Spawning from an idea gleamed while waxing his neighbors ’57 Chevy in 1967, Rich Excellente thought of and with the help of sculptor, associate and friend, Mark Dornan created the first guitar ever produced under the American Showster® name. Rich aptly named the guitar the AS-57, and it was to become the flagship guitar of his future company American Showster Inc.
In 1983 Rich Excellente opened up a custom guitar shop in Maplewood, NJ. The name of the shop was “American Showster Custom Guitars”. Throughout the mid 80’s Rich worked with and for local players and even professional players such as Richie Sambora and Alec Such of Bon Jovi to build mostly vintage style Stratocasters and Telecasters. Rich was also responsible for designing a series of what is referred to as “tail-fin inspired”, metal loaded guitars for Kramer, but represented under the brand name of American Showster.
Some of the original AS-57’s from the 80’s are still in the hands of legendary guitarists today such as Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Steve Miller of the Steve Miller Band and famed guitarist Slash from Guns & Roses.
In the mid to late 90’s American Showster® was sold to Billy Meeker and Richard Haines. Working out of Bayville, NJ, the new owners continued to manufacture and distribute the AS-57 while also adding three new guitars to the series; The Biker, The Peace, and the Ice Pick.
Although American Showster® did add new guitars to their lineup, they did not mass produce them keeping their production numbers to no more than 100 guitars – about 25 of each guitar.