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NMM 10856.  Guitar by John D’Angelico, New York, 1947.
Excel cutaway (17″).  Ledger number 1752.  D'Angelico's first cutaway.
Ex coll.:  Thomas G. Comeaux, Lafayette, Louisiana.
Tony and Bonnie Vinatieri Family Trust, 2005.

NMM 10856.  Guitar by John D'Angelico, New York, 1947.

This Excel was the first cutaway guitar made by John D’Angelico. The instrument was sold on May 9, 1947, to a customer, Mirko, who does not appear elsewhere in the ledger books and is not otherwise identified. The rounded cutaway of the upper treble rib originated with the Gibson L-5 and Super 400 Premier models in 1939. The design facilitated access to the upper end of the fingerboard for solo playing.

This guitar was once part of the extensive collection of Thomas G. Comeaux, who held dual careers as a pathologist and a celebrated Cajun musician. He performed for many years with BeauSoleil and other groups around Lafayette, Louisiana.



Inscriptions:  Inlaid in mother-of-pearl on headstockD’Angelico / NEW YORK [incised on tail of "o" and filled with black ink]

Incised and filled with black ink on white celluloid geometric inlay on pegheadExcel

Stamped in black ink on inside of back and on neck block:  D’Angelico [in cursive lettering] / NEW YORK [on tail of "o"]

Engraved on tailpieceD’Angelico [in cursive lettering] / NEW YORK [on tail of "o"]

Branded on inside of back below signature:  1752

Branded on top block at joint with neck:  4 20 47

Stamped (vertically) on tuner gear covers:  GROVER

D'Angelico name inlaid on headstock

Excel model name incised on white celluloid inlay

D'Angelico name engraved on tailpiece


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

Body:  Stringing:  six steel strings. Soundboard:  arched, two-piece, quarter-cut spruce; wide grain broadening toward the flanks. Back:  two-piece, slab-cut maple with faint medium curl descending from center joint; pith flecks; wooden pin through back into neck block on bass side of center joint. Ribs:  two-piece, slab-cut maple with irregular, medium curl angled to right on bass side, angled to left on treble side; some bird’s eyes and pith flecks. Head:  three-piece (wing on bass side only) maple with black-stained maple veneer; broken pediment-style with turned, gold-plated brass ornament. Neck:  two-piece maple with irregular medium curl and bird’s eyes; wood flaw on bass side near heel; integral with head; brown-stained maple strip of inlay along center line.


Front of D'Angelico guitar peghead
Back of D'Angelico guitar peghead

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Inlay:  Head:  white celluloid binding with two-ply (white-black) celluloid purfling trim; geometric mother-of-pearl Excel inlay; mother-of-pearl D’Angelico / NEW YORK inlay. Binding:  white celluloid; trim comprised of four-ply black-white-black-white celluloid purfling strips on top and back and two-ply (black-white) celluloid purfling strips on ribs. Soundholes:  f-holes bound in white celluloid with single black and white celluloid purfling strip trim.

Front of D'Angelico guitar F-hole on D'Angelico guitar

Front of guitar and close-up of bass f-hole


Back of neck D'Angelico guitar fretboard

Back of neck, fretboard (above), pick guard (right), and bridge (below).

Pick guard on D'Angelico guitar
Bridge on D'Angelico guitar

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to view larger images.

Trim:  Heel cap:  white celluloid with two-ply black-white celluloid trim layers on inside. Fingerboard:  ebony bound in ivoroid with single black and white celluloid purfling strips on each side; 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; imitation tortoise-shell celluloid side dots behind 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, and 15th frets. Nut:  bone. Bridge:  two-piece ebony (compensated) with brass screws for height adjustment. Pegs:  six Grover Imperial gold-over-nickel-plate worm-gear machine tuners with chevron-shaped heads. Endpin:  white celluloid. Pick guard:  later translucent dark red-brown imitation-tortoise-shell celluloid, bound in white ivoroid with six-ply (black-white-black-white-black-white) celluloid purfling strip trim, with two wider strips of white celluloid along outside, mounted on guitar with later gold-plated brass bracket and three gold-plated steel screws; rosewood volume adjustment knob with abalone eye and plug unit mounted on pickguard. Pickup:  later gold-plated pickup; holes on side of fingerboard suggest a previous unit. Lacquer:  golden.

"Stairstep" Tailpiece, Heel Pin, Bottom Rib, and Endpin

D'Angelico guitar tailpiece

"Stairstep" tailpiece

Signature on D'Angelico guitar tailpiece

Heel pin

Close-up of engraved signature on tailpiece (top),
heel pin (above), and endpin (below).

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Bottom rib and end pin

Bottom rib and endpin

Back and Neck Heel

Back of D'Angelico guitar
Neck heel, left side

Neck heel, right side

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Interior:  Linings:  kerfed mahogany. Neck block:  mahogany; chamfered corners. End block:  mahogany; chamfered corners. Top bracing:  spruce X-brace. Grafts:  spruce block graft with beveled edges on inside of back near end block; spruce grafts on inside ribs at center bout; spruce block graft with beveled edges on inside of top near end block.

Measurements (actual): Total guitar length:  1041 mm (41″)
Back length:  518 mm (20-13/32″)
Upper bout width:  304 mm (12″)
Waist width:  258 mm (10-5/32″)
Lower bout width:  429 mm (16-7/8″)
Rib height (including edging) at heel:  79 mm (3-3/32″)
Rib height, at waist:  80 mm (3-1/8″)
Rib height, at end block:  80 mm (3-1/8″)
Head length:  186 mm (7-5/16″)
Head width, top:  102 mm (4″)
Head width, bottom:  78 mm (3-1/16″)
Neck length (nut to ribs):  352 mm (13-7/8″)
Neck width, nut:  44 mm (1-23/32″)
Neck width, heel:  56 mm (2-3/16″)
Soundhole length:  171 mm (6-23/32″)
Vibrating string length (nut to bridge edge):  high E:  630 mm (24-13/16″); low E:  636 mm (25-1/4″)

Return to Checklist of D'Angelico Guitars and Mandolins

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Most recent update: March 24, 2014

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