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NMM 10826.  Guitar by John D'Angelico, New York, 1937.
Style A (17").   Ledger number 1265. 
Tony and Bonnie Vinatieri Family Trust, 2005.

Front of D'Angelico guitar Treble side of D'Angelico guitar Bass side of D'Angelico guitar Back of D'Angelico guitar

The Style A was John D'Angelico's basic guitar. According to his shop ledger, which survives in the NMM Archives, this instrument, #1265, was sent to Gravois Music Shop in St. Louis, Missouri, in May 1937. The Gravois Music Shop was one of D'Angelico's top outlets in the 1930s and '40s, often receiving one or more guitars a month to sell. The Style A was one of their best-selling models. After 1945, when D'Angelico stopped making the Style A, the firm mostly sold his top-of-the-line New Yorker (18") and the Excel Special (a 17" guitar with New Yorker trim).

Gravois Music Shop plaque on guitar case

The Gravois Music Shop dates back to about 1916, when Joseph Ermantraut and his son, Joseph Ermantraut, Jr., started a piano store, probably in the father's home, at 1805 Gravois Street. In 1935, Joseph Jr. operated the Gravois Music Shop at 4650 Gravois Street, which is where it was located, when D'Angelico's #1265 was received at the shop in May 1937.

Interestingly, Mel Bay, the legendary guitar player and teacher who founded Mel Bay Publications — the firm whose guitar instruction books continue to be sold world-wide yet today — began teaching all day long at the Gravois Music Shop in 1935, while playing gigs at night. Mel played D'Angelico guitars, with an Excel for his solo work and a New Yorker for his rhythm work.

Vintage photos show him playing D'Angelico guitars with an owner's name engraved on the pickguard, as is seen on #1265. In the '40s, Mel had D'Angelico make him a special model to his own specifications, with a thinner neck and cutaway body, which was called the Mel Bay Model.

Inscriptions:  Inlaid in mother-of-pearl on headstock: D’Angelico / NEW YORK [incised on tail of "o" and filled with black ink]
Incised on mother-of-pearl banner on peghead: STYLE A
Branded on inside of back: 1265
Stamped on tailpiece upper face: GROVER / De Luxe [in Gothic lettering]
Stamped on tailpiece: GROVER / PAT.APPL’D FOR
Stamped on tuner plates, the lettering curved upward at each end: GROVER
Engraved in cursive lettering on pickguard: Frank

Ledger number
Number branded on inside of back

Inlaid signature on peghead

Style A inlaid on peghead


Front of D'Angelico guitar body

Front view of body

Back of D'Angelico guitar body

Back view of body

Body:  Stringing:  six steel strings. Soundboard:  arched, two-piece spruce cut slightly off-the-quarter;  wide grain. Back:  two-piece, slab-cut maple with faint, medium horizontal curl and pith flecks; wooden pin through back into neck block on bass side of center joint; wooden pin through back into end block on treble side of center joint. Ribs:  two-piece, slab-cut maple with faint, medium curl. Head:  maple. Neck:  maple with medium curl; integral with head; three strips of inlay along center line, brown-stained maple on outsides and maple on inside.

D'Angelico guitar belly

Soundholes and Bridge
Click on bass soundhole to see a larger image.

D'Angelico guitar bridge

Close-up of Bridge

D'Angelico guitar pick guard

Pick Guard


Front of peghead Back of peghead

Inlay:  Head:  decorative mother-of-pearl inlay; mother-of-pearl D’Angelico / NEW YORK and STYLE A inlay. Binding:  white celluloid; trim comprised of black-white-black-white celluloid purfling strips. Soundholes:  f-holes; no binding or trim.


D'Angelico guitar fretboardboard Back of neck Neck heel

Trim:  Heel cap:  white celluloid. Fingerboard:  ebony bound in white celluloid; end terminating in a point, with rounded edges on the sides; 20 nickel-silver frets; mother-of-pearl blocks behind 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, and 15th frets; black celluloid side dots behind 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, and 15th frets. Nut:  bone. Bridge:  two-piece ebony (compensated) with brass screws for height adjustment. Pegs:  six Grover chrome-plated brass worm-gear machine tuners with convex head surfaces, reversely curved corners (known as "butterbeans"). Endpin:  white celluloid. Pick guard:  imitation-tortoise-shell celluloid bound in white ivoroid, with Frank engraved on upper end, mounted on guitar with chrome-plated brass bracket and three chrome-plated steel screws. Lacquer:  black-brown-to-blonde sunburst with slight craquelure.


Grover DeLuxe engraving on tailpiece

Tailpiece Grover Patent text

Interior:  Linings:  kerfed maple. Neck block:  mahogany; chamfered corners. End block:  mahogany; chamfered corners. Top bracing:  spruce brace on each side between f-hole and center joint. Grafts:  short maple grafts on inside of back near neck and end blocks; short spruce grafts on inside of top near neck and end blocks.

Measurements (actual): Total guitar length:  1045 mm (41-1/8″)
Back length:  517 mm (20-3/8″)
Upper bout width:  302 mm (11-7/8″)
Waist width:  251 mm (9-7/16″)
Lower bout width:  430 mm (16-15/16″)
Rib height (including edging) at heel:  84 mm (3-5/16″)
Rib height, at waist:  85 mm (3-11/32″)
Rib height, at end block:  85 mm (3-11/32″)
Head length:  190 mm (7-15/32″)
Head width, top:  100 mm (3-15/16″)
Head width, bottom:  84 mm (3-5/16″)
Neck length (nut to ribs):  347 mm (13-21/32″)
Neck width, nut:  41 mm (1-5/8″)
Neck width, heel:  52 mm (2-1/16″)
Soundhole length:  153 mm (6″)
Vibrating string length (nut to bridge edge):  high E:  629 mm (24-3/4″); low E:  631 mm (24-27/32″)

Accessories:  Original plywood case covered in black imitation-leather-texture canvas with blue plush lining, nickel-plated steel hardware, and later black leather handle, in black ink on metal plaque tacked on rib of case:  GRAVOIS MUSIC SHOP / 4650 Gravois / ST. LOUIS – MISSOURI. Case key. Clear teardrop-shaped plexiglass pick. Transparent yellow teardrop-shaped celluloid pick. Red triangular plastic pick with PAT. PEND. And S, M, and H in raised lettering; each corner is a different hardness. Black teardrop-shaped plastic pick with rough texture. Teardrop-shaped ivoroid pick stamped NICK / — / LUCAS. Two teardrop-shaped imitation-tortoise-shell celluloid with cork corn pads on one side for grip, one pick stamped JAPAN. Triangular imitation-tortoise-shell celluloid pick stamped JAPAN. Broken, teardrop-shaped transparent red-brown pick with decorative white streaks.

Return to Checklist of D'Angelico Guitars and Mandolins

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Most recent update: March 24, 2014

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Bass f-hole