinning down the walnut back, I can't really see the top of my workbench. Maybe I will clean it up tomorrow afternoon!


Jinho JN-07 SP Locking Tuners – review

Lone Phantom - Sun, 08/27/2017 - 04:32

As talked about in my posts about my Squier Bullet Strat project, I wanted to find some decent budget locking tuners that functioned favourably  when compared to the major players. After a bit of research I decided to try some Jinho Locking Tuners. Jinho are used as OEM suppliers for several guitar manufacturers, and the general consensus was that they were solid units. I found some for sale on eBay and got to installing them on the Bullet Strat.

On first inspection, the Jinho locking tuners look very similar to Gotoh or other similar modern design tuner. The turning ratio is 19:1, which is better than some of the established players. The Jinho locking tuner uses a standard locking thumb wheel design, which is also found on many other locking tuners. The tuning post diameter is 10mm, consistent with most other modern designs too.

The Bullet Strat has been upgraded with a Graphtech Black TUSQ XL nut, roller string trees, and a Wilkinson vintage style Strat bridge, loaded with Hantug Custom Guitars brass modern strat style saddles.

Stringing up the guitar, the locking thumb wheels were nice and smooth to operate, and the 19:1 turning ratio made fine tuning each string a breeze. Once the strings were stretched I started testing out how well the guitar stayed in tune. Non-locking strat style bridges aren’t always the greatest with regards to tuning stability, and with the stock tuners, the Bullet Strat didn’t always hold it’s tune too well. With the Jinho locking tuners the tuning held up well with some heavy string bending, and things were still pretty solid after some dive-bombs and heavy vibrato with the whammy bar. I also tested the guitar on stage with my band, and I barely had to adjust tuning throughout the half-hour set of combined rhythm and lead playing.

Compared to my number one Strat, which is loaded with Gotoh Magnum-lock tuners, and is similarly equipped with a Graphtech Black TUSQ XL nut, and Hantug Custom Guitars vintage style strat bridge, the Jinho locking tuners performed just as well in it’s  duties, which is admirable for a set of tuners that cost around half the price of the established brand. The only real downside to the Jinho tuners is that the plating doesn’t appear to be quite as robust as the Gotoh’s, for example. The thumb wheels were bumped a couple of times during installation, and the finish was chipped. Not a major issue, and considering how well the actual performance of the tuners were, it’s definitely not a show-stopper.

Overall, the Jinho JN-07SP Locking Tuners proved to be an excellent upgrade for the budget conscious player. In fact, they were an excellent upgrade even without budget restrictions in place. The excellent turning ratio and solid locking mechanism make them the perfect choice for a guitar with a non-locking tremolo equipped guitar, whether you want to go nuts with the whammy bar or just apply some subtle vibrato. It understandable why a number of manufacturers are using these as OEM parts on their mid-range guitars. If you have a guitar that requires some help on the tuning front, and have a limited budget, then definitely have a look at these tuners.

Categories: General Interest

Glen Campbell - Some History and a Retrospective of His Guitars.

The Unique Guitar Blog - Sat, 08/26/2017 - 17:26
I'm dedicating this one to our own Glenn, my son-in-law. We nearly lost him in a tragic automobile accident on the very weekend I started writing this article. I am so glad you are still with us. You are a terrific father and husband. It will get better. Hang in there buddy.

Glen Campell on TV in 1965

The first time I saw Glen Campbell play was on a television show called Shindig It aired from 1964 to 1966, and it featured some top musical acts of that era.


Some of the Shindogs

The “house” band on the show were called The Shindogs and comprised of some of Los Angeles’ best session players, whose players alternated from time to time.




The band members included Glen Campbell, Joey Cooper, Chuck Blackwell (drums), Billy Preston, James Burton, Delaney Bramlett, Larry Knechtel (on bass), Leon Russell (on piano) Glen D. Hardin and bass player Ray Pohlman.

Glen Campbell rehearsing on Shindig!
Campbell was featured as a solo act on this show, singing and playing an unusual guitar that he seemed to favor. The guitar was a 1960 Teisco model T-60, that featured a set neck, and a hand carved body that had an unusual cut-out on the guitar lower bout and the headstock.

