ⓘ DAngelico Guitars
DAngelico Guitars of America is an American musical instrument manufacturer based in Manhattan, New York. The brand was initially founded by master-luthier John DAngelico in 1932, in Manhattans Little Italy. In 1999, Steve Pisani, John Ferolito Jr., and Brenden Cohen purchased the DAngelico Guitars trademark. Cohen serves as the brands President and CEO. Original DAngelico guitars are collectors items and have been used by musicians including Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Bucky Pizzarelli, Chet Atkins, and Chuck Wayne. And the DAngelico Mel Bay New Yorker model was featured on the cover of the Mel Bay Publications guitar method books for decades.
In 2011, guitars by DAngelico were included in the Guitar Heroes exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Current range of products manufactured by DAngelico include electric, acoustic and classical guitars, basses and ukuleles.
1.1. History Founding
Born in New York in 1905 John DAngelico was apprenticed at the age of nine to his grand uncle Raphael Ciani, an expert violin and mandolin maker. This apprenticeship would become the basis for construction principles he later incorporated into his archtop guitars. After Ciani died DAngelico took over the management of the business, but he didnt like having to supervise the 15 employees. As a result, he left and founded in 1932 DAngelico Guitars at 40 Kenmare Street in Manhattans Little Italy.
While DAngelicos craftsmanship was not always exemplary the performance of his guitars established him as the premier marker of archtop guitars. His reputation later brought offers from larger companies, but ultimately he decided to keep his operation under his own name. During the late 1930s, when production was at its peak, DAngelico only had the assistance of two workers. Despite being handmade the companys guitars were no more expensive than similar mass-produced guitars produced by Epiphone and Gibson.
Among DAngelicos employees were Vincent Jimmy DiSerio, who worked for DAngelico from 1932-1959, and Jimmy DAquisto who joined the company as an apprentice in 1952.
DAngelico had a heart attack in 1959 and also parted ways with DiSerio who left to work at the Favilla guitar company. As a result, he closed the business but soon reopened it after Jimmy DAquisto who was unable to find work, convinced him to do so. After several more heart attacks John DAngelico died in 1964 at the age of 59. DAquisto, then bought the business from the DAngelico family but a poor business decision lost him the right to the DAngelico name.
1.2. History Relaunch
In 1999, Brenden Cohen, John Ferolito Jr., and Steve Pisani purchased the DAngelico Guitars trademark from John Ferolito Sr., cofounder of Arizona Beverages. In 2010, Cohen and Pisani began constructing a new showroom for the brand. DAngelico Guitars was officially launched in 2011. That year, original DAngelico guitars were honored at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of an exhibition titled "Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsmen from Italy to New York."
DAngelico began broadening their product line, first starting with reissues of original John D’Angelico designs, and then introducing new semihollow and acoustic models.
By 2014, the brand had 125 partnerships in the United States and an additional 200 international dealers.
In 2014 DAngelico Guitars sponsored Mountain Jam, a summer music festival in eastern New York.
The brand launched its first line of acoustic guitars in January 2015 when it displayed 150 guitars at the National Association of Music Merchants annual trade show in Anaheim, California.
In 2016, DAngelico Guitars won the award for Best in Show for Companies to Watch at the NAMM show.
2.1. Instruments Early
As John DAngelicos early experiences with instrument making were studying the construction of violins, his first guitars followed their bracing design. The first D’Angelicos also had no pickups. They were built largely to be sturdy and loud enough to be heard in the context of a jazz big band. After years of unreliable bookkeeping and documentation of his early models, DAngelico introduced the" Excel” model, a smaller, more streamlined iteration of its predecessors.
By 1937, DAngelico was offering at least four main f-hole archtop guitar designs, heavily influenced by the Gibson L-5:
- Style A – 17 inch 430 mm body. Phased out in the 1940s.
- Excel – 17 inch archtop body with a single Venetian cutaway. The back and sides were made of European maple while the top was made of spruce and the neck was made of solid flame maple. The fingerboard was made of ebony. It also featured" X” bracing and a truss rod. Later, pickups were added to the design, notably the D’Armond floating pickup which allowed for lighter body construction, as heft was no longer the only variable affecting volume. The Excel was popular with jazz musicians and was used by Chet Atkins prior to his sponsorship deal with Gretsch in 1936.
- Style B – 17 inch 430 mm body. This had a more ornate body compared with the Style A. Phased out in the 1940s.
- New Yorker – 18 inch body. The back and sides were made of European maple while the top was made of spruce. The fingerboard was made of ebony. First produced in 1936. All New Yorker models featured pearl inlays in the headstock and fingerboards, as well as quadruple bindings. Approximately 300 were made.
Through at least the late 1930s, DAngelicos guitar necks had non-adjustable steel reinforcement. Later models had functional truss rods. By the late 40s, DAngelico was building only the" Excel” and" New Yorker” models.
DAngelico also built a few round-hole as opposed to f-hole archtops, and a few mandolins. All of DAngelicos instruments were hand-built, with most tailored specifically to the artist/player he was building for, so substantial variation is evident in his output. DAngelicos shop rarely made more than 30 guitars per year. By the time of John DAngelicos death the company had built 1.164 numbered guitars with the last ten finished by DAquisto.
2.2. Instruments Present days
Since its resurgence, DAngelico has offered the DC, a double cutaway semihollow, the single-cutaway semihollow SS, and the archtop EXL-1, the last based on John DAngelicos Excel model. The SS has been endorsed by artists such as Grateful Deads Bob Weir and jazz guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, both of whom have a signature DAngelico model. The DH and 175 were introduced as archtop options featuring double humbuckers, while the 59 features P-90 pickups. The Premier Series was introduced to offer well-crafted DAngelico guitars at a more accessible price point, while the Deluxe Series houses feature-heavy versions of Excel Series favorites. The Deluxe Series features all unique matte finishes, and models with double-humbuckers come with a six-way toggle switch for coil-tapping capabilities.
In 2016, DAngelico launched its first electric string since its reformation. In a collaboration with D’Addario, Electrozinc strings were developed based on an original design from the two companies’ founders - John DAngelico and John D’Addario. Electrozinc is a zinc-coated steel string built for loudness and longevity.
The brands instruments are manufactured in South Korea, Indonesia, China, and New York City. Before beginning manufacturing, original guitar models were put through an MRI machine and an x-ray to replicate the instruments accurately. It takes approximately 18 months to two years to create one of their master-builder guitars from raw wood. DAngelico Guitars luthiers produce four to five master-builder guitars a month.
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