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  1. #1

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    I saw Fareed Haque playing a D'Angelico single cutaway. I remember seeing the brand here and there decades ago but it didn't seem to have serious visibility outside of it's "target market" crowd.

    I then went hunting and surprise, I saw this semi hollow youtube video. I didn't know they made semis.
    I was further surprised at the deeper sound of this semi hollow. The amp isn't shabby obviously and plays a nice part in this equation but...

    I know this brand used to be quite an esteemed brand when they were made here. Have they fallen out of favor so to speak? Any one have this particular guitar? I'm curious about the line in general and especially the semis.



    EX-DC Stairstep Tailpiece - D'Angelico Guitars | Evolution of a Legacy

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  3. #2

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    The guitars are wonderful, bias against them runs deep due to the name on the headstock.

    I think they play and sound every bit as good as anything else made anywhere.

  4. #3

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    The guitar in the video certainly sounds nice. Love the amp!

    If John D'Angelico's original master pieces were "blinged-out Gibsons", these present guitars fit the mold.
    Whether or not they are imbued with the spirit that lovingly hand-crafted tools possess is perhaps debatable.
    I know I wouldn't mind having a single cutaway model of any thickness, as long as it had a New Yorker-style tailpiece. And a tasty sunburst.

  5. #4

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    They are competently Made in Korea guitars that do their job admirably well.

    The D'Angelico part is just a nudge-nudge-wink-wink a little better than a Panerai, Shenzhen Speciale or Franck Muller, Mongkok Meisterstuck.

  6. #5

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    Im not entirely convinced people went off them because they are made in Korea. I think people went off them when they were made in Japan.

    They are nice sure but when you've spent $4,000 on a guitar that isn't a D'aquisto and doesn't sound anything like a D'aquisto, whats the point? Most people who bought them when they came out, sold them for a loss. This happened several times over within about a year. Many D'aquisto (vestal) are already on their 3rd owner with 2 years of the being made.

    If anything the korean ones offer great value. I just dont think they look that appealing and people urr'ign on caution wont want to buy something too fancy they wont be able to sell.

    I saw the whole D'aquisto thing come and go with nothgin more than a slightly raised eye brow.
    Last edited by ArchtopHeaven; 10-19-2015 at 05:51 AM.

  7. #6

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    The original brand was one person making high-end custom instruments. After he died, the brand name (not the company/factory, since there wasn't one; just the legal right to put the name on an instrument) passed through different hands. Most of those owners have made instruments that aren't much like the instruments John D'Angelico made, especially the current owners (who actually make some high end guitars in the US, but make most of theirs in Korea).

    Dislike of the brand is basically dislike of the name being put on something other than an artisan-made carved-top guitar, while using marketing language claiming a connection to John D. I don't think Korean origin is a source of much dislike -- these days, Korean guitars are well regarded.

    What ATH says above is about _sellers_ going off the brand because they don't hold resale value (which is true of most Asian-made guitars). But the people who keep their guitars (e.g., me) haven't gone off them. I don't think any of us actually has enough data on sales, re-sales, and retention to say which sentiment predominates.

    John

  8. #7

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    When I was 9 years old, my 68 yr. old step-grandfather had a '68 Pontiac LeMans, 350 V-8 with a four barrel in it. I remember he took us for a drive, and when he accelerated onto the highway, we were pressed back against the front seat by the sudden acceleration. Almost like the feeling you get on a roller coaster as you... just....come up over the last rise, and then whoosh....fall down into seeming freefall.

    I grew up, drove sensible cars, but always wanted that "classic muscle car". I heard sometime in the '80's that General Motors had revived it, and went to a dealer to look at one. It was a Korean econo-box that put out about 47 horsepower, and went from 0-60....eventually. I asked the dealer whether it ran on bird seed, or squirrel food.

    The Korean econo-box Pontiac "LeMans" was about as close to the original, as these guitars are to the original D'Angelicos.

