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  1. #1

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    After GAS'ing for another archtop for the better part of last year (after having sold my Elferink last year to finance a baritone build), I ordered two medium-priced guitars to check out.

    I ordered an Ibanez SJ300 and this beautiful D'Angelico EXL-1.

    Ibanez first: It played smooth (as all the Artcores and Artstars IMO do) and the Super 58s are great pickups. However, I did not like the acoustic tone of the instrument and it felt too close to what I already have and had in the past. I was aiming for something more traditional that I can also just play unplugged - either fingerstyle or with a pick.

    Enter this stunning EXL-1. The guitar felt and looked great right out of the box. Setup was spot-on and I got to jam on it for a couple of hours before even getting close to an amplifier.

    My only complaint about this great instrument is the pickup. It isn't balanced nicely and even with serious polepiece adjustments, I don't really dig it's sound. Don't get me wrong, in the small settings that I usually play in, I am merely using the amplified tone to enhance the acoustic tone, not as sole means.

    However, could you guys please point me towards some nice floating pickups. I don't mind using a bracket to fix the PU to the neck rather than the pickguard. I am really a little clueless as to types, brands and such of floating pickups available on the market. Thank you so much in advance.

    Cheers,
    Sebastian
    Attached Images Attached Images D'Angelico EXL-1-fullsizerender-1-jpg D'Angelico EXL-1-fullsizerender-jpg 

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  3. #2

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    You could try having the bridge in the centre so the strings are over the pole pieces and you still have the protection strip under the bridge. The EXL-1 has a laminated Spruce top so a floater is never going to sound as good as a set in humbucker. I have a Benedetto S6 on an old Guild Savoy that sounds great but the Savoy has a solid top so I don't know how it would sound on a laminated one, I have guitars with DeArmond 1100 and 1000 pickups on they are great pickups the 1100 being better as it has pole pieces, I believe Kent Armstrong do some nice floating pickups but I have no experience with them, it really is a personal preference and few people will agree 100% on pickup choice.

  4. #3
    Thank you! I didn't remove the protection strip yet, as I left myself the option of returning the guitar until now. The bridge not being in the center is actually obvious and I just didn't think about it. I should sleep more. thank you for pointing it out. :-)
    Last edited by zirenius; 03-27-2016 at 07:48 AM.

  5. #4

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    I felt the same way about the pickup I had on my exl-1dp.
    I put a piece of felt under the pickup, moving it closer to the strings and that made a big difference.
    And listen to what Para says. He knows what he talking about.

    The guitar is a work of art.

    Good luck with it.

    joe d

  6. #5

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    Congratulations on the new guitar! I have an EXL-1 also and was equally impressed with it. The workmanship is high quality and it plays great. I didn't like the Kent Armstrong pickup either. It was too trebly and I couldn't get a balanced tone from it. It may have been wired wrong according to Kent Armstrong. I was going to replace it with a floating humbucker but Guild reissued the famous DeArmond 1000 and 1100 pickups so I tried one. I had a luthier replace the pickup with a DeArmond 1100 and do a setup. The guitar sounds better now, has more personality, balanced tone and
    plays easier.
    D'Angelico EXL-1-12316319_10153663930210801_1939948280193806547_n-jpgD'Angelico EXL-1-12316484_10153663930215801_6359681818939071412_n-jpg

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Joe DeNisco
    I felt the same way about the pickup I had on my exl-1dp.
    I put a piece of felt under the pickup, moving it closer to the strings and that made a big difference.
    And listen to what Para says. He knows what he talking about.

    The guitar is a work of art.

    Good luck with it.

    joe d
    Thank you for yet another piece of advice, might try that first. :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by zephyrregent
    Congratulations on the new guitar! I have an EXL-1 also and was equally impressed with it. The workmanship is high quality and it plays great. I didn't like the Kent Armstrong pickup either. It was too trebly and I couldn't get a balanced tone from it. It may have been wired wrong according to Kent Armstrong. I was going to replace it with a floating humbucker but Guild reissued the famous DeArmond 1000 and 1100 pickups so I tried one. I had a luthier replace the pickup with a DeArmond 1100 and do a setup. The guitar sounds better now, has more personality, balanced tone and plays easier.
    Thanx for the tips. That pickup looks gorgeous on your EXL-1. May I ask - did the pickup ship with the correct frame / rod to be attached to the neck? I have read somewhere that there is two sizes and the needed one is hard to get by. Just asking. May I ask, which strings are you playing on your D'angelico?

    All I can say is: I am really happy about this purchase. There might be bad ones out there, but this Korean made D'Angelico is really (!) nice.

