This wonderful image (relayed via Harpguitars.net benefactor Franco Ghisalberti) comes courtesy of Carmelo Piromalli, Michele’s nephew.
There is scant information on Piromalli, who Carmelo tells us was born in 1895 in Cittanova, a municipality of Reggio Calabria in southern Italy, where he spent his whole life.
He appears to have been a legitimate player, as he appears in the 1937 Dizionario dei Chitarristi e Liutai Italiani. His entry reads: Chitarrista contemporaneo, residente in Reggio Calabria. E’ l’inventore di un macchinoso complicato instrumento, denominato “Titanchitarra”.
It’s nice that we have a record of the name of Piromalli’s “invention” – the Titan-guitar! An “intricate, complicated instrument” is how it is described – which may be referring to what was possibly the first “12 strings on the neck” guitar in Italy. It also may have been strung in metal rather than the traditional gut. There are at least 6 sub-basses, possibly 7 (or more?).
Of course, beyond the double-stringing, the remarkable thing is its “titanic” size, which dwarfs that of Piromalli himself. (He seems similarly dwarfed by his suit…one wonders exactly what sort of man was he?). Even without knowing how tall a person he was, the instrument looks to be at least baritone scale!
The double soundholes are a distinctive design element, as is the large tailpiece (a necessary support for the presumed metal strings), not to mention the strange, light-colored, circular decorations.
If anyone comes across any additional information on this unique harp guitarist, please let us know!