D'Aquisto (used, 1974) New Yorker Special

Tag No 39-1692 Used

#1082, cutaway, in vintage sunburst finish, with original Lifton – “Built Like a Fortress” label, black tolex-covered plush lined hard shell case.

James D’Aquisto, born November 9, 1935 was trained by, and is the successor to, John D’Angelico. Both men are considered to be the finest independent builders of archtop guitars in the history of the instrument. James apprenticed to John, starting in the 1950s, possibly as early as 1954. Jimmy said “I was making $35 a week. I was like the runner: I’d go to the stores, pick up the tuners, go get the tailpieces from downtown, take the necks to the engraver, all that. I cleaned the windows, swept the floors, everything – we all did that. On Friday we put away the tools and cleaned the shop so when Monday came the place would be spotless.” Later, James learned the “rough work” of the D’Angelico building style. By around 1960, John’s health was failing and Jimmy was asked to do more and more of the finishing work, and, finally, the hand-crafting of components. John passed away on Tuesday, September 1, 1964 at age 59. Jimmy continued the business of building guitars, under his own name. In 1966 he moved to Huntington, Long Island and in 1973 moved to Farmingdale. In 1977 he made his final move to Greenport, Long Island. His guitars are considered without peer. Jimmy D’Aquisto was always afraid that he might die at the same age as his mentor, at age 59. In fact, he died Tuesday, April 18, 1995 at the age of 59.

This amazing guitar is a nominally 17” wide New Yorker, which Jimmy called New Yorker Special (because standard New Yorkers were a huge 18” wide). The exact width is more like 16 15/16th”. It was entered into Jimmy’s log book on 9/27/74 as having been made for Matty Grecco, which we know was the guitar’s only owner. It has a scale length of 25.4” and a nut width of 1 23/32nds (just under 1 ¾”). This is a fancy, traditional instrument having the pineapple and pediment motif at the top of the headstock – similar to the design of a grandfather’s clock. The headstock hosts six original gold-plated Grover Imperial tuners, having large striped sealed backs and stairstep style buttons. The headstock is inlaid with the large DAquisto (no apostrophe) underlined logo, and below that a scroll that reads “New Yorker” sideways so that the audience can read it; below that is a stylized ebony truss rod cover held in place by two screws above the nut that is inlaid with mother of pearl; on the back of the headstock are double diamonds – one facing up, one facing down. The three-ply bordered ebony fretboard is inlaid with split blocks at 7 positions, starting with the first fret, and then a solid rectangle of pearl at the 17th fret. The four-ply black-white bordered ebony stylized pickguard is fitted to a black floating pickup with exposed magnets that hangs under the base of the fingerboard but does not penetrate the top, and there are two rotary knobs on the pickguard for volume and tone. The twin “s” shaped soundholes are bordered in black-white, and the top and back in 6-ply, the sides in four-ply. The ebony two-piece bridge was hand carved by D’Aquisto and so was the carved ebony and black chrome metal, proprietary tailpiece. The carved back and, as well, the sides are flamed (tiger stripe) maple and the top is carved of most likely European spruce. The body width at the lower bout is 16 7/8”, the scale length is 25 ¼”, the width at the upper bout is 12 1/8”, the nut width is 1 ¾”; the body depth at the lower bout is 3 1/16th”, at the upper bout it is 3 1/16th”; the body length is 20 5/8”. The neck is medium flame. The condition of this example is excellent plus, showing a few dings, extremely light belt buckle marks on the back, and a small amount of sinkage of the finish into the back seam and headstock seams. The frets have been cleaned by our repair shop, restrung and the guitar set-up.  On this guitar the builder’s signature and serial number are hand signed on the underside of the top. The pickup is of unknown brand; possibly Kent Armstrong.


This guitar is extremely clean – some would call it excellent plus condition. There are some finish checks here and there, including (but not limited to) on headstock and back of headstock, on the back at both waists; there are some inconsequential signs that it has been held and even played. There might be a dozen or so small dings, and crazing and a total purist obsessive compulsive might note that there are some areas where a few bindings are not exactly level with the adjacent wood. All of these signs of aging are completely normal on an older guitar, but we believe in full disclosure and so we are letting you know.   This guitar is actually legendary – there is probably no finer archtop acoustic guitar on the Planet Earth than a Jimmy D’Aquisto New Yorker Special.   Where ever you go, and over your entire lifetime, who ever is fortunate enough to own this guitar will be the envy of every single person that knows it.    It is truly, and in every way, the culmination of the best that our world has to offer.   The only available method of payment is Wire Transfer of Funds.  The price is $49,995 but is it presently "on hold." 

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