Rock artist Joan Jett once said, “My guitar is not a thing. It is an extension of myself. It is who I am.”
Jett’s impassioned words relay a sentiment that is by no means unique among musicians. Their instruments are their livelihoods and the medium through which they communicate their art to the world. For any dedicated musician, owning a well-made instrument is invaluable, and the people who design and build these instruments are vital in helping musicians realize their creative visions.
Designers of guitars are known as luthiers. Two of the 20th century's great New York-based luthiers were master John D’Angelico and his apprentice, James “Jimmy” D’Aquisto. These men hand-crafted archtop acoustic guitars and other string instruments for decades in a small shop in Manhattan's Little Italy. This 1985 film, “The New Yorker Special,” narrated by D'Aquisto and found in Hagley's Sponsored and industrial motion picture films collection, pays tribute to their work:
Ona Coughlan is the Audiovisual Digitization Archivist for Hagley Museum & Library