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

Chapter 5: Mozzani's Harp Guitar Forms: Single Arm
Updated July, 2012


Chitarra-lyra ad un braccio ("one-armed lyre guitar") or Mezza-lyra ("half-lyre guitar") 

In 2010, I finally learned (via the new Mozzani book in both Italian and English) that this model was more often referred to a the "mezza-lyra" - which means "half-lyre."  To me, it is as silly as the term above - why bring "lyre" into it at all?!  Any form of lyre is only a lyre due to having two symmetrical arms - it is really as simple as that.  Referring to this as a half of a lyre seems akin to me calling myself "a half-quadraped" or "two-legged quadraped."  Be that as it may, it's another historical term that we're now stuck with.

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.

This first series shows the simplest style with rather squared off upper bouts. All have round soundholes, but the arm can have one, two or none. The arm and body share a single piece of wood for the top.

This one has a fancy bridge This instrument is nearly identical to the preceding instrument, but has a soundhole in the arm Similar to the previous, but with a simple bridge With two arm holes, and a standard bridge Standard bridge and a rather large arm soundhole

The next series are similar to the above, except that the arm is now made out of a separate wood. All of these have one arm soundhole and standard bridges, except for the fancier bridge of the last specimen.

Same style as above, but with a fancy "flower petal" soundhole design.

This instrument belonged to Mozzani pupil Sara Stegani, now owned by Simona Boni This basically identical (?) instrument was gifted by Mozzani to an ex-pupil: Ester Goldenberg-Bromberger-Ranot (owned by her daughter) The soundholes move up a bit on this specimen The soundholes are still moved up and the outer "petals" are upside down Similar with correct petals and there is no arm soundhole Going back to the one-piece top with fancy bridge and fancy arm soundholes

And now an upper treble bout flare is added...
This is most similar to the common model two rows above, except for the pointed flare A very similar specimen with a slightly more sever flare. This one is very cool - with more pronounced flares and a base for standing! 

This form, with a more "wappen" (shield) shape, is a close copy of Schenck's one-arm models and thus may have been among Mozzani's earliest one-arm models.

Round soundholes and fancy bridge Oval soundholes and a different fancy bridge A more severe oval soundhole and very fancy bridge The "flower petal" design and a slightly fancy bridge Similar, with different bridge and fancy arm soundhole (the 3 sub-basses have been removed)
Labeled "
LIUTERIA ITALIANA LUIGI MOZZANI - CENTO 1921 N. 30" (owned by Michele Bassanese of Cervisina)

In the row below, I am repeating all those above specimens with the "flower petal" design - just to show how Mozzani and his team applied one particular soundhole pattern to the different styles of instruments:

And finally, the distinctive ala di aquila (“eagle’s wing”) model. 

This specimen has a one-fret fingerboard extension. It was bought in the final Mozzani shop liquidation sale by Mario Maccaferri.

(image copyright and courtesy Vintage Guitar Books)

This specimen has a fingerboard extension with two frets. This specimen has no extension, ending in a flat cut-off. It was originally owned by Italo Meschi, then sold to Riccardo Marasco, as shown here. This specimen appears to have a different sub-bass nut (though that could have been changed) and also wider-spaced 12th fret markers.

Another image with a hidden fingerboard - this could be one of the previous specimens.

I have no idea how many of the fairly uniform "Eagle's Wing" designs were made, but the above seem to represent at least four specimens. The model is rumored to have been created specifically for Italian troubadour Italo Meschi (watch for an upcoming feature!).

        Credits/Sources: See Table of Contents

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