D’Angelico has upgraded its entire Excel line of acoustics and introduced the Tammany OM, which was previously available only in the budget Premier line. The Excel Tammany includes a solid Sitka spruce top, Fishman electronics and fancy appointments on an instrument that exudes elegance, yet streets for well under a grand.
D’Angelico guitars have a distinctive, uptown appearance, and the Excel Tammany’s orchestra model body is symmetrically sexy. Its Vintage Sunburst finish appears especially rich and luxurious surrounded by cream-colored bindings, and the three-ring rosette with a middle ring of abalone makes for an appealing centerpiece. Split-block acrylic pearl inlays pop from the ebony fingerboard, and the shapely headstock is adorned with a mother-of-pearl Excel Shield logo, gold-colored skyscraper truss-rod cover and golden Stairstep Wave tuners. Players going for a nitty-gritty look may prefer another style, but the Excel Tammany surely suits the bill for those seeking a slick-looking acoustic.
The Tammany’s relatively shallow body is comfy to hold, and the C-shape neck’s low profile and slim width facilitate a relaxed feel in hand. The out-of-box setup was spot on. With a fingerstyle-appropriate instrument, I’ll often test playability by tuning to open E and playing the Allman Brothers’ “Little Martha.” That lovely melodic riff falls under the fingers so readily in open position, but it was also easy with the Tammany barred at the fifth fret, indicating the guitar’s exceptional playability. The only thing that stuck out about the Tammany’s playability was that the bridge edge was not tapered or well-rounded, so it jabbed into my palm a bit when playing fingerstyle. It was not an issue when playing with a pick, because the heel of the hand is usually higher on the bridge or at the base of the strings, where they meet the bridge.
The Excel Tammany delivers a balanced tone across the spectrum, with a focus in the middle range, a crisp presence and distinct note articulation. That’s likely due in part to having the back and sides made of laminated Macassar ebony. While ebony is a traditional choice for the fingerboard, bridge and bridge pins (as it is on the Excel Tammany), it’s a somewhat unusual selection for backs and sides. Ebony is more articulate than common woods for these applications, such as rosewood, and the fact that it’s laminated made it somewhat brighter. With the Excel Tammany plugged into a Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge amplifier, it was easy to scoop out some mids and add a nice bass boost via the guitar’s onboard Fishman Presys+ preamp.
D’Angelico’s Excel Tammany OM is strikingly attractive, a joy to play, sounds pleasant acoustically and is stageworthy. It well represents the revamped Excel line, which also includes the Gramercy cutaway grand auditorium, Bowery cutaway dreadnought and Lexington non-cutaway dreadnought. Players in search of an artful, articulate and affordable acoustic should seek one out.
Excel Tammany OM
PRICE $799 street
NUT WIDTH 1.69”, bone
NECK Mahogany scarf, slim C
FRETBOARD Ebony, 25” scale
TUNERS D’Addario Stairstep Wave
BODY Laminated Macassar ebony back and sides, solid Sitka spruce top
ELECTRONICS Fishman Presys+ preamp/EQ/tuner
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario EXP16 .012–.053
WEIGHT 4.4 lbs
KUDOS Slick appearance. Comfortable to hold and easy to play. Crisp, articulate tone
CONCERNS A bit bright. Sharp bridge edge