Duesenberg Starplayer – Mike Campbell Signature Edition
Review – 07/06/2016

Nowadays most guitars manufacturers conform to a formula of tried and tested methods, or perhaps deviate slightly from it within their model range. However if you want to think outside the box for something a bit different, you need to look towards manufacturers like Duesenberg who have been making alternative and eye catching designs since 1986 in their Hanover headquarters in Germany.

The model which we are reviewing today is the Mike Campbell Signature edition which was released for the Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers 30th anniversary; although rumour has it that it was originally meant to a Ford Shelby Mustang special edition which Ford turned down as it wasn’t US made instrument.

Specifications

First played by Mike Campbell at the 2007 Super Bowl halftime show, the guitar is of a semi hollow construction with a substantial tone block in the centre. As per German traditional construction the top is made of spruce and the bent sides are made of laminated maple. The D shape maple neck sports an Indian rosewood fretboard with pearloid markers and 22 jumbo steel frets. The guitar is finish in electric blue in polyester lacquer with the racing stripes seemingly painted on as opposed to the use of decals.

Hardware wise the TV has much of Duesenbergs own branded parts finished in nickel. These include locking tuners with Art Deco details, a Bisgby style tremolo and what looks like a standard TOM style bridge. The pickguard is nickel as well and has a detailed laser etch of Mike Campbell’s signature.

In the electronics department the “Duesy” has a P90 single coil fitted in the neck position and a humbucker in the bridge position. These are controlled by a three position switch, and separate volume and tone control pots for each pickup.

Fit & Finish

Where exactly this instrument is made is a bit of a mystery, most sites mention that the body and neck are made in Korea and then moved on to assembly in Germany with Duesenbergs own hardware and pickups. Whatever is the case does not detract that this is a very high quality instrument.

Paintwork and general fit is superb which no visible flaws, paint bubbles or overspray. The Art Deco details in the hardware are also and finely machined. What really stood out to me on the first sight was the reassuring chunky metal clunk of the pickup selector with its metal switch tip, which gives one the impression of a vintage gear selector.

Sounds

The MC TV sounds very retro with clean and sparkly highs from the bridge pickup, a useful rhythm sound in the middle and a warm jazzy tone from the P90 up front. It does most styles of music well and responds well to pedals too. I would say a bright amplifier would suit it best, it definitely sounded better to me on a Fender Blues Junior and a Roland JC120 than on a Marshall DSL15. It overdrives well, and seems at least during a jam session to be stable as to tuning.  It definitively has its own voice somewhere between a vintage Fender and a growling Gretsch.

Summary

A quality guitar to be enjoyed for many years to come.

Notes

Please be ware that on some sites the hardcase is not included as standard and also that the provided string gauge 10-50 is quite unique and available from Duesenberg as their DSA10 set.

By Ernest H. Slade
www.gear-review.co.uk