1960 Teisco T-60
It was equipped with 3 pickups that were made by the company, and a three-piece bridge/saddle unit that resembled the one found on early Fender Telecasters.

The metal pickguard covered much of the body. On it was mounted a volume and tone control and a 3 position rotary switch that chose the pickup. It would be a few years before Teisco (the Tokyo Electric Instrument Company) began flooding the US and European market with cheap electric guitars.

Campbell with The Wrecking Crew
Glen seemed to favor this guitar and used it during his days as a LA studio musician, with The Wrecking Crew. When he first made television appearances, he played this same guitar.


Glen was born into a family of 12 children, His father was a sharecropper. He grew up and lived in a town near Delight, Arkansas. He received his first guitar at age 4 and took to it immediately. Since the neck was not adjustable and the strings were high, his father fashioned a capo out of an old inner tube. His extended family included several musicians. He was fond of reminding people that he was the seventh son of a seventh son.

Glen on a Tele with his uncles band

At age 16 Glen dropped out of high school to pursue a career as a guitar player. His first job was with his uncle Eugene aka Boo, at a nightclub gig in Casper, Wyoming.




In 1956 they traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico in a group called The Sandia Mountain Boys, which was led by another Uncle named Dick Bills.

Within a couple of years, Glen Campbell had formed his own band called The Western Wranglers. By 1960 he moved to Los Angeles California and had a daytime job working for the American Music publishing company, writing songs and performing demo recordings. Word got out about this talented singer/guitar player and he was in demand.

Glen Campbell in The Champs
By October of that year he landed a job as a guitarist for The Champs who had recorded the 1958 hit,Tequila. Interestingly, the other Champs members at the time were Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts.

Around this same time, Glen Campbell was hired by several session producers to play guitar with other anonymous back up musicians that later were came to be known as The Wrecking Crew.

Glen Campbell in the Wrecking Crew
Campbell played on recordings for such well-known acts as Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson (Travelin’ Man), Dean Martin (he played on the hit Everybody Loves Somebody), Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra (These Boots are Made for Walking).

He aslo backed up Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean (Surf City), The Beach Boys (he played acoustic guitar on Be True to Your School, Pet Sounds and other recordings), Ronnie Dove, and Frank Sinatra. Phil Spector sought him out to play on some of his hits recorded by the Righteous Brothers.

Elvis, Priscilla, Campbell


Glen Campbell played on recordings for Elvis, striking up a friendship with The King. Both men came from the same humble Southern roots. Glen played guitar on many demo recordings for Elvis and on the album Viva Las Vega.





Campbell goes solo
By 1961, Campbell had left The Champs to pursue a solo career and was signed by Crest Record, which was a subsidiary of the music publishing company where he worked. His first recording, “Turn Around, Look at Me” peaked at #62 on the Billboard Hot 100 that same year. It later became a hit for The Vogues.

That same year Campbell formed another band called the Gee Cees with some of the members of The Champs and played at local clubs.

By 1962 he inked a deal with Capitol Records and had a minor hit with the song “Too Late to Worry, Too Blue to Cry”.

He continued to record and write music. However his forte at the time was the session work. He was featured on an incredible 586 recorded songs, despite the fact that he could not read music. He would have someone at the session sing or hum the part and he immediately played it “by ear”.

Not only did he play guitar, but doubled on banjo, mandolin, and bass guitar.

It was in 1964 that Campbell got into television, as a regular on several shows including a California series called Star Route, and the Shindig!, and another California series called Hollywood Jamboree.

Glen Campbell as a Beach Boy
Around this same time, Beach Boys founder and song writer Brian Wilson had succumb to a mental breakdown and quit touring with the band. The Beach Boys hired Glen Campbell to tour with them. For a year, Glen Campbell played bass guitar and sang harmony with the act.

In 1965 Glen Campbell finally had a a solo hit record with a song called Universal Soldier. This anti-war song (the US and allies were in the midst of the Vietnam War) was written by Buffy Sainte-Marie.

