James D'Aquisto (American, 1935–1995)
Spruce, maple, ebony with blonde to honey sunburst finish
w. 18 in. (45.7 cm)
Gift of Steve Miller, 2012 (2012.246)
During the final years of his life the famed James D'Aquisto created a remarkable series of guitars that were a radical departure from traditional design. The twenty-four instruments represent the full maturity of his skill as a maker and his concept of eschewing metal and plastic hardware in favor of all natural materials. D'Aquisto also broke with traditional guitar architecture, which had been based largely on Art Deco motifs popularized in the 1930s, by using new shapes for sound holes, a sleeker overall outline, asymmetrical lines, and an expanded palette of finish colors. This magnificent example has a stunning natural to honey sunburst finish and, unusual for D'Aquisto in those years, decorative inlaid maple strips on the macassar ebony hardware pieces. The headstock has a heart-shaped cutout, a motif that occurs on only one other D'Aquisto instrument. The guitar was finished and signed by D'Aquisto on November 23, 1993, and was subsequently purchased by D'Aquisto's good friend the rock and roll musician Steve Miller, who has donated it to the museum to be "played and enjoyed."