D’Angelico was originally founded in Manhattan in 1932, with John D’Angelico creating highly sought after archtop guitars that are now considered collectors pieces. Many of the originals are now sitting in the collections of big name players like Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Drake Bell, Bucky Pizzarelli, Chet Atkins, and Chuck Wayne.
Unfortunately, D’Angelico himself fell into ill health and the company folded shortly after his death in 1964. However, starting in 2011, the brand was revived and reissued several of his original designs, followed by more models in the vein of those WW2 era originals.
Fast forward to late 2022, D’Angelico Guitars launched the Excel Tour collection of semi-hollow guitars with the aim of giving working musicians the D’Angelico Excel semi hollow mojo, on a realistic working musician’s budget.
The Korean made Tour series models feature narrower bodies than one normally expects from D’Angelico, making them ultimately more comfortable, and easier to get in and out of gigs. Not only are they more comfortable, but they also boast specially developed Supro Bolt Bucker pickups, which aim to offer the authentic vintage 1950s “PAF” sound.
Of the three available models (Excel SS Tour, Excel DC Tour and Excel Mini DC Tour), we asked our friends at Sweetwater to send us the Excel DC Tour model for a review – as always they asked for no input in our review, and all thoughts and opinions are our own.
Does the tour series deliver? Let’s find out.
Who is this for
The tour series is marketed as “designed with the touring musician in mind”, though at this price point it’s an excellent onroad setup for anyone interested in well built semi-hollow guitars.
Semi hollow guitars, particularly those with more traditional looking F holes (like this one) are often all tarred with the Jazz brush, but in this case, that’s particularly unfair. Yes, it is a fantastic jazz guitar – it hits all the right tones, and if you want to play jazz, it’s a great option, but it’s capable of so much more.
It does country well, it absolutely nails blues tones, and the humbuckers even hold up when playing hard rock. It’s extremely versatile, and is well suited to most genres.
The Excel DC Tour is best described as a stripped down, yet professional grade version of it’s big brother, the Excel DC. Available in Solid Wine (our review model), Solid Black and Slate Blue, the guitar features the same body shape and ebony fingerboard as the original, but with diamond inlays rather than the blocks of the Excel DC. It had a slightly modified F-hole design, and an entirely different headstock to what one would expect from a D’Angelico guitar – what they call a “Throwback Scroll-Style” headstock.
Also notable was the lack of a pickguard, though we feel it gave the guitar a certain pared back charm.
The guitar also featured custom Vintage Deluxe tuners from Grover with a 15:1 gear ratio, which contributed to a lightweight headstock – perfectly balanced with the lightweight center block in the body. The cream buttons complemented the mother of pearl headstock inlay, giving the guitar an authentic look and feel.
We also loved all of the smaller art deco finishes on the guitar, from the Skyscraper truss rod cover, to the stylish three slashes on the volume and tone knobs – the small features on the Excel DC Tour are really what gives it the mojo you want from this kind of guitar.
As for the electronics, the guitar’s stand out feature was the Supro Bolt Bucker pickups (Supro having been acquired by D’angelico in 2020). These PAF style humbuckers utilize an alnico 2 magnet in the neck and alnico 5 in the bridge, paired with 50s style wiring which promises to retain top-end clarity when the volume is rolled off. The guitar also features a refined configuration of a single volume and single tone knob (rather than the 2-volume/2-tone controls on the original).
Playing the Excel DC, the thick c-shape neck immediately feels like you would expect a classic semi-hollow to. It ships with 10-46 D’Angelico Electrozinc strings, and those thicker strings paired with the 12 inch fingerboard with medium jumbo fretwire immediately feels authoritative and provides excellent sustain.
The fretwork itself was all incredibly well finished. As expected for a guitar at this price point, there were no sharps, everything was properly leveled, and the crowns were polished to a mirror shine.
As expected, the Supro Bolt Buckers did not disappoint – we found the neck to be thick and warm, and the bridge gave us everything from bright cleans to raucous lead tones. Rolling off the volume tamed the signal while retaining highs, and rolling back the tone on the guitar in the neck position gave us that classic jazz sound you would expect from D’Angelico.
The pots gave us a satisfying sweep, swelling perfectly from 0 all the way to 10. Not only did this give us a really useful range of tones, but also allowed us to use them to add texture while playing.
That’s not to say this is just a jazz guitar – with the volume dimed and in the neck position, the Excel DC knocks out some awesome driving rock tones, perfect for those Foo Fighters and Oasis type sounds.
We found the hardware to all be of a particularly high standard. As expected, the Grover tuners did a flawless job in both tuning stability and fine tuning. The nut was perfectly cut, and we found intonation to be bang on up and down the neck.
Overall the D’Angelico DC Tour is an excellent guitar for the money – keeping all of the key characteristics from it’s big brother, while sized and priced to be able to take out of the house without breaking a sweat.
Thanks again to our friends at Sweetwater for the review model, they are of course our favorite musical retailer and if you do decide to give this (or any other guitar) a try, be sure to give your sales engineer a shout to hear about their recommendations and the latest deals.