  8. #7

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    @Zirenius The Guild reissue Dearmond 1100 comes with a shorter "stick" than on a "monkey on a stick" assembly and there is no control box. As the pickup is held in place by a notch on the pickguard side, there was no reason to keep the long "stick" so my luthier just used as much of it as needed to attach it to the side of the neck and cut off the extra length. I am using Thomastik flatwound George Benson 12s. The D'Angelico plays easier than my 1951 Epiphone Zephyr Regent that I have been playing since 1970 and I like it better than a couple other guitars I had for awhile over the years (a Guild X150 I bought and an Eastman T145 and Ibanex AF105 that were gifts). My student and friend who has owned many more guitars than I have thinks it is better made than many new Gibson 175s. I was impressed by it and also bought a D'Angelico Style B. EX-59 and EX-DH. The Style B has the same pickup as the EXL-1 but it sounds better. There may have been some issue with the pickup on my EXL-1 but I had it replaced and still didn't like it. Here's a picture of what you get with the Guild reissue pickup.
    D'Angelico EXL-1-009-9306-049_dearmond_rhythmchief_1100-jpg

  9. #8

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    i'm with para...hard to clearly evaluate the pickup when the bridge is so far out of line..the strings are no where near the polepieces...you need to move the bridge toward the low E string...center the high and low E strings to the fingerboard...

    having said that, those are mia armstrong pups...so kind of generic...i thought of dearmond as well..available from cordoba/guild...but if you want humbucking, look elsewhere...

    there's also the zollers...there are handmade armstrongs, lollars etc etc...many choices

    but first set the guitar up correctly, and then decide from there...

    also help to know what you don't like..ie. too muddy, too bright etc..also what strings you will use on it



    cheers
    Last edited by neatomic; 03-27-2016 at 05:41 PM.

  10. #9

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    It's a "new" guitar in need of a "setup." Yes? So don't evaluate its potential before it's been setup. Kind of a prerequisite, yes?

  11. #10
    First of all, thank you for all the accomplished players on here that took the time and effort to reply to my questions. As you might have seen, I have proven to be less than knowledgable about guitar setup, when it comes to archtop guitars.

    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    i'm with para...hard to clearly evaluate the pickup when the bridge is so far out of line..the strings are no where near the polepieces...you need to move the bridge toward the low E string...center the high and low E strings to the fingerboard...
    having said that, those are mia armstrong pups...so kind of generic...i thought of dearmond as well..available from cordoba/guild...but if you want humbucking, look elsewhere...
    there's also the zollers...there are handmade armstrongs, lollars etc etc...many choices
    but first set the guitar up correctly, and then decide from there...
    also help to know what you don't like..ie. too muddy, too bright etc..also what strings you will use on it
    cheers
    Thank you for the detailled reply. You are right, I got overexcited and did not even realize that the movable bridge was off-position. I fixed that now - and I do feel a little stupid, as this one was both obvious and easy to fix. Oh well.

    Still, I don't like the pickup (while the guitar is great acoustically). One reason is that it still can't be balanced correctly. The B-string just sticks out and I can't do any more with the polepieces, as the surrounding pieces are getting dangerously close to the respective strings and the polepiece for the B-string is now almost touching the guitar's top, which can't be good.

    I have read on this board that there are quite a number of old pickups that also seemed to have an issue with the B-string being too loud. I am however not willing to leave an unbalancable pickup on this lovely guitar.
    I am unsure about the pickup. The guitar is now set up with roundwounds. (generic D'Addario, as far as I can see from the paperwork and feel of the strings) I prefer the feel of flats on an archtop. However, I really like the clarity that these strings give the guitar. So, yet another quest. I seem to remember that the TI George Benson strings gave me the feel of flatwounds, while leaving more of the top end intact. I will do some research on this one today.

    After that, I will give the PU another try. The factory PU in my opinion takes too much of the high end away from the guitar. I guess that the PU is trying to grant a muddy and "jazzy" sound. I would however like my Pu to be a lot clearer though and have the option of shaping my tone from there.

