Genoa, Part 4: Luthier Friends

I was fortunate to be able to visit many of the luthier friends I had met last trip.  The morning of the Taraffo event, I had a nice visit (after getting hopefully lost, dumped at the wrong location by a confused taxi driver…or was it me being hopelessly confused?) with violinmaker/restorer/researcher/author Alberto Giordano.  We talked about the provenance of my new De Barbieri harp guitar that he had so generously procured for me, and he let me poke around the shop again.  I discovered this 1925 mandolira specimen by Frances Poggi, the local maker who (somewhat crudely) copied Gazzo’s many harp guitars and similar instruments.

On Saturday, the day after the Taraffo presentation, Jaci went off shopping with the women, while Franco took me to see Antonello Saccu, with Chiara in tow for the necessary translations.

Antonello with a small Baroque-style guitar copied from a museum specimen.  I remember seeing this last trip, unfinished.  Now it’s essentially (but not quite) finished – a lovely thing!

Some of his reproduction rosettes.
Incidentally, Antonello has now retired from his job with the police department, and now has full time to devote to his lutherie.

It’s always great fun poking around his shop.  In the back was this unfinished modern Gibson-inspired mandocello he has been fiddling with in collaboration with local mandolin-maker Corrado Giacomel (who we would shortly meet).

4 vintage mandolas, both tenor and octave.  I looked at each, wishing I could choose one (and would have, if not for the getting home).

Similar desire with this lovely Mozzani mandoloncello, the first I’ve seen in person.

A Mozzani classical guitar.  Antonello is a crack-of-dawn flea market hunter, so finds a lot of treasures.  He repairs and sells or keeps for parts, etc.

He recently found this prize – an 1830 Guadnagnini 6-string in amazing condition…

…with original case, complete with embroidered cover and plaque

Of course, he finds plenty of harp guitars in town, including an original Tullio Giulietti from 1919

A nice 9-string by Oreste Candi (similar to what Fabrizio played yesterday)

Arturo Caimi of Milan is a new one for the Historical Encyclopedia, even if he “gets in” with only a single floating string…

A c.1950 harp mandolin stamped “Mogar” (= Monzino & Garlandini).  As he didn’t want to spend the time restoring it, Antonello gave it to me as a gift – I managed to fit it in the flight case with the harp guitar, and it made it to L.A.

Speaking of mandolins, Antonello next offered to drive us to meet his friend, Corrado Giacomel, who, in an unusual twist for this historical city, builds high end modern mandolins of his own distinctive design.  If you’ve heard of them, it’s because David Grisman and several other famous mandolinists have been singing their praises.  Grisman has helped get them into specialty stores in the U.S.

Note his unique take on the “F-style” mandolin.  These old-meets-new modern instruments are becoming quite popular.  They play and sound amazing, of course, and I saw why when Corrado privately shared with me some of his construction “secrets.”  We noted how his small shop (adjacent to the showroom) was as clean and sparse as Antonello’s place was dusty and chock-full of hidden surprises.

Finally, at the end of the day, as stores were closing, we managed to catch Carlo Pierini at his shop.  You may remember our visit 2 years ago, when he showed us the crazy “man-in-the-moon” harp guitar, just brought in for repair…

…which his assistant has been slowly working on since.  I’m anxious for them to finish, and hope the owner decides to sell…

We didn’t have a chance to visit Pio or Marco, to whom I now say Ciao!

Next time: Last walks and goodbyes…

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