Vol.4 The evolution of D'Angelico Guitars [6.Nov.2018]
Improved D'Angelico guitar by Hidesato Shiino
In 1989, to reproduce D’Angelico guitars, I asked Jerry Berberine to lend the most well-built D’Angelico guitar for investigation. Soon afterwards, his daughter, Carol visited Japan and had brought me D guitar which Jerry has preserved for a long time.
The guitar she brought me was a New Yorker model which was installed with a Charlie Christian Pickup and it was obviously amazing. However, my first impression was it's body was quite heavy.
Until that time, I had been involved with the design, the inspection and the production of Gibson, Fender, YAMAHA, Greco(Ibanez), Fernandes, Aria, ESP, HS Anderson and so on.
I also investigated Gibson super400, Johnny Smith and Epiphone Flower Series to accumulate my knowledge of archtop guitars.
And finally, I took apart his nice guitar to comprehend its structure by using my experience.
The first issue I found is, it's head is big and heavy which makes its centre of gravity shifts to head side.
Since John began his career as a mandolin craftsman, he wasn’t perhaps familiar with guitar golden ratio.
To balance the weight, I adjusted the thickness of head stock as keeping its fraction. (I didn’t want to change the shape of head stock since it is the identity of D’Angelico guitar)
The second, I reshaped the neck since its neck was very thick V-shape(John might not have had the knowledge of installing truss rod and routing truss rod slot) and difficult to play.The biggest problem was age deterioration which changes upheaval shapes of top and back since its mold was not good enough.
If limiting the discussion only to solid guitars,I judged that their wood processing technologies can not match for Epiphone Flower Series and Gibson archtop guitars.Therefore, I made each of hand curved archtop guitars and solid formed archtop guitars which are unique Jazz guitar.
Pickup was upgraded and rose tailpiece was developed to make soft deep sound as well.
In addition, I corrected some other issues and exhibited new D’Angelico guitars at NAMM show and Messe Frankfurt.
At the end of the result, they got a good evaluation and I decided to produce them to the world.
Compared to the original guitars, sound hole and the location of bracing has been changed and I believe it improved live and electric sound. Regarding the kinds of color, I newly invented and adopted beautiful modern see-through colors with Mr.Furuhata in 1970s.