    Quote Originally Posted by zephyrregent
    @Zirenius The Guild reissue Dearmond 1100 comes with a shorter "stick" than on a "monkey on a stick" assembly and there is no control box. As the pickup is held in place by a notch on the pickguard side, there was no reason to keep the long "stick" so my luthier just used as much of it as needed to attach it to the side of the neck and cut off the extra length. I am using Thomastik flatwound George Benson 12s. The D'Angelico plays easier than my 1951 Epiphone Zephyr Regent that I have been playing since 1970 and I like it better than a couple other guitars I had for awhile over the years (a Guild X150 I bought and an Eastman T145 and Ibanex AF105 that were gifts). My student and friend who has owned many more guitars than I have thinks it is better made than many new Gibson 175s. I was impressed by it and also bought a D'Angelico Style B. EX-59 and EX-DH. The Style B has the same pickup as the EXL-1 but it sounds better. There may have been some issue with the pickup on my EXL-1 but I had it replaced and still didn't like it. Here's a picture of what you get with the Guild reissue pickup.
    D'Angelico EXL-1-009-9306-049_dearmond_rhythmchief_1100-jpg
    And now this is also a very helpful post, thank you so much. Please don't make me GAS for more of these D'A guitars. You already got me interested in the Style B, which I don't recall seeing anywhere yet. These Guild reissue Pickups are also really easy to come by, I just found them on Thomann, which got me excited. Thank you for the clarification on what they ship out with the pickups.

    ____

    To be very clear: I absolutely love this guitar. It is really inspiring acoustically and as long as I practice a little more softly, the pickup does not bother me as much. I would still like to do something about it - IMO, it really does not do the guitar justice at all. To sum up, it is impossible to balance properly and too muddy on the top strings for my taste. i am open about single coil or humbucker. With solidbody electrics, I have always preferred the open sounding end of humbucking pickups. I don't claim to know enough about archtops to rule out that a singlecoil might actually be the best option given my tonal goals for this guitar.

    Thank you all very much for participating. I am grateful - even if public stupidity with evaluating a guitar's setup might not have been my strongest moment.

  12. #11

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    Some years ago i bought an Excel just like yours and exchanged the pickup with a Bartolini which i much preferred over the original. I believe the originally built in PU was identical with the Kent Armstrong Jazzy Joe.

    Recently i mounted a Handwound Kent Armstrong 12 Pole on a similar guitar, a Vestax New Yorker, but was disappointed by the result. The same pickup sounded great on my LeGrand though. I believe a pickup really has to match a guitar's sound character.

    And of course its necessary to align the pickup so that the polepieces are under the strings.

  13. #12
    I entirely agree, although my experience in this regard only stems from solidbody electrics. Had a pair of Duncan Seth Lover pickups that did no good in the LP style guitar they came in, but that really shine in another one.

    I am still considering my options. All demos I could find of the DeArmond replica really sounded great. It's all exciting new territory and I would very much like to add a real open sound to my palette. I have a couple (literally - two) of guitars that can do slightly wooly humbucker jazz tone. It'd be interesting to have something a lot more airy.

    Does anybody who reads this have experiences with the AER J. Smith or Häussel Flat Jazz PU's? Both came to mind, I could not find a lot of demo material though...

  14. #13

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    I picked up an EXL-1 in January and love it as well. The guitar comes with D'Addario EJ-21 strings. The best way to adjust that pickup, or most for that matter is to move the entire body of the pickup to the proper distance from the strings, and then adjust the individual pole pieces to get proper string balance. You may need to raise the pick guard which can be accomplished by adding pieces of felt or using a longer tube around the screw.

  15. #14

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    They're very nice archtops. As are the Guild's in the same price range, also made in Korea like yours. Lots of pickup options...too many to mention really. Each of us has our own preference. The guitar is a fabulous starter archtop. But, I'd suggest getting used to a properly set up guitar first, establishing a base for what the instrument is capable of before deciding to do a pickup upgrade.

    Acoustically, the guitar is not as good, read not in the same league, as a carved instrument...if acoustic volume is what you're truly after you may consider other guitar options. Changing pickups is like changing socks for some here. I think I've done two pickup swaps ever...neither of which really needed it. But we don't know what we don't know until we know it. Good luck!

  16. #15

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    if you think the guitar is too muddy with the stock d'addario roundwound strings it only going to get darker with flatwounds...i'd seriously consider the zoller pickup..its a floater that's on the full range or even bright side...used by many pro's

    here's thomann info

    Shadow AZ48 Tonabnehmer für Jazz-Gitarre


    but again take one step at a a time..set it up and adjust for new strings so it sounds good acoustically...then tackle the electronics

    its a nice guitar...enjoy

    cheers

    ps- if you decide against flats, a nice pure nickel roundwound like thomastik or pyramid would be fine
    Last edited by neatomic; 03-28-2016 at 04:11 PM. Reason: sp-

  17. #16
    Thank you for the advice. To be more precise - I am not saying that the guitar is too muddy with the d'Addarios in itself. I think that the pickup is contributing to it. I am aware that I might be changing too many valuables at once. So I think that trying out a nice set of flats and seeing what it does to the unamplified tone and then adding a pickup that supports this tone might be the best route atm. As I said, I love the feel of flatwounds when playing and I think that I remember the TI GBs to have a characteristic flatwound feel with less muddiness than other competitors.

