Archtop Guitar, Excel model, 1951

Excel model (serial number 1871)

John D’Angelico (American, 1905–1964)
Archtop Guitar, Excel model (serial number 1871), 1951
Spruce, maple, ebony, brass, celluloid, mother-of-pearl; sunburst finish; 10 7/16 x 3 11/16 x 35 15/16 in. (26.5 x 9.3 x 91.3 cm)
Private Collection

The archtop guitar and mandolin incorporate a number of traditional violin features into a guitar. The original idea for a guitar body with an arched (carved) top and back like a violin was created by Orville Gibson of Kalamazoo, Michigan, who obtained a patent in 1898. Lloyd Loar further refined the design for the Gibson Company and in 1922 introduced the L-5 model, which also includes f-holes and a floating bridge and tailpiece like a violin. John D’Angelico used the Gibson L-5 as the model for his archtop guitars.

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Related Interviews

Bob Grillo explains the benefit of the cutaway (Transcript)

Bucky Pizzarelli remembers visiting D’Angelico’s workshop (Transcript)