Mark Campellone’s workmanship is nothing short of exquisite; he is a master of (underpriced) luthiery perfection whose artistic vision is exceptional and whose reasonable price tags make one do an actual double-take. Mark’s Standard Series instruments feature a graduated spruce top (6 years in college), a hand-graduated figured maple back with matching solid maple rims, a multi-bound top, single-bound back, fingerboard and peghead, a single-bound tortoise-shell style pickguard, mostly maple neck, ebony neo-classical (no inlays on the front) fingerboard with side dot position markers, an ebony bridge with full contact base; his Standard Series tailpiece of gold-plated brass with an ebony appliqué, gold-plated Grover tuners with keystone buttons, and an extremely fine and select hard shell plush lined case. The scale length on this guitar is 25” and the nut width is 1 3/4th” — which makes this guitar quite similar to what one other manufacturer used to call The Johnny Smith Model – one of the most desirable (and also hardest to find) acoustic archtops the world has ever seen. The depth of the body at the lower bout is 3 ¼”. The string spacing at the bridge, E to E, Is 2 1/16th”. This guitar is pure, unadulterated blonde, and there is an old saying that jazz guitarists prefer them.
We ordered this example with the option of the floating black Kent Armstrong humbucking pickup which attaches to the pickguard at the underside of the fingerboard, is, itself, connected to a volume control on the pickguard, and this combination allows for amplified playing with the most dulcet and melodious of timbre and euphony. When we or an actual qualified jazz guitarist plays it, we are individually bathed in an ephemeral and diaphanous golden light that pours down on us like the honey from a tray of fresh Baklava – an experience that requires a long, hot shower with a pair of fresh loofahs. This indescribable radiance, doctor, seems, I thought at the time, to be coming from and through the dusty glass transom right there, over the worn wooden door of this rundown 1870s style hotel room. It’s just me, my saddle bags, a half-empty bottle of rotgut hooch and my Mark Campellone brand new all-natural finish Standard acoustic-electric archtop. But -- there’s a knock on the door and then I wake up. What does this mean, doctor?
Every aspect of this instrument is a delight to all of the senses and satisfying in every possible way. The wood on the back and sides is so exquisitely curly that you may spend the rest of the evening searching for Larry and Moe. The dexterousness with which this maker inlays his scripted name, boldly spelled with no period or space after the M in “MCampellone,” the polished ebony headstock overlay, the stairstep black plastic truss rod cover, outlined in white and held in place steadfastly with but one gold-plated Phillips screw, the ebony two-piece bridge carved with the elegance that the Great Master of Kenmore Street might have carved it, the three-piece curly maple neck bisected by a center strip of what could be walnut and the original three piece ebony and gold tailpiece that resembles a fanciful and ultra-deluxe cigar tip cutter -- yes, all of this can be your own personal property if the gods of justified prioritization are prepared to portend your propitious possession. And, as we said, compared to other fine new hand-made archtop guitars, this is delightfully (beyond words) underpriced.