Mario Maccaferri Timeline

1900 -1939 Cento to Paris

Date Headline Text
May, 1900 Born in Cento, Italy Fifth of seven brothers.  From a large family, father Erminio (1863-1918), mother Demetria Atti (1867-1954) seven brothers: Aurelio, Attilio, Mario, Brenno, Adelmo, Dante and Ermanno.

Lived in Cento (Ferrara), first at the Valentini Mill in viale Bulgarelli, where Erminio Maccaferri worked as a guardian, then in via Cremonino, 12.

Upon his father’s untimely death, his mother Demetria began to work as a seamstress 

1909 Left School Mario left school and found a job as a dishwasher in a bar. So he tells his wife Maria Centuori: “He left school at nine, saying (…) dad, I’m done here there is a report card I no longer go to school (…) He went to wash cups in a cafeHowever he broke it so many they fired him; then he went to a butcher, but when he saw the blood and the heads of white and clean cow who stood outside the shop, took such a fright that ran away
1911 Apprentice to Luigi Mozzani Became an apprentice at the age of 11 to Luigi Mozzani a master luthier and musician

The workshop of Mozzani on via Gennari in Cento He remained there until 1917, when he was called to arms due to the outbreak of the First World War.

1912 Began training as guitar student of Mozzanni Mozzani supervised the boys who worked in his laboratory and probably noticed a character in Maccaferri enterprising and talented, a lot that after about a year, at the age of 12, he chose him as a guitar student.

Mario learned all the guitar techniques of the Master, in particular the “tremolo Mozzani “and the use of the metal nail al right hand thumb (thumb-pick), which allowed him an early start to his career as a concert artist.

1917 Joined the Army Joined the Army, broke his leg and was discharged.  returned to the shop and was named assistant manager at Luigi Mozzani’s shop in Cento
1919 Listed as Mozzani’s Senior instructor Started touring as a classical guitarist
1922 Introduced cut-away design on his instruments Design which Mozzani had taught him
1923 Opened his own guitar shop in Cento In addition to the shop he raced motorcycles
1926 Attended Andres Segovias guitar recital in Milan
1926 Obtained a professor title from The Conservatory of Music in Siena Award certificate that read “Professore Mario Maccaferri”
1926 Gold medals for handcrafted violins at the Rome and Montecatini expositions Offered several handcrafted guitars, mandolins, violins, and cellos from his shop in Cento
1927 Gold medal for violin at the Fiume Exposition In addition to the gold medal at the Fiume Exposition he took second prize in the Rome Exposition
1928 Release instrument catalog in Cento Guitars, mandolins, violins, violas, and cellos
1928 Moved to Paris Worked in his uncle’s accordion shop
1929 Recorded eight pieces
1929 Built his prototype guitar with internal soundbox
1929 Moved to London Started teaching (Edward, Prince of Wales[the futureEdward VIII] and Len Williams)
1930 Started a relationship with Ben Davis and Henry Selmer
1931 Opened a workshop in Mante La Ville for building Selmer Guitars Developed the free-standing guitar
1932 First Maccaferri-Selmer guitars produced and sold These guitars were the first production cut-away guitars built.
1932/33 Ended his relationship with Henry Selmer After about six months of activity, one evening Maccaferri carefully reread the contract stipulated with Selmer, he noted a clause very small print it specified how the firm could avail itself of the right to terminate the contract in any moment without obligations towards Maccaferri himself. The next day Maccaferri went to Henri Selmer and quit his job.

Could be early 1933 even though Maccaferri says 1932 in an interview.

1933 Continued touring and teaching throughout Europe Maccaferri resumed his concert activity and performed in various “cabarets”
July, 1933 Hand Injury Broke his hand in a swimming accident in July while filming a movie called “Le lac aux dames”.  Also reported as “La Fille Du Lac” with Simone Simone.

Note: There was a film release in 1934 called Lac aux dames starring actress Simone Simon as Puck in the lead female role.

“I realized that from that moment the days of my concerts were over.

This did not upset me too much because I was beginning to find routine a bit boring of exercising and performing.” (Reference needed)

At this time he started developing the reed business

1934 “Unknown Guitarist” Following the injury he was unable to meet his own high standards of performance and played anonymously to make ends meet. Played shows in nightclubs as the “Unknown Guitarist”.

Life in Paris was not easy, Maccaferri decided to start building reeds in 1934. 

He prepared the new activities with the purchase of special machinery for their production

1935 MASIM Founded the company MASIM (Manufacture d’Anches Scientifiques pour Instruments de Musique)to produce and distribute reeds for saxophones and clarinets

While he watched a clarinet player take down his own reed deformed by moisture, Maccaferri had the idea for his production line of “isolating” reeds: cut diagonally from the barrels, to prevent deformations in as the reed had an equal number of pores open on each side.

