Magazine article Guitar Player

Masterbuilt 1942 Excel

Magazine article Guitar Player

Masterbuilt 1942 Excel

Article excerpt

Guitar Player EDITOR'S PICK

FOR THE FULL ZEN EXPERIENCE OF OWNING A CLASSIC D'ANGELICO ARCHTOP guitar, the path ends with the 1942 Excel reissue. This majestic guitar follows the specs of a particular Excel (serial number 1628007) that was built in 1942-43 by the master himself in his downtown Manhattan shop. Aiming to achieve a similar level of righteousness, the 1942 Excel reissue on review here is made under the supervision of another famed luthier--Gene Baker of the Premier Builders Guild--and is the result of extensive research into the design elements of the vintage original, which was thoroughly documented--even to the point of putting it though MRI equipment--to better understand the details of its construction.

The 1942 Excel reissue is a gorgeous instrument with its carved spruce top, solid flamed maple back and sides, and a flamed maple neck with an ebony fretboard. As per original specs, the high-gloss finish was a natural varnish, but the company switched to a poly finish due to some issues with cracking. The high-level cosmetics consist of multi-ply bindings on the body, neck, and pick-guard; mother-of-pearl inlays on the headstock; a polished aluminum trussrod cover; and a brass ornament at the prow of the headstock. In a nod to modern needs, the instrument is equipped with a Lollar Johnny Smith floating pickup, which feeds small Volume and Tone controls mounted close together on the pickguard.

Well suited to those who favor a fat neck, the 1942 Excel is a comfortable player thanks to its wide-ish string spacing, polished 6105 frets, and an expert setup. The intonation sounds tuneful in all positions too, which is always a welcome thing.

As the original intent of this big-bodied beaut was to be heard on the bandstand in an era before amplification was standard, it's no surprise that it pumps out a lot of acoustic volume. …

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