  9. #8

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    I cant say any else that hasn't been said already. My personal feeling is that they are wonderful guitars. They shouldn't say D'Angelico on the headstock (in fact, that area should be left blank) and they should sell for less money than they sell for now.
    I had one and it was a GREAT guitar.
    JD

  10. #9

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    I am not sure what models it is limited to, but at least some of the D'Angelico branded guitars are being built in NY by Victor Baker. I can only assume it is the higher priced models. I feel safe in that assumption.

  11. #10

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    I played a couple recently and I thought they both played and sounded very good. That being said, the D'Angelico brand has been close to destroyed by the way it has been managed and I think it's absolutely understandable that there is little or no prestige left in the name on the current instruments. Therefore, all of the appeal has to come from the guitars themselves and that's a tougher nut to crack. The cosmetics are extreme. They have a lot of competition in their price range. And they have no real connection left with the man who gave the name its historic meaning.

  12. #11

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    Im no expert at this, but when Jimmy bought the company from the D'Angelico family, he put his name on the headstock of all the guitars going forward. Whether that was out of respect or whatever, that was the way it should have been. He put his name on the Guitar. If he made great guitars then his name would get the notoriety. If he made crappy guitars, his name would be shunned. We all know, the latter did NOT happen.

    To me, there were 1164 D'Angelico's.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    I played a couple recently and I thought they both played and sounded very good. That being said, the D'Angelico brand has been close to destroyed by the way it has been managed and I think it's absolutely understandable that there is little or no prestige left in the name on the current instruments. Therefore, all of the appeal has to come from the guitars themselves and that's a tougher nut to crack. The cosmetics are extreme. They have a lot of competition in their price range. And they have no real connection left with the man who gave the name its historic meaning.
    But if you buy used, you get a really good guitar for a really good price. Some of us don't give a f*ck about "prestige."

    John

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe DeNisco
    I cant say any else that hasn't been said already. My personal feeling is that they are wonderful guitars. They shouldn't say D'Angelico on the headstock (in fact, that area should be left blank) and they should sell for less money than they sell for now.
    I had one and it was a GREAT guitar.
    JD
    Wait a minute: They are wonderful guitars. Yours was a GREAT guitar. But they should sell for less.

    I don't get it.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    But if you buy used, you get a really good guitar for a really good price. Some of us don't give a f*ck about "prestige."

    John
    That's true and there are a couple of models I would consider but there are a lot of very cool Asian made guitars that they are competing with in both the new and used market and most of them don't charge an economic premium for an assumed pedigree that has no basis in reality.
    Last edited by Jim Soloway; 10-19-2015 at 10:59 AM.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    I played a couple recently and I thought they both played and sounded very good. That being said, the D'Angelico brand has been close to destroyed by the way it has been managed and I think it's absolutely understandable that there is little or no prestige left in the name on the current instruments. Therefore, all of the appeal has to come from the guitars themselves and that's a tougher nut to crack. The cosmetics are extreme. They have a lot of competition in their price range. And they have no real connection left with the man who gave the name its historic meaning.
    Spot on, Jim. I would go to Ibanez first in that price range. Eastman and Peerless also have good laminated guitars in that price range.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    But if you buy used, you get a really good guitar for a really good price. Some of us don't give a f*ck about "prestige."

    John

    Thats not the argument we are having We are speculating on the market for them. We have all said they are good guitars :-)

    Your argument is based its value to you and your perceived value against it competitors. Which of course is part of the whole deal. D'angelicos weren't really designed to have to compete, although they found themselves now doing so, pretty heavily. Hence the discussion.
    Last edited by ArchtopHeaven; 10-19-2015 at 11:11 AM.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    Wait a minute: They are wonderful guitars. Yours was a GREAT guitar. But they should sell for less.

    I don't get it.
    I bought mine used at Guitar Center for $700. I wouldn't buy one new at $1299. No way.
    Sorry I didn't make that clear.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    That's true and there are a couple of models I would consider but there are a lot of very cool Asian made guitars that they are competing with in both the new and used market and most of them don't charge an economic premium for an assumed pedigree that has no basis in reality.
    That premium disappears in the used market so far as I can tell, and I think most people outside of internet guitar fora (which believe it or not is a small, non-representative sample of the guitar universe) are completely oblivious to the "assumed pedigree" issue. I get a lot of "hey, that's a really nice guitar ... Dee-an? Dan? what's that? never heard of it." I paid about $800 for a guitar that's as good as anything 2x the price (or more). I've never gotten anything like "hey, pretty cheesy the way they try to pass those things off as "real" D'Angelicos (and I know a lot of rude people). Go ahead guys, keep dissing the brand -- I might want another I loves me a bargain.

