Todd Cambio

July 31, 2017

Lonnie Johnson’s Mysterious 12 String

My creative spirit feeds off of unusual sounds and images.  I love to try and figure out what kinds of instruments made the sounds on old records and what musicians were photographed with.  The more unusual the instrument and its sound the better.  I am especially fascinated by the instruments that came from small, independent shops. I have puzzled over country music pioneer Ernest Stoneman’s Galiano, Willie McTell’s Tonk Brothers 12 string, and Lydia Mendoza’s Acosta 12 string.  I have […]
January 18, 2017

Decalomania 6 and 12

In the early 1900’s decorative decals were often used to add a little pizzazz to household objects.  The guitar industry embraced the decal as a way to dress up very plain instruments.  I don’t think that any company did this to greater effect than Oscar Schmidt, who used decals to imitate fancy rosettes and backstrips, and to add a touch of class, whether it was with ivy, musical instruments or beautiful ladies.  I’ve had quite a few of these instruments […]
November 30, 2016

The Fancy Italians

Much of my work has been influenced by the work of Italian immigrant luthiers who worked at the early part of the 20th Century. Initially I was drawn to the work of the Italians who worked at the Oscar Schmidt factory who built Stellas, Sovereigns and other brands. Later I became fascinated by the Italians who worked in small shops, either by themselves or with a few other people, at times with their family. These men came from Naples, Sicily, […]
March 26, 2016

Making a Case for Making a Case

Guitar cases are an essential commodity for a guitar builder.  Standard size cases can be purchased fairly easily, for a reasonable price.  If you make an instrument that doesn’t fit into a standard case, your options are to have a case custom made, or to retrofit an over sized case.  I have a few models that don’t fit into standard size cases and require custom cases.  I’ve had custom cases made by a variety of manufacturers and for one reason […]
February 29, 2016

A Bone to Pick

Bone is an important but overlooked material used in guitars.  We use bone for the nuts and saddles, and sometimes bridge pins. The quality of the material and the fit make a big difference in the tone and playability of an instrument.  Bone blanks can be purchased from guitar suppliers, or they can be cut and shaped from bone itself.  Not all bone is equal and there are a few things you need to know before you make a switch […]
September 3, 2015

A replica of Willie McTell’s Tonk Brothers 12 String.

One of the sources I draw on for inspiration for new projects is old photographs of musicians with their guitars.  I have been especially interested in trying to recreate the instruments of some of America’s most iconic musicians.  I have made copies of Leadbelly’s 12 string, Ernest Stoneman’s Galiano, Lydia Mendoza’s Acosta 12 string and Daddy Stovepipe’s 9 string guitar.  When I can locate an example of one of these instruments, I use it as reference.  If I unable to […]
July 6, 2015

Guitars for Sale

I recently finished some guitars for my inventory.  They are all completely handmade, with dovetail neck joints, dual action adjustable truss rods, built with hide glue and finished with varnish.  They are built in the spirit of the guitars of the 1920s and 30’s, sound like old ones,comparable in feel and weight.  The truss rod,  radiused fingerboard, modern frets, compensated saddles etc, combine to make them more player friendly than the old ones.  They are all great guitars at  great […]
March 18, 2015

The All Americans

Recently I had a conversation with a friend who is a Wisconsin farmer.  He works his tail off from early Spring to late Fall, then spends his winters in Honduras. He has been working for several years on a project, planting trees, mainly mahogany, on mountainsides in order to restore forests which have been clear cut.  Because the mountainsides are free of trees, erosion and mudslides have become big problems as there is no structure to hold the soil together […]
March 4, 2015

A Whole Bunch of Geetars.

I’ve been keeping my nose to the grindstone, working in the shop and haven’t taken the time to update the blog.  I have a backlog of pictures that I’ve been meaning to get up.  So here are 11 guitars that closed out 2014 and brought in 2015. 1.  A customer asked me to build a very plain Erma, in the style of some of the early Antonio Cerrito built Galiano guitars.  These guitars usually had top binding only, a very […]
October 1, 2014

Let’s all help Paul Geremia

Paul Geremia is a great player of country blues and historian of early American music.  He has been playing as a sole means of support for 45 years.  In that time he has traveled to most of his gigs in his car, crisscrossing the US countless times, and also touring Europe.  In June of 2014, Paul suffered a stroke and since then he has been on the road to recovery.  There have been some friends who have been helping him […]