Plucked String Books of 2017

Hey all – I’m way behind, and before I forget, wanted to share this recent crop of books that may interest you.  Some harp guitar-related, lots of mandolin info and other esoteric stuff.  All are labors of love – meaning, these folks who I am proud to call friends and colleagues just want to share their passions and findings with us.  None are making money on these projects, so the least we can do is support them, or at least take a look!


At the bottom is a delightful little 48-page color booklet about Mario Maccaferri.  Written in Italian by Giovanni Intelisano (of the two indispensable Mozzani books) and translated into English by my luthier and collector friends Sangirardi e Cavicchi (Giulio and Giulia, respectively), it contains information and a couple photos not yet on, including a rare harp guitar.  I got my copy from Giulio Sangirardi Bortolotti.

On the left is everyone’s favorite historical harp guitarist, Italo Meschi!  His nephew Tista, guardian of his papers, and Riccardo Sarti (Italo’s third cousin, who created the original article on with me), created this generous print-on-demand paperback to share the stories, poetry and photographs of the legendary musician.  Black & white image quality and English translation is not quite at the level the topic deserves, but everything is here, including dozen of images not yet on my site.  Incredibly, they offer The Last Troubadour: Italo Meschi for just $13 on Amazon in the U.S.

At top is a surprise from John Doan – a wonderful self-published book containing the complete story of the Harpolyre and Sor’s complete works for this incredible instrument.  We all (presumably) have John’s unprecedented recording of these works on an authentic harpolyre – now 6-string guitarists have access to transcriptions painstakingly created by John (with notations and instructions for playing the original triple-neck pieces should one be lucky enough to obtain an instrument!).  I especially like how he tells the story in context of the Early Romantic Guitar movement of the time.  Contact John for info on how to order.

Two great new mandolin books at lower right came out his year.  Walter Carter covers vintage and modern mandolins in America, while Paul Fox provides full details on Gibson’s instruments.  Lots of must-have new and rare photos and information in both!  Available from most booksellers.

And finally, weighing in at 750 pages and 7 pounds…the astounding Vintage Fretted Instruments: A Compendium and Guide to Collecting.  Just put out by my friend Matt Woods.  You may recall I visited him (with Frank Doucette and Hiro Takai) during HGG10 in Dallas.  We were treated to a sneak peek at this ridiculously impossible work-in-progress book on his collection.  Well, he did it!  (and the collection grew a bit, meanwhile!).  Just amazing.  One man’s quest and collection, yet he’s a focused and disciplined (not to mention passionate and knowledgeable) collector.  A book that opens with a hundred pages of mandocellos (his favorite instrument) means you are in for one incredible ride!  Again, he’s giving these away (print on demand at cost) just to share the information.  That’s just what us obsessive musical instrument nerds doGo to his site and use his coupon code for special price (a bargain, by the pound).

Please support these authors, researchers, writers and collectors as your interest level and pocketbook allows.  It keeps us going!

  1. MIchael Schreiner Says:

    Delicious all!

  2. Matthew Woods Says:

    Thanks for the thumbs up on the new book! I have started posting videos playing instruments featured in the book just so folks can get an idea how they sound. I’m still a novice on harp guitar but below is a link to a video of a c1860 Johann Gottfried Scherzer Contraguitar. You should be able to find my other recent videos from there.

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