D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 Review & Prices

D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 Review
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  • From D'Angelico's 2022 Premier series
  • Made in Indonesia
  • 6 strings
  • 25.5"'' scale
  • 14" Fretboard Radius
  • Laminated Flame Maple body
  • Maple neck
  • Ovangkol fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: (/)
  • Middle pickup: (/)
  • Neck pickup: Duncan Designed Floating Mini-Humbucker (Humbucker/Passive)
  • 1 volume and 1 tone Speed knobs
  • Ovangkol bridge
  • C-Shape Set neck
  • 22 Medium frets
  • Grover 109 Super Rotomatic tuners
  • Weight between 6.55lbs (3kgs) and 6.85lbs (3.1kgs)
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 68
Sound 60
Build quality 60
Value for money 68
Overall Score 63
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
D'Angelico Premier EXL-1
  • Expensive Wood
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • Made in Indonesia
  • No High-Quality Nut
  • No Top Brand Pickups
  • No Neck-Through Build
  • No Push Knob or Extra Switch Option
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Tremolo
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $850, which means that the D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 is within the average price asked for this kind of guitar. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 6 strings and Fixed bridge that are made in Indonesia.

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Videos

Premier EXL-1 Demo with Eric Assarsson | D'Angelico Guitars
SAVE £250 on the D'Angelico Premier EXL-1! - The Best Guitar To Start Playing Jazz?
Vinny Raniolo and the Inspiration of the Premier EXL-1 | D'Angelico Guitars
I FINALLY Play a Jazz Guitar! - The D'Angelico EXL-1 Throwback!
Faton Macula with the Premier EXL-1 | D'Angelico Guitars
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Your feedback

Not all instruments are created equally. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this instrument say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

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Is it Easy to Play?

The D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 meets 4 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's not bad for beginners, but it could be better. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

New Player Friendliness

D'Angelico Premier EXL-1
  • Comfortable shape
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Narrow nut
  • Short scale
  • Locking tuners

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the D'Angelico Premier EXL-1's construction favors people with relatively small hands.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this guitar—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Small Hands

How Lightweight is it?

We found that the D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 weighs between 6.55lbs (3kgs) and 6.85lbs (3.1kgs). This was recorded from some online retailers that publish the weight of the instruments they sell.

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the D'Angelico Premier EXL-1's 25.5" scale length compared to other common sizes:

D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 Scale Length Comparison
D'Angelico Premier EXL-1's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is the same scale length used in Stratocaster guitars, and it's one of the main reasons they have such a bright sound. It's considered a long scale when compared to most non-baritone guitars.

Since the distance between bridge and nut is relatively long, you'll need to give the strings more tension to get them in tune. This higher tension will allow for a couple of things. First, you can get a lower action (get the strings closer to the fretboard) because the strings won't 'wiggle' too much when pluck and won't cause fret buzz. This can allow you to use lower tunings without increasing your string gauge, and it will make it easier to press down the strings fast.

However, the frets will also have a wider separation between each other, which can make it harder to play, especially if you got small hands. The higher tension will also make the strings feel stiffer, so bending will require more strength.

More with the same scale length:

Neck Profile

D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 Neck Profile
D'Angelico Premier EXL-1's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

It has a C type neck. C-shaped necks like this have been the most popular for the last years. The reason is that they feel good in most hands. It's generally a thin neck that doesn't get in your way when playing fast, but that also has enough mass to give your hands a comfortable grip for chords if they aren't too big.

Thin necks like this make it easier to move your hand across the neck and it helps when playing fast solos, especially if you like to leave your thumb free while playing high on the fretboard. However, thinner necks are also weaker and will need adjustment more often than a thicker neck.

More for different hand sizes

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 has a 14" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
D'Angelico Premier EXL-1's fretboard radius compared to others

This makes it more similar to Gibson guitars (12'') than Fender (9.5''). It's slightly flatter than most modern Gibson fretboards though, which makes it more comfortable for single notes, bendings and vibratos, but less comfortable for chords. If you like the playability of a Gibson, which can be described as ''balanced for chords and solos'', and don't care about having slightly less curve for more comfortable solos, you'll like this radius.

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Playability compared to main competitors

25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.688'' Nut Width
14'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.693'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.693'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.693'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.693'' Nut Width
13.78'' Fretboard Radius

Nut Width

D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 Nut Width
D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 Nut Width

The D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 has a nut width of 42.9mm (1.688''). This is within the most common range of nut widths for a 6-string guitar. It offers a good balance of string separation at the nut. It's the size that most guitarists prefer as it gives them just enough space to play open chords without muting the strings, but without spreading the strings too wide and making bar chords difficult to perform.

Frets

The D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 has 22 frets. Even though 24 frets has become really popular, there's still a good reason to get fewer frets; the pickup at the neck position will be further away from the bridge. This makes the neck pickup achieve a warmer tone. You might want this if you're playing Jazz or similar genres.

However, if you don't care about the warmer neck pickup, more frets will always be better. It's always nice to have the option to play higher notes if you want to.

It comes with nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you might need to replace the frets after a few years. But this is unlikely as most people change instruments before this happens.

More with the same amount of frets:

Fret Size

D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 Fret Size Comparison
D'Angelico Premier EXL-1's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The D'Angelico Premier EXL-1's frets are Medium size. With medium frets, you can feel the fretboard more than with jumbo frets, but it's still easier to press the strings cleanly than with small frets; notes might change their pitch just slightly if you press hard on the fret. Also, if you need to do some fret leveling after years of playing, you'll have some room to sand them down without having to replace them.

More with the same type of frets:

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 75
Chord Playability 60
Solo Playability 70
Playability 68

Tone Analysis

Wood will have little influence in the final tone of an electric guitar or bass. Instead, the hardware, especially the pickups, will be the most important thing to look at. Bur first, let's see the quality of the wood.