    [Hey, now that I think of it ... those Fender Deluxe Reverbs -- man they suck, I can't believe what's happened to that brand ... those things are NOTHING like the real ones that Leo made ... and so overpriced ... no one should pay more than (let's see, how much have I got on me? ... $127), yeah 127 bucks. Terrible things those Deluxe Reverbs you definitely don't want one, but I'll do you a favor and buy yours for 127 bucks.]

    To the specific original question about the semi -- I have an EX DC (with the stairstep tailpiece, per the link to the D'A site; the video is a stop tailpiece). Great guitar. I agree with some of the criticisms of its appearance -- I prefer less bling, too. But it sounds and plays very well. Does everything a semi is supposed to do. I tried a lot of semis before buying, and have no regrets.


    John

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    That premium disappears in the used market so far as I can tell, and I think most people outside of internet guitar fora (which believe it or not is a small, non-representative sample of the guitar universe) are completely oblivious to the "assumed pedigree" issue. I get a lot of "hey, that's a really nice guitar ... Dee-an? Dan? what's that? never heard of it." I paid about $800 for a guitar that's as good as anything 2x the price (or more). I've never gotten anything like "hey, pretty cheesy the way they try to pass those things off as "real" D'Angelicos (and I know a lot of rude people). Go ahead guys, keep dissing the brand -- I might want another I loves me a bargain.

    [Hey, now that I think of it ... those Fender Deluxe Reverbs -- man they suck, I can't believe what's happened to that brand ... those things are NOTHING like the real ones that Leo made ... and so overpriced ... no one should pay more than (let's see, how much have I got on me? ... $127), yeah 127 bucks. Terrible things those Deluxe Reverbs you definitely don't want one, but I'll do you a favor and buy yours for 127 bucks.]

    To the specific original question about the semi -- I have an EX DC (with the stairstep tailpiece, per the link to the D'A site; the video is a stop tailpiece). Great guitar. I agree with some of the criticisms of its appearance -- I prefer less bling, too. But it sounds and plays very well. Does everything a semi is supposed to do. I tried a lot of semis before buying, and have no regrets.


    John
    I think your reaction is a bit misguided (and possibly a bit over the top). I'm pretty sure that no one in this thread said anything negative about the guitars and several of us said a lot that was positive (including me). We're talking about the branding and that is something entirely different. Given that the branding costs the manufacturer real money, it is safe to assume that if the branding didn't command a premium, they wouldn't use it.

  21. #20
    I think the model that is in the video is actually being made by Heritage for the "new" D'Angelico guys. Other than the Victor Baker hand-builts, the rest are made in Korea.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchtopHeaven
    Thats not the argument we are having We are speculating on the market for them. We have all said they are good guitars :-)

    Your argument is based its value to you and your perceived value against it competitors. Which of course is part of the whole deal. D'angelicos weren't really designed to have to compete, although they found themselves now doing so, pretty heavily. Hence the discussion.
    It's not an "argument" it's an observation about the market for them, and on the cost of caring about "prestige."

    John

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    I think your reaction is a bit misguided (and possibly a bit over the top).
    You must not ride the subways much :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    I'm pretty sure that no one in this thread said anything negative about the guitars and several of us said a lot that was positive (including me).
    Yup

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    We're talking about the branding and that is something entirely different.
    I'm talking about the branding, too, and agreeing with you that the "prestige" value isn't holding in the used market. Which is a good thing from my perspective. I'm hoping the same effect will lead to DRRI's going for $127. Please help with this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    Given that the branding costs the manufacturer real money, it is safe to assume that if the branding didn't command a premium, they wouldn't use it.
    A) Not safe to assume. People do dumb stuff. B) Why assume anything about "premiums" here? Street prices on these guitars are similar to at least some competitors (e.g., Peerless, though Eastman semis are crazy cheap for the quality).

