The Bluesbox Collection

1950's Islander Guitar by Mario Maccaferri

Mario Maccaferri (1900 - 1993) was a renowned classical guitarist and luthier when he designed the first "gypsy jazz guitar" for the Selmer Co. of France in 1932. He is seen here holding one of the original Selmer models. By late 1933, Maccaferri had already parted ways with Selmer, which continued to produce a modified version of his original design. His guitar design was subsequently made famous when they were chosen as the preferred instrument of the legendary Manouche Gypsy guitarist, Django Reinhardt. After leaving Selmer, Maccaferri went into the business of manufacturing reeds for woodwind instruments. He immigrated to the United States at the outbreak of WWII and set up shop in New York. Wartime shortages of reed material forced him to come up with an alternative, and thus he developed the first viable plastic reed. Benny Goodman endorsed his product and soon Maccaferri was in the plastic business bigtime! He invented the plastic clothespin (still in use today) and marketed a very successful line of plastic ukeleles (endorsed by Arthur Godfrey). He made his first plastic guitars in the early 50's and continued to produce them, in both archtop and flat top models until 1965. They never caught on with professionals - who wants to play a plastic guitar on stage? Later models were cheaper and had plastic frets and were geared toward the teenage market. At the time of his death, Maccaferri was working to develop a line of plastic violins.

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