Gear Review: The Return of Two Classic D’Angelico Guitars

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Founded by master luthier, John D’Angelico, D’Angelico Guitars is known around the globe. The
New York City-based guitar brand has gone through some changes since its humble beginnings
in the 1930s. However, they remain committed to maintaining the legacy of their original founder
and honoring his concept of forward-thinking instrument design for the modern player. To kick
off 2022, D’Angelico Guitars has orchestrated a return of two of their classic models: The
Premier Bedford and the company’s Premier EXL-1, along with adding some fresh new finishes
across their Premier SS, DC, Mini DC, and LS acoustics.

There are few things in the guitar world more iconic than the outside headstock and arch-top
body of a classic D’Angelico guitar. They have been guitars of choice for equally iconic
musicians, including Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Bucky Pizzarelli, Chet Atkins, and Chuck
Wayne. Even if you are not a jazz fan (the genre where this hand-built guitar still rules) you can
probably still recognize the D’Angelico Mel Bay New Yorker model because it was featured on
the cover of guitar method books for decades.

The products of one of the most revered luthiers of all time, original D’Angelico models are
collector’s items and the D’Angelico Mel Bay New Yorker model was featured on the cover of
the Mel Bay Publications’ guitar method books for decades. Recognizing the historical
significance of the New York-centric brand, the guitars by D’Angelico have been on exhibition at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

In the company’s early days, D’Angelico was offering at least four main f-hole archtop guitar
designs, heavily influenced by the jazz player’s favorite Gibson L-5. Styles A and B were
phased out by the 1940s but the luthier’s Excel, a 17-inch archtop with a single Venetian
cutaway, “X” bracing and a truss, and the larger New Yorker replete with pearl inlays and ornate
bindings were popular.

Premier EXL-1

Today, the D’Angelico honors those early guitars with the return of the Premier Series and the
Premier EXL-1. This flagship D’Angelico archtop has received a makeover. The model features
a satin finish over natural wood tones and promises a warmer, woodier archtop tone than ever
before. With its slim C-shape neck, medium vintage fret wire, and comfortable 1 11/16″ nut
width, the EXL-1 is remarkably playable, whether you’re a young jazzer or seasoned vet.
Keeping true to the times, it features classic Art Deco aesthetic flourishes and a single floating
Duncan Designed mini-humbucker pickup assembly for an unobstructed, articulate tone. Available
in two vintage-inspired finishes: Satin Walnut and Satin Honey Blonde look for this guitar to
come in at around $999.99.

­In addition to the Premier EXL-1, the ­Premier Bedford pairs a sleek offset body with two
Duncan Designed P90s for great articulation in a tried-and-true configuration. Constructed with
either a mahogany or basswood body depending on your color of choice, the Premier Bedford
was designed to be well-balanced, both sonically and physically. Its slim C-shape neck and fast
fingerboard radius promise player comfort, while generous body contours and overall size make
it easy to wield. It’s available in striking Sky Blue, Oxblood and Black Flake at just around

In addition to these two stand-out models reminiscent of the glory days of D’Angelico Guitars,
the modern Sky Blue finish has been added to the company’s Premier SS, DC, and Mini DC,
along with a classic Satin Vintage Sunburst for all models in the Premier Acoustic LS Series.
Learn more at D’Angelico’s website HERE.

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