You’ve probably heard the expression,...
Circa 1954 Maccaferri Plastic Guitar Catalog
posted by Michael John Simmons
Depending on the instrument you play, the name Mario Maccaferri probably means different things to you. If you play jazz guitar, you know Maccaferri as the man who designed the guitars for Selmer in the 1930s that became the instrument of choice for Django Reinhardt and the Gypsy guitarists who followed in his wake. Harp guitarists know him as the protégé of Luigi Mozzani, the visionary Italian luthier and composer who created a number of wild instruments in the early part of the 20th century. And ukulele players know him as the man who invented the plastic ukulele.
This catalog from around 1954 shows one of Maccaferri’s lesser known efforts. After the success of the plastic ukulele in the early 1950s, Maccaferri began experimenting with making guitars out of Dow Styron. The plastic guitars echoed the body shape of his Selmer designs and even the small details like the Art Deco inspired bridges showed a desire to make something that was more than a toy. The guitars actually sounded much better than you would think but they were too radical for the era and they sold poorly. Maccaferri made a few thousand before stopping production and going back to making the item that made his fortune: the plastic clothespin.
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