Believe it or not, you (and even I !) can own an acoustic guitar with one of the most sought after and truly legendary names in the history of fine guitar! D’Angelico Guitars announced their new line of acoustic guitars at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show in 2015 to much fanfare. Those of us who appreciate the craft of guitar making, or luthiery, as in being a luthier, will appreciate the fact that mere mortals like us can now actually own a guitar with this level of craftsmanship, quality and sound and not have to sign away the naming rights to our as yet to be born progeny and/or go broke in the process.
The wonderful D’Angelico guitar company opened its doors way back in 1932 in the Little Italy section of Manhattan. The original arch top jazz guitars John D’Angelico produced himself are a holy grail for guitar lovers, as it is said that he made personally some one thousand one hundred and sixty guitars before he died in the early 1960’s and passed the business on to his apprentice, the similarly named Jim D’Aquisto.
The price of those original D’Angelico’s, when they are sold, is well into the thousands of dollars. The rest are the collectors items of the rich and famous, and sadly many of these fine instruments sit on a shelf, all by themselves and never get played so a “collector” can look at them once in a blue moon or show them off to his friends on occasion.
On to our good fortune, as it were then, that in 2011 the new version of the company was launched to continue the tradition of excellence for guitarists not named Clapton or Townshend, et al and produce affordable and outstanding guitars. The D’Angelico model I’ll describe here is called the Mercer Grand Auditorium Cutaway.
It features a slim, easy to play neck, with a rosewood fingerboard. As is par for the course with this fine product, it’s ornate and easy on the eyes, with block mother of pearl inlays throughout. Woods used on the guitar are solid Sitka Spruce on top with Sapele for the sides and back. In addition to the cutaway for versatility in range and sound, the Mercer Grand Auditorium uses Fishman electronics built in, just in case you want to plug it in and tell the world about your song!
The simple fact that D’Angelico partners with a terrific and high-end audio company like Fishman shows their commitment to making this instrument the right way. The Preamp and tuner are called the Fishman INK-4 and give the user easy access to EQ for controlling the highs, lows and midrange and an LED tuner so that you’re not singing your song off key!
Some of the other unique features here include re-designed bracing and a thinner coating for the best and truest acoustic sound possible. Bridge pins, the removable part of of the guitar that holds the string in place at the bottom of the neck, are made of brass on the Mercer. Some say that helps produce a brighter tone, some players prefer the pins made of bone or a synthetic material. It is a matter of preference and the brass does have an appealing look to it. If you wanted to change these out for any another type of pin that would be an easy and inexpensive move.
Speaking of appealing looks, this gorgeous guitar comes in five finishes including Grey Black, Natural Clear, Black, Cherry Sunburst and Vintage Sunburst. The way cool headstock is the vintage D’Angelico look with the open design at top, straight out of a swingin’ jazz club for all the cool cats in the late 1940’s with all gold hardware, the really cool looking Grover Rover Rotomatic Gold tuning pegs and the awesome D’Angelico New York logo across the top and an insignia that simply reads “Excel” in the middle. How ridiculously cool is that? This guitar not only looks and sounds great, it’s a motivational speaker! This guitar will also come straight from the factory with D’Addario EXP-16 strings.
An interesting fact for guitar players of a well, certain age, is that the D’Angelico New Yorker was the guitar on the front of the Mel Bay guitar books many of us learned from back in the day. Remember those books, and those times? Back before everything had to be simplified so we could shout to junior “Good Job” for everything silly little thing he does? But I digress. If you’re looking for a simply outstanding acoustic guitar and want to spend less than $1000, I don’t see how you can possibly go wrong with this instrument.