NAMM 2023: D’Angelico has unveiled the Excel SS Soho, an electric guitar that was developed alongside Grammy winning jazz guitar legend Mark Whitfield, that takes the storied NYC guitar brand’s 15-inch single cutaway form and makes it fully hollow for the first time.
This is 21st century guitar design, but it is steeped in old world guitar making; this is one classic jazz box. And to celebrate its release, Whitfield himself has put the Excel SS Soho through its paces at the Django, underneath the Roxy Hotel in Lower Manhattan, where he performed Wes Montgomery’s Four On Six.
As demo videos go, they don’t come much better. Mark Whitfield is such a gifted player he even blew the great George Benson's mind when he heard him.
The guitar sounds incredible, too, its pickup voiced for “both acoustic-inspired comping and dynamic lead-playing” with a tight lows and plenty detail in the mids. The thinline archtop features a floating ebony bridge and a gold D’Angelico Stairstep tailpiece, with a single floating Kent Armstrong “Jazzy Joe” mini-humbucker at the neck position.
Volume and tone controls are ebony to match the bridge, as is the fingerboard, which has a 16” radius and seats 22 Jescar 47/104 Nickel Silver frets and is inlaid with MOP split-blocks.
The Excel SS Soho has a 25” scale length, a C profile three-piece neck, and a body comprised of laminated flame maple on the back and sides, spruce on top.
Multi-ply binding is all the go here. The body has five-ply binding, the the ‘Throwback’ style scroll headstock is finished off with seven-ply binding, and you’ll find triple-ply binding on the fingerboard. The gold hardware and Dark Cherry Burst look exquisite, and are set off nicely by that five-ply Dark Stain Satin Macassar Ebony Scalini pickguard.
This has Whitfield’s signature engraved on the truss rod cover plate, so we'd have to call it a signature guitar, yet it seems to transcend that sort of artist tie in.
“I needed a guitar that had a pointed, focused tone, the ability to cut through a crowded soundscape and soar on top of a track or in a band, but also to be warm and broad in a way that I can play it as a solo instrument,” said Whitfield.
Other features include include Grover Super Rotomatic locking tuners, a Tusq nut, and the guitar ships in a gig-bag.
The Excel SS Soho is priced $2,299. For more details, head over to D’Angelico. To hear it in action, watch Whitfield play it in the video above.