    I will start with a set of TI Swings that I have lying around. It's free to try and I might just revert to roundwounds after that. Thanx for reading my thinking out loud, though.

    Have a nice day,
    Sebastian

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by zirenius
    Might I ask - you seem to be implying a negative point about the D'Angelico brand and I got that vibe from other people already. Why is that? This will be off-topic though, so I am also glad to receive an answer via private message.
    John D'Angelico is one of the Olympians of jazz guitar luthiery. He's like the Antonio Stradavarius of guitars, so seeing his name on guitars he had nothing to do with irks me. It's a personal bee in my bonnet that probably just reflects my dogmatic and rigid personality. That being said, I have played a couple of these modern Asian made instruments and- setting my personal bugaboo with the name aside- they seemed well made, played well and sounded very good. Better, in fact, than a lot of instruments I have tried that cost a lot more. There are top drawer pros playing these modern D'Angelicos (Kurt Rosenwinkel and Bob Weir spring to mind) who could certainly get whatever axe they wanted.

    If you pick up the guitar to play and you go "aaahhhh," then it's the right guitar. So enjoy your nice new axe and ignore us grumps bugged by the name issue. The name is being used legally and so what. If you really want some GAS, go listen to Joe DeNisco's real 80+ year old D'Angelico on YouTube. Nothing else sounds like that; those things are the holy grails of jazz guitars. Your guitar won't sound like it and neither will mine.

    As far as the string balance goes- if you haven't removed the protector strip under the bridge, do so. It will change the tone. Also, consider restringing the guitar. That can make a huge difference. I find that the unwound string next to the wound ones- whether the B or G, depending on the string set, is always disproportionally loud. I think some of that is not volume but the contrast in tone.

  19. #18
    Very helpful, thank you! I get why some people might be preoccupied with the brand name and it's non-existent direct relation to the legend of archtop guitar making. I myself don't find it troubling, as the guitars are otherwise very clearly labelled as "made in Korea". Anyhow, yep, I just clicked with this one and I really like the upside of being able to take it out without worrying about a year's salary worth of money being at risk.

    I have never had the fortune to touch one of the originals or even hear it in person. At 29 years of age, I am however still optimistic that I might get the chance one day. And yeah, I am prone to GAS, so... you are most likely right.

    Bridge set up, protection of course removed. I will try different strings tonight (unwound g-String) and see. I'll probably give it some time before settling on whether or not the PU will be replaced. Thanx for clarifying the relation between balance and wound strings, I will watch that!

  20. #19

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    I decided that I'll likely sell my Ibanez AF151f. It's beautiful. Just wanted a deeper and wider body, plus always wanted to own a D'Angelico. I opened it up at the GCenter in Pasadena, Ca. 1 hr ago.

    First thing (which is not a real biggy) the fingerboard is a brownish ebony, not jet black the way most of us want it to be (Same situ with my Cordoba C10 !). Next, I guess it's OK, as 2 others in the store have the exact same situ: The floater pickup is no more than, if not less than 1/16" above the soundboard. And though it looks like a piece of felt between it and the board (very very hard to determine) I believe what I am seeing is the bracket under it which connects it to under the pickguard. The 2 others in store have very same tolerances. So I imagine that's correct too. Finally, and now I can even see it in the GCenter ad, there is a 1 3/4" x 3 thirty second inch notch in the left side of the neck right below the 23-24th frets. This looks like a trough for a different mounting pickup (where its bracket would be mounted in it [like my Ibanez]). Again, no biggy.

    In conclusion it looks as if all EXL-1s have the very same 'oddities'. Before I left the store I had the repair gal there make sure the bridge was in the right place and if there is any buzzing. Were none throughout entire fingerboard ! And no one would want the action any lower than what it's fixed with already. That's a huge plus !

    I am going home now and play her a long time and see if I start to bond with her. Dang that brownish ebony. But if it's really irritating, the nice thing about GCenter is their easy going return policy...
    Any comments/comparisons thus far are very welcome. I'll report back in a couple days...M
    Last edited by MarkInLA; 04-29-2016 at 12:25 AM.

  21. #20

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    Ebony can be darkened. Dr Ducks Axe Wax will darken it a bit, or StewMac and LMII sell fingerboard dye. Enjoy the D'Angelico, those are really nice guitars. If the pickup is not close enough to the strings you can add more felt pads beneath the pickup.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkInLA
    Just wanted a deeper and wider body, plus always wanted to own a D'Angelico.
    Mark, 1st off, Congratulations.

