In Search of Genoese Harp Guitars, Part 6: Antonello Saccu

Upon leaving the Paganini Conservatory and Taraffo’s harp guitar, I was simultaneously exhilarated and exhausted.  What to do next to wind down on Day 3?

Wind down?  Hardly!  Franco had one last surprise for the day – a visit with Antonello Saccu, the luthier who had built 2 Gazzo harp guitar copies for Beppe Gambetta.  I had many questions for the amiable Antonello, and had to rely almost fully on our translator Sylvia, who gamely communicated for us back and forth for a good hour or two!

Antonello is held is high regard as a self-made artisan, and I could see why.  He is completely self-taught and uses only small hand tools and “found” materials – authentic components scavenged from flea markets – for his restoration and modern recreations.  He is also a pack rat, with all manner of scraps of instruments and history piled around his small workshop.  My kind of guy!

We learned that he works for the police department in the machine shop and is soon to retire, able to then pursue his passion full time.

Franco and I heading up the stairs to Antonello’s shop…not that big circular building, but the strange concrete bunker-like building in front.

Antonello showing two of his recent historical mandolin recreations.  I don’t recall what these were patterned after.

A work of art in every way, this will appear completely authentic when completed.

A vintage prize that he fully restored

His vast array of tools are similarly flea market finds

A friend is working on this old Candi/Gazzo-inspired harp guitar

Nothing too exciting, but it gives us a new Genoese maker (a pair, actually) for the encyclopedia

Here’s another new maker: Antonello saved the label on a scrap of back from an instrument similar to the above – I told you he saves everything!

More salvage: a neck from an old kontragitarre

And a nearly complete kontra – to use for wood or parts

This is an original mold for a Gazzo’s 6-string guitar.
The original owner had the mold for a full size harp guitar like Taraffo’s as well, unfortunately before Antonello found him.

Antonello is clearly tickled with this – the original pedestal carving adornment for Beppe’s Gazzo reproduction, a play on the original.  Beppe opted for traditional…

At one point, Antonello mentioned meeting another harp guitarist, “Somebody Dyer, who played his great-grandfather’s instrument”…he was close!  We of course knew who it was before he brought out the preserved poster.

Another amazing Genoese adventure, but now it was truly time to call it a day.

Next week: A relaxing “day off”…and, yes – Jaci’s doors!

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