Have you ever picked up a guitar that just felt right? One that resonated perfectly with your playing style and musical taste? For many guitarists, that special instrument is a Duesenberg.
Duesenberg guitars have an allure matched by a few other brands. Handbuilt in Germany with unmatched quality and attention to detail, they produce some of the finest guitars around. From the deep, warm tones to the smooth, fast necks, Duesenbergs inspire confidence and allow creativity to flow freely.
In this guide, we’ll explore what makes Duesenberg guitars so special. We’ll look at their history, construction, iconic models, customization options, prominent players, and more.
Whether you’re a longtime fan or looking to learn about these exceptional instruments, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship and heritage infused into every Duesenberg.
So plug in, tune-up, and let’s dive into the world of Duesenberg!
A Legacy Built on Quality and Innovation
Duesenberg’s foundation was laid in the 1920s, when two German brothers, Friedrich and Johann Duesenberg, began making musical instruments.
They had a vision to build the best and pushed boundaries with high-end archtop guitars and mandolins. Their reputation for excellence quickly grew.
World War II halted production, but the brand was revived in the late 1970s by German luthier Dieter Gölsdorf. He channeled the original commitment to innovation and introduced modern features like tremolo systems and new pickup designs.
Over the past 40+ years, Duesenberg has continued refining its craft and earning respect from the biggest names in music. They’ve collaborated with artists like Brian Setzer, Jimmy Page, and Bob Dylan to create signature models. And they keep raising the bar for tone and playability.
Today, Duesenberg has 2 main production facilities in Germany along with partners in South Korea and the US.
Their team of skilled luthiers meticulously hand-build each guitar, even shaping the bodies and necks by hand. It’s this attention to quality that makes Duesenberg a premier guitar brand.
Constructed for Optimal Sound and Feel
So what goes into making a Duesenberg guitar? Their unique construction and components all contribute to the iconic Duesenberg sound and playing experience.
Body Style for Versatility
Duesenberg offers both solid body and semi-hollow archtop styles. The solid body guitars like the Starplayer TV provide focused, pure electric tones perfect for rock and metal. Semi-hollow models like the Paloma have a resonant warmth while still handling gain very well.
They also do solid archtop jazz boxes and hollow lap steels. This range gives players versatility across genres.
Neck Profile for Speed and Comfort
Duesenberg necks have a slim, tapered “C” profile that feels fast and smooth. They use quarter-sawn maple for stability and add a gentle volute where the neck meets the headstock for extra strength. The 12″ radius ebony fretboards enhance speed too.
Overall, the necks promote fluid, precise playing across the fretboard. No wonder artists like Nils Lofgren and Mike Campbell prefer Duesenberg.
Duesenberg outfits their guitars with top-shelf components to complete the package:
- Bridges: Custom adjustable roller bridges for perfect intonation
- Tuners: Precision-geared tuners keep things stable
- Pickups: Custom-voiced humbuckers and single coils for balanced tones
- Electronics: Quality pots, capacitors, and switches for dialing any sound
The hardware withstands heavy use on tour while giving artists ideal control over their tone.
Unmatched Playability and Versatile Tones
With their impeccable craftsmanship and components, Duesenberg guitars excel in both feel and sound.
The combination of body style, construction method, scale length, and neck shape results in instruments that feel made for your hands. Chording, soloing, and moving around the fretboard feel natural and effortless.
Tonally, the custom pickups provide a wide range. Duesenberg’s Grand Vintage humbuckers offer thick, warm vintage tones but remain articulate when cranking the gain. The single coils have balanced sparkling highs and tight lows. With the pickup switching options, you can go from crisp funk to searing rock.
Whether you prefer the deep resonance of a semi-hollow body or the focused attack of a solid body, Duesenberg has you covered. Played through the right amp, they sing with character and authority.
The Starplayer Series: Quintessential Duesenberg Models
To get a feel for Duesenberg’s core features and sound, look no further than the Starplayer series. These guitars showcase everything that makes the brand special.
The Iconic Starplayer TV
The Starplayer TV semi-hollow body perfectly encapsulates the Duesenberg vibe. Its graceful arched top and f-holes offer acoustic resonance while the solid center block provides focused electric tones.
With its Grand Vintage humbuckers and 2 single coils, the TV produces warm, nuanced tones. The Bigsby tremolo adds expressiveness, and the roller bridge aids in tuning stability even when going wild. The TV dazzles under the stage lights or in the studio.
The Streamlined Starplayer Special
For a straightforward rock machine, check out the Starplayer Special. Its double-cutaway alder body and bolt-on maple neck offer classic solid body simplicity.
The Special comes loaded with 2 Grand Vintage humbuckers for everything from glassy cleans to high-gain fury. The recessed Floyd Rose double-locking trem provides dive bombs, squeals, or gentle warble.
Whether you need raw power or silky sustain, the Special delivers. Its sound inspires attitude and technique in equal measure.
