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  The Collection.    As always,  for more details click on the pic
       
  Modern Classics.
       
       
    #004   D'Angelico NYSS-3b.

My first D'Angelico and I was blown away by the design, craftsmanship, quality and overall feel of this outstanding guitar.

It was a delight to play and that Vestax neck was the best feeling guitar I ever had played.

On top of all that, it was certainly the most versatile guitar of any I have owned.

Now:  In the capable hands of Walter Beltrami.

 

       
    #010   D'Angelico NYL-5.

Having fallen for the NYSS-3b I hoped that the NYL-5 Thinline might be on a par with my Byrdland.

I had learned that Vestax guitars were out of production in early '05, however, I found this one at a store in New York and had it shipped over.

It was superb!   The design, craftsmanship and  quality of this guitar was outstanding.

Immediately it was a delight to play,  tons better than a modern Byrdland and just as nice as my classic Byrdland.    This guitar is here to stay.

Now:  Loved, polished and played regularly.

       
    #026   D'Angelico NYSS-3b.

The only shortcoming with the NYL-5 is that the pickup lacks punch.    Great if I want to sound like Kenny Burrell but it won't deliver a Schofield.   The 3, however, has the most versatile electronics and I looked around for another.    

Now:  Bought by a collector who, I know, won't play it.

 

       
    #032   Abbott Victor Burlington III.

Not exactly a Modern Classic but a true British classic from the 50's.

I received a call one evening asking if I would be interested in this and frankly I knew nothing about Jack Abbott and his guitars.    It lead to some interesting research and I discovered a few experts, one of whom eventually bought the guitar.

Now:  I'm not sure whether it has moved on again!

       
    #034   D'Angelico NYS-2 Acoustic.

By this time Vestax could do no wrong in my eyes.    I had tried the NYSS-3 but wanted something I could play acoustic.

I prefer short scale necks and this one has the same short neck as the 3.     It also has a small body at 15.5" lower bout so close to the spec of Mike Vanden's Martin Taylor Artistry.   It is a really good spec for me  -  unimpaired acoustic tone,  a strong voice but lighter and much more comfortable against the body.    Quite a delight this one.  

I have asked Vestax to make me a new one.  It took almost a year but its here now and its wonderful.   See #099

Now:  A real favourite.    It is the guitar I play most evenings!    

       
    #036   D'Angelico NYL-2.

At the same time I saw this one advertised in the US.    Again Mint, virtually unplayed and finished in Natural.

The NYL-2 is the standard 17" body 3" deep with full scale and that same wonderful neck.   If you haven't yet tried a Vestax D'Angelico, well I can't recommend them highly enough.

I really liked this guitar.    Absolutely perfect but at this stage I already had three.   I chose to keep the small body NYS-2.

Now:  Making good jazz in Yorkshire.

       
    #047   D'Angelico NYL-5.

I couldn't resist the look of this one.   It was a very early model and the pickup was much warmer than the later ones.     Even so I had grown to love #010 and just how many 5's can you play?

Now:  Jamming in Southend I believe.

       
    #049   D'Angelico NYL-2 CUSTOM.

I missed #036,  the full body version and when this CUSTOM cropped up I grabbed it with both hands.   It has all the virtues of the NYL-2 but with a carved solid Spruce top.   It has a very warm, rounded tone with superb harmonics.    Somehow a more complex sound with subtle undertones.    It is on a par with my Benedetto Fratello.

There is no way of telling that the this is a CUSTOM except that it has a hand made, bound Moccassa Ebony pickguard.   

.........  and it is in nitrocellulose Violinburst - stunning!     This finish was only available by special order for two years.    Not many Violinburst CUSTOMS were made!!

Now:    It went to a student in Cambridge.

       
    #052   D'Angelico NYL-4.

The 4 is an 18" big body version like the Super 400 and was something John D'Angelico was at the forefront in promoting when Big Band guitarists of that era complained their acoustic guitars were not capable of holding their own against the horns.

It really had a big sound but it was just too big physically for me and I felt I was wrestling with it.

Now:  Somewhere in London.

       
    #054   D'Angelico NYL-2.

Another 2 and in Violinburst too.   This is gorgeous but three in a row is a bit excessive!

Now:  Appreciated in East Anglia

       
    #055   Benedetto Fratello.

I had been looking for a Benedetto for a while. 

The Fratello is Bob Benedetto's classic design.

Fabulous, stunning in Opulent Brown, and Mint.    It is very jazzy with a rich majestic tone.   This guitar has the hallmark of a classy instrument in that it responds to the player.    It can be whatever you want it to be.    Play the same note in any position and it sounds just the same.     Perfect!

Now:  Much loved and appreciated in Northampton.

       
    #064   D'Angelico NYL-5.

Another 5.    They are so rare that when this one came up,  just like new, I thought I would keep it as a fall-back should anything ever happen to my favourite #010.

But you can't go through life doubling up. 

I have to rationalise my collection although I would much rather keep them all.    Its a disease!

