By Chris Gill
Considering that the D’Angelico New Yorker and ’50s Gretsch White Falcon are two of the world’s most desirable vintage guitars, this one-of-a-kind hybrid of the duo is a Holy Grail instrument that should amaze even the most jaded collector.
The 17-inch-wide body, single switch on the upper bass bout, jeweled knobs, and triangular control configuration are attributes of a 1957, or earlier, White Falcon, while the patent-number Filter’tron humbuckers mounted in ridged frames are from 1960 or later. However, the neck, pickguard, bridge and trapeze tailpiece are signature elements of archtop artisan John D’Angelico’s New Yorker model, and the headstock bears the unique designation “Ed Pet Model.”
Fortunately, the guitar’s current owner, Buzzy Levine of Lark Street Music in Teaneck, New Jersey, got the complete story from the original owner. “Ed had just bought a D’Angelico New Yorker,” Levine explains, “but when he first took it to a gig, his bandmates were all over it. He was not in the mood to risk someone dropping it or banging it around.” Pet figured it would be safer to gig with his White Falcon, but according to Levine, he considered the instrument “too flashy, so he took it to D’Angelico to get it refinished.
John recommended replacing the neck, and he also decked it out with a new pickguard, tailpiece, and bridge and replaced the gold sparkle binding with white-and-black multi-ply binding, although he left one tiny piece of gold binding on the heel where the neck joins the body.”
The modification took place during November and December 1962 and cost the owner $350 (about $2,600 today) — half the price of a New Yorker but almost twice the cost of a new Fender Strat. Photos included with Pet’s guitar show D’Angelico apprentice Jimmy D’Aquisto refinishing it.
“It’s tonally different than a White Falcon due to the neck, which feels super,” Levine says. “It’s by far the coolest archtop electric rock and roll guitar I’ve ever seen.”
Photo: Jason Borucki