D'Angelico Style A Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1944)

This item has been sold.
Item # 8856
Prices subject to change without notice.
D'Angelico Style A Model Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1944), made in New York City, serial # 1667, sunburst lacquer finish, maple back and sides, spruce top; maple neck with ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This instrument is a D'Angelico Style A built in 1944, a time when instruments like this were in short supply as most builders were engaged in war work. At the time John D'Angelico had as many orders as he could handle, but he still never cut corners on his guitars and they remained exceptionally fine instruments. The Style A was not one of D'Angelico's more expensive guitars, but even so was built with all the care and beauty that mark all his purely handmade instruments. Although not overly fancy, this is a full professional grade seventeen inch body carved-top guitar from the era that saw the full flowering of D'Angelico's talents as a guitar maker.

This guitar was built was not long before the Style A and B were phased out in favor of increased production of the top of the line Excel and New Yorker, the high-grade professional models. Despite its lower original price, it is built with top-grade materials throughout. The top is tightly grained spruce, and the back and sides are maple, single-bound in celluloid and finished overall in a beautiful blended sunburst. The top is carved relatively thick and is parallel braced, with unbound f-holes.

The neck is a single piece of curly maple, with a very comfortable "C" profile and 1 15/16" nut width. The bound ebony fingerboard has pearl block inlay, while the bound headstock has engraved pearl blocks incised with the "D'Angelico New York" script logo and "STYLE A" in block letters below. The tailpiece is a nickel-plated trapeze engraved "Grover DeLuxe" on the baseplate; this is an older piece probably sitting around at the shop. By 1944 metal parts were in short supply everywhere, so anything handy would likely be used! The guitar is still fitted with its original open-back nickel individual pre-war style Waverly tuners; it is fairly unusual to not have had these changed over the years. The bridge is John's original hand-carved ebony adjustable piece.

The serial number of this guitar is registered in the D'Angelico ledgers as being Shipped 2-22-44 (mis-identified as an Excel) to "Newcorn", one of a small number of music shops D'Angelico sold directly to. Harry Newcorn & Son Music of 140 Park Row (later moved up to 3rd Ave on Manhattan's Lower East Side) was a well-known dealer at the time, and the young Al Dronge was a salesman there, many years before founding the Guild guitar company! At the time they were probably desperate for pro-grade arch top guitars, as Epiphones were scarce and Gibsons virtually unobtainable.

The tone of this guitar is incisive, as Swing-era instruments needed to be, but with an overriding sweetness and balance that is the hallmark of a D'Angelico. Compared to more expensive and ornate D'Angelicos, this instrument still has a comparable sound -- indeed, some players have preferred the more basic models over the years. With a lot of wear but no major damage or alteration, this could be described as a "player's" guitar; certainly that is what it was built for, and more than 75 years later it is still true.
Overall length is 41 1/2 in. (105.4 cm.), 17 1/4 in. (43.8 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 3/16 in. (8.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This venerable Style A has a lot of general play wear but no major repair or alteration, and remains an exceptional-playing and sounding guitar. The finish has dings, dents, and scrapes overall. A decent amount of the lacquer is worn off the back of the neck and there is a fairly large spot of finish loss down to the wood on the back. It appears to have been refretted with a new nut some time ago and had a recent G&P to enhance playability.

All the finish is original; there is no overspray anywhere. There is one small ancient cleated crack on the upper back; there are no other cracks anywhere. There are a couple of small "Vampire mark" screw holes on the bass side of the fingerboard extension from an old floating pickup installation. The only non-original part is a very fine reproduction pickguard in authentic celluloid in the original style. This is simply a lovely guitar to play, and to hear. It still resides in its original HSC, and as far as we know has only once left the New York-New Jersey metro area since new. Very Good + Condition.