About D’Angelico Guitars

John D’Angelico was born in Little Italy, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the oldest of four children, to a hard working, God-fearing Italian family in New York. Music was in his blood, and at age 9 he was apprenticed to his grand uncle Signor Ciani, a violin and mandolin maker. His apprenticeship with these instruments became the basis of construction principles he later incorporated in his archtop guitars.

D’Angelico’s shop was located at 40 Kenmare Street in New York City. 27 years later, the business moved– across the street due to rising city rent costs. Both locations were quite small, but because there wasn’t much machinery they were adequate. D’Angelico instruments were strictly hand made, in limited quantities. During the late 1930s, when production was at its peak, D’Angelico was able to make approximately 35 instruments per year with the aid of two or three workers.

John D'Angelico in his workshop.

John D’Angelico in his workshop.

The 1940s were scarred by the earth shaking reverberations of World War II. Once again, music was a fundamental source of emotional stability and guitar players in the service and at home depended on D’Angelico for their instruments. His recognition as the ‘finest builder of archtop guitars’ brought offers from the larger companies including Fred Gretsch.  “John, close up your shop and come to work for me. I’ll put you in charge here. You’ll never have to worry about money again!” But John had his patent reply, “Big money? Big title? For what? I want to build guitars under my own name, for my own customers, the way I do it! For me that’s a good life!”

James D’Aquisto was a skilled musician who studied jazz guitar and played the bass. As a teenager, he 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 age seventeen.D’Angelico never could have foreseen that this young, mildly annoying, but sincere teenager, would one day save D’Angelico’s business and then secure the future of archtop guitars and the D’Angelico legend for generations to come.

In the winter of 1964, John D’Angelico was found dead of heart failure by his apprentice, D’Aquisto. D’Angelico was only 59. D’Aquisto was 29 years old at the time, and he inherited “the bench”. D’Angelico and D’Aquisto are generally regarded as the two greatest archtop guitar makers of the 20th century. For the last five years of D’Angelico’s life, D’Aquisto was the only other worker in the shop, and he gradually took over more of the production of the instruments, eventually purchasing the shop from the D’Angelico family.

Renewed artist desire for archtop tone and a major 2011 exhibition featuring John D’Angelico at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsmen from Italy to New York) fueled tremendous new interest in the D’Angelico brand. The timing was perfect: The D’Angelico brand had recently been purchased. They carefully recruited a new D’Angelico management team comprised of experts in sales, product development, operations and marketing. They supported them with a new, state of the art manufacturing, warehousing and distribution infrastructure. The entire effort was laser focused on the revitalization and successful relaunch of the D’Angelico brand. During the initial months of operation the D’Angelico team worked under the radar, creating and perfecting a line of authentic reissues that delivers D’Angelico magic for an accessible price. The new models were enthusiastically embraced by a growing number of serious players and professionals. D’Angelico soon found itself among the most successful “new” brands in the industry.

Root Note is an authorized D’Angelico dealer.

We hereby guarantee the lowest price.

  • If you find a lower price on any new 2014 D’Angelico, we will match it, no questions asked.
  • D’Angelico Guitars may be special ordered upon request if you are looking for a model or color that is not currently in stock.

All D’Angelico guitars now qualify for FREE SHIPPING to the continental United States!

  • All D’Angelico guitars are shipped with a deluxe D’Angelico hard case, anywhere in the continental United States, for FREE!
  • All D’Angelico guitars receive a setup before coming to your door!

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