    I remember the 1st time I saw the Korean made D'A replica in Guitar Center. I felt the same way. I always wanted to own a D'Angelico. The lines of the guitar, the headstock, The big pickguard and tailpiece almost put me in a trance.

    Let me warn you.. This is exactly how it starts.

    Most sane people can be happy with a D'A replica for a lifetime. Something about the aura of a D'Angelico eventually makes you loose your sanity. When you see your 1st real D'A, you will think, yeah mine looks just like that. Then time will go by. And one day, you will get to put a real one in your hands. You will notice how substantial the real ones are, yet how balanced, lightweight and perfect in your hands they are. You will strum the open strings and THAT is when Dracula bites you. You are done. You start thinking crazy things.. Like how much can I can I get for one testicle? Do I really need two? You start looking at your kids and you say, "They are pretty valueable, I can always make another one".. You take inventory of all the TV's in your house and you rationalize selling 4 of them because you realize that you can only watch one at a time.. Blood banks are also a good source of extra income..

    In the coming years, keep checking your neck. If you see 2 little holes, get ready for eternal life..

    All kidding aside (sorry I tend to do that a lot), Enjoy your guitar. They are beautiful and they play great.

    Joe D

  23. #22

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    Hey Mark, Congrats!!!! I have the same make and model with the same 3 "oddities". I've been gigging mine for a few months now and I can say it just gets better. Enjoy!!!

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkInLA
    First thing (which is not a real biggy) the fingerboard is a brownish ebony, not jet black the way most of us want it to be (Same situ with my Cordoba C10 !). .....
    Dang that brownish ebony. But if it's really irritating, ....
    If you want your ebony black, dye it black. That's what some guitar factories are doing now. Others leave them as is. I see no reason why we should not be able to accept and even appreciate figured ebony. After all, highly figured maple on guitars is very sought for.

    Ebony is an endangered species and it is now extinct in all but a few countries. Only 1 of about 20 ebony trees cut is black ebony, the rest is brownish/streaked. If we all only accepted black ebony, it would mean 19 endangered trees left in the forest to rot to get just the one tree with the all black wood.


    Last edited by oldane; 04-29-2016 at 09:52 AM.

  25. #24

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    I agree with Joe, the repro DA's are extremely well made, and a real value FAR beyond their price... That said I played an original and I actually considered a mortgage on my house to get it.

    Thankfully it sold surprisingly fast and I still get to live in my house for free :-)

  26. #25

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    Congratulations on the new EXL-1! I have one also and it has the same 3 things you mentioned. I replaced the pickup with a Guild reissue DeArmond 1100 and the luthier had to shorten the "stick" (or "twig" in the case of the reissues) of the "Monkey on a Stick" because of the indentation or notch on the side of the neck below the 19th fret. No problem though and it looks fine. As Joe said, watch out, they are addictive! I wound up getting a Style B, EX-59 and EX-DH also after the EXL-1. They're very well made guitars and I also like to look at them as art. Enjoy!

    D'Angelico EXL-1-dearmondphoto-jpgD'Angelico EXL-1-family-gathering-photo-13-2-jpg

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by GNAPPI
    ... That said I played an original and I actually considered a mortgage on my house to get it.

    Thankfully it sold surprisingly fast and I still get to live in my house for free :-)
    I am not that lucky. Being into photography too, I recently saw a Leica M Tri-Elmar 16-18-21mm lens for a good price - but still pricey for a lens. Regrettably it didn't sell fast, so I ended up buying it. Luckily, I escaped a mortgage on the house. That said, it's a great lens, and I doubt I will regret getting it.

    It's the same every time I spend money on something expensive of high quality. I feel the vacuum in the wallet on the day of the purchase, but after that it's pure joy.
    Last edited by oldane; 04-29-2016 at 01:16 PM.

  28. #27

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    Hi. Just meant to say thanks for all the great replies. Yes, it is a beautiful guitar for a repro. Not exactly sure what a couple of you meant, making a comparison to an authentic original one. Sounded like you meant we'll love the Korean one as long as we don't later on pick up a real, say, 1950s one; that that's when we begin to have regrets about our Korean one; which is quite understandable, if that is what you're saying.

    I will say, the pickup contacting the soundboard is a big downer for me..The ads say 'floating'. Sorry, but it isn't.. There's no excuse whatsoever for issuing these guitars this way. Dollars to donuts any authentic vintage D'Ang model does not do this. What they should do is utilize that 19th fret bracket slot and change to a pickup which mounts onto that slot..And, for $1,300.00 I/we should not have to pay for a replacement pickup and its installation..in order to have a real floater...

