Evidence of the D’Addario family working as string makers dates back to the late 1600s. A form located in a small church in Salle, Italy dated 1680 lists Donato D’Addario as a “cordano” or “string maker.” The D’Addario family focused on two main occupations: farming and string making. At this point in time, strings were made from hog and sheep gut, and the entire process took nearly a week to complete.
The D’Addario family remained in Salle until a devastating earthquake in 1905 damaged the small town. Brothers-in-law Rocco and Charles (Carmine) D’Addario moved to NYC that year. Charles’ father, Giovanni, stayed in Salle and manufactured the strings Rocco and Charles imported in hopes to raise money for their struggling hometown.
Rocco eventually became homesick and returned to Salle, but Charles was determined to keep the company alive in the states. In 1918, he started manufacturing in a small garage shop behind his home. He took it upon himself to market the strings, and would often travel to make demonstrations.
John D’Addario Sr., Charles’ son, worked side-by-side with his father starting in 1936 when the company was renamed C. D’Addario & Son. In 1947, DupontTM, the company which had developed the first nylon monofilament for brushes and brooms, sent a sample to John, Sr. and Charles. The father/son duo realized that the diameter of the early nylon was perfect for treble harp strings. John, Sr. developed a method to polish the nylon, allowing him to create various diameters.
In 1956, John, Sr. entered a partnership where he developed steel and electric strings for guitar and bass. This company was called Archaic Musical String Manufacturing Co. After a few years running separately, this company merged with C. D’Addario & Son to form Darco Music Strings, Inc. which led the industry with the first automated equipment to wind strings.
John, Jr. would eventually join the company and, in 1969, so did his younger brother James. For a few brief years, the D’Addario company merged with C. F. Martin & Co. before deciding to go back to their roots as a family-run, stand alone business. At this time, the D’Addario & Company, Inc. name was born and the first strings with the D’Addario brand name were introduced.
The company continued to grow and, in 1984, was moved to a larger facility with a 150 employee production staff. Today, D’Addario & Company, Inc. employs more than 9,000 people, distributes to over 5,400 retail locations nationally, and exports internationally through 120 distributors to 101 countries.
To learn more about the history of D’Addario & Company, Inc. visit their website.