How and why
D’Angelico were looking for a ‘musiker-board.de’-endorser last year and I said to myself: If I am able to release three songs before the deadline I will apply. I uploaded Destiny in time and applied. That paid off with a third place! Fantastic news for me and the European distributor for D’Angelico guitars (FACE) decided that I should at least test one or two guitars. The guitar I wished for was the EX-SS which I’ll also review here too but due to the recent release of the song ‘We The People’ in which I use the EX-SD I’ll begin with this review. If you want to check out the original threads:
Due to the carved top and back, a slim rib and an altered shape the EX-SD is quite easily distinguishable from the ‘mother of all single cut electrical guitars’ Les Paul although it shares the materials and color with the classic. It feels different too in terms of handling especially the way it sits on my lap. Almost like the Mockingbird Special X I once owned.
The first strums reveal a louder response as I anticipated which is easily explained by looking at the specs: ‘chambered solid body’. Yep. But I expected it to sound brighter than my last Les Paul-type anyway as the Dean Soltero Standard Special was definitely the darkest sounding guitar I ever heard (and I owned an Ibanez DN-500 Darkstone which many complain about to sound too bassy/dark). The EX-SD sounds louder and brighter but also slightly ‘colder’ so to say. Just like what I’d call the classic Les Paul sound after dieting and dressed up in black tie. I like it a lot…but more about that at the end. Now it’s time for the usual data sheet:
Info and built quality
Body: 1.5" Chambered Solid BodyBody Shape: Single CutawayTop Material: Flame MapleBack Material: Carved Indonesian MahoganySize: 13"Pickup: 2 Kent Armstrong HumbuckersBinding: 5 PlyPickguard: StairstepBridge: Gold Tune-O-MaticTailpiece: StopbarControls: 2 Volume / 2 Tone / 3 Way ToggleHardware Color: Gold PlatedTuners: Grover Super Rotomatic - GoldNut: 1 11/16"Neck Material: 1-Piece Indonesian MahoganyScale: 24 3/4"Fretboard Material: RosewoodInlay: Mother of PearlOutput: Jack Switchcraft USACase: Deluxe Hard CaseTruss Rod Cover: D'Angelico Stairstep
The overall style is quite classic but it implements some D’Angelico elements like the headstock and truss rod cover or the pickguard. See for yourself.
The Cherryburst finish is done perfectly and there’s not much left to say about the built quality – which is a good thing. Everything’s perfectly fine with this guitar when it comes to objective criteria.
One very nice detail is the cover of the electric stuff. It’s not just colored to match the back but also massive. 2cm thick towards the mid of the guitar. Very convincing.
To me the Mockingbird-like feel is quite familiar so that I like it a lot. The neck shape is very nice too. Not fat, not thin and the C isn’t pronounced too much. If you want a very specific type of neck this one might be a little too pleasing. And that’s your fault…
Again there’s not much left to say. The tuners work great, the controls work great…well the volume knob for the bridge pickup is slightly hidden by the pickguard but that’s just a small adjustment when reaching for this pot.
The Kent Armstrong pickups translate the acoustic qualities to the electric realms adequately. Clear and calm would describe their character best. Hear for yourself.
Normally I use 13-56 strings for standard tuning so the 10-46 are way too weak for me. Sloppy playing is more or less the strings just giving up…
SoundCloud samples (using Thermionik amp modeling)
The recently released song I used it in
Conclusion and comparison
If you wanted to you could buy this guitar blindly and it won’t disappoint you in all non-taste-related aspects. You can use it for any style be it Jazz or Metal if your amplification can handle your desired sound because the EX-SD definitely can deliver. The bridge pickup is a little too tame to my taste but one can easily fix that and it’s definitely not a quality issue.
One thing I should add is: every time I enter a store that sells guitars I try Les Pauls. I always liked them visually and really wanted to play one. But so far every single one wasn’t quite what I hoped for. So when FACE suggested I should check out the SD too I was a little worried that I would find out it’s just another Les Paul (copy) that I don’t like. But it isn’t. It’s D’Angelico’s interpretation of a single cutaway mahogany based guitar. It’s the first Les Paul I’d buy. I tried Epiphone, Dean, Spade, PRS (SE), Ibanez, Hagstrom, LTD…and of course Gibson. Most of those sounded dull and lifeless to me, other’s had quality issues (and to prevent discussions about that I won’t name which ones…). I think my subconscious always wanted a more acoustic touch to the sound and the EX-SD got just that. You should definitely check it out if you can – it’s a fantastic guitar.