D'Angelico For Sale, NYL-2, NYL 2, New Yorker, NYL, archtop, jazz, guitar,












  A little background.
  John D'Angelico first made a small-bodied cutaway New Yorker archtop in 1950 (Ledger #1850) and a special guitar for Don Arnone (a top studio guitarist) in 1951.   The Arnone guitar had a different body shape from the usual D'Angelicos, with its cutaway a little like a Les Paul.

When I realised that Vestax had a similar small body archtop in their range I was interested.

My appreciation of the Vestax D'Angelicos goes back to around 2002/2003.     I had got to know most of their instruments from the Vestax website and was intrigued that the NYS-2 shown on the web was not the same shape or dimensions as my own NYS-2.  



Here is a screen-grab of the old Vestax site:


I acquired an early D'Angelico catalogue and the guitar was the same as on the web. 



On the web-page, the body is described as "small sized original New Yorker shape 14.75"   whereas my guitar is 15.5" and quite a different shape.

Original eh!      So ....  an original shape, followed by the shape we know today.

Here is a pic of my 2002  NYS-2.   Its the one everyone knows and is still in production.



By the time I acquired my first NYS-2 in 2004, I still hadn't seen any of these early shape models  -  nothing for sale,  no images on the internet, nothing in dealerships  -  so I started hunting seriously and set out on what turned out to be an an eleven year search to find one.

During those eleven years I only found three examples.    The first, in the US, (in Blue) had a badly burned headstock so I passed on that one.   The second one was in Japan but I was unable to secure it due to language difficulties.   

Finally, in Dec 2015,  I acquired this one from Elderly Instruments.      



It is a 1997 NYS-2.     Just like the website!



Now we can really see the differences.

  Here is the current shape in Vintage Natural and the original shape in Vintage Sunburst.



So,  the revised model had an all-new shape,

-   the lower bout was increased to 15.5"  from 14.75" (on the early model)

-   it also became wider at the waist and the waist -line was lowered.

-   the upper bout became wider.   

-   it had an ES-335 style cutaway instead of the earlier Les Paul style.    

-   it also has a flatter bottom (more than all the other Vestax models)

I am not yet sure when these changes were made so more research is ongoing.    

If you have any photos or documentation of the early model, please contact me.




And the NYSS-3b semi too!


Those of you with keen eyes will have seen that the early NYSS-3b had exactly the same body shape and size as the early NYS-2.    They were designed as a matching pair.

You may also have noticed that Kurt Rosenwinkel's guitar is one of those early ones, with the Les Paul cutaway.

Interestingly,  the current cheap Korean Excel EXSS  and the expensive USA Masterbuilt version have reverted to precisely this body shape and style.




Finally,  some more background,  and maybe some rationale!


When Hidesato Shiino designed the original Vestax range for D'Angelico Guitars of America, he elected to use a common 14.75"  body shape for both the small archtops, trying to get as close as possible to the 1951 guitar.   

From the outset, the NYS-2 was a Les Paul size archtop at 2.75" deep and the NYSS-3 was a Les Paul size semi at 1.75" deep.  

So something caused D'Angelico,  Vestax, or indeed Terada who made and still continue to make the New Yorker D'Angelicos,  to redesign these small archtops after only a short time in production.

From my own researches, and discussion with some ex D'A and ex Vestax personnel, I suspect there were two reasons for this.

Firstly, I believe it proved difficult to press these small tops in Spruce without some of the tops cracking , particularly where the curves were too tight  -  namely around the cutaway.    I have heard of early owners complaining of tops cracking along the grain.

Secondly,  I believe D'Angelico of America wanted to offer top of the line hand carved versions of their two jazz archtops, which became the NYL-1 and the NYS-1     The NYL-1 is an easy shape to carve but carving the early NYS shape was a difficult proposition.    Vestax, however,  already had been selling a guitar,  just like the NYS-2,  (a little bigger and not with such tight curves)  called the "Phil Upchurch" model.    So,  by using the UP (as it was known) as the basis for the new NYS-1,  they were ready to go.     Tools, jigs and fittings,  and more importantly,  skills and experience already existed.    They only needed to rename the UP as the NYS-1.

Look,  here it is,  the UP, complete with carved tailpiece and pickguard!!

  Vestax advertising with a D'Angelico sticker applied!
  So, for a crazy moment in time,  D'Angelico offered the new NYS-1  (UP)  alongside the original NYS-2.   reference the Westfield D'Angelico Catalogue c2002.
  Of course,  it was a natural next step to make the NYS-2 look the same as the NYS-1 the larger shape and gentler curves overcoming  the cracking problems too.

So I guess that is how the revised NYS-2 probably came about!

  .......... and the NYSS-3?    Well that got a new cutaway to match the new NYS-2 shape and was re-engineered with a full laminate top as best suits a semi.
  Here you can see #099 and #088 from my collection.   This is how both guitars have looked  from c2002 until the present day.


  If you have any documents or pictures or product knowledge that helps better piece together this jig-saw,  please get in touch.     Just click on Contact .

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