The following year, Campbell was hired again by The Beach Boys as a session player for their Pet Sounds album.

Rick Nelson and Glen Campbell 



Later that year he was hired to play bass guitar by Ricky Nelson on a tour of the Far East.




Campbell with Epiphone Zephyr
During his time as a session player, Glen played his Teisco guitar and an Epiphone Zephyr Deluxe.

It was in 1966 Glen finally struck gold when he was paired with songwriters Jimmy Webb and John Hartford.

He shared a friendship with both men throughout his life time.

Glen Campbell & John Hartford
John Hartford wrote and recorded Gentle on My Mind and Glen had heard Hartford's version. Campbell hired fellow session players to come into the Capitol Record studio and make a demo of him singing this song so he could pitch it to producer Al De Lory.

During the session, Campbell shouted directions to the players. He left the rough cut for De Lory to hear.

The next day De Lory listened to it and fell in love with the song and Glen's recording. De Lory immediately went to work on it, removing Glens directions to the musicians, but keeping Glens vocal and the music. Without telling Campbell, De Lory went ahead and released the song. It went on to become a mega hit for Campbell and won a Grammy for John Hartford.

In 1968 Campbell followed up with the song Wichita Lineman, which was penned and orchestrated by Jimmy Webb. Webb says he wrote the song as he drove through Washita County in southern Oklahoma.

The road was straight and seemed to go past endless lines of telephone poles. He saw a solitary lineman that was strapped at the top of one of these poles, doing repair work, causing Webb to think about the loneliness of this job. The phrase “singing in the wires” came from the vibrations induced by the electric current flowing through the lines.

Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell
In his arrangement he tried to mimic this through the droning of the string parts and the sort of Morse code at the end of the verse. Webb had made a decision that Wichita Lineman had a better ring to it than "Washita" Lineman, so the songs working title was changed.

Campbell's recording was also produced by Al De Lory and charted for 15 weeks in 1968. It is listed among Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 500 greatest songs of all time.

By The Time I Get To Phoenix
Campbell followed this up with two other Jimmy Webb songs; By the Time I Get to Phoenix, and Galveston. By the Time I Get to Phoenix was inspired by Webb’s break up with his girl friend. This song was originally recorded in 1965 by Johnny Rivers but failed to chart. Glen added it to his album in 1967.



Galveston
The song Galveston was Campbell’s follow up hit, released in 1969. Webb had written it as a war protest song during the Vietnam War years. During the Civil War the Battle of Galveston took place in 1863. I do not know if this battle influenced Webb. What I do know is that Webb imagined a soldier who had come to the realization that he was fighting for a cause that he felt was disingenuous.

Webb imagined the soldier thoughts and put them into these lyrics; "Wonder if she could forget me, I'd go home if they would let me, Put down this gun, and go to Galveston.

In 1968 Glen Campbell won 10 Grammys, three Hall of Fame Awards, a lifetime acheivement award, and the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year award.

Galveston - 45 rpm single
Hawaiian singer Don Ho introduced Glen Campbell to the song. However that profound verse was deleted and changed to; “I still hear your sea waves crashing, While I watch the cannons flashing, I clean my gun, and dream of Galveston.” This made it less of a protest song, more of a love song, and a number one Billboard hit for Campbell. This song came out in 1969.

Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour
Due to his popularity 1968 Glen Campbell was asked by CBS to be the summer time replacement host of the successful Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour variety show. The audience loved him and the following year he was invited to host The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.

This show debuted in 1969 and ran through 1972.

Jerry Reed and Campbell
Campbell introduced a lot of wonderful musicians on this show, including his friends Jerry Reed, John Hartford, Doug Dillard (the banjo player for the Dillards), and Mason Williams. Toward the end of the show, they would all sit together and play a few songs in the “Pickin’ Pit.


This show introduced a lot of people to Country Music that would not have listened to it otherwise.

Campbell also turned his talent to the movies, making appearances in one flick called Norwood, and the John Wayne movie, True Grit.

