In 1972 brothers Augustino and Thomas LoPrinzi founded the LoPrinzi Guitar Company in New Jersey. They started to sell stock in the company and soon had a successful business going with 17 employees. In 1973 his instruments caught the attention of Maark Corporation (a subsidiary of AMF); the firm began buying up a controlling interest in the LoPrinzi Guitar Company as a way to move into the guitar business. Three years later, LoPrinzi Guitars, Inc. was producing 80 guitars a month for customers in five countries.
The 1970s were an important period for guitar production. The 1960’s surge in interest in acoustic instruments had stretched the ability of the major manufacturers to meet the public demand. The general quality level of the major manufacturer’s instruments was at an all-time low. Gibsons and Martins from that period are among the least sought-after instruments by players and collectors alike. The void was filled by small shop producers like LoPrinzi Guitars, Inc. These shops produced instruments that lived up to the standards of the finest periods. They found a market and a strong following of devoted players.
Augustino LoPrinzi, after growing tired of overseeing production and fearful of the direction the company was taking under AMF management, sold his interest to Maark Corporation. He felt the demands of mass production would jeopardize the quality of his instruments.
Augie’s philosophy of work and success is a traditional one: If you’re only out to make money, you’ll never get anywhere. You have to maintain a perspective regarding money. “Do good work and the money will come,” was the theory instilled in Augustino by his father.
Refusing to sign a “non-compete” clause with Maark, he opened “Augustino Guitars” two weeks later—and literally moved next door to his original plant. He continued to produce guitars in that location until 1978, and then moved to Clearwater Florida. The AMF-owned LoPrinzi company continued producing guitars with Thomas LoPrinzi, and finally closed its doors in 1980. Years later, Augustino contacted AMF/Maark Corporation to request his old trademark back. Working with vice president Dick Hargraves, Augie finally regained legal control of his name.
Currently, Augustino LoPrinzi Guitars includes a full line of steel string guitars, classical guitars and ukuleles. Augie continues to build instruments full-time with his daughter, Donna LoPrinzi.
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ⓒ 2008, Leonard Wyeth