How will this ornate single cut stack up to the dual humbucking guitars I’ve reviewed so far?
Overview & Final Score: 7.8 out of 10
Not too long ago I had my first run in with a D’Angelico guitar and was left wanting more time with these ornate instruments. Alas, I am lucky enough to get my hands on something new from Winter NAMM 2021, the Premier Atlantic, a single cut style build with dual Duncan-Designed humbuckers. Each is coil split enabled, with volume and tone knobs, plus a 3-way switch as is normal on most guitars of this ilk. A Basswood body features 3-ply binding, chrome hardware, and D’Angelico’s F-hole style pickguard. A stop-bar tailpiece and tune-o-matic bridge hold the strings opposite of the Grover Stairstep Rotomatic tuners. The neck is Maple, with Ovangkol fingerboard that holds 22 medium frets with a natural C-shape and a satin finish. While the guitar I was sent on loan is in the vintage white finish, currently only the Oxblood, Black Flake, and Sky Blue finishes are available for purchase. To wrap it up, the guitar does come with a pretty sweet D’Angelico gig bag!
I was really most impressed with the sound of the Premier Atlantic instead of the feel, or value. These pickups are unbelievably smooth, in both a clean and distorted setting. There was some hum and buzz, even when playing clean, but otherwise you would have no idea these weren’t top of the line pickups. In my opinion, the cleans were rich and sustaining, with a bell-like chime that is not too common on humbuckers.
Both fingerpicked and with a plectrum, I had a blast on every pickup setting. The full bodied pickups sit really nicely in-between that single coil/PAF space, not leaning too far into mud or metal territory. Chords really opened up with some light drive, perfect for music in the rock/pop spectrum. It even took fuzz like a champ, holding good clarity and cutting right through the mix of my loops when I was experimenting with the Premier Atlantic. It’s hard not to really like to the sounds you can pull out of this instrument.
Overall, the playability was really great. Especially when you consider the price. There were some slight times where I had to wrangle the G and B string into tune more than I’d like. But there were no obvious flaws or issues that would prevent me from taking the Premier Atlantic on stage. The C-shaped neck was really smooth, and I love a satin finish on almost any guitar. Fretwork was great, and this D’Angelico was pretty broadly comfortable up and down the neck. It definitely could have benefited from some higher quality strings in my opinion, but that’s probably where some of the wonky tuning came into play. Even so, it only went out of tune after a good bit of bashing down on power chords and sloppy punk double-stops, so a more refined player than myself might not even notice.
Finish & Construction: 7
I had to subtract a point or two here for the buzz and hum that is sort of always in the background. I isolated that it was truly from this guitar, not from my amp or pedals. It’s nothing crazy, as long as you aren’t playing super quiet and clean, but it was an imperfection. The finish is stunning, I’m not sure why they don’t sell these in Vintage White anymore. But really, most of the build quality and construction choices are well above average here. And this is really another example of a guitar that is better than the sum of its parts. The Premier Atlantic is really something that would go toe to toe with a single cut from Eastman, Gibson/Epiphone, or Harmony no problem. There’s also no brazen QA/QC issues, which is refreshing because that is ultimately where most guitars have problems. Especially in the sub-$1000 range. But this guitar is not short on looks, with a stunning pickguard and just a classy feel and look to it. I’ll never get tired of that way too ornate D’Angelico headstock.
It’s hard not to be excited about this guitar when I think about the $700 USD price tag. None of the flaws are really worth not buying the guitar over. It feels a lot nicer than $700, something that is becoming more and more common in these $500+ guitars I review. D’Angelico and other companies are really learning to prioritize the feel, playability, and aesthetics of these guitars over the brand name of the pickups or hardware. Which helps keep the costs down but also leads to a more comfortable and user friendly product. You could gig, tour, or record with this single cut, no problem. I think this is sort of the sweet spot of affordable-ish guitars, in terms of price point. This is also where I would be shopping, so I feel very confident in my connection and opinion of the guitar as someone who might actually buy this after picking it up off the guitar rack.
Good for: Jazz, Pop, Classic Rock, Rich Clean Tones, Versatile Players, Gibson Converts