The reason for early jazz bands using banjos and never guitars was simply because guitars were not loud enough. But by utilizing brand new recording and amplification techniques, Eddie Lang played his guitar in the movie “The Big Broadcast of 1932” and banjo players immediately recognized that guitarists would soon be filling their chairs on the bandstand. Pawn shops soon filled up with banjos, and guitar craftsmanship produced lush sounding quality instruments that were in enormous demand.
Two guitars that always get a lot of attention are the 1965 Olympic White Strat that belonged to a friend of Jimi Hendrix which Jimi played on occasion; and the other eye-catcher is a mint condition dark wood-grained Les Paul which Les himself contributed to the museum containing the inscription “To Chris, from Les ‘Keep On Pickin’.”
What this museum boasts of is its wonderful collection of both rare and beautiful instruments – What Chris calls “the cream of the cream.” Ambadjes has a particular love for the D’Angelico archtop guitar and who can blame him. John D’Angelico is considered by many to have been the “Stradivari of guitars.” Appraisals place these guitars between $25,000 - $75,000 on the average, with some being even higher. Quite an investment when you consider their original price tag of about $695.00!
How fitting, that D’Angelico started making his custom guitars the same year as “The Big Broadcast of 1932.” 1,164 beautiful custom guitars and mandolins were built bearing his name by the time of his death in 1964.
At the museum there are roughly 10 D’Angelicos on display, two of which are “one of a kind.” Though it’s accurate to say all D’Angelicos are unique, they all are either guitars or mandolins; all that is, except for these two. Sitting appropriately in a baby’s cradle is the first of these unique acquisitions. It is an 18” tall baby jazz uke. Benny Mortell pleaded with John D’ Angelico to build this to use as a wedding proposal to his wife. The finger board contains the inscription “To My Dearest Rose From Ben.” The newest addition to the museum is called a Cellar (pronounced ché lâr). This is John D’s largest masterwork and it is the only other instrument that does not fall into the category of either guitar or mandolin. Alongside these two priceless pieces you’ll find the 1942 Excel, which was played by its owner Benny Mortell, in the film “The Godfather” in both the wedding scene and on the soundtrack. Next to this is a 1946 New Yorker. There is a left-handed D’Angelico that has been used by Wayne Wright (rhythm guitarist for Les Paul, George Barnes, Judy Garland, Tony Bennett and Peggy Lee).
“Nothing in this life is free” — not true anymore, because a tour of the
So pay a visit to this little treasure where the love of its owners is evident throughout. This is really a present to the world. It just so happens it’s been gift wrapped in