Now:  Being played properly at last.

       
    #065   D'Angelico NYSS-3b.

The player who bought #026 asked if I wanted to buy it back.    I didn't hesitate.    Every time I play this guitar I marvel at it  -  everything is right and it feels so good to play.

Now:  Loved a little less  -  played and enjoyed much more and at the centre of the London Jazz Guitar Society.

       
    #071   D'Aquisto Elite Custom.

This was the nearest I could get to a real D'Aquisto.   

The modern ones just aren't quite right but, back in 1980,  Jimmy D'Aquisto worked with the  Fender Custom Shop in Japan to produce guitars when he could not keep up with demand.

Two models were designed  -  the Standard and the Elite.    The Elites were single pickup versions and these have become "the ones to have"!

Initially they were destined only for the US but it was agreed that a few could be sold direct to the Japanese market.      This is one of those.

Now:  Really swinging in Antwerp.

       
    #076   D'Angelico NYL-2.

I found this "2" lurking in Philadelphia.    Almost  Mint, virtually unplayed but finished and Vintage Sunburst.     The Vestax Sunburst until 2007 was so rich,  so evocative of those early D'Angelicos, that I couldn't resist it.    

Now:  Bopping on Bankside.

       
    #078   D'Angelico NYL-2FH.i

This is lovely.    Again Mint, this FH (fixed Humbucker) was a Vestax Factory-fitted option.

The original Kent Armstrong has now been upgraded with a Benedetto A6.   A good move!  

Now:  With my good friend Thierry in France.

       
    #080   D'Aquisto Elite.

#071 (above) was a revelation and it made me look out for the real thing.    By that I mean an Elite Black Beauty with the D'Aquisto designed, Schaller made,  12 pole-piece pickup.    This one came from a little old music shop in North Carolina.  

When it arrived,  it immediately felt very special.  You know,  some guitars just feel right and sound just right.    This was the bluesiest guitar I had played for a long while.

I put D'Aquisto flatwounds on it and suddenly it was also a great jazz guitar.   

Now:  Back in the USA06

       
    #083   D'Aquisto Elite.

The Black Beauties are stunning but I had always loved the "Iced Tea" finish that was created for this model.     It is quite unlike anything else and I was delighted to have found this guitar,  another one-owner example.

Absolutely mint, still in its mint case and almost unplayed.   A very rare beast.

I strung this one with D'Addarios and it was so, so sweet!     It had superb tone.

Now:   Much loved in the Midlands.NYSS-3b.

       
    #085   D'Angelico NYL-2.

I find myself continually drawn to these amazing NYL-2s but this time in Wine Red.    D'Angelico describe it as a rich Burgundy climaxing in a transparent Ros.    Gorgeous ......... and, of course,  as a Vestax guitar so it plays wonderfully and sounds just right.    It is a 2000 instrument and benefits from the earlier,  warmer,  pickup.

Now:   On its way to New York

       
    #086   Guild Benedetto Johnny Smith Award.

This outstanding guitar is also listed in the Guild Gallery.

The 60's Johnny Smith Award is widely acknowledged as the ultimate Guild archtop but I was always impressed with the knowledge that Johnny Smith actually didn't like the Award and went back to plying his X-500 Stuart.

But Bob Benedetto's reworking of the original Johnny Smith takes this guitar to new heights.     It is an amazing instrument.    I understand that BB consulted respected Award players and asked how they would improve it,  incorporating those ideas with his own feelings about how to create the best Guild ever.

In my view he succeeded.    This is just fabulous. 

Now:    FOR SALE

       
    #088   D'Angelico NYSS-3b.

I had heard that there was a small guitar shop in Tokyo which had a new NYSS-3b in stock.

The prospect of a "New" NYSS-3b warranted some serious investigation.    I contacted the shop and talked at length and also contacted my friends at Vestax, who I knew were still making very small quantities but for the Japanese market only.    The information I had from Vestax satisfied me that this was genuine and I ordered this amazing instrument in Violinburst.   

When it arrived here I was entirely happy that it is exactly the same as the other Vestax guitars I have owned.    The quality is exceptional and, of course,  it has THAT neck!     Since the outset, Vestax guitars have been made by Terada.  

Every time I play this guitar I marvel at it  -  everything is right and it feels so good to play.   The sustain is massive and yet it responds so well to gentle and subtle touches.     Magnificent!

       
   

#089   Campellone 16" Standard.

Mark Campellone first came into view when I was loaned a copy of Blue Guitar.   I really liked his style and design sense but you have to play these lovely instruments to really know what they are like.    Not easy in the UK where very few exist.

I had been aware of this one for  three years before I finally acquired it.  

It is an acquired taste!!

Now:   I need to spend time with this exceptional guitar!

       
    #090   D'Angelico NYL-5FH.i

The thinline D'Angelicos are my personal favourites and the 5FH seems to me as good as it gets.   A single pickup Byrdland!!

This one is superb.   

