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High Strung

BY Lisa Blake | July 11, 2018 | Feature Features

New York's D'Angelico Guitars extends its encore in Aspen.
Shakey Graves is just one musician on D'Angelico's roster.

The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir co-designed his own signature Deluxe SS. Shakey Graves picks the Excel 175 for a robust, balanced modern rock tone. Susan Tedeschi and Brad Whitford cherish the world-renowned semihollow designs.

John D’Angelico’s legendary guitars were born on Manhattan’s Lower East Side following an apprenticeship with his grand uncle Signor Ciani, an expert violin- and mandolin-maker. D’Angelico’s first shop opened in 1932, a humble handmade operation where the master luthier carved a Jazz Age name for himself with the acoustically optimized archtop model—a bold-bodied instrument conceived to be heard over big swing bands.

D’Angelico passed away from heart failure in 1964 at age 59, and the brand laid dormant for about 30 years until a private investor purchased and relaunched the name. Revitalized production created a line of authentic reissues, new semihollow designs and the first solid-body collection, delivering D’Angelico quality at an attainable price. Entry-level guitars start around $499 and top-of-the-line models—think one set of hands working on one instrument for up to four months—can nudge $20,000.

The world’s fastest-growing guitar-maker opened its Aspen pop-up showroom in November 2017, filling a music-culture hole downtown. “We love Aspen,” says Ryan Kershaw, director of product development and artist relations. “It’s the perfect town for our brand to get involved with. There’s a great music
community there.”

D’Angelico Guitars sponsored the 2018 Winter X Games (medal winners received custom gold, silver and bronze “medal” guitars), works with Jazz Aspen Snowmass to sponsor its Labor Day music festival and hosts music education events in its
Aspen showroom.

The wildly successful local pop-up shop draws guitar buffs, curious novices, touring acts and local musicians with its retail vinyl section; artwork; accessories; guitar lessons; bar and lounge; and live stage, where musicians can test-drive models, including the Aspen location’s top-selling Grateful Dead custom model. “It’s a one-stop hangout for the music enthusiast,” Kershaw says. It’s been so popular, D’Angelico decided to extend its lease through the end of the summer with the option to stay longer, making for an extended encore. 240 S. Mill St., Ste. 201,

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