Rhode Island: It's All in Our Backyard

We are the music-makers

November 6, 2013 by lauren

IMG_8515Otto D’Ambrosio began carving wood at the ripe-old age of eight when his parents presented him with a block of wood for Christmas and a knife from the kitchen drawer. From that point on he was hooked. By the time he was 13, Otto was working at Mandolin Brothers and learning the craft of “turning wood into music.” In 1998, he left New York for Rhode Island to work at Guild Guitars in Westerly and expanded his knowledge in repairing, rebuilding and crafting guitars. Three years later, Otto opened D’Ambrosio Guitars and started making fine guitars by hand.

In an old Pawtucket mill built in 1919, Otto handcrafts hollow archtop guitars and repairs priceless vintage instruments for clients across the globe. His most widely distributed instrument is an electric archtop guitar with a patented technology that provides superior feedback rejection (in other words, it prevents the ear piercing screech that occurs when an electric guitar is faced to the amplifier). The El Rey Guitar, designed for Eastman Guitars by Otto, is sold nationwide and endorsed by many artists such as Mark Cuttler and Jim Robitaille.otto2

Sketches for custom concept guitars line the old mill walls of D’Ambrosio’s finishing room. People across the country send Otto requests to bring their creative concept to life in a handmade, one-of-a-kind instrument. He is currently working on several projects including a guitar for Jeff Bridges (a.k.a The Dude) that is inspired by his charitable work with No Kid Hungry.

Custom pieces often require collaboration with other designers and artists. Fortunately for Otto he doesn’t have to look far for talent noting “that access to the craftsmanship and design expertise found in Rhode Island is a huge benefit of operating a business here” in Our Backyard.

There is certainly a unique chemistry that exists between the music maker, materials and player. To learn more about the tools, relationships and skills involved in the process that takes place right here in Our Backyard check out the documentary Guitar #1711 featuring Otto and D’Amborsio Guitars.