Genoa, Day 3 afternoon

After my Monday morning visit to Gianmaria’s lutherie shop, Jaci and translator Chiara joined Franco, Luca and I to visit luthier Antonello Saccu.  I never miss an opportunity to visit him and see his current stash of treasures.

I knew that Antonello frequented the local flea markets every weekend, but on this trip I learned how he excels at it.  To get a jump on the competition, he goes through the stalls with a flashlight before the sun ever comes up.  That’s dedication my sleep habits would no longer support!

That’s how his walls are always lined with an endless queue of mandolins and guitars in varying states of disrepair, awaiting their turn on the bench:

And below, stacked like cordwood on his shelves. Like all good packrats, Antonello throws nothing out, as you never know when a sliver of wood or some other component might come in handy.

Drawers full of reclaimed antique tortoiseshell, ivory and pearl are put to use in restoring some of the more valuable finds… …(Chiara translating every pertinent detail, and amazingly well, I might add!).

Luca, his dog, and Franco absorb it all as well (note how Jaci managed to catch all three ruining the picture by blinking simultaneously!).

A rare and beautiful c.1900 lute-guitar from Turin by Carolus Columbus Bruno

Recent harp guitar flea market finds included a rare and one-of-a-kind Mozzani – an unusual style with theorboed extension and support post and more traditional body shape.  It has a lovely carved back, something once thought rare that I seem to be seeing on more and more Mozzani’s these days.  The seller didn’t know what it was (the Mozzani stamp a bit hard to find inside) and Antonello got it for next to nothing.  A simple bridge fix and touch-up, and he’ll sell this locally pretty quickly.

The maker’s name on this instrument is a new one (Pietro Gallinotti).  This simple Italian harp guitar built in Alessandria in 1942 is intriguing in being the first I’ve seen that wasn’t 12 frets-to-the-body; its body-neck joint is at fret 15!  Cute, huh?

Click on the image above to watch a short clip Jaci took of Antonello doing an impromptu demonstration of Sicilian folk music on a baritone guitar he built.

Our day was growing short, so we said goodbye to Antonello (for this year) and made a quick trip to visit master violin maker, scholar, and Candi expert, Alberto Giordano.

Among other things, I spoke to him of a recent observation by my fellow harp guitar researcher Benoit Meulle-Stef. Ben had compared the two Candi pedestal harp guitar photos below (one from Alberto, the other from Simona Boni) and wondered if they were actually the same instrument, re-topped.  Alberto and I studied these for a while, without coming to a firm conclusion.  On one hand, he saw where portions of the multi-piece top could have been spliced in, not to mention all the carving was identical; on the other, he told me that it would have been no problem for Cesare Candi to have hand-carved an identical griffin on multiple instruments.  We also couldn’t decide which would have been the first and second tops, if true (I thought the F-hole top).

Then it was home for a light meal and early to bed, nightmares of our upcoming documentary dancing in my head.

Next: Creating (largely on the spot) the fascinating new documentary “Secrets of Taraffo”!

For further reading: Our past visit to Antonello’s shop in 2010 and 2012, and Alberto Giordano’s in 2010