D'Angelico New Yorker Special Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1961)
D'Angelico New Yorker Special Model Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1961), made in New York City, serial # 2138, amber sunburst finish, maple back, sides and neck; spruce top, ebony fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.
This spectacular guitar is a previously uncirculated, one owner D'Angelico New Yorker Special. It was originally ordered and delivered in 1961, the period near the end of John's life when his apprentice Jimmy D'Aquisto had taken over a lot of the basic work on the instruments. The model is a Custom New Yorker with features mixing in elements of the Excel model, as specified by the customer.
The dimensions include a full 18 1/8" lower bout with a 13 1/2" upper bout and a body depth of just over 3"-slightly thinner than the earlier New Yorkers. The neck has a 1 3/4' nut width and a 24 3/4" scale. The finish was also a specific customer request-it is a very lightly shaded sunburst that is neither the traditional D'Angelico sunburst nor a plain natural. This finish was certainly applied by D'Angelico's apprentice Jimmy D'Aquisto, who had taken over the bulk of the lacquering work by this time. The light and slightly ambered look of this guitar actually strongly resembles the later subtly blended D'Aquisto finishes of the 1970's and '80's, and may be one of the earliest examples of this style. The customer reports he originally requested the guitar's color "Look like bourbon!" instead of the usual D'Angelico finish schemes.
The headstock has the "D'Angelico New York" script inlay and the traditional finial at the top but the inlaid pearl block design is the later "Excel" shape and does not carry any model name. It has triple binding inside the thick outer layer in the Excel pattern-slightly less fancy than most New Yorkers. The truss rod cover is the stepped design typical of the period, cut from pearl with a particularly nicely executed "perspective" detail on the bass side edge. Tuners are the Grover Imperials used on all these guitars. There is a notched diamond in pearl inlaid on the back of the headstock, which is ebony veneered. The neck has a moderate "C" profile and is very comfortable to play, with a wider profile than some.
The triple bound (top and side) ebony fingerboard has very neatly executed pearl block inlay-not segmented but solid in the Excel pattern- and a squared end. The X-braced top is very fine tight-grained spruce with a slight transverse figure, with 5-ply binding inside a double white outer layer. The workmanship is extremely neat overall-the owner recalls that John told him at the time of completion that he had personally done most of the work on the guitar, but it is likely that Jimmy D'Aquisto had a major hand in this instrument. As of this late date, with both of these most esteemed of guitar makers gone for many years it is increasingly rare to encounter an instrument like this with direct provenance to the original customer. We are thrilled to be able to offer this exceptional guitar for sale.
Overall length is 42 3/4 in. (108.6 cm.), 18 1/8 in. (46 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 1/16 in. (7.8 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.). This guitar is in extremely clean and well preserved condition overall with only very light play wear. It has only ever been in the posession of the original owner since new who has treated it with great care. There is a single small top crack off the bass side F hole that according to the owner was repaired and finished over by John D'Angelico within weeks of the instrument's completion. The top seam has an old seperation under the tailpiece that has at some point been re-sealed a bit less neatly-it is visible but is completely stable. There are a few small dings through the finish, mostly around the sides on the treble bout. The original D'Angelico strap hook (mounted on the side of the neck heel) was replaced with a more conventional side-mounted strap button, again by D'Angelico himself and the finish on the heel touched up there shortly after delivery.
The binding has no celluliod distress at all; only the small block under the pickguard by the neck heel shows some deterioration and we would suggest it be replaced before too long-we have left it intact for the moment for originality's sake. The pickguard itself is a perfect replica of the original crafted by Jimmy D'Aquisto in the 1970's when the original celluloid piece started to deteriorate. There is an early 1970's DeArmond Model 1100 pickup included with the guitar; the pickguard was cut to accommodate it and the two mounting screws for the attachment bracket are still attached to the bass side of the fingerboard, with a small chip to the finish where it mounts.
This guitar is a spectacular sounding and playing instrument in either purely acoustic or amplified electric mode that fully reflects the esteem in which these late-period D'Angelico instruments are held. The sound is extraordinarily well balanced, allowing the voice of each string to resonate clearly even in the most complex chord combinations. This is simply one of the finest carved-top guitars it is possible to imagine. The case supplied is a correct fit but is of later vintage.