Meulle-Stef's 21-string Mozzani "Makeover"

All photos by Mike Doolin

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Brussels luthier and harp guitar fanatic Benoît Meulle-Stef has done it again!  Ben is an avid harp guitar researcher with a passion for the more outrageous historical creations - your Gibsons, Mozzanis, Gazzos, etc.  He often takes favorite features from certain makers and re-invents them within a harp guitar melting pot of his own imagination.

An entire year in the making, this is his most elaborate yet.  Ben created it "as an homage to one of the greatest luthiers of the early 20th century. It's my version of the famous Chitarra lyra a due bracci - one of the most beautiful instruments never made."  Using the basic outlines of this Mozzani design (he added an extra point on the bass side), he has created a thoroughly modern instrument.  This is not intended to be a Mozzani copy.  A reproduction would have been gut strung, with only 3 extra bass strings and slightly smaller dimensions and shorter scale.  This is Mozzani re-imagined for the 21st century.  Think of it as a John Doan-strung, Sullivan-Elliott-style instrument, complete with 8 super-trebles and not 6 but 7 sub-basses...all on a fantastical body.

It is an impressive 19" wide, just shy of 4" at the endpin.  The 25" scale neck - which meets the body at the 16th fret - is easily adjustable by a much simpler screw mechanism than Mozzani's 6-point floating neck.  It is made of mahogany with a double action truss rod.  The graphite rod running through the body for support is also adjustable for tension.

The ebony bridge, again very Mozzani-like, is made up of three separate pieces, with violin fine tuners for the super-trebles.  Ben designed the instrument for silk & steel on the neck, with nylon subs.  The supers are steel.  So in essence, it has the stringing and general sound of Doan's instrument (he even used Jeff Elliott's bracing pattern), but with a bit more power.  Ben's subs are always round, full and powerful - and I remember hearing that when several of the players demo'd this instrument back at HGG5.  I don't have a strong recollection of the tone and volume of the neck and trebles, and overall balance and sustain of the instrument - I simply didn't have enough time to spend with it.  Others did, and the reviews were all favorable.  As you've surmised, this instrument is not in my possession; it's actually up in Portland at Mike Doolin's.  Mike kindly refinished the entire instrument for Ben so that everything is as classy as possible.  The color is a bit lighter and less orange than you may remember seeing it.

Materials include French walnut for back and sides and a French spruce top.  Bound with ivorioid/black/ivoroid, while faux tortoiseshell inlay creates the outlines of Mozzani-inspired gingko leaves around the headstock.  The pearl and abalone neck inlays are Ben's own creations inspired by Art Deco architecture of the Mozzani period.

The instrument - in a large keyboard flight case - will ship from Portland, and you will receive our full 48-hour approval period.  I can't give it the full "pope's blessing" as it is not in my possession for full evaluation - but feel free to call Mike, if you want him to pull it out and pluck a few strings for you.

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  • Spruce top
  • French walnut back and sides
  • Mahogany neck, with double action truss rod (operates in reverse from normal) and fully adjustable action
  • Ebony fingerboard with pearl and abalone inlays
  • Binding: Ivoroid/black/ivoroid
  • Custom tuners by Rubner of Germany
  • 21 strings: 7 nylon sub-bass, 6 silk & steel neck, 8 steel super-treble
  • 25" scale
  • 46mm nut width
  • Dimensions: 19" lower bout, 15/16" depth at tail block, overall length 44"
  • Keyboard flight case included

    Price: $6500 SOLD

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