Otto D’Ambrosio

Otto was eight years old when his parents gave him a vise and a piece of balsa wood for Christmas.  Using a kitchen paring knife, he spent the next month carving that wood.  Later, he found an album of old tintype images of many ivory sculptures that were hand-carved by his great-grandfather and namesake, Otto Richter.  He quickly and made the connection between his ancestor’s craftsmanship and his own drive to create with his hands.   Otto had indeed found his calling.

He started working for the renowned Mandolin Brothers guitar store in Staten Island, New York, at the age of thirteen where he would immerse himself in every aspect of the construction and repair of all fretted instruments and where his love of the archtop guitar was clearly formed.  He later apprenticed for luthiers Flip Scipio and Carl Thompson and would go on to apprentice for John Monteleone, working not only on John’s instruments but also gaining further skills to all aspects of repair and restoration of D’Angelico and other vintage guitars.  John’s influence is clearly found in Otto’s own contemporary designs.

He then spent several years at the Guild Guitar Company in Rhode Island where he was able to experiment with building concepts and expand his knowledge of wood selection/graduations, alternative bracing layouts and string projection intricacies.

In 2001, Otto opened his own shop.  Today, he builds exquisite instruments that marry contemporary forms with classic aesthetics to create perfect harmony in look, feel and sound.   His guitars have been played by some of the world’s most talented artists including John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen, John Scofield, Julian Lage, Jimmy Vivino and Jakob Dylan.  He’s been entrusted to repair vintage instruments that are literally irreplaceable.  Among many restorations was a 1956 D’Angelico New Yorker belonging to Stephen Stills in 2008.

After more than 30 years in the industry, he is still passionate about his work and is grateful to his mentors for sharing their skills, their stories and their secrets.  Working closely with his clients he is able to deliver unique personal works of art that perform and sound exceptional.  Otto currently builds a small number of limited D’Ambrosio instruments to be sold directly to private buyers.  He is also Chief Engineer at the Eastman Guitar Company where he is responsible for creating and developing all aspects of the Eastman guitar brand. 

Take your time perusing through the glorious photos below.