He associated himself with Pier Rosier, a jeweler who worked in diamonds, and they developed and patented a machine that used 6 industrial diamonds to cut/shave the reed barrel

1936 First trip to America to promote his reeds
1937 Married Maria Centuori She was 17 at the time.
July, 1938 First daughter Eliane born
April 27, 1939 Admitted to New York
1939 Attended World’s Fair in New York City Was first introduced to plastics and decided to relocate to New York.

Established French-American Reed Company

Mario returns to France to attend to his business.  Returns to America by August  shortly before the Germans invade Poland and France declares war.

American visa granted on December 19



Date Headline Text
January 23, 1940 Immigrant Identification card granted
1941 Antoinette born
1943 Lease a building (1658 Broadway)
1944 Marco Born
1944 Plastic Clothespin Developed
1945 Mastro Plastics Co. Started
1946 Mastro Wall Tile introduced
1946 Moved business to 3040 Webster Ave, The Bronx
1948 Maccaferri met Arthur Godfrey and discussed the plastic ukulele
1949 The Islander Ukulele developed
1951 Mastro Produced three plastic instruments Islander, Islander Deluxe, and the Sparkle Plenty Ukette
1952 Selmer ended guitar production
1952 Tri-Bond Plastic Wall Tile manufactured Formerly known as Mastro Wall Tile
April 29, 1953 Plastic guitar debuted at Waldorf-Astoria Throughout the 1950’s Mastro developed , produced, and marketed numerous plastics instruments including guitars, drums, various percussion instruments, horns, woodwinds, and ukuleles
1964 The Beatles US license Mastro acquired the US license to produce instruments with pictures and signatures of The Beatles
1967 Heart Attack Heart attack hinders Maccaferri.  He reevaluated his life and the plastics business
1969 End of Mastro Plastics Following the heart attack he decided to step back from the business.  Sold some molding machines and ended production of his plastic instruments

The equipment was sold at auction.  Molds for the plastic instruments including the Plastic Ukulele were sold to another company.  Sometimes listed as Carnival but have often heard Eminee.  Given the previous legal battles it is not clear who purchased the molds.  Despite remaining close to the plastics business the family has no information on where the molds eventually ended up.

1971 Eight-track tape cartridges developed
1974 Maurice Summerfield and Mario Revived Maccaferri’s early guitar designs CSL started working on Replica Maccaferri Guitars
1975 Summerfield introduced the CSL MAC models deigned after the Maccaferri-Selmer Models
1979 Maccaferri-Monteleone guitars John Monteleone and Mario Started workin on two guitars
1981 Maria Maccaferri took over French-American Reed Co. Mario Officially retired
Early 1980’s Saga-Maccaferri guitars produced  


1982-83 John Monteleone and Mario started working on twelve guitars(six nylon string/six steel string models)
1985 Maccaferri built four violins Three are dated “1985”.  One is labeled 1986 “Ultimo”
Late 1980’s Mario devoted much of his time to developing a plastic violin
1988 Relocated the business to Mount Vernon, NY
1990 First performance of the plastic violin at Carnegie Hall on March 8th
April 16, 1993 Mario passed away
April 16, 2003 The French-American Reeds Manufacturing Company moved to Jackson TN
February 9-July 4, 2011 Guitar Heroes Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art John Monteleone Talks about Mario Maccaferri
One day he handed me a blueprint of a guitar that he had drawn, a classical guitar that he intended to build but he never had the time to do it. And he asked me if I’d be interested in building it. I said, “Yeah, sure.” I think he was testing me to see what I could do with it.I followed the drawing to the T. And I knew as I’m building the guitar that it was a little bit overbuilt in design, but I stuck with it. I stuck with the plan, the drawing, and I made it right to the end. I used my finest rosewood and other materials on the guitar.I called him up I said, “It’s done.” He actually drove down to my shop in his lovely large Cadillac and he showed up in a suit and tie. He was always impeccable, and he was dressed to the nines, and he sat down and played this guitar. And he liked it but I could tell there was a little hesitancy, but he confirmed my thoughts about the drawing, and he said, “We’ve got to do something.” So he said, “Bring tools.”I brought my skill saw with me knowing that we had to operate, like, quick. We operated immediately on this guitar, cut the back right off, cut the tone bars out of the guitar, made some new tone bars, and it turned out that guitar—he pronounced it, like, really good.
January , 2013 Maria Maccaferri passed away