Mike Campbell's Fender Broadcaster - What is it?

April 17, 2020

Seeing Mike play his Broadcaster through the years has always both amazed and puzzled me. He and the guitar have made amazing music over the last 40 years. But the puzzling part is, what is the guitar? It's not 100% Fender Broadcaster.

I state this because of the following irregularities.

  1. Incorrect String Tree Type - should be round, not butterfly
  2. Incorrect String Tree Positioning - should be in-between the D & G tuners
  3. Logo in incorrect position - Should be closer to the nut
  4. "Broadcaster" font looks off - Quotation marks look off
  5. Staggered poles on the bridge pickup - should be flat pole
  6. 12th fret marker spacing is too wide for a Broadcaster

The July 2006 issue of Guitar Player.

Cropped image from above.

Before I go on, I would like to add that I love Mike's playing, and at the end of the day, it matters not what this guitar actually is. If I were a betting man, I would say that I believe it to be an actual Broadcaster body, with a mid 50s pickup, and a re-logo'd mid 50s neck. I believe it to be a mix of 50s guitar parts, that most importantly sounds amazing in Campbell's capable hands.

I feel like the mongrel nature of the instrument is why the Fender Custom Shop's copy of his guitar is referred to as a "Nocaster" or just the "Heartbreaker" guitar, not his Broadcaster.

Mike and his amazing Broadcaster.

Screen grab. Notice incorrect String tree and its positioning, also incorrect logo position. The logo almost looks like it is in 2 pieces.

Another screen grab of Mike's guitar

Another Broadcaster, showing correct positioning and type of string tree, and correct position of logo.

And another vintage example

Vintage example - Notice the angle of the (") marks that look straight on Mike's guitar.

Wide, post 1953, 12th fret spacing.

Wide spacing, incorrect for a Broadcaster

Another shot showing post 53 spacing

Pre 53 spacing on a Broadcaster

Another Broadcaster with pre-1953 spacing

Screen grab. Looks like D and G are raised like a 1955-1959 pickup

Looks staggered, not flat

D & G look raised

Another interesting aspect is this excerpt from Art Thompson's interview with Mike from the May 1999 Guitar Player magazine:

"Did you use your Broadcaster on the first album?

Yeah. That and my '68 goldtop Les Paul. I played the Broadcaster on "American Girl" and "Breakdown." [Plays the intro to "Breakdown."] Just listen to that sustain! I quit taking it on the road in the early '80s, because it became so valuable. The last time I took it out was when we went to Japan. All the instruments went over on a boat. When I took the Broadcaster out of its case, the guitar was wet with salt water."

This begs the question, did it originally have a flat pole pickup that died? Shots going back to the earliest years show the guitar as always having the same neck with all of the post 1956 features on it.

Guitar Center video of Campbell with the Broadcaster.