Wood

Flame Maple wood pattern used for guitar building
Flame Maple Body
Maple wood pattern used for guitar building
Maple Neck
Ovangkol wood pattern used for guitar building
Ovangkol Fretboard

Flame Maple Body: This wood has beautiful patterns only found in specific types of maple.

Maple Neck: This is one of the most popular types of wood used in all kinds of guitars. It's heavy, strong and compact, which makes it great for necks. However, it's also used for fretboards, bodies and tops due to its light color, resistance and beautiful patterns. When it comes to tone, it highlights the mid and high frequencies.

Ovangkol Fretboard: It's a beautiful wood that's popular for acoustic guitars. Its tone sits somewhere between rosewood and mahogany, meaning it has a punchy low-end and nice mid-range.

Pickups

Unfortunately, it doesn't come with pickups from one of the top brands. This doesn't mean you will get bad pickups, but you might want to consider a pickup upgrade after some time.

These are passive pickups, so you can expect a rounder sound and a moderade level of output.

The D'Angelico Premier EXL-1's configuration is XXH. It's a rare pickup configuration for very specific genres. You only get a pickup at the neck for soloing. It's often found in acoustic-electric guitars to give you more power for soloing.

Versatility

Naturally, the D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 doesn't come with a pickup selector because it's a single-pickup guitar. These instruments have less versatility, but they're good for practicing. Besides being cheaper, limiting yourself to a single-pickup guitar can help you improve by learning to control the tone with your technique and playing style. Things like playing further away from the bridge for a warmer tone, or plucking the strings fast for a snappy sound can help you become a better player.

Unfortunately, it doesn't come with more options for coil split or coil tapping. This makes it less versatile than some competitors.

What music genre is it good for?

As a 6 strings, Hollowbody guitar with XXH configuration and Passive pickups, we'd recommend it for genres like Jazz or similar. However, you can use almost any guitar for any genre. This is just the typical type of music for this particular one.

Sound Score

Pickups 60
Sustain 70
Versatility 44
Tuning Stability 65
Sound 60

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive instruments are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 is made in Indonesia. Many people prefer the quality of an Indonesian guitar over a Chinese. Respectable brands like Epiphone, Ibanez and Schecter are building in this country because of the great quality and lower price. Some people like to compare them to the ones built in Japan during the 80s, when Japanese guitar makers made a name for themselves.

Bridge

Ovangkol: The advantage of fixed bridges is that they don't require any kind of set-up. This makes it extremely easy when changing strings because you don't need to adjust anything besides tuning the guitar. Also, the fact that the bridge is directly attached to the body will help to increase sustain. The disadvantage is the lack of versatility since you can't create the same vibrato effects as with tremolo bridges.

More with the same type of bridge:

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your guitar. A well-cut nut will make sure it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the D'Angelico Premier EXL-1 has a Plastic nut. This is a low-quality nut that you might want to consider upgrading soon. Bone and TUSQ nuts are the best for guitars with a fixed or simple tremolo bridge.

Neck Joint

The neck joint is the part where the neck of the guitar meets the body. There are three main techniques to attach both parts together: Set-In, Bolt-On and Neck-Through. The latter two provide different advantages, although neck-throughs are the most expensive.

This guitar has a Set neck joint. This type of neck joint consists of using different pieces of wood for the neck and the body of the guitar. Both pieces are then glued together. This is more expensive to make than a bolt-on neck, but it's cheaper than a neck-through guitar. Some people believe that this gives more sustain than a bolt-on neck due to both pieces having a 'better connection' than with bolts. Still, it's something difficult to prove.

However, this type of neck joint does have the disadvantage of not allowing you to easily swap the neck for another. This makes this type of neck joint less mod-friendly.

More with the same build:

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 56
Features 55
Quality Control 70
Build Quality 60

All Specs

D'Angelico Premier EXL-1
General
Brand: D'Angelico
Year: 2022
Configuration: XXH
Strings: 6
Made in: Indonesia
Series: Premier
Colors: Brown
Left-Handed Version: No
Body
Type: Hollowbody
Body Material: Laminated Flame Maple
Bridge: Ovangkol
Neck
Neck Joint: Set
Tuners: Grover 109 Super Rotomatic
Fretboard: Ovangkol
Neck Material: Maple
Decoration: White Pearloid Block
Scale Size: 25.5"
Shape: C-Shape
Frets: 22 Medium
Fretboard Radius: 14"
Nut: Plastic
Nut Width: 42.9mm (1.688'')
Electronics
Switch: 0 Way
Knobs: Speed
Volume Controls: 1
Tone Controls: 1
Bridge Pickup: ( / )
Neck Pickup: Duncan Designed Floating Mini-Humbucker (Humbucker / Passive)

User Reviews

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Your Rating:

1 user reviews:

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Guitarist
29/09/23 03:55:49

A surprisingly good guitar for what is essentially a budget instrument. The build quality is very good and the finish (in my case, antique gloss white) is exceptional. How it lasts of course is another matter. The neck is comfortable and arrow straight and the action slick and low making it an easy guitar to play. The cheap nut does let it down however and an upgrade will be the first change that I plan to make. Despite its lack of locking pegs, it stays in tune very well even after some substantial string bending. The sound acoustically is bright yet warm and compares very well with my more expensive but similar style guitars. Through an amp, the guitar sounds pretty good but I'll probably go for a pickup upgrade at some point to get a punchier sound. My guitar came with a reasonably good padded gig bag - I didn't expect a hard case for the money I paid but the option would have been nice.
All in all, I'm really impressed with the guitar - it looks beautiful (in a classic NY jazz box kind of way), plays easily and sounds impressive for its budget price. Keep up the good work D'Angelico