D’Angelico Guitars has reintroduced two of its best-selling archtop guitars, the Excel EXL-1 and Excel Style B, which now come loaded with vintage-inspired pickups and a host of other new features. The new builds honor the brand’s near-100-year heritage and will feature at NAMM 2024.
The new Excel EXL-1 models feature two fresh colorways: amber with a tortoise pickguard, and a dark iced tea burst with a black pickguard. The 17" wide archtop guitars are inspired by John D'Angelico's single-cutaway design, which was first introduced in 1947 and went on to be played by many key jazz players of the time.
Its neck shape has been redesigned for “the perfect balance of comfort and heft” while both colorways offer different tonal outputs. The dark iced tea finish comes loaded with a full-sized Seymour Duncan 59 humbucker, giving a rich and deep George Benson-esque tone, while rolling the tone knob yields a thinner, funkier tone.
“When I first picked up these guitars, immediately I was impressed by the feel and finishes before I played a note,” says jazz guitar veteran Rodney Jones. “They have a beautiful sound, but they have the range that allows me to find my sound. A guitar can sound good, but if it doesn't let me find my sound, I can't use it. It gives wings to my heart song, not make me play their heart song.”
The Style B, meanwhile, aims to be a faithful replica of John D'Angelico's rhythm-focused archtop, a go-to model throughout the ‘30s. An old-school non-cutaway archtop, it features a 24.75” scale length and 20 frets, its tone sitting in a rich, mellow pocket. It too has a new neck shape for improved hand fit and sustain.
A DeArmond Rhythm Chief pickup – a mainstay in the D’Angelico builds of the ‘30s and ‘40s – also makes its Style B debut. These guitars were originally built to be played acoustic, but players started adding Rhythm Chief pickups to the guitars as amplification became more necessary. The floating single coil pickup faithfully amplifies the guitar with minimal obstruction to the wood and its natural, warm and woody tones.
The Style B is also available in the same two colorways, but the DeArmond Rhythm Chief remains as standard in both.
Says Vinny Raniolo: "I've always been drawn to this older style of music, it was so classic and classy and they had such beautiful instruments that did justice to the music. What I love about these guitars is that they respect the tradition of the music, but also shows you what potential this musical style still has. It offers a rich and articulate old-school tone that embodies the sound of mid-century New York."
Both archtop models feature Grover imperial tuners and hardware, an ebony fretboard and Jescar fretwire. The Excel EXL-1 is available for $1,899, with the Excel Style B coming in a little cheaper at $1,699. Both are available at retailers worldwide and will be on display at NAMM 2024.
“We are thrilled to once again offer the EXL-1 and Style B in the Excel Series,” says Ryan Kershaw, EVP of Product at Bond Audio. “These guitars are the true spirit of our brand, and we’ve worked hard to make them sound, feel and look better than ever before. These are special instruments, and we’re excited to offer them in these new variations.”
New York City-based D'Angelico Guitars was founded in 1932. Its builds have played a huge role in shaping the tones of the city's rich jazz scene. George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Lou Sosa and Pete Townshend are just some of the names to have played its guitars.
To keep up to date with all the latest gear releases ahead of NAMM 2024, head over to our guide to the latest NAMM 2024 news.
For more information about the two new guitars, head to D’Angelico Guitars.