Capturing an Artist’s Sound and Style
Beyond their core lineup, Duesenberg partners with artists to design models built for specific playing styles. The end result is guitars that feel tailored to fans of that musician.
Mike Campbell’s Silver Sparkle Signature
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell worked with Duesenberg on an eye-catching signature model. Its silver sparkle finish and reversed headstock ooze rock star flair.
It has a Grand Vintage pickup in the bridge and Duesenberg’s first P-90 style single coil in the neck for Campbell’s crisp, crunchy tones. Custom switching gives access to unique in-between combinations.
This guitar captures Campbell’s impactful style in spectacular fashion. Crank it up and feel like you’re onstage with Petty playing American Girl or Runnin’ Down a Dream.
The Gypsy Jazz Inspiration of the Johnny Depp Model
Actor and guitarist Johnny Depp joined forces with Duesenberg for his signature model, taking inspiration from his love of jazz manouche. The all-hollow design produces warm resonance and syncs perfectly with Depp’s rhythmically dynamic approach.
It has a maple top and back with an arched spruce center block. The floating pickup and tailpiece enhance acoustic feedback and allow Depp’s spontaneous style to shine. This one teleports you straight to a Parisian jazz club.
Customization for Personalized Style
One exciting aspect of Duesenberg guitars is the level of customization available. You can tailor your instrument to match your playing style, music genre, and aesthetic tastes.
Finish Options for Making it Yours
Duesenberg offers its models in a variety of striking finishes beyond typical solid colors. These include:
- Metallic and sparkle finishes like gold sparkle, orange sparkle, or silver metallic
- Eye-catching translucent coats in honey, trans red, or trans blue
- Vintage nitrocellulose options for a worn-in feel
- Custom artwork for one-of-a-kind designs
With custom finishes, you can get a Duesenberg as unique as you are.
Personalized Touches and Details
You can also customize details like:
- Fretboard inlays: Choose from pearloid, abalone, or colored acrylic inlays
- Binding: Opt for body, neck, or fretboard binding in various colors
- Tuning pegs: Go for vintage-style open-back tuners or modern enclosed ones
- Pickguards: Pick a style and material like parchment, tortoiseshell, or Pearloid
Spec out exactly how you like your dream guitar.
Take Your Duesenberg Experience Further
To complete your Duesenberg setup, look to accessories and supporting gear. Quality choices here will help you nail your desired tones and style.
Cases and Gig Bags
Protect your investment with a high-end hardshell case or padded gig bag. Models like the Paloma Archtop Case have plush lining and storage for peripherals.
Straps and Supports
Duesenberg leather straps complement the refined aesthetics. Or go for suede, nylon, or microfiber for maximum playing comfort. A strap lock system prevents slips.
Picks and Capos
Duesenberg celluloid picks produce a smooth attack. Their ergonomic metal capo helps you play in any key.
For ambiance and altered tones, Duesenberg’s Tube Driver or Phasers integrate perfectly. Boost your solos with a compressor or overdrive like the brand’s Diamond Drive.
The Duesenberg Family of Artists
Throughout its history, Duesenberg has earned the trust of high-caliber guitarists across genres. Let’s look at a few who have put Duesenbergs on the map.
Rock and Blues Royalty
Guitar gods like Keith Richards, Joe Perry, and Eric Clapton have wielded Duesenbergs on massive tours. The guitars’ responsiveness allows their legendary styles to flourish.
Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers made magic on a Duesenberg, heard on tracks like “Whipping Post.” The brand carries on that Southern rock legacy today.
Shred kings Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi and Orianthi chose Duesenberg for their demanding live shows. The guitars handle fierce riffing and solos with aplomb.
In metal, Zakk Wylde relies on his faithful Duesenberg for Pantera’s heavy grooves and Black Label Society’s bluesy crunch. The smooth necks facilitate his rapid-fire riffing.
For players cultivating a vintage vibe, Duesenbergs reproduce old-school tones amazingly. Brian Setzer evokes rockabilly twang, and Mike Ness captures punk aggression with their hollow and semi-hollow models.
Robert Randolph’s lap steels sing with authentic blues and gospel resonance. Duesenberg helps these artists time travel with sound.
Hopefully, this guide has shown what distinguishes Duesenberg from other brands and makes them worth the investment. With hand-built German quality, family-run pride, and timeless style, they are built to last a lifetime.
From the first strum, you’ll feel the attention to detail resonating through the strings. Duesenberg guitars reward you with inspiring playability night after night. Keep one by your side, and you’ll always have a responsive, refined instrument allowing your creativity to flourish.
The connection between artist and instrument is mysterious but undeniable. For many top players, that perfect match comes in the form of a Duesenberg. Give one a spin to experience guitar harmony at its finest.
About the Author
Team Guitar Top Review Talk about Guitars! We are a group of friends that bonded over their shared love of playing guitar. We all have different backgrounds and experiences with music, but we share a passion for writing about the things that we love.