Review by Dave Celentano
Street Price (MAP): $699
D’Angelico Guitars has a big reputation in the jazz guitar community and it’s been that way for decades, but that’s about to change. D’Angelico is writing a new chapter in their eighty-five-year history by boldly stepping into the rock, blues, and country world with their new line of solid body electric guitars. With their hollow body electrics currently in the hands of celebrity guitarists like Bob Weir, Isaiah Sharkey, and Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford, D’Angelico is positioned to make an impact in this uncharted territory.
At winter NAMM 2018 D’Angelico introduced a trio of new and unique solid body designs under the Premier Series banner: the Bedford (offset), Atlantic (single cutaway), and Ludlow (double cutaway). Juxtaposed against their big hollow jazz boxes, this suite of solid bodies offers fans of the D’Angelico line a feedback-free option. All three are star quality, but as a Les Paul owner myself, I’m eager to check out the new Atlantic model and that’s what we’ll be looking at here.
The Premier Atlantic arrived with an army green finish, but also comes in antique white and black (my favorite). With the modern guitarist in mind and looks geared towards capturing the classic rock and blues crowd, the Atlantic boasts several improvements to the traditional design including a slimmer lightweight basswood body (clocking in at just over seven pounds), contoured body that fits comfortably against your frame, and a satin finished soft ‘C’ Maple neck feeling just right in the player’s hands, all aimed at reducing shoulder fatigue and backache. Can I get an amen?!
Everything about this axe breathes attention to detail – from the pinstripe binding to the impeccable fret job and fast action neck. The classic ornamental D’Angelico headstock design and logo looks like a million bucks, as well as tying in nicely with the aesthetic F-hole pick guard and skyscraper designed truss rod cover, all nodding to the past while giving familiarity to a fresh new design.
Looks can be deceiving as D’Angelico managed to cleverly pack several guitars into the Atlantic model, a move that’ll definitely capture the attention of players from both humbucker and single coil camps, as well as those who want one instrument with tons of versatility. The single cutaway, shorter neck scale, and Seymour Duncan humbuckers all aimed at the classic and modern rock crowd, while bonus push/pull tone knobs for activating single coil pickups caters blues and country players. The three-position toggle switch augments sonic possibilities even further, providing myriad tone combinations.
Other principal features include a 24.75” scale neck that has a slightly looser feel (especially noticeable when string bending), graduated neck thickness beginning with 20mm at the 1st fret and up to 22mm at the 12th fret, satin finished Maple neck and Ovangkol fingerboard, a 14” fingerboard radius (great for bending strings without fretting out), two volume and tone control knobs, and 22 medium size frets, all contributing to make this guitar immediately friendly and playable. Sustain and tuning stability are enhanced by the set-in neck, stop tailpiece, tune-o-matic bridge, and hip looking Grover stairstep machine heads.
The Atlantic was tested through a Fender Blues Junior and Tube Screamer overdrive pedal. The two Seymour Duncan Designed humbuckers pickups produce beefy lows, punchy mids, and crisp highs that sing when pushed with distortion, but counter equally as well cleaned up and rolling the tone back for some smoky warm jazz stylings. Engaging the single coils reveals bounteous spank and shimmer that’ll have you thinking you’re playing a different guitar. Whether headbanging to AC/DC and Metallica or cutting some deep Blues with Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, this six-string will handle it all and then some. And take heart in knowing that the Premier Atlantic is delivered in a D’Angelico padded gig bag complete with grab handles and backpack style shoulder straps for hands-free transportation.
For a company so deeply rooted in crafting top-of-the-line hollow body jazz guitars, D’Angelico made a bold and successful step into the solid body world with this latest foray. The Premier Atlantic has a lot to like and is a solid investment for any player, plus a low price point that makes it affordable for everyone. It’s an instrument a beginner can grow into and a loaded weapon in the hands of a more advanced player. For more info check out the Premier Atlantic at: https://dangelicoguitars.com