Marvelous Mozzani!
The Incredible Harp Guitars of Luigi Mozzani
by Gregg Miner

Chapter 6: Mozzani's Harp Guitar Forms:
Miscellaneous & Plectrum Instruments
Updated January, 2013

 

Intelisano's book lists Mozzani guitars with every possible number of strings from 6 to 12. However, only 9-string (3+6) harp guitars are pictured in his book, and I have personally seen no others. Intelisano lists one surviving 12-string (6+6) in a private collection - the style of form is unknown. Nevertheless, 7-string, 8-string, 10-string and 11-string were listed and theoretically offered, if not actually produced. I am, of course, assuming that the neck of all these versions contained 6 strings, with sub-basses numbering anywhere from 1 to 6 - but for all I know, some may have had some of these strings on the neck instead. Again, the style or form of these undiscovered instruments is unknown. Perhaps some were completely new designs, perhaps some were versions of simpler theorboed guitars. 

NOTE: As of yet, I have no idea what the timeline of Mozzani's designs is. Hopefully, someday I'll be able to arrange them by date of introduction.

Here are two styles of theorboed harp guitars produced by Mozzani. Both are 9-course (3+6). Both were produced also in 6-string versions. The "Viennese" model is a direct interpretation of the common wappen (shield-shaped) guitars of the period; the "mezza colonna" ("half column," referring to the shortened arm) is wholly original, as only Mozzani could have created!

"Mezza colonna"
("half column)
"Viennese model" A surviving instrument appearing identical to the catalog image

Like Chris Knutsen in America, Mozzani also created "pseudo harp guitars" - hollow arm instruments looking exactly like his same chitarra lyra models, but with no sub-bass strings. 

While this instrument looks basically identical to this harp guitar version (with a slightly fancier bridge), it is a non-harp 6-string model.
(image copyright and courtesy Vintage Guitar Books)
Similarly, this is the standard mezza colonna 6-string guitar (the rarer, harp guitar version is above)

Similarly, Mozzani made hollow arm harp mandolins (mandolino-lyra). A couple harp mandolins are known, and in the lower-most left image, what appears to be a harp mandocello is seen. Presumably, he made these instruments in an array of sizes. 

For Plectrum Orchestras (his version of the mandolin orchestra concept), he built a full line of non-harp mandolin instruments with different body styles - all the way up to a double-strung mando-contrabass!

 

Mandolino-lyra (hollow-arm "harp mandolin") An imposing offering of large mandolin family instruments c.1930.

Mozzani Plectrum Orchestras contained all manner of mandolins and guitars - all sizes and shapes, standard and harp versions.


        Credits/Sources: See Table of Contents

 


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