Mario Maccaferri (1900-1993) enjoyed successful careers as a concert guitarist, a luthier (builder of stringed instruments), and as a plastics innovator and businessman.
Maccaferri was apprenticed to the Italian luthier Luigi Mozzani when he was eleven years old, and was trained in classical guitar at the Conservatory in Sienna starting 5 years later, though he did not leave the apprenticeship to Mozzani until he was 24 years old.
In the midst of a successful concert career Maccaferri had little time for guitar building, but in 1929 he was employed by Selmer, an English guitar manufacturer, overseeing the building of a guitar he had designed. Maccaferri had a productive (though short lived) career at Selmer, designing and producing several highly recognizable and innovative guitars. The Selmer Maccaferris were readily identifiable by their level, uncurved body cutaways and either a large D shaped or small oval shaped sound hole.
After his concert career was ended by a swimming accident that rendered his right hand partially unusable and he left Selmer over a contract dispute, Maccaferri started a business of his own in France, where he had previously been supervising at a Selmer factory.
After a successful but relatively uneventful and brief time in France he moved his business to New York to avoid the war in Europe in 1939. Some of his major products at this point were instrument reeds, but when his sources of cane for making reeds dried up he was forced to find an alternative. The result of this predicament was the introduction of Maccaferri's innovative plastic reeds, which marked the beginning of his most significant and long lasting career as a plastics innovator.
His company produced a plethora of plastic products, clothespins among them, but Maccaferri himself kept his mind on luthierie and jumped at the opportunity to produce instruments again when a professional ukulele player assured he could sell a million plastic ukuleles that Maccaferri had designed after being shown a prototype. The plastic ukuleles turned out to be wildly successful, selling 9 million between 1949 and 1969.
Following the popular plastic ukuleles Maccaferri designed and produced several models of plastic guitars, though they did not share the success of their predecessors. Manufacturing of the plastic Maccaferri guitars ceased in the late 1960's, though he continued to have some small involvement in the world of guitar manufacturing. Mario Maccaferri died in 1993, while working on a plastic violin project, leaving behind a long and productive career, or rather many productive careers.