    John

  24. #23

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    [QUOTE=John A.;576943]

    Hey, now that I think of it ... those Fender Deluxe Reverbs -- man they suck, I can't believe what's happened to that brand ... those things are NOTHING like the real ones that Leo made ... and so overpriced ... no one should pay more than (let's see, how much have I got on me? ... $127), yeah 127 bucks. Terrible things those Deluxe Reverbs you definitely don't want one, but I'll do you a favor and buy yours for 127 bucks.

    But the market DOES know the difference between the original hand-wired, point to point versions of this classic amp and the reissue. Given a choice between an (i) original, newly tubed, and checked out for upgrade/maintenance/replacement on what are now 50-yr. old components, and (ii) a reissue, which do you think is going to command a better price?!

    The reissue amps also have issues with PC boards cracking, etc., and the market knows this is as well....but by and large, the reissue Fender amps come close to the signature Fender sound. People continue to like the Fender sound, and I think also their circuitry is so common, that getting one worked on is not that big a deal---sorta like having a Chevy serviced instead of a Maserati.

    In the end, amps are a little more utilitarian items, and don't attract collectors the way that probably the most highly sought after, ever, archtop does....so the price discrepancy is a little less extreme.

    I drive a Chevy Malibu...a better than average American car...but I'm not going to go lift a Porsche hood ornament off a 911, put it on my Chevy, and drive around, thinking I'm fooling anyone. But I like my Malibu, and might buy another, and the same is true of your "D'Angelico".

  25. #24

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    [QUOTE=goldenwave77;576969]
    Quote Originally Posted by John A.

    Hey, now that I think of it ... those Fender Deluxe Reverbs -- man they suck, I can't believe what's happened to that brand ... those things are NOTHING like the real ones that Leo made ... and so overpriced ... no one should pay more than (let's see, how much have I got on me? ... $127), yeah 127 bucks. Terrible things those Deluxe Reverbs you definitely don't want one, but I'll do you a favor and buy yours for 127 bucks.

    But the market DOES know the difference between the original hand-wired, point to point versions of this classic amp and the reissue. Given a choice between an (i) original, newly tubed, and checked out for upgrade/maintenance/replacement on what are now 50-yr. old components, and (ii) a reissue, which do you think is going to command a better price?!
    But the market price is not yet $127, dagnabbit. Your comment might move the needle a bit, though, so keep it up.

    John

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.


    A) Not safe to assume. People do dumb stuff. B) Why assume anything about "premiums" here? Street prices on these guitars are similar to at least some competitors (e.g., Peerless, though Eastman semis are crazy cheap for the quality).

    John
    Certainly in the new guitars it's very safe to assume. The D'Angelico name is being licensed. It doesn't go for free. I had enough years in the instrument business to believe that with a fair amount of certainty. As for what people are willing to pay in the used market, there are only used guitars if someone is willing to buy them new, so yes, it's relevent.

  27. #26

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    And it's never going to hit $127, until someone comes up with a pedal, that nails the Fender sound for $50 or so, or builds a tube amp version for that price....don't think I'll hold my breath on that one.

    You know small instrument and amp builders face a dilemma....I'm Joe Haut-Luthier, and in so many years, I'll be gone. IF all my work has been amazing, and I built only extremely high-end models, and if my instruments have been circulated in high-visibility venues, then maybe I'll be given a price premium, if I attract a following. Really small number of guys manage to pull this off...D'Angelico, D'Aquisto, Benedetto, and maybe a few others...Triggs, etc. And it's not that a lot of guys put out substandard stuff, but for one reason or another, only a few makers can command consistently high resale value: Lots of really high-quality stuff goes for 50% when resold...for collectability to take hold, you almost have to be popular enough for someone who doesn't know much about guitars to have heard of them, and "value" them...then you get the collectors who might not even be playing the things, or even know how to play them.

    With amps, exotic circuits present a value-inhibiting dilemma---who do you get to work on them, and keep them sounding the way they were supposed to sound? Fender circuits were simple, reliable, stock designs from the RCA catalog, to my knowledge, and they became market dominant...the reissues pretty much do the same thing, so they hold value....lots of really good solid tube designs (Peavey, Ampeg, Bedrock) can be picked up for not much money...some of them require design switchovers from tubes no longer made (7591's)..some of it is just being perceived as not the best or most popular.

