Written By: Dan O'Donnell
When John D’Angelico opened his first guitar shop on Kenmare St., in lower Manhattan’s Greenwich Village during the Great Depression, he opened the doors to a new era of creativity in guitar design and construction. His instruments became synonymous with the “cool” New York village jazz scene, and his guitars’ looks still serve as a reminder of what brash, art deco America was like.
Founded in 1932, D’Angelico Guitars have been a fixture on the record charts with guitar greats as diverse as Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler using them from their introduction to the present day. The innovative, stunning and highly sought-after guitars helped give voice to guitarists by increasing their volume while playing acoustically, and also gained a reputation for style because of their hand crafted artistic beauty.
They have been shown in at least two major museum exhibitions, one at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. and one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 2011. In the New York exhibit at least, D’Angelico’s workmanship and tone were seen as on a level with that of late Renaissance violin maker Antonio Stradivari.