The name D’Angelico is synonymous with exquisite handmade archtops from the 1930s. However, the brand was resurrected in 2011 with a range of new USA and Pacific Rim guitars bringing flat-top acoustic and solidbody electric diversity to an f-hole heavy portfolio. The new electric line has been especially well received with players such as Susan Tedeschi and Kurt Rosenwinkel seen with D’Angelico models on stage and in the studio.
The Deluxe Brighton model – made by a select team of luthiers in Korea – is the latest addition to the D’Angelico range. It features a double cut swamp ash body and a ‘set thru’ maple neck which joins the body at the 20th fret, giving excellent access to the whole fingerboard.
Aesthetically the Deluxe Brighton is no shrinking violet, taking many of its visual cues from the original art deco D’Angelico designs. There’s the ornate headstock shape and locking Grover Super Rotomatic machine heads to the ebony knobs and seven-ply cream and black body binding. Even the five-ply tortoiseshell scratchplate hints at the shape of an f-hole.
The Hunter Green body finish is striking and the diagonal transition from the gloss texture of the body and headstock to the smooth matt on the back of the neck is particularly elegant. However, the heavy black filler around the pearl block inlays detracts from the beauty of the pau ferro fretboard.
Given the length of the neck, it’s no real surprise that the Deluxe Brighton has a tendency to pitch downwards, even on a wide strap. Despite this, the chamfered body feels comfortable, although Strat wranglers may wish for a contoured edge for the forearm, too.
Plugging into a small tweed amp with a hint of reverb reveals a beautiful, smooth voice from the Seymour Duncan DA-59 Humbuckers. The neck pickup is warm and inviting – it’s an excellent solo tone for rock and blues with enough articulation for bebop and fusion, too.
Flipping to the bridge pickup unleashes some serious midrange grunt, more LP than SG, which encourages expressive vibrato and big bends – something which works beautifully on the 14-inch radius fretboard.
The in-between tones are springy and detailed. Both pickups also feature coil-splits via push/pull tone controls and the single-coil sound is good, despite the inevitable drop in volume.
Applying a Tube Screamer-style drive brings about an immediate shift in personality, with the guitar switching from smooth-talking jazz machine to shouty rocker. The aesthetic may not scream rock ’n’ roll, but the available sounds certainly can, with sophisticated clean tones translating into expressive and punchy distorted textures. The neck pickup loses a little clarity as you dial up the gain, but the bridge pickup is capable of some excellent lead voices, maintaining punch and aggression throughout.
Despite the brand’s archtop origins, the D’Angelico Deluxe Brighton is a very capable and versatile solidbody electric. Like a supermodel in steel toecaps, this deco-flavoured instrument has hidden reserves of grit and belligerence for players of all genres.
- PRICE £1,169 (inc. hard case)
- DESCRIPTION 6-string solidbody electric guitar, made in Korea
- BUILD Swamp ash body, satin-finished C-shape ‘set thru’ maple neck, 14” radius pau ferro fretboard, 22 medium frets, Tusq nut, dual-action truss-rod
- ELECTRONICS 2x Seymour Duncan DA-25 Humbuckers, 2x volume, 2x tone (pull for coil-split), 3-way toggle pickup selector switch
- HARDWARE Grover Super Rotomatic locking machineheads, tune-o-matic bridge and stop tailpiece
- SCALE LENGTH 24.75”/629mm
- NECK WIDTH 42.8mm at nut, 53mm at 12th fret
- NECK DEPTH 20mm at 1st fret, 22mm at 12th fret
- STRING SPACING 37mm at nut, 50mm at bridge
- WEIGHT 4.8kg/10.6lb
- LEFT-HANDERS No
- FINISH Hunter Green (as reviewed), Steel Blue, Black, Natural Swamp Ash gloss polyurethane
- CONTACT dangelicoguitars.com
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