    Anyway, I suspect you know all this.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    Certainly in the new guitars it's very safe to assume. The D'Angelico name is being licensed. It doesn't go for free. I had enough years in the instrument business to believe that with a fair amount of certainty. As for what people are willing to pay in the used market, there are only used guitars if someone is willing to buy them new, so yes, it's relevent.
    I don't think the brand is being licensed. According to D'Angelico guitars get an encore after 50 years - Fortune John Ferolito, Jr. owns the brand. Ok, so he bought it (at an unpublished price from his father, who bought it from someone, who bought it from someone ...), and there was a price for that, but that's not necessarily the same thing as a "premium" vs other other brands, which also cost something, or creating a brand from scratch. We're all talking in the abstract here so far as I can tell, without any real numbers about how the brand is actually performing or what it cost to spin it up, though. As to pricing, again, look at the advertised prices for particular models -- EX DC vs Eastman T486 vs Peerless Fire Fox(?),for example. They all have pretty big spreads over similar ranges for what look like comparable models to me. The branding that is going on looks to me like trying to differentiate D'A from competitors via a (fictional) connection to John D'A, without necessarily charging more than the competition. The issue is that this same branding also annoys some people, but we don't know what the effect of that annoyance is on the health of the company (or the value of the brand should the current owners choose to sell).

    John

  29. #28

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    Well reading through this thread, you are certainly doing your best to turn it into an argument lol

    I'm not rally sure what your trying to prove or say.

    D'angelicos have fallen or are falling out of favour for the exact reasons I told you in my first post. It has nothing to do with what you think personally about their quality.

    Never buy new brands, outliers or odd looking guitars if you want a safe investment. And do not tell me D'angelico is not a new brand. The one we're talking about is.

  30. #29
    I own a 2005 SD New Yorker (solid body), Japanese made, an EXL-1 (hollow archtop) and Excel SS (semi-hollow archtop). The latter two could be described as Jazz Boxes, especially the EXL. But the New Yorker is sweeter than my LP standard. Price is always a point for me, but quality is more so. My only criticism is that you can get a "bad build"; I sent back my 1st Excel SS because it had a buzz, the frets were rough and the binding was a little splotchy. The second one was perfect once I set it up to my liking. I've played a "Master Build" USA D'Angelico before. It was sweet, but at 15-20K, the laws of diminishing returns really come into focus. I'm kinda surprised I don't see them more on stage, but I think people like the image of Fender, Gibson and Gretsch better. PS, I snagged my EXL-1 at Musicians Friend "Stupid Deal of the Day" for $800. That's almost $900 off list.

  31. #30

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    5 year old necrothread

    I know this brand used to be quite an esteemed brand when they were made here. Have they fallen out of favor so to speak? Any one have this particular guitar? I'm curious about the line in general and especially the semis.

    That's the quote from the OP 5 years ago. The key is it was not a brand back when John was alive - it was a custom guitar by a craftsman. Now it's a brand. Got nothing to do with quality. If MarcTheSparc got his for more than 50% off, that's the correct course of action. That give pause to those who paid close to full price.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcTheSparc
    I own a 2005 SD New Yorker (solid body), Japanese made, an EXL-1 (hollow archtop) and Excel SS (semi-hollow archtop). The latter two could be described as Jazz Boxes, especially the EXL. But the New Yorker is sweeter than my LP standard. Price is always a point for me, but quality is more so. My only criticism is that you can get a "bad build"; I sent back my 1st Excel SS because it had a buzz, the frets were rough and the binding was a little splotchy. The second one was perfect once I set it up to my liking. I've played a "Master Build" USA D'Angelico before. It was sweet, but at 15-20K, the laws of diminishing returns really come into focus. I'm kinda surprised I don't see them more on stage, but I think people like the image of Fender, Gibson and Gretsch better. PS, I snagged my EXL-1 at Musicians Friend "Stupid Deal of the Day" for $800. That's almost $900 off list.