    The fingerboard and frets are exquisite..the binding and craftsmanship are A1..The Grovers are smooth and accurate along with a nice gear ratio. The extra 2 frets to D is a nice change of pace. The saddle having the graduations on top and the tailpiece stair-stepped make for excellent intonation.

    Now I have to decide to stick with her (versus a 45 day return policy) or stick with my Ibanez AF151f (which does have a true floating-pickup).. Yeah, I know, I'm fickle.... M

  29. #28

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    The De'Armond floating pickups used in the 50s often contacted the top plate of the guitar. They came with felt on the back of the pickup for that reason. Unless there is a buzz from the contact, it's no big deal from a pragmatic perspective.

  30. #29

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    The floating pickup height can be adjusted where it attaches to the pickguard. I doubt it makes any difference in sound that the felt under the pickup is touching the guitar, especially since it's a laminate, not a carved top. A built-in pickup requires a hole in the body which does make a big difference.

  31. #30

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    Thanks for the 2 new replies. Can I make that a chocolate cream filled jelly donut ? Doh !! To hear they did the same thing on the originals is quite a surprise !! Even if true, I can't understand why they couldn't get around that. Seems to me that the side of neck mounting would suffice. Leave alone the idea that I'd think the original builders could have had a pickup designed for them which too didn't touch the top. Why then does my Ibanez have a completely floating pup ? ! Well at least I know now it's not an individual foul up on mine; that it's normal...So, in conclusion, I know now I have a completely correct EXL-1. No need reply. You all have labored over my little tantrum enough. But you certainly may..M
    Last edited by MarkInLA; 04-30-2016 at 10:01 PM.

  32. #31

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    Pickup touching the top and padded with felt is normal for pick guard mounted 'floaters'. My Heritage Johnny Smith and Guild Artist Award are the same (as is my EXL-1). The up-side is you can use more felt pads to adjust the pickup closer to the strings if you desire a fatter tone.

    Enjoy the guitar, they are beautiful and great players.

  33. #32

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    Hey guys, thanks again for all the extra input and sense of humor about things. Boy, I am in a dilemma ! I now have the 2 boxes; the D'Angel and the ArtStar.. Here's yet another anomaly: On the short list of why I wanted the EXL, is the box being larger than the Ibanez's which I naturally assumed would give me louder acoustic volume. But, maybe because the Ibanez is a bit smaller, it has more punch/volume, acoustically than the EXL ! Crazy, absolutely crazy !

    After all your help and insight I must be honest by saying I may refund the D'Angel. Another factor is, if I were wealthy I'd simply keep them both. And if I were a gigging player I'd certainly stay with the D'An. I am pushing 70 (is that possible !! How did this come about ?!!), and whichever one I keep will not create or hinder any future gigs, to boot.

    I am going to go home later and make my final decision. Sorry, I just had to get it out of my system; to actually have an EXL at home in order to really experience what owning one would feel like. As I said before, the neck, board and frets are exquisite. Tuners are A1. Still, the AF151f is quite a nice piece, too (+ black ebony). I certainly bugged you guys over that one a couple months back. I wouldn't blame you for ignoring me now...at least on this topic...So once again, much appreciation to everyone.......Mark


  34. #33

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    I've been playing rock on solid-bodies for 40 years, but bought a Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin a few years ago, and branched off haltingly into the territory covered on this forum...I've been playing for Bing Crosby's great-niece, and having grown up in that milieu, she wanted to cover "You Made Me Love You" and "Saturday Night is the Loneliest night of the Week." So many chords in a bar! I love it!

    As I adapted my style to the Godin, I started hungering for an even better guitar...in short, a D'Angelico. And I just bought a used EXL-1 this week. Great price for a great guitar.

    But...the strings feel like the ones she came from Korean with, and I want to put Chrome 11's on. There's a piece of thin white foam under the bridge, and the paper tags are still on the back of the headpiece. Did the guy EVER play this beauty?

    I've never re-strung a floating bridge guitar. I'd be ok if it was just one string at a time, but I'm thinking I'll have to loosen them all at once to get the foam out from under the bridge. ???? I'm scared I'll never get the intonation right again. Should I just take it to Eric Chaz and have him do a set-up?

    Cheers.

