Founded in 1932, D’Angelico Guitars is a New York City-based guitar brand built on the history of one of the most revered luthiers of all time. Offering a diverse array of instruments across three series (Premier, Excel and Deluxe), D’Angelico guitars are exceptionally-crafted, versatile instruments for the modern player. Committed to maintaining its legacy, D’Angelico’s mission is to both honor its roots and offer forward-thinking instrument design for the modern player.
D'Angelico's first shop opens at 40 Kenmare Street in New York City’s Little Italy. The shop was small, but perfect for a humble operation. Having learned to build instruments under his grand uncle Ciani, a respected violin maker, D'Angelico instruments were traditionally made to order by only the man himself. Pictured here is a young John D'Angelico in 1932.
During the late 1930s, when production was at its peak, D'Angelico made approximately 35 instruments per year with the help of D'Angelico's first apprentice, Vincent DiSerio (left). These instruments went on to become legend. Over the course of his life, D'Angelico built only 1,164 instruments—each one unique.
In the wake of World War II, music once again reigned in New York. John's recognition as the “finest builder of archtop guitars” brought offers from larger companies and made his guitars famous amongst rising jazz stars like Johnny Smith (pictured), Mundell Lowe, Bucky Pizzarelli, Chuck Wayne and Kenny Burrell who would later become icons of jazz guitar.
As a teenager, James D'Aquisto was taken to visit D'Angelico's workshop and was immediately entranced by the idea of instrument building. He was offered a job as an apprentice in 1952, at the age of 17. D’Aquisto made $35 a week cleaning the windows, running small errands and sweeping the floors. Unbeknownst to both him and John, D’Aquisto would go on to preserve the D’Angelico legend for generations to come.
As the years progressed, D'Aquisto's more opulent, highly detailed style became apparent in the design of the guitars. The late 50s and early 60s are often referred to as the 'Golden Era' of D'Angelico, marked by the combined skill of D'Angelico and D'Aquisto's work. Their experimentation with burst finishes, binding and inlay work is particularly noticeable during this period.
Throughout the early 1960s, John D’Angelico’s health began to fail. As the only other worker in the shop, D’Aquisto gradually took over more of the instrument production. Then, in the bitter cold winter of 1964, D'Angelico passed away from heart failure. He was only 59 years old. After inheriting “the bench,” D’Aquisto eventually purchased the shop from the D'Angelico family, but later went on to build guitars under his own name.
John D'Angelico is forever seated at the table of the greatest guitar builders of all time. His original models the "Excel" and "New Yorker" set a standard in the jazz scene and archtop guitar history. When new ownership took over the brand in 2011, they set out to maintain the quality, legacy, and musical instrument ambition set forth by John D'Angelico, while also making the guitars more accessible for more artists worldwide.
Today, D’Angelico guitars feature timeless 30s-inspired details, exceptional craftsmanship, premium tonewoods, and pinnacle componentry made by the industry’s top brands.
Over the past decade, the D’Angelico Guitars lineup has grown extensively, now offering more models—both brand new and historical reissues—as well as solid-body and acoustic guitars alongside classic archtops and semi-hollows. Each model is designed in New York City with the modern player’s wants and needs in mind, and keeps the D’Angelico legacy alive and well in its details and craftsmanship.
At D’Angelico Guitars, we are committed to offering quality instruments at every level. Instruments that will inspire you and that will last you a lifetime. Each guitar is built with professional-grade parts and goes through an exceptionally thorough inspection before being shipped out. Questions? Just ask.
Our headquarters is in the heart of New York City—one minute from Madison Square Garden, five minutes from the Empire State Building. It is an honor to have a showroom where we host artists and events, shoot photos and videos, and welcome guests by appointment. Here, we design and develop products, become better musicians, and spend countless hours discussing what we can bring you next.
A young George Benson with his D'Angelico New Yorker.
An original 1930s Style A.
Kenny Burrell on his 18-inch D'Angelico New Yorker.
Lou Sosa, a master guitarist, teacher, painter, collector, philosopher, and entrepreneur.
Bucky Pizzarelli's D'Angelico Style B from 1943. Passed down to him by his mentor Al Levins.
Renowned session guitarist and composer Mundell Lowe.
Chet Atkins on the road with his D'Angelico in the early 1950s.
The famous 1957 D'Angelico 'Teardrop' model.
Pete Townshend with his late 50s Blonde New Yorker.
The ultimate dinner party. John D'Angelico, Johnny Smith, and Jimmy D'Aquisto.