D'Addario - this well-sounding word shuld be known by every guitarist. D'Addario is probably the most popular string manufacturer. While it started as a small family shop, today it's a big worldwide company with more than 900 workers.
The Familiy D'Addario was an old traditions-rich string-maker family that lived in the little village Salla in the province Pescara in Italy. The first time the D'Addario "company" is mentioned is in a certifate of baptism in 1680 that talks of a cordaro Dontato D'Addario. (Cordaro is the italien word for string-maker). To that time you had always to do the job, your father did, beacause where to learn a job better than at your home? So it came that all descendantes of the D'Addario clan were string-makers. So long time nothing happened, they were an unimportant, little string-maker family that made strings out of bowels which was a very hard work. But in 1905 an earthquake destroyed Salla and because of this, Rocco and Carmine D'Addario decided to emmigrate and leave Italy. They travelled to Queens in New York to start a new live and get a bigger market for their products. They started to sell the strings their family in Italy made in New York. 1918 Rocco decided to go back to Italy and see his family while Carmine (he changed his name to Charles) stood in New York and he also started to make strings himself now in America. This was very difficult because still in 1920 strings for all kind of instruments were made of bowels from animals. In the 1930s when the guitar became more and more popular D'Addario began to produce strings for guitars. But only on comission for musicans or guitarbuilder.
During the 2nd World War when Nylon was developed, that provided big changes in the D'Addario family firm; inmediately they started to experiment with that new material. Under permanent conference with their steady customers Nylon strings were developed. In the early 50s when steal-strins became very liked the younger family-members wanted to come up with a series of stral-strings but Charles D'Addario, the founder of the New Yorker company didn't like that idea. He thought that steal-strings wouldn't be a safe way to make money and in some years nobody would want them anymore. Caused by this, John D'Addario Sr; the son of Charles D'Addario founded his own label "Archaic Musical String Mfg Co." that produced steal-strings. Against the expections the biz went well and in 1956 the company of father and son D'Addario were re-united under the name "Darco". Now in the 1960s the guitar has become the most popular instrument in the USA and Darco published a lot of innovations like the first automat to hoisting strings or the first wraps rounded strings for bass guitar. In the end of the 1960s Darco amalgamated with "Martin Guitar" but although this consolidation was beneficial for both brands, the D'Addario family decided in 1974 to etablish a new brand with their name and as a result they founded a firm called "J. D'Addario & Company". The brand "Darco" still exists and produces things for Martin guitars (mostly bass-strings). As the company growed, the premises in New York became too small and in 1994 the comany moved to Farmingdale, where it is etablished until today. The company is still under the administration of the D'Addario family and 13 family members work here.
D'Addario itself sells only strings. You can identify the guitar strings instantly by the big XL print on them.
But string isn't string - there are many differences, all in all D'Addario has over 250 different sort of strings, from bass to violin strings in all gauges you can think of. Even the price range is very large: from little over 3,50€ to 103€!
Planetwaves belongs also to D'Addario. This subsidiary brand has an even larger sortiment; it sells all these little useful things you forget to buy when you buy your first guitar: bags, picks, straps, cables, polisihing clothes, tuner, tuning machines, short all the things that make you your guitar-life easier. :)
D'Addario is a very environmentaware company. It's the first guitar-related company that has a concept to save packing material. All D'Addario products are produced with 75% less packings material. Besides that D'Addario etablished an reduction programm called "Playerpoints". Every D'Addario product / package has a certain number of those points and if you send the packages in (=>recylcing), and have enough points together you get prizes from Planetwaves.