D’Angelico Excel EXL-1 Electric Guitar Review 2023

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D'Angelico Excel EXL-1 Electric Guitar Review 2023

D’Angelico Excel EXL-1 Electric Guitar Review

The D’Angelico Excel EXL-1 is an exquisite electric guitar that has been making waves in the music world ever since its introduction. It is a perfect blend of vintage aesthetics, modern playability, and outstanding tonal capabilities. In this comprehensive review, we will dive deep into the features, build quality, sound, and overall performance of the Excel EXL-1, exploring why it is an ideal choice for guitar enthusiasts and professional musicians alike.

A Brief History of D’Angelico Guitars

Before we delve into the specifics of the Excel EXL-1, it’s essential to understand the rich history of D’Angelico Guitars. Founded by John D’Angelico in 1932, the company quickly gained a reputation for creating some of the finest archtop guitars in the world. With a keen eye for detail and craftsmanship, D’Angelico Guitars became the go-to choice for many renowned jazz musicians. Today, the brand continues to uphold its legacy of excellence, crafting instruments that are as beautiful as they are functional.

Design and Build Quality

The D’Angelico Excel EXL-1 is a single-cutaway hollow-body electric guitar with an elegant design that harkens back to the golden era of archtop guitars. The body is made from laminated flame maple, providing a rich and resonant tone that is perfect for various genres, from jazz to rockabilly. The guitar features a stunning spruce top, which adds brightness and clarity to the sound, making it suitable for both fingerpicking and strumming.

The neck of the EXL-1 is made of a three-piece maple and walnut combination, providing excellent stability and resistance to warping. It has a slim C-shaped profile that makes it comfortable to play for extended periods. The ebony fretboard has 22 medium jumbo frets and features stunning mother-of-pearl split-block inlays that add to the guitar’s overall visual appeal.

The Excel EXL-1 comes equipped with a floating ebony bridge and a D’Angelico stairstep tailpiece, both of which contribute to the guitar’s superb intonation and sustain. The gold-plated hardware adds a touch of elegance, while the Grover Super Rotomatic tuners ensure reliable tuning stability.

Electronics and Controls

The D’Angelico Excel EXL-1 is powered by a single Seymour Duncan Johnny Smith floating mini-humbucker pickup, which is mounted at the neck position. This particular pickup is known for its warm and articulate tone, making it an excellent choice for jazz and blues players. The guitar also features a volume and tone control knob, allowing players to fine-tune their sound to their preferences.

Sound and Performance

The Excel EXL-1 truly shines when it comes to its sound and tonal capabilities. The combination of the laminated maple body, spruce top, and Seymour Duncan pickup results in a warm, full-bodied tone with excellent clarity and definition. The guitar can easily handle fingerpicking, flatpicking, and strumming techniques, making it versatile enough for various musical styles.

The neck pickup delivers a rich and smooth sound that is perfect for jazz chords and solos, while the tone control allows players to dial in the right amount of brightness or warmth. With its impressive sustain and resonant qualities, the EXL-1 is also well-suited for rockabilly and country playing styles.

One of the standout features of the Excel EXL-1 is its playability. The slim C-shaped neck profile, combined with the medium jumbo frets and ebony fretboard, makes it exceptionally comfortable to play for long periods. The action is low and easy to adjust, ensuring that players can achieve their preferred setup with minimal effort.

Pros and Cons


  • Beautiful vintage-inspired design
  • Excellent build quality and craftsmanship
  • Warm, resonant tone with impressive clarity and sustain
  • Comfortable playability with a slim neck profile
  • Versatile enough for various musical styles


  • Single pickup configuration may not be suitable for those who require more tonal options
  • Price point may be prohibitive for some players

The D’Angelico Excel EXL-1 is a remarkable electric guitar that combines vintage aesthetics, modern playability, and outstanding tonal capabilities. Its beautiful design, high-quality materials, and attention to detail make it a worthy addition to any guitarist’s collection. With its warm, resonant sound and versatile performance, the EXL-1 is an excellent choice for players who appreciate the classic archtop style and are looking for an instrument that can handle a wide range of genres. Although the price point may be higher than some other options on the market, the Excel EXL-1 delivers an unparalleled playing experience that is well worth the investment.

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