While the archtop hollowbody and its 'modernised' centre-blocked thinline have moved in and out of fashion over the years, in today's over-filled market where every stylistic niche is seemingly covered, the once-called 'jazzbox' seems nicely anchored with numerous mainstream brands offering a pretty wide choice of style and price.
D'Angelico's guitars are manufactured in Korea – as are Guild's Newark St Collection – and they typify that country of origin, coming with a price tag that sits between lower-cost Chinese and Indonesian archtops and semis from the likes of Gretsch and Epiphone, and the higher-priced USA-made Gibsons or harder-to-find Japanese makes such as Yamaha.
Originally conceived in the jazz age by John D'Angelico, these guitars have been reissued on occasion over the years. Then, back in 2011, the brand was kick-started again and today has quite serious presence and a number of top-line users, including Bob Weir, Susan Tedeschi and Brad Whitford, not to mention Lake Street Dive's Mike 'McDuck' Olson.
The EX-DC is the near- perfect guitar for the player who needs to cover a lot of styles or wants to take just one guitar to a gig
Those of you with a knob fetish will enjoy the EX-DC with its classy ebony-like control knobs and three thin inlaid strips for position markers. And, before you run to the hills, the EX-DC is offered in more conservative colours than just our showy Surf Green on review here.
The EX-DC's trimmer depth (43mm at the rim) and double-cutaway shape are easy to manage on a strap, but suffer the ill of many a modern thinline in that the guitar is quite heavy. Still, it balances nicely seated, not least with the help of that elongated headstock – which isn't always the case with heavier-bodied ES-335-alikes.
The neck features a deep-ish, slightly square-shouldered 'C', and fretting is from a medium/heavy gauge that seems a bit 'rock'.Plugged in, we get a good idea of the transition from the hollowbody (with just dual top braces) to the thinline with its solid maple centre block and the single-coil P-90, to the humbucker.
The EX-DC illustrates what thousands of players already know: the ES-335 is hugely versatile! Clean, there's a little more sustain, more 'solidbody' to the character yet the tonality would easily suit your jazz gig. But kick in some gain and we're into near-perfect blues ballad soloing territory.
The bridge avoids sounds too spiky and is vintage-y and clear enough for some authentic country swing and rockabilly lines through a clean amp, but totally rocks it with some classic rock-era gain. Musical feedback is easily induced for those wilder moments, too. The pickup mix remains a rhythm player's home, with dual volumes and tones to subtly alter the character: Motown, funk, soul or far more contemporary effected voices all work superbly. It's the near-perfect guitar for the player who needs to cover a lot of styles or wants to take just one guitar to a gig.
The EX-DC has even more competition to fight than its sibling the EX-59, but it's the versatility of its style that makes it shine, not to mention the attraction of those colour choices and that headstock, which adds a far-from- generic spin to the guitar.