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Friday, January 25, 2013

The Gambler by Champtone Guitars,...(Review)

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer 
Street Price: $2,450 USD with case + shipping  

Champtone Guitars is the American manufacturer of handcrafted, custom boutique electric guitars by master luthier Jeff Kadlic, in Saugerties, NY. 

This Gambler model Serial#12009 has a "dirty blond" nitrocellulose lacquer finish on a 2-piece lightweight ash body featuring a period correct 5-hole lacquered Bakelite pickguard that flows in to a nitrocellulose lacquer vintage tinted 1-piece AAAA flamed hard rock maple soft V-to-C shape neck with rolled fingerboard edges, .870” at 1st fret, .090 taper, 9.5” radius, 6125 fretwire topped with a vintage bone nut at 1.65”. 

Callaham Vintage T w/brass enhanced vintage compensated saddles, (2) Callaham Broadcaster heavy knurl knobs, stainless steel neck plate, and string tree.Vintage style nickel-plated slotted screws except for intonation screws. Gotoh/Kluson machine heads in a nickel finish. 

Klein Epic Series 1952 Esquire with Champtone Deluxe hot rod esquire wiring including (1) CRL 3-way switch, (2) CTS Pots, (1) Jensen PIO cap, (1) SoZo cap, (1) Switchcraft Mil-Spec jack. 


Amp used:


This is a single pickup guitar wired with the Champtone deluxe hot rod Esquire wiring kit on a 3-way Tele style switch

Selector position 1: Wired with a Jensen .047 Paper-In-Oil capacitor with just Vol (bypass tone switch) 
Warm, almost mini humbucker or p-90 in the bridge on 7. Great for a thick country or thin jazz rhythm with out the mud. 

Selector position 2: Straight pickups with Vol & Tone  
A full throttle in your face country twang with hints of Texas blues and English pop.  

Selector position 3:  Straight pickups with just Vol (bypass tone switch 
A full throttle in your face country twang with hints of Texas blues and English pop with a boost in the sweet spot. 

Action, Fit & Finish: 
The finish is a beautiful warm mustard that the luthier has dubbed "dirty blonde."  The action was low without buzz, and the intonation was dead on. The guitar felt like it was built with care and attention to detail. 

Reliability & Durability: 
The guitar seems to be well made. It is solid through and through. There was no hum or crackles from the electronics; all knobs and hardware installed snug and proper. 

When I opened the box I needed to take a step back to take her all in as she was beautiful. She has a very simple and utilitarian look -- but like a woman with natural beauty she doesn't need all that bling to make her shine. The day she arrived to me it was seven degrees out so I needed to let her warm up to room temperature before I put any tension on her neck. Jeff Kadlic the luthier behind Champtone Guitars shipped her to me correctly without any string tension, so when I did get to play her 24 hours later her intonation was spot on. 

Sometimes when we are comparing new and exciting products we tend to say phrases like "this isn't your grandfather's" whatever you are talking about. In this case if your grandfather was playing an American made Tele in the 1950’s, this is your grandfather's Tele. This is not a vintage guitar as she was made this year; she is also not road worn or reliced to have the appearance that she is. In my opinion this is what a 1950’s Tele would have looked, felt, played and sounded like in the 1950’s when it was new in the store. 

What most people seem to forget is that what we call “custom or boutique” today was the industry standard in the 1950’s. Fast Forward 60 years and today's build process is something that in the 195o’s would have been frowned upon by all luthiers. This guitar was made the same way as a 1950’s Tele was -- by hand with care and attention to detail opposed to the crap that the Fender assembly line farts out today. You really get to experience what I believe Leo Fender had envisioned for his company that is now only carried out by independent luthiers like Jeff Kadlic of Champtone Guitars.

With that said; she plays like a dream. The profile on her neck is just wonderful. The c /v shape fills the hand letting you know that you are playing a guitar that was once a tree, but is not overly wide making her easy to play. I was able to fly up and down all 21 frets without any hesitation. Her tone was bright with warm undertones and a strong bite to round her out. This is by far one of the best examples of what I call "new vintage" that I have seen to date. She plays like new old stock. 

What I would change: 
I would use a Tusq nut vs animal bone but that is just my preference and she is 100% out of the box perfect and ready to to played long and hard. 

My advice: 
If you are an America Tele player or are looking for that special Country twang, bright Texas blues or English pop guitar -- you need to play a the Gambler by Champtone Guitars .  

Champtone Guitars
Saugerties, NY
(P) 917-301-0092

Posted 01/2013