Guitar Heroes and the holy grail of the American Mandolin..


James D’Aquisto was one of the iconic makers of the American archtop guitar. In 1971 he created his own design of mandolin applying the proven aesthetics of the New Yorker archtop with the basic principles developed by the Gibson Company. This example was the first, made in 1971 for Lydia Merryman, but the front was too thin and shortly after construction it cracked. The fittings were scavenged from it and put into a second instrument. D’Aquisto kept the carcass until his death in 1995, since he always had the intention of building more, but was kept busy with high demand for his guitars. The resulting paradox is that of three mandolins that he made, this first example is the fourth. When we discovered the instrument, it had been put back to playing condition with cheap generic fittings. It was acquired by an American institution and was restored by d’Aquisto’s protege, John Monteleone. In 2011 it was one of the centrepieces of the Guitar Heroes exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.