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The El Rey

Several years ago I began the initial design of the El Rey model. Little did I know this new guitar concept would spill into a two-year quest to revolutionize hollow-body electric guitars, bringing me to distant places far removed from my Rhode Island shop, friends and family.



It is always a priority in my guitar making to have all the parts of an instrument seamlessly blend together. The neck joint is always a concern for all guitars. Bolt on, glue in or dovetail. Personally, I choose the latter. “The neck should always be one with the body, cosmetically and physically, as structurally significant as possible. “ This picture of the neck union shows the neck and body formed by what appears as a signal piece of wood. The back of the neck just flows down into the curvaceous smaller body. Every bit of the heel is contoured with graceful lines that pour into the radiused cutaway blending the top, back, sides and neck into one flowing work of sculptural art. It was because of this guitar that a designer/manufacturer relationship between D’Ambrosio Guitars and Eastman Strings began. This original piece was completed for a celebrity artist in 2004, and was almost immediately followed by a trip to Beijing, China to start production of the licensed El Rey line. In summer 2005 we launched the new electrics at NAMM. Five years and many frequent flyer miles later I believe Eastman and I have succeeded in bringing new original ideas to an, everything’s been done before market.


What’s so new?

So what makes the ER-guitars so unique? It’s "The Neck Block Cutaway" This small but integral part of the ER-guitars bridges the gap between real acoustic and electric domains.



What does this block of wood do for the sound of these guitars? It’s no secret that instrument weight has a huge impact on sustain and resonance. The hand-carved ER-guitars put the weight where it matters for sustain, and remove wood mass from the body to create resonance. The Patented “Neck block Cutaway” (Patent No.: US D560,708S) serves many responsibilities in these guitars. Like most acoustic neck blocks, it receives a mortise so the neck can be glued in with a standard tapered dovetail. Unlike acoustic neck blocks, the ER’s block is stretched to span the upper cutaway bout of the instrument. This adds structure and sustain to a traditional acoustic sound box, as well as transferring some of the necks vibrations across the top and back plates of the extremely resonant 5.25 pound guitar. The other important feature borrowed from acoustic jazz construction is the hand carved top and back. These solid wood tone plates produce a very thick midrange for the electric guitar player, able to cut through most electric band settings, but still maintain a responsive and brilliantly articulate sound.


Check’em out

You might be surprised in what these new guitars can offer. Quality craftsmen ship, smart design and sophisticated styling are what make the El Rey, The King.


Quotes on the El Rey

"Plugged in this guitar presents a voice remarkably close to that of a full size arch top. Backing off the tone control a tad transports you instantly to a jazz-approved Johnny Smith /Joe Pass territory, but that’s not to say that the ER-1 warm woody tones could not be made to work in other settings. Individual notes speak with clarity and definition, so that complex chords, scale passages and arpeggios remain clean and articulate."
2007, Down Beat by Keith Baumann


"Flipping into the combination mode, the options for creating a wide spectrum of tones became evident. I found the guitar capable of nearly limitless variations, from the fat jazzy notes to well-saturated blues tones to crunchy overdriven rock sounds. The small, slim body and absence of sound holes keep the Deluxe Jazz highly resistant to the feedback problems that plague most hollow body designs.
The Deluxe Jazz is a versatile instrument capable of fitting into a number of musical situations. Clean and smooth enough to satisfy the discerning jazz player, it also has the guts to scream when it needs to thanks to D'Ambrosio’s ground breaking design."
2006, Guitar Buyer by Paul Alcantara


"Even though the El Rey oozes class, most musicians want an instrument that’s versatile. That said, the fact this is a one-pickup axe shouldn’t frighten rock and blues players. Thanks again to its construction, the El Rey offers an abundance of searing, “low-end” overdriven tones. Whether you’re hitting a 12-bar shuffle or belting out rock riffs, it’s not afraid of an overdrive pedal. The Eastman El Rey ER-1 is just a great guitar. Its gallery worthy appearance, coupled with its astounding tone, leaves precious little to be desired."
2009, Vintage Guitar by Sean Ryan


"A great mystery is the El Rey’s near refusal to feed back. Surely plugging it into multiple or one very high-gain stage amplifier would do the trick, but this guitar can withstand quite a large amount of volume before it squeals. Without peeking at the patent drawings it’s uncertain to me what accounts for an anomaly in hollow-body design like this. Chalk it up to Otto D’Ambrosio’s seeming genius. The El Rey exhibits thoughtfulness and inventiveness in design."
2008, Jazztimes by Russell Carlson