Catch of the Day: 1978 D’Aquisto New Yorker Special

1978 D’Aquisto New Yorker Special

When Jimmy D’Aquisto started making guitars under his own name in 1965, his instruments bore the distinct imprint of his mentor John D’Angelico. This New Yorker Special, which was made in 1978, still retains some of the Art Deco styling that defined D’Angelico’s greatest guitars, but you can already see some of the simplifying that marked D’Aquisto’s later work. The fancy headstock, large fretboard inlays and multi-layered bindings would not have looked out of place on a guitar made 30 years earlier, but the sleeker pickguard silhouette and wooden tailpiece hint at the more austere look D’Aquistos would develop in the 1980s.

When John D’Angelico was building guitars, he was supplying a rhythm machine for guitarists to power a big band. Consequently his guitars tend to be fairly heavily built and really come alive when strung with heavier strings and played hard. D’Aquisto’s guitars, on the other hand, were built for musicians who spent most of their time in the studio or playing in small combos, situation that required a more sensitive guitar.

This particular New Yorker Special has an oval soundhole, a style D’Aquisto himself preferred. To my ear, traditional f-holes give the guitar a brighter, more focused sound, while round or oval soundholes on archtops have a warmer, more balanced tone. I haven’t played this exact guitar before, but the other oval-hole D’Aqusito from the same era I did play was one of the best guitars I ever played. It worked well for delicate fingerpicking, chord soloing, rhythm work or just about anything I could think to play on it. I suspect this guitar is equally good, which it should be for $45,000. This guitar is currently for sale at Gruhn Guitars.

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