Some guitars just feel right the minute you hold them ...  and when you play,  they almost play themselves.    This is one of those guitars,  comfortable,  effortless and with superb tone.

Signed by the legendary master luthier Hidesato Shiino.    

The best and all original!

Now:   In very capable hands

       
    #093   D'Angelico NY-DC Limited Edition.

The NYSS-3 is an amazing guitar and it suits me in every sense.     The DC, however, was designed for those who must have a double cutaway,  hence DC.

Apart from the cutaway, the differences between this and the "3" are quite subtle.    It feels like a "3",  plays like a "3" and it sounds like a "3".   

As with #088,   every time I play this guitar I marvel at it  -  everything is right and it feels so good to play.   The sustain is massive and, like the "3" it responds so well to gentle and subtle touches.     Magnificent!

Now:   Bopping in Belgium.

       
    #099   D'Angelico NYS-2 FH Custom.

My first NYS-2, is the guitar I most naturally reach for of an evening.    The small body, short scale is effortless to play so an easy relaxing guitar for working out new arrangements or just simply noodling.     Its only shortcoming is its mini-humbucker and I play mine now without a pickup as you can see above (#034).

I asked Vestax to make me a FH (Fixed Humbucker) version with body mounted controls hoping this would give more richness to the small body.     It is the only one they have made like this!!

Now:   The more I play it, the more I like it.

       
    #100   Triggs single pickup Byrdland.   UNIQUE.

I am quite sure this is the only single pickup Byrdland worldwide.    Certainly it is the only one Jim Triggs is aware of so, unless I hear to the contrary .....

Hand carved and hand made in the traditional style,  this is truly superb.   It was a one-off special order and was specified with a Lindy Fralin Howard Roberts pickup.    It has an amazing tonal spectrum.

This unique instrument is a collectors/players delight but above all,  is a wonderful guitar to have and to play.

Now:      FOR SALE

       
    #101   D'Angelico NYSS-3b FM.   (Flame Maple).

Whilst I was checking on the delivery of #099 above, I learned that Vestax had commissioned  six NYSS-3b with Flame Maple tops.   These are the first new models from Vestax since 1999 and, in my view, are significant in that they represent the first signs of evolution in the Vestax range.

This guitar is exactly the same construction as the Spruce top but with a thin bookmarked Maple veneer on top.    This explains my sense that the tone of the FM is very close to the Spruce Top  -  you just get tons of good looks without loosing performance.    

The sustain is massive and yet it responds so well to gentle and subtle touches.     Magnificent!

Now:  One to keep

       
    #102   D'Angelico NYSS-3b LTD.   (Limited Edition).

Shortly after the arrival of my Flame-tops,  I was shown pics of the 12 Limited Editions NYSS-3b that were being made.

They are constructed with Tops and Backs in Hawaiian Koa,  Bubinga and Silky Oak and each  with matching or contrasting sides.    12 variations in all and only one of each option.   So 12 unique NYSS-3s.

I chose the Bubinga with matching sides.   It plays superbly but it is so shiny that it is nearly impossible to photograph.    I may have to get this one professionally photographed!

Now.   Each time I hold it I marvel that it is so exquisite.    Each time I play it I just can't hide the smile on my face!

       
    #103   D'Aquisto Elite.

This one has lived its life in New York,  at the heart of the US jazz scene.   It has been kept meticulously over the years and has very little evidence of play wear.

Delightfully played-in, and kept well, it is now a guitar of some musical stature.    Mellow, sweet and punchy.

I really enjoy playing this one.    Mojo, mojo!

Complete with its original case, case key, owners documents and strap locks.

Now:   FOR SALE

       
    #104   D'Angelico NYSS-3b LTD.   (Limited Edition).

Just like 102 above except in this exquisite Birdseye Maple, finished in Natural with Vintage Natural sides and neck. 

There are only two in the world with this finish so amazingly rare.   There are another four in Birdseye Maple but with different colour rims.  This spec looks the best by far!

This is the most stunning guitar and it plays superbly with a wide tonal spectrum.   You can pretty much make it do whatever you want. and the sustain is massive!

Harmonics will ring on for ages whilst you play elsewhere.

Now:   FOR SALE

       
    #105   D'Angelico NYS-2 PS. 

Now here is a very special guitar.   It took me 11 years to track down one of these.

It is a 1997,  first year of production,  NYS-2.

I fact this one is extra special as it bears the postscript PS.     I am not entirely sure what the PS stands for.   I am told it probably stands for PACO Special.    PACO is a highly respected  Vestax dealership in Tokyo whose relationship with Vestax goes back before the D'Angelico period.    I am told they occasionally they authorised some "Specials" much like the early Selmer arrangements with Hofner.     It clearly says PS on the guitar label and on the warrantee.   If other explanations come to light I will update these notes.

My interest in this model is simply that it is more like a NYSS-3 shape than a NYS-2 shape and was only in production for a short while before it was re-designed as we know it today.

Now:    Really enjoying playing it.     I hadn't thought it would be so good.

       
       
       
   
   
   
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