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I have always thought that some special guitars have stories to tell, but when this unique D'Angelcio showed up, there was little story left. Thirty years of neglect after a serious accident, left this Holy Grail in a sorry state. Inside the large ominous puke yellow flight case the wood rested in pieces and then boxes of smaller pieces. Looking back at those first weeks reviewing and putting together a restoration plan, it lay there speechless in my shop, no stories to tell, no legacy. It appeared for that moment, to be just another broken guitar.
Of course this was not just another broken guitar; this instrument was made in 1956 by the legendary archtop guitar maker John D'Angelcio. When John crafted this 1000th instrument, 52 years ago it was the top of his model line. The oversized 18" inch cutaway New Yorker was made from outrageously figured domestic woods and after all the hardships this guitar journey through somehow retained all of it's original blonde finish. If this job wasn't daunting enough this particular guitar was owned by one of the most influential guitar players ever known. Rock legend Stephen Stills contacted me in the fall of 2008 and asked me to fix his guitar.
I began this summary by saying that this guitar was silent, that was true, broken instruments cannot speak, but stories did come regardless of this New Yorkers playing condition. These tales that followed this thrashed D'Angelcio did make it to the shop. These stories of rock, stories of disaster and death, redemption and repair filled my thoughts; this provenance was the voice of this voiceless instrument. Over the eighteen month restoration these stories that followed this job gave me the inspiration to complete it.