Archtop Guitar

Maker: James D'Aquisto (American, New York 1935–1995 Corona, California)

Date: 1993

Geography: Greenport, New York, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Spruce, maple, ebony

Dimensions: Width: 17 in. (43.2 cm)

Classification: Chordophone-Lute-plucked-fretted

Credit Line: Gift of Steve Miller, 2012

Accession Number: 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 is a Centura Deluxe model with the serial number 1249 and was signed by D'Aquisto on November 23, 1993. It was purchased by D'Aquisto's good friend, the rock and roll musician Steve Miller, who donated it to the museum to be "played and enjoyed."