I suppose this will come as no great surprise to most of my readers, but one of the nicest benefits of writing at EGR is that I get to play a whole lot of great instruments that I’d probably never have access to otherwise. Call me crazy, but this is the greatest job in the world… even if it is just a hobby.
Most recently, thanks to Dean Campbell and the good folks at Campbell American, I’ve had the pleasure of putting in some quality time with a Precix – the hand-made, double-cutaway beauty that is Campbell American’s mainstay instrument.
While they’re still a rather young company, Campbell American has been producing quality hand-crafted guitars in New England’s Blackstone Valley since 2002, and in 2004, when Fender closed its Guild guitar factory in Westerly, Rhode Island, Campbell American was lucky enough to be bring some former Guild craftsmen into the fold as well.
Of course, Fender’s loss is Campbell American’s gain, and if my review model is any indication I’m guessing the company has a very satisfied customer base – in this age of mass produced, cookie cutter guitars, the hand-built feel of the Precix is something you just can’t put a price on.
Let’s Take A Look Inside
Crack open the plush-lined hard case (yep, it’s included in the price,) and you’re presented with a handsome instrument that is unashamedly unique – this is definitely not just another Strat or Les Paul clone.
Lift it out of the case and you’ll notice that the Precix has some seriously sexy curves, and manages to feel both light-weight and solidly built, making the guitar exceedingly comfortable to play whether standing up or sitting down.
The review model I spent the last few weeks with had a maple body, though the Precix is available in a number of other materials, including poplar, basswood, mahogany, and ash (and even some more exotic woods for the truly brave.) I guess it says something about the quality of the instrument that while I’ve always been partial to mahogany solid-bodies, the Precix actually got me re-thinking my stance – the maple body seems lite, responsive, and full of vibrant tone & sustain.
Fit, Feel & Tone
With a 25.5“ scale length and a satin-finished rock maple neck, the ”feel“ of the Precix is perhaps closest to that of a Stratocaster, though I hate to make the generalization. I’m not sure about the exact measurements, but the rosewood fretboard (also available in maple or ebony) is definitely a bit wider near the nut than my current guitar, and that extra width, mixed with a slightly flattened ”C“ neck profile, makes for much easier chording in the open position – in contrast to the Precix, an open D-minor chord can feel downright cramped on something like a Les Paul.
The instrument is, in fact, a true pleasure to play, and is absolutely punchy when it comes to fretting. The rock maple neck is highly playable, the action is right where it should be, and with a double-cutaway body design all 22 frets (medium jumbos) are actually useable – *gasp!* Bends, hammer-ons, harmonics… this guitar handles them all with aplomb.
Tone-wise the Precix is incredibly versatile, but my review model, which boasted a pair of Seymour Duncan humbuckers (Jazz at the neck, Custom-Custom at the bridge,) was particularly adept at nasty blues, good old-fashioned classic rock, and it even managed to hold its own with some twangy rockabilly & country. With a Marshall distortion pedal thrown in I was able to produce some seriously deep, dark overdriven tones as well.
But where this guitar really shines is with high-speed runs, scorching lead work, and down & dirty rhythm playing. Heck, it does a bang-up job with Jazz comping too (that slightly flattened ”C“ neck profile again.)
And make no mistake, this combination of pickups is nice and hot, so while they can certainly put out a full, shimmering clean tone, they also managed to push my tweed Fender tube amp into a really blistering overdrive without breaking a sweat. These things are all about brightness and ”punch,“ and if that’s the kind of guitar sound you find yourself dreaming of, well, the Precix certainly won’t disappoint.
Of course, if you like your tone a little on the creamier side Campbell American has you covered there as well – the Precix is available with a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker at the bridge, and a ’59 humbucker at the neck (a classic set-up, and one of my all time favorites,) or with various other Seymour Duncan model pickups, or with nickel or gold pickup covers.
Finish & Hardware
As if all of that weren’t enough reason to give the Precix a try, it turns out that Campbell American is no slouch in the aesthetics department either. As I mentioned earlier, the Precix is all about curves – every edge on this baby is rounded except at the headstock – but the trans green BVSB nitro cellulose finish on my review instrument was just gorgeous, allowing all the nuances of the natural maple body to shine through, while still providing a deep, rich green sunburst look.
And yeah, green may be an acquired taste in an electric guitar, but Campbell’s pretty much got all of the bases covered. At time of writing they’ve got nine hand-painted Nitro Cellulose finishes available, including: Natural, Translucent Cherry Red, Green Sunburst, Blue Sunburst, Amber Sunburst, Black, White, Arctic Blue, and Gold.
My greenburst review model was decked out in Gold Gotoh hardware – though chrome is standard, and black is also available – including 15:1 ratio tuners (locking Sperzels are optional,) six-saddle strings-thru-body bridge, 3-way pickup switching, and volume and tone knobs with audio taper pots.
Of course, a guitar isn’t very practical without a case, and Campbell American has thrown in a beauty with the Precix: it’s a TKL road case, with a sturdy 3-ply hand laminated wood shell, heavy-duty Durahyde T covering, steel reinforced seams, a seriously plush interior to keep your Precix in top shape, and a very spacious compartment for your strings, straps, picks and other guitar essentials.
Trust me, the case is nice enough to get buried in – so whether on the road, or just hidden away in your closet, you’ll be happy to know that your Precix is sleeping in true comfort.
Summing It Up…
So what’s the final word?
With a list price of $1780.00 USD, and a street price of around $1350.00, the Campbell American Precix may not be the cheapest guitar in town, but if my review model is any indication, well, you’re going to get all that you pay for and then some.
For a price similar to that of many mass-produced and much less compelling instruments, Campbell American gives you hand-crafted quality, top-shelf hardware, a wonderfully playable neck, a light & comfortable body design, and a variety of tones that absolutely won’t quit.
Throw in the knowledge that you’re buying a true American made instrument, not to mention the pleasure of owning a guitar that doesn’t look like your brother-in-law’s lame Les Paul clone, and this one’s a no-brainer…
The Precix gets five out of five stars, two thumbs up, five smiley guitar picks… go check it out!
Manufacturer: Campbell American | Model: Precix | Sales: Dean Campbell | Telephone: 617-620-8153 | Fax: 508-785-3577 | Web Site: www.campbellamerican.com