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D’Angelico Premier Bedford SH review

This vintage-inspired offset might look like a guitar from a bygone era but with its super-cool aesthetic and unorthodox pickup configuration it is a tool that's more than relevant for today's player

  • £699
  • €849
  • $899
D'Angelico Premier Bedford SH
(Image: © Future / Phil Barker)

MusicRadar Verdict

Classy looks go hand-in-hand with classy tones on a semi-hollow electric that is evocative of the guitar-making of yesteryear but is well and truly a 21st-century original. Previously only available as a Deluxe Limited Edition model, we’re more than happy to see it in the sensibly priced Premier lineup.

Pros

  • +

    Stunning looks, offset cool with vintage kudos.

  • +

    Wide range of tones from mini 'bucker and dual single-coils.

  • +

    Vibrato just adds to the fun.

  • +

    Price is a fair deal.

Cons

  • -

    It's quite heavy.

  • -

    The plain maple finish on the neck looks strange.

D’Angelico Premier Bedford SH: What is it?

The D’Angelico Premier Bedford SH is the sort of electric guitar that, if you were to first lay eyes on it across a dimly lit room you might get the impression it’s a pawn shop curio. 

It has the offset waist, an elongated f-hole that extends across two-thirds of the upper half, a vintage-style vibrato and a lesser-spotted pickup configuration that suggests the eccentricities of a Teisco-esque build.

But hit the light switch and the signature D’Angelico Empire State bling comes into sight. There are the stair-step tuners, and the art deco look of the truss rod cover that looks like William Van Alen had some design input.

The decorative flourishes are as elegant as F Scott Fitzgerald’s prose, with the languid contours of the aforementioned f-hole echoed in a curlicue tortoiseshell pickguard. We have played, tested and enjoyed a solid-bodied D’Angelico Premier Bedford before. 

D'Angelico Premier Bedford SH

(Image credit: D'Angelico)

It marked itself as a versatile and classy alternative to the Fender/Gibson paradigm of electric guitar design. Its semi-hollow kin might just be more versatile still, with a Duncan Designed MH-102 mini-humbucker in the bridge accompanied by a pair of Duncan Designed TE-103 single-coil pickups in middle and neck positions. These are all finished in chrome covers to match the hardware and are selected via a five-way blade switch, and controlled by volume and tone knobs.

Fundamentally, that offset body comprises mahogany on the top, back and sides, with a satin-smooth set-through maple neck. 

To achieve that satin-smooth neck, D’Angelico has left the finish off, which looks a bit weird from the back – but who cares how it looks from the back? Face on, it really is the looker, with white pearloid block inlays on the 14” radius ovangkol fingerboard. 

D'Angelico Premier Bedford SH

(Image credit: D'Angelico)

D’Angelico Premier Bedford SH: Performance and verdict

The Bedford SH arrives out of the box with an inviting set-up. Okay, there might be the odd groan of effort when taking it out of said box – it weighs in at a corpulent 8.4lb, which is quite hefty for a semi-hollow, at least until we remembered Epiphone’s 9lb Emily Wolfe Signature Sheraton. Still, get yourself a thick guitar strap and you’re golden.

Elsewhere, the dimensions are a little more kind, no more so than on the neck, which measures a svelte 20mm at the 1st fret, and 22mm at the 12th. The 24.75” scale length lends it a Gibson-esque quality but the 14” fingerboard radius is flatter than the 12” you’d find on a Gibson electric. 

D’Angelico has made the Bedford SH available with a vibrato or a tune-o-matic style tailpiece. With the vibrato, your finish options are limited to the Sky Blue of our review model. It is in the same tonality as Daphne Blue and complements the tortoiseshell pickguard nicely. But D'Angelico has spec'd up some Guitar Center exclusives in Ice Blue Metallic, Fiesta Red and Champagne – all three of which looks stunning, as far as you can tell from online pictures.

As we’d hope from a semi-hollow, the Bedford SH is resonant enough to play acoustically and have a little fun, which is always a good omen for what happens when you eventually plug into a guitar amp. The trio of Duncan Designed pickups – yes, Seymour Duncan, in case you were in doubt – make this electric something of an unorthodox treat.

Also consider

D'Angelico Bedford

(Image credit: D'Angelico)

D’Angelico Premier Bedford
The solid-bodied hardtail version might be a little more orthodox but it similarly arrives with D'Angelico's classy old-world charm and has a similarly versatile set of sounds from its pickup and switching options.

Guild Starfire I Jet 90
The Starfire I Jet 90 is a guitar that will enhance your level of cool long before you play your first chord on it, but once you do, you'll surely win friends and influence people with those feisty P-90 tones and have a lot of fun along the way.

Mini-humbuckers can be a real surprise, yielding a brighter tone from a smaller footprint than your regular humbucker, but offering a more mellow treble response than the single-coils. They clean up nicely when you roll the tone back, but as you move that five-way blade selector the tones keep coming – and they’re compelling. 

You can make this sound a little like a Telecaster, one minute, then, with the mini ‘buckers through an overdriven amp, there’s a hint of the Riviera about it, or big rough and ready rock tones that have enough chime to keep the definition in your chord work. Always a good thing. After all, you’ve gone to the bother of learning the chord; you want everyone to hear every note.

The vibrato is fit for purpose, again, adding more usefulness to a guitar whose smart looks belie its position as an instrument that could see you through a rock, blues or jazz set. Just park yourself on the neck pickup and adjust your EQ. But with that chime and those looks, it could similarly be pressed into the service of an indie rock band. It’s got a visual identity all right. How you make it sound is up to you, and D’Angelico is generous with the options.

MusicRadar verdict: Classy looks go hand-in-hand with classy tones on a semi-hollow electric that is evocative of the guitar-making of yesteryear, but is well and truly a 21st-century original. Previously only available as a Deluxe Limited Edition model, we’re more than happy to see it in the sensibly priced Premier lineup.

D’Angelico Premier Bedford SH: The web says

"The mini ’bucker has a chimey snarl that can take you into a lot of desirable tonal locales, including ragged Neil Young tones and sweeter crunch when the volume is dialled back. Its brightness pairs well with the single coils, and the second and fourth positions prove their worth for cleaner, mellower waters."
Total Guitar (opens in new tab)

D’Angelico Premier Bedford SH: Hands-on demos

D'Angelico

D’Angelico Premier Bedford SH: Specifications

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)
  • BODY: Mahogany top back and sides
  • NECK: Maple
  • SCALE: 628.65mm (24.75”)
  • FINGERBOARD: Ovangkol, 14” radius
  • FRETS: 22
  • PICKUPS: Duncan Designed TE-103 neck and middle, Duncan Designed MH-102 bridge
  • CONTROLS: Volume, Tone, 5-way blade selector 
  • HARDWARE: Grover Super Rotomatic tuners, 6-point tremolo
  • LEFT-HANDED: No
  • GIG BAG: Included
  • FINISH: Sky Blue (reviewed), Oxblood and Black Flake available with tune-o-matic bridge
  • CONTACT: D'Angelico (opens in new tab)

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