D'Angelico (used, 1939 - circa) extremely rare 12-string Oval Soundhole Mandolin

Tag No 39-1652 Used

#106, in excellent condition with apparently original hard shell case.

 John D'Angelico is famous for his archtop f-hole jazz guitars -- it is safe to say that he is the most famous independent builder of that type of instrument in the world, often compared to Antonio Stradivari, the violin guy.   Possibly there are compared so often because in his lifetime Mr. Stradivari is said to have built 1,100 violins while John D'Angelico built 1,164 guitars and mandolins.  Stradivari lived from 1644 to December 18, 1737 when he died at age 93.   D'Angelico lived from 1905 until 1964 and died at 59.   Both builders made their instruments utilizing new ideas and designs, and created each instrument to conform to the requirements of the person seeking to purchase it.    In this instance, the buyer wanted a 12-string mandolin, which is uncommon but not impossibly rare - many different companies made them.  We have, in the past, even found one (1) Gibson 12-string A-model mandolin although more Gibson examples may be out there.  It is probably safe to say that John D’Angelico made only one of them in his lifetime – and this is that one!   Being a 12-string it sounds like no 8-string mandolin you have ever played; being a D'Angelico it shines with the intensity of the light from The Great Eye of Sauron.  


This instrument is approximately 27" in total length, with a scale length of 13 3/8".   It has a nut width of nearly 1 ¼" and a string spacing (first to last) of around 1 ¾".   The headstock, which is an impressive 8” in length, has a width at the top of 2 11/16th”.  This peghead is overlain in what appears to be pearwood and, probably at the request of the original purchaser, there is no "D'Angelico" logo at the top of the headstock, but there is a center indent.  The nut is bone, the fingerboard ebony and inlaid with four dotmarkers at frets 5, 7, 10 and 12.  The neck joins the body just under the 10th fret.  The top is bordered us black-crème-black purfling and the sides in single-ply crème celluloid (now called plastic).  The back is bordered in two-ply, just crème and black with the binding outermost and this extends over the ivoroid heel cap.   The oval soundhole is bound in ivoroid and then, half an inch beyond that, a purfling ring of black-crème-red-crème-black.  The bridge is a simple ebony construction of extreme grace and artistry; the pickguard was made as a virtually perfectly replica by Leroy Aiello and installed by him. There is one small hole below the L-bracket on the treble side where a prior pickguard was positioned lower.   The fingerboard ends in a French curve on the lower treble corner and there are two partial frets there.    Its tailpiece is a standard and simple slide-on (vertically down) nickel plated two part device that retains its original 5-scallop cover.  


On the inside of the mandolin as seen through the oval soundhole is a long, rectangular crème paper label that reads "Built by John D'Angelico, Guaranteed, Number 106, New York."   This label is a little water stained in places (perhaps from frequent polishing of the instrument).  This handsome mandolin shows only light normal signs of playing time including normal dings, some hand wear into the finish on the back of the three-piece maple and pearwood neck, particularly on the bass side between frets 3 and 6.  There is normal oxidation on the tailpiece cover.  The back and sides are finished in dark brown similar to a Gibson L-7 – but one can still see quite clearly that the back is made with swirly, figured maple and the sides heavily tiger-stripe maple.   The face and the back of the neck are natural finish    Its tuners are original - six on a squared-end metal plate that is still shiny after 82 years, open-gear, and with large oval grained ivoroid buttons.    This instrument is in absolutely amazing condition for its age and its illustrious position in the hierarchy of American fretted instrument history.  


The repairs on this instrument, including a fresh and perfect refret, were performed by one of the world's foremost experts in D'Angelico repair, Leroy Aiello, late of New Jersey, who is a consultant to our shop and who was our former head of repair for over 22 years.    When Leroy repairs a D’Angelico or D’Aquisto one can often not be able to tell that any work was ever performed on it – and that, friends, is our definition of “professional fretted instrument repair.”   

There is a Fretboard Journal article, written for their daily blog, found at  http://www.fretboardjournal.com/blog/catch-day-circa-1939-dangelico-12-string-mandolin

Our Discount Price is $8,245.00 and Our Cash Discount Price is $7,995.00.

Sorry, this item has been sold.
You may still add it to your want list, and we will contact you if your desired instrument comes in!

Additional Photos (click for expanded view)

49021 49022 49023 49024 49025 49026 4902749028 49029 49030 49031 49032 4903349034 49035 4903649037 49038 4903949040 49041 4904249043 49044 4904549046 49047 4904849049 49050 4905149052 49053 4905449055

Video Demos

Andy Statman is, by anyone’s standards, one of the finest mandolin players in the United States. We find it interesting that Wikipedia gives him primary credit for being a klezmer clarinetist (Wiki doesn’t capitalize the K) and then, oh yes, also as a bluegrass/newgrass mandolinist. We, who have been lucky to have known him since the late ‘60s, stand in awe of his prodigious talent.

Related Links