    Paula

  35. #34

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Telecastergirl
    ...I've never re-strung a floating bridge guitar. I'd be ok if it was just one string at a time, but I'm thinking I'll have to loosen them all at once to get the foam out from under the bridge. ???? I'm scared I'll never get the intonation right again. Should I just take it to Eric Chaz and have him do a set-up?...
    if you restrung any guitar previously you can restring an archtop. You might want to put some painter's tape on the top to mark the position of the bridge if it intonates properly now. And, btw if you haven't changed strings on your Godin in a few years you might want to give that one a go as well. Check YouTube also. People love to show off their restringing skills.

  36. #35

    User Info Menu

    Paula, just mark the bridge with tape, blue painters tape, in 2 opposite corners.

  37. #36

    User Info Menu

    The EXL 1 uses rosewood not ebony.They should use ebony and I think perhaps the very first ones did or at least the previous company that built them used ebony, but I noticed mine was a closed or filled grain rosewood. I stained it black. But yeah, they are using rosewood.


    • Body
      3" Hollow
    • Body Shape
      Single Cutaway
    • Top Material
      Laminated Spruce
    • Back Material
      Laminated Flame Maple
    • Size
      17 1/2" Wide, 3" Deep
    • Pickup
      Floating Humbucker
    • Binding
      7 Ply
    • Pickguard
      Stairstep
    • Bridge
      Satin Stain Rosewood
    • Tailpiece
      D'Angelico Stairstep
    • Controls
      1 Volume / 1 Tone
    • Hardware Color
      Gold Plated
    • Tuners
      Grover Super Rotomatic - Gold
    • Nut
      1 11/16"
    • Neck Material
      Hard Maple 2-Piece Walnut Center
    • Scale
      25.5"
    • Fretboard Material

      Rosewood

    • Inlay
      Mother of Pearl
    • Output Jack
      Switchcraft USA
    • Case
      Hardshell Black Tolex
    • Truss Rod Cover
      D'Angelico Stairstep

  38. #37

    User Info Menu

    Painter's tape, huh. Cool. The Godin's strings get changed regularly (by me.) I'm loving these Chrome Light Jazz 11's on the Godin and am going to put them on the EXL-1. I have pretty big hands for a woman, but the strength is not as great as your average guy, so slightly lighter usually works. I've got 9's on my Strat and Tele and Music Man; 10's on my Les Paul; and 11s on the Godin.

  39. #38
    joaopaz Guest
    Hi guys,

    I've been 'gasing' since long for one the "new" D'Angelico guitars - I don't have any realistic clue about pre-60s models' price or availability.

    As far as I know recent models started coming out around 2010..
    ..so do you have any experience with these? What do you thing about their price/quality ratio, and also how would you compare them with other guitar brands/models on the same range?

    This one's the culprit of my current gas attack

  40. #39

    User Info Menu

    I can't speak for the current Korean made models. The Japanese made Vestax D'Angelicos are fantastically well made though.

  41. #40

    User Info Menu

    AFAIK, there are two Korean generations, easily identified.

    The first have split fret markers with abalone separaters between them on ebony fretboards, abalone inserts in the bridge base, and gold like plated knobs with pearlite tops.

    The newer current models have no abalone on the bridge, the markers are solid like a Les Paul Custom in rosewood boards (afaik), and most I see have plastic knobs.

    The first models I can talk about, all mine are fully hollow.

    Some had HB's others had Kent Armstrongs. Some had TP's like the Vestax (diamond in the center design) models but they were changed early on. Some believe they were removed from a Vestax, I say it would be idiotic to put a $500 TP on a thousand dollar git and ruin a $2500 git in the process, nah, I have seen too many.

    Playability, sound, and build quality are superb, easily on a par with my 175, CS330 or Tal Farlow.

    Action straight out of the box was like an old Les Paul, low and fast. Sound is (some HATE this term) warm and smooth not at all biting and sharp like Gibson's burstbuckers.

    IMO, the first gen Korean made models DESERVE the name on the head.

  42. #41

    User Info Menu

    I spent some time with one of the split marker versions and thought it was really heavy and had a thunk ( but not in a good way). Just my opinion/experience, but I was not impressed. Could have been a dud; you really need to try a few out to make certain it's the sound you want. You just might find that gem.

  43. #42

    User Info Menu

    Good u brought up the weight, the 2 pup models I have are all EXACTLY 4 ozs. heavier than my 175, and 5 ozs. lighter than my Tal Farlow, neither get complaints about weight.

  44. #43

    User Info Menu

    To the OP, others know more than I about the relative merits, but the 'original' D'Angelicos made by John D fetch between $10,000 and $50,000 when they appear. They are still the gold standard of acoustic archtop jazz guitars. The reissues, as is clear from the pricing, cannot and do not try to equal this quality of build and sound. Having said that, it is really all about what works for you.
    Good luck.

