Price paid: $ 1499
Purchased from: Online retailers
Features — 9
Equipped with 2 custom P90's, a 3-way chicken head rotary pickup selector, and a retro-styled volume and tone knob, this instrument definitely has its own character. The top is flamed maple with very nice binding and a classic sunburst finish. The fretboard has the standard D'Angelico mother-of-pearl block inlays with some subtle binding along the edges of the fretboard. The f-holes make it possible to practice un-amplified or have a quiet acoustic jam with friends. The body has some very nice binding bordering it, as well. The guitar boasts a 25.5" scale length with 22 frets, which is accommodating for many alternate and open tunings. Like many of D'Angelico's offerings, the neck is make of 2-Piece Hard Maple with a Walnut center. The tuning machines are sealed Grover Super Rotomatics, with stairstep keys. There is a gold trapeze tailpiece with a rosewood bridge.
Sound — 9
This is a guitar that was MADE to be plugged into vintage-voiced class A tube amps - I was able to get my best results on a low-gain 1x12 tube combo. For some reason, I go straight to playing old Bob Marley tunes when I get my hands on any guitar equipped with P90's, and there was immediate gratification when I plugged this instrument in. Of course, with a touch of gain and pushing the volume and/or attack and you get a nice bitey tone, which makes this guitar at home playing anything from country to maybe even some tamer punk rock. I also tested this guitar out with a Yamaha THR10 to good results, and played a little bit of slide with some outstanding results. I was surprised with the versatility of the P90 pickups, as I had previously thought of them as very limited pickups, so I was very pleasantly surprised.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
In regards to pick-up height, string action and intonation, everything was spot on straight out of the hardshell case the guitar shipped in. The guitar was actually almost in tune out of the box, and with very minor tweaks to the tuning it was ready to go. D'Angelico actually loaned me 4 of their models to review, and every single instrument was immaculate in regards to the finish, and they were set up ready to play out of the boxes. All the hardware on the EX-59 is gold, except for the cream knobs and pickup covers and the silver truss rod cover. This model only comes in the flame maple with natural sunburst finish.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The EX-59 is an archtop, so it isn't indestructible. In an ideal situation, the guitar would be stored in a humidity and temperature-controlled environment, but any acoustic or hollow body instrument should, ideally, be stored like this. I don't see any problems storing this instrument in the hardshell case it ships with, which it should also do any future traveling in. The electronics on all of these D'Angelico instruments use Switchcraft USA components, which I trust via their reputation. The actual construction on the guitars I trust because you can feel in your hands that these guitars were put together with a high level of craftsmanship, and D'Angelico has existed as a high quality guitar manufacturer for a very long time.
Overall Impression — 8
The EX-59 is a guitar for the guitarist who thinks they have everything, because until you have an archtop loaded with P90's, then you have a hole in your arsenal. What this guitar does, it does very well - and it is a truly beautiful instrument, to boot. As usual with D'Angelico instruments, it brings a "classy" touch to the table. The tuning is super stable (kudos to these sealed Grover tuners) and while the neck isn't super slim it is definitely comfortable to play. The P90's on this particular instrument are great, as they aren't so hot you can't dial them down, but not so timid you can't make them growl a little bit.