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D’Angelico NYL-6 Special Guitar

Some musicians, fools I call them, believe that guitars built in Japan are inferior to those made on American or European soil. Spying a beautiful, tobacco-burst-finished Fender Jazzmaster from across a showroom floor, they’ll fall in love, only to have their hearts unnecessarily broken when a close inspection of the ax reveals it was produced in the shadow of Mt. Fuji. I pity those jaded elitists. After all, a guitar’s point of origin means little when compared to its sound, look and feel. That Japanese Jazzmaster might sound like a dream. And hey, Donkey Kong, Rashomon and the reliable yet sporty Honda Accord should be proof enough for naysayers that cool stuff does come out of Japan, including guitars.

I bring that up because I’ve been spending a lot of time playing D’Angelico’s new NYL-6 Special guitar. It’s an enjoyable ax to grind and, yep, like all other D’Angelicos, it’s made in Japan. It didn’t used to be that way. When luthier John D’Angelico originally set up shop in 1932, it was in New York City. His operation was like the boutique makers’ of today, producing nearly 1,200 guitars before D’Angelico’s death in 1964. Those original D’Angelicos fetch big bucks from collectors, in part due to their rarity, but mostly because those storied axes, by all accounts, carry some righteous juju.

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