Rhinestone Cowboy
While touring Australia Campbell heard a tune by Country Music writer/singer Larry Weiss, called Rhinestone Cowboy. Campbell related to the song and upon returning to the United States took it to Capitol Record and recorded his version. It charted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. (For those not familiar with Nashville, Tennessee, Broadway is the street where you can find all the music clubs.)



Allen Toussaint Southern Nights
New Orleans pianist and song writer Allen Toussaint has left us with some incredible music. In 1975 he wrote a song based on the childhood memories of the evenings he spent with his Creole grandparents on the porch of their home.

He called the song, "Southern Nights".

Toussaint’s version was down tempo, thoughtful, and the lyrics are just plain beautiful. Songwriter Jimmy Webb loved the song and brought it to Glens attention. With the help of his friend, Jerry Reed, they came up with the guitar introduction that featured the treble strings playing a descending two bar passage, while at the same the bass strings played an ascending passage. Glen’s version was uptempo, and cheerful, and was another hit for him.

Later in his career Campbell continued to tour, had three failed marriages, a fling with Country Music singer Tonya Tucker and had battled substance abuse. Most of this occurred during the mid 1970’s,

Glen and Kim Campbell


Glen finally got the help, discipline, and understanding he needed when, in 1982, he remarried for the last time to his wife Kim.


Campbell recording with
The Stone Temple Pilots

During the 1990’s he became a successful performer, owning his own Goodtime Theater In Branson, Missouri. He still toured the world giving concerts, sometimes with symphony orchestras.

In 2008 Glen decided to record a project called Meet Glen Campbell. This featured some songs by Green Day, The Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, John Lennon, Lou Reed and others. Backing him on this recording were Wendy Melvoin, who played keyboards for Prince, Tom Petty, Rick Neilsen, and Danzig guitarist Todd Youth. In addition to others that sang background, were Campbell's own children.

Glen and Ashley Campbell
The Last Tour
In 2010 his doctor gave him the dreadful diagnosis that Campbell was in the early stages of Alzheimer disease. The following year, 2011, Glenn, his wife, and the three children from his marriage to her, embarked on his farewell tour. His three children comprised most of his back up band.

The tour was filmed and the results showed his regression as the disease ravaged his brain. Though he could no longer remember lyrics to songs, he did not forget how to play guitar.

Sadly, he went into the studio and recorded one last song called I’m Not Going To Miss You. The recording was backed by several of his friends that played in The Wrecking Crew.

Campbell passed away last week on August 8th when the disease robbed his brain of the ability to control his central nervous system. Throughout his career Glen Campbell used a vast collection of guitars. One of the first guitar companies to have a relationship with Campbell was The Ovation guitar.

Ovations similar to those that Glen played

Ovation guitars were a fairly new comer to the guitar market, having its start around 1965, with the development of an acoustic guitar with a round fiberglass back. Glen Campbell like the rugged concept of the guitar.



He encouraged the company to produce a model with an acoustic pick up, since he did not like to have a microphone stand in front of him.

He also did not think the guitar was loud enough. CEO Charles Kaman took his advice and obliged by having his engineers develop one of the best under-saddle acoustic transducer/pickups that was ever designed.

In a meeting with Campbell, Mr. Kaman gave him one of the first Ovation acoustic-electric Balladeer guitars. Campbell used this guitar, and many other Ovation guitars on his Goodtime Hour televsion show.

Campbell with
Ovation Glen Campbell model
Among those guitars were the Ovation Balladeer (this one was redesigned especially for Glen and designated The Glen Campbell model 1627), an Ovation classical acoustic electric model 1613, an Ovation acoustic electric 12 string model 1615.


Campbell playing an Ovation Toronado


He also several Ovation electric models, including a Tornado electric guitar.





Ovation Viper models



Campbell played an Ovation six and 12 string Viper models in a blue-burst finish that were referred to as Bluebirds.







