After working in, and then overseeing, his uncle's instrument-making shop in New York City in the early part of the last century, John D’Angelico set out on his own in 1932, and proceeded to craft the most desirable archtop guitars ever built at a rate of about 35 guitars a year, up until his death in 1964. At that time, James D’Aquisto, his apprentice and protégé since 1959, took over the shop, and quickly built a find reputation for his own name. But in acquiring D’Angelico’s premises and guitar designs, D’Aquisto never actually owned the brand name, which remained in the hands of a lawyer who had provided loans to keep the business going.
Fast-forward to the early 21st century, and the right to the D’Angelico name has found its way to John Ferolito, Jr., Brenden Cohen, and Steve Pisani, as well as to a new showroom in New York City. To fully resurrect the D’Angelico brand, the partners have developed a two-pronged approach to production. A limited run of high-end USA Masterbuilt D’Angelico reissues produced by Gene Baker at the Premier Builder’s Guild workshop in California. A far more accessible—read “more affordable”—Standard Series will emanate from Korea, with careful oversight from the USA, and strict adherence to many elements of John D’Angelico’s original designs. —DH
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