History of French American Reeds
Although many recognize the name Mario Maccaferri as a famed musician and skilled instrument constructionist, others remember him for the business of reed production.
Known for making guitars, mandolins, violins, violas, and cellos, Mario Maccaferri also traveled all over Europe as a musician. However, in 1933, due to a swimming pool accident, Mario broke his right hand. This is what he had to say: “…It looked like the end of my concert life. So, as soon as I could, I devoted myself to organizing the production of reeds for musical instruments. This was done in Paris, and my reed became very famous in this country and was played by everybody from Benny Goodman on down.”
Mario Maccaferri opened Masim in Paris France .
The company was established to manufacture reeds for clarinets and saxophones. Through this business came international success, and Mario Maccaferri developed business connections in the United States.
French American Reeds Manufacturing Company established in New York .
The Maccaferris were well on the road to success in France, but as fighting intensified during World War II, they departed Europe to further establish business in America.
Mario Maccaferri develops an interest in a new production material
Mario attended the World’s Fair in New York City, which sparked his interest in plastic. This new material would later have a profound effect on the Maccaferri’s lives in pursuing the “American Dream”.
Machines shipped to New York.
Mario returned to France to check on the reed business. At this time, the Nazi Blitzkrieg was holding Europe. Even though the countries were trying to formulate a peace treaty, Mario feared what might ensue and packed up two reed-cutting machines and two shaping machines and sent them to New York. Luckily, Mario was also able to board a ship just before German invasion.
Mario and Maria Maccaferri run French American Reeds together.
Mario was the idea and marketing person, while Maria supervised production and ran the business. Top musicians used and endorsed the Maccaferri reeds.
The invention of the plastic reed.
The war in Europe presented several problems to the reed business. The imported French cane from which the Maccaferris produced their reeds was unavailable due to the war. After an unsuccessful attempt to grow cane in Arizona, Mario adapted and formulated a solution: plastic reeds. Many in the music industry scoffed at Mario’s latest invention, but the scoffing ended when Benny Goodman came to Mario’s side, offering praise to the reed. Plastic reeds soon became popular and an endorsed choice of many Big Band stars.
Mario continues to invent in the plastics industry.
Mario saw plastic as an avenue for numerous inventions such as the plastic clothespin. Because of the war, wooden clothespins were not available. Mario was able to foresee a demand for the clothespin, and he sought to supply it as quickly as possible. Through the success of this invention, the Maccaferris established Mastro Plastics Corporation. The end of the war also brought about a demand for plastic tiles in new homes, which was another Maccaferri project. The Mastro Plastics Corporation was also the site where Mario produced/invented plastic instruments, such as ukuleles, guitars, banjos, and violins, which were designed as musical toys and affordable student instruments. RCA approached Mario in 1970 with the idea to design and produce the first 8-track cassette housing. In the late 1970s Maccaferri also produced audiocassette housings. The violin project was completed in 1990 and was publicly debuted in Carnegie Hall.
Maria Maccaferri takes complete control of the company.
Mario Maccaferri passed away at the age of 92. His wife, Maria continued to run the company, holding onto the Maccaferri business roots.
Maria retires and the business location moves.
Maria continues to be a consultant to her daughter, Eliane Reese. Eliane moved the business to Jackson, Tennessee, where she continues to produce reeds and looks forward to new and exciting ways to market the Maccaferri reed.