Ovation Toronado
The Tornado guitar that Glen can be seen playing on his TV show is an interesting guitar. Ovation did not build the bodies. They were manufactured in Germany by the same company that made bodies for some Framus guitars. The pickups were made by Schaller, another Germany manufacturer. The bodies and parts were sent to the Kaman factory in Connecticut for assembly and bolt-on Ovation necks were added. Even after the TV series ran its course, and late into his career.

Campbell with Ovation Breadwinner
Glen also played an Ovation Breadwinner. This was a uniquely shaped guitar that essentially looked like a battle-ax. The body was made of mahogany, the neck was bolt on, and the electronics were active.

Campbell continued to play Ovation guitars at his concerts throughout his career.

Campbell with Mosrite
12 sting
I do not know how much of a relationship Glen had with Semie Moseley, the creator/builder of Mosrite Guitars. I know that Glen played several Mosrite guitars, including a 12 string electric, a Mosrite hollow body Ventures 12 string model, and a custom Mosrite Californian resonator guitar that had 2 pickups.

Semie Moseley of Mosrite took over the Dobro operation from the Dopyera brothers in 1966. Their factory was based in Gardena California.

The first instruments that Mosrite made were assembled from original Dopyera parts in the Gardena factory.

Campbell with Mosrite Californian Dobro
Later on Semi phased in his own components and concepts. This guitar was made with Dobro parts and a Mosrite neck and pickups. Glen's name is inlaid on the fretboard.

He owned two other Mosrite electric guitars and one rare Mosrite acoustic guitar.

1966 Mosrite Celebrity

One was a Mosrite Celebrity model. The body was made by Framus, the neck, pickups, and electronics were by Moseley. The vibrato was made by Framus.



Plainsman Dobro 



The other was a 1966 Mosrite Plainsman Dobro electric guitar. This one was made by Dobro. Semie Moseley added the pickup, electronics, and added a Mosrite neck.






Campbell with Mosrite Seranader
The acoustic model is a 1965 Mosrite Serenader. The body is solid spruce, the back and sides are solid mahogany. The dove tailed neck has the Mosrite headstock. The unique pickguard has a tortoise-shell appearance. Glenn owned two of these guitars.

Campbell with a Fender Bass VI


Campbell played a Fender Bass VI on Wichita Lineman, and Galveston.







Campbell with a Stratocaster
Much later in his career he routinely played a dark blue Fender Stratocaster. On one of the forums that I used to visit, a guitar tech said that one of Glen's guitar techs brought it into his shop for some quick repairs and adjustments. He commented on the forum that it was a great guitar. Glen also owned a Lake Placid Blue stratocaster, a black stratocaster, and a red strat with twin humbuckers.


Campbell 1956


You can see from one picture towards the top of the page, Glen started out playing a Telecaster that was equipped with a Bigsby B5.

This Tele had the Bigbsy as an add-on, longer before Fender offered this option in 1967. The photo is from around 1956. He is playing at a store that sells house paint.



Glen with a G&L Comanche


Glenn also owned and played a G&L Comanche, which was a strat-style guitar that had split pickups.



Campbell with his guitars
Glen owned and played so many guitars, it is difficult to mention all of them.

Glen owned several Martin guitars, one was a Martin N-20 classical model.



Campbell with Martin




The other was probably a Martin D-28, since the sides appear to be rosewood.







Campbell's Ovation Vipers
(Blue Birds)



Glen loved 12 string guitars. He played his is can be often seen playing his Ovation Viper 12 string.








Campbell with Hamer 12 string

Later played a beautiful Hamer 12 string electric guitar that he used in concert when he played Southern Nights.


Glen was an amazing guitarist and vocalist. In fact he is one of the most versatile guitarists ever.

As a session player he played on many of the Beach Boys songs, and also played on Frank Sinatra's classic recording of Strangers In The Night. He loved his family, and made a life with his music that many of us can only dream about.

He remained an incredibly talented man right up to the end. He will be missed.

Click on the links under the photos for sources. Click on the links in the text for more information.
©UniqueGuitar Blog (text only)

Glen plays an incredible solo on a vintage late 1950's Stratocaster in this video










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