  33. #32

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    I think the new Korean ones had a burst in popularity that has waned a bit. That's probably what led to GC selling them at close-out prices.
    I bought a store demo EXL-1 off Reverb from a small shop. It's heavy, with a very thick finish, but it plays and sounds great. I've had several Epiphones, and it edges them out for quality. Epiphone has cut back on their archtop models, so maybe the trend in general is moving away.

  34. #33

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    The D'Angelico guitar brand has been held by a number of different manufacturers over the last 15 to 20 years. It has popped up, flamed out, been resurrected, flamed out again, etc. The ones made by Vestax, which are the only ones I have played personally, were nice playing, good sounding guitars.

    As for the pedigree of the brand, according to the book on D'Angelico and D'Aquisto, after John D died his family offered the business to Jimmy D who did not have the money to buy it and went into business with funding from a lawyer. Over time that relationship soured and to get out from under it Jimmy basically just gave everything but some tools to the lawyer and went on his way. He opened his own business under his own name and proceeded ahead to fame but probably not fortune.

    Apparently the main moneymaking part of the business in terms of cash flow was the string business, not the luthiery business. When D'Angelico strings were being made after that, that was a business owned by the lawyer.

    Here's the supposition: I suspect that the D'Angelico brand-name was owned by the lawyer, who subsequently sold it, and not by John D's family. But I don't know that to be true.

  35. #34

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    this is way old thread...if op was worried about korean made d'angelicos!!??...the company has made far more budget oriented guitars since..made in china and indonesia...like squiers and epis

    d'angelico brand name means nothing these days..watered down to nothing

    unless you have an original nyc made

    sad

    cheers

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    The D'Angelico guitar brand has been held by a number of different manufacturers over the last 15 to 20 years. It has popped up, flamed out, been resurrected, flamed out again, etc. The ones made by Vestax, which are the only ones I have played personally, were nice playing, good sounding guitars.

    As for the pedigree of the brand, according to the book on D'Angelico and D'Aquisto, after John D died his family offered the business to Jimmy D who did not have the money to buy it and went into business with funding from a lawyer. Over time that relationship soured and to get out from under it Jimmy basically just gave everything but some tools to the lawyer and went on his way. He opened his own business under his own name and proceeded ahead to fame but probably not fortune.

    Apparently the main moneymaking part of the business in terms of cash flow was the string business, not the luthiery business. When D'Angelico strings were being made after that, that was a business owned by the lawyer.

    Here's the supposition: I suspect that the D'Angelico brand-name was owned by the lawyer, who subsequently sold it, and not by John D's family. But I don't know that to be true.
    The DA trademark was sold along with the String company (by that lawyer who did get the rights to the name from John D's family) to GHS, a Midwestern String brand. In the 90's, GHS started doing authorized replicas. The Vestax DA's are made in Japan and are still being made there. For awhile, they were imported under license by GHS and sold in the USA.

    Then the Ferolito family (Arizona Iced Tea) bought the brand from GHS. They have made many lines in Korea and Indonesia and have also had authorized replicas made by USA luthiers.

    Brands change ownership over time. Today Fiat owns Jeep. Shit happens.

  37. #36

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    The only relevance any of this ever had was to business types arguing the dollar value of the name. I suppose there is also a marketing discussion on whether the brand would have gained traction without the name. Still, all we care about is the price/performance of the guitars. Which most feel is pretty good. And nobody is confused by the name on the headstock but we all wish it had a different design.

    Of course there was that poster in this thread some years back that said he went to a car dealership in 2015 expecting the current Pontiac LeMans to be just like his grandpa's 1968 small block. Umm.. really? He expected that?

    (note: 1968 Pontiac LeMans 350 0-60mph was 6.8 seconds. My VW hatchback does it in 4.5 seconds. What does it all mean?)

  38. #37

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  39. #38

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    To me, they look awesome, but I went to the shop in NYC and must have tried 10-12 of them, and none really seemed great
    it didn't help that none of them seemed to be set up professionally..... however, i've liked korean made epiphones much better
    If I owned a guitar store, especially one that is basically an advertisement for one brand, I'd set up the guitars to perfection