  45. #44
    joaopaz Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by GNAPPI

    IMO, the first gen Korean made models DESERVE the name on the head.
    That's a bold statement, but also what I was looking for.
    Also thanks for the very detailed info, precious stuff!

    Funny that (after having read the other replies above already) no one has had yet contact with the newer MIK models.

    Also, you mentioned "setup out of the box" .. how important is that for you? Just because I never really care about that... I find it so sensible - and also as I change strings right before even play them.... but I notice that a lot of people always mentions it as an important thing.

    Thanks again!

  46. #45
    joaopaz Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by bananafist
    To the OP, others know more than I about the relative merits, but the 'original' D'Angelicos made by John D fetch between $10,000 and $50,000 when they appear. They are still the gold standard of acoustic archtop jazz guitars. The reissues, as is clear from the pricing, cannot and do not try to equal this quality of build and sound. Having said that, it is really all about what works for you.
    Good luck.
    I figured they cost a small fortune, the original ones.... still it's very curious to compare with new jazz boxes being made by current luthiers; some go into those same price ranges. It's funny ... "buy an original D'Angelico .... or a new (put name here) ?"

    I wasn't of course trying to compare the new MIK models with the vintage ones, but rather with other brands like Ibanez, Hofner, Eastman, etc.. that may produce guitars in the same price range.

    Thanks, too!!

  47. #46

    User Info Menu

    Also, you mentioned "setup out of the box" .. how important is that for you?

    Well no, I can do a decent setup to suit me, but it goes to show you a certain pride in the hands of the maker, a willingness of the D'Angelico purchasing agent to pay a bit more to have them setup overseas.

    Also it sort of minimizes the excuses people freely give to Gibson claiming that "shipping, and temperature changes" cause the shitty setups on 100% of the gits I have played from them that were sent barely 1500 miles in mild temp changes.

    So yes, I do respect the out of box consistency the D'A reproductions offer.

  48. #47

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by joaopaz
    That's a bold statement, but also what I was looking for.
    Also thanks for the very detailed info, precious stuff!

    Funny that (after having read the other replies above already) no one has had yet contact with the newer MIK models.

    Also, you mentioned "setup out of the box" .. how important is that for you? Just because I never really care about that... I find it so sensible - and also as I change strings right before even play them.... but I notice that a lot of people always mentions it as an important thing.

    Thanks again!
    There are many threads here about just about every aspect of the Korean D'Angelicos, including differences between generations, so try a search. Some say the current ones aren't as nice as earlier ones and there's at least one about a defective nut slot on a new one. I have a first gen semi-hollow. FWIW, it has solid (not split) block position markers. I like it as much as any other semi I've played. I played a new one recently. I don't know if my sample is reoresentarive, by and I thought the new one's finish was a bit thicker and more plastic-y feeling and the tone a bit brighter/thinner than mine.

    John

  49. #48

    User Info Menu

    The current Korean D'Angelico line started in 2013. I have four of them including a D'Angelico EXL-1 and think they are the best guitars in the price range. I had a few newer guitars briefly in the past 10 years or so and prefer the D'Angelico guitars. I had a 2000 Guild X-150 that was dead as a doorknob with no resonance and it didn't have a deep enough tone, it was too bright. A friend gave me an Ibanex AF105 that was okay but it started developing neck problems. I also had an Eastman 145 for awhile but felt it was too thin and delicate. The D'Angelicos all arrived with a good setup and in perfect condition. They are well made with excellent attention to detail and play and sound good. I was used to playing my 1951 Epiphone Zephyr Regent since 1970 which has a bigger neck than all the other guitars mentioned. It was easy to adjust to playing the D'Angelico necks which are thinner than the Epiphone but not too thin. They are as well made as guitars costing two or three times as much.

  50. #49
    joaopaz Guest
    Thanks!

    I was about to pull the trigger so many times now

    Your EXL-1 is what color, if I may ask? I'm interested in the natural tint, if there's a significant difference for the natural one - one the video I posted on the 1st post above, the EXL-1 is almost yellow and I kinda like that.
    The black is also a thing of beauty!

  51. #50

    User Info Menu

    Mine has a natural finish. It's darker than the one in the video. Guitar finishes are hard to capture on film. I've seen the same guitar look darker or lighter in different photos. I tried to upload a photo but the forum is not letting me select a file from my computer, although it's worked before. I replaced the stock Kent Armstrong floating pickup with a Guild reissue DeArmond 1100 pickup. The sound has a lot more personality now. I have an EX-DH with a black finish and it's beautifully done, I'm sure a black EXL-1 would be the same level of quality.