D’Addario is a company that most if not all guitar players should be familiar with. From the very beginning they have been all about keeping it in the family. The D’Addario family was equal parts farmers and string makers. Both professions involved the use of the land and the animals of the region. The family originally hailed from the small town of Salle in the Italian province of Pescara. Donato D‘Addario originally started making strings for lutes, guitars, harps, and violins from sheep and hog gut in 1680.
The Land Of Opportunity
An earthquake in 1905 caused the D’Addario family to pack up and move to Astoria, Queens, New York. Charles’ father Giovanni remained in Salle manufacturing the strings that his sons would import in an effort to raise more capital for their hometown. In 1918, Charles would begin manufacturing his strings stateside in his tiny garage shop behind the family home on 14th Street in Astoria.
In 1936 the company was renamed C. D‘Addario & Son. Alternative synthetic strings became the substitute for the unreliable and messy animal gut, there marking another considerable milestone for the trade. John, Sr. was very encouraged by the growing popularity of the guitar. It had been on a steady incline from the 1930s through the war with bands like The Glen Miller Orchestra and Tommy Dorsey. The guitar was being used in rhythm sections, a clear hint of things to come. Those things being Elvis Presley and The Beatles to be specific.
Change Is Coming
In 1956, John, Sr. entered into a partnership to produce steel strings and electric strings for the guitar and bass. They named the new company Archaic Musical String Manufacturing Co. John D‘Addario, Sr., Albert Morante, and his brother-in-law, Gino Burelli ran the new company. Later John, Sr. decided to merge the two companies together under a new name, Darco Music Strings, Inc. The late 1960s brought another generation of D’Addarios into the family business, with John D‘Addario, Jr. the first addition to the fold. John D‘Addario Sr.’s five children were no strangers to the string business. Just like the generations before them, they too had helped even as children. They can recount stories of nights spent around the kitchen table, drinking coffee and helping to coil the strings and stuff them into marked envelopes.
The company grew more and more successful, which eventually prompted C.F. Martin & Co., Inc. to approach them to pool resources and share development efforts. The two companies merged, and after a few profitable years together, the D’Addarios decided it was time for them to separate from Martin to develop their own product under the name that would endure until today, D ‘Addario & Company, Inc.
Today D’Addario & Company, Inc. occupies a total of 190,000-square feet at its Farmingdale headquarters, an additional 51,000-square feet at the Rico manufacturing facility in California, and employs more than 900 people, each one of them making an invaluable contribution to what has always been a family business. The theory of keeping as much “in house” as possible has served the D’Addario family well. The company owns a printing facility today, complete with color Heidelberg presses. They share the building across the street from the main factory with Evans Drumheads.
The D’Addario Accessories brand has reached enormous success and has been awarded many patents for its innovative designs. It is this tireless dedication to serving players that makes D’Addario Accessories one of the leading music brands in the world!
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