E. & 0. Mari/La Bella Strings Historical Background
In the 17th century, the small town of Salle in the Abruzzi region of Italy was considered one of the string making centers in Europe. Local church records reveal that the most important string manufacturing families were Berti, Dorazio, Ruffini and Mari. Famous throughout Europe for fabricating the finest gut strings for lutes, guitars and violins, their craft also included constructing some of the earliest metal strings for wire strung instruments.
Established in the 1640s in Salle, the Mari family became one of the suppliers of violin strings to both Amati and Stradivari in Cremona. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries the "House of Mari" also operated a metal foundry that manufactured church bells.
In 1913, the two brothers, Emilio and Olinto Mari left the family business to seek new opportunities in America. They settled in New York City where they produced both gut and steel strings in a small factory in lower Manhattan. The business expanded in 1922 with the opening of a second factory in Lanciano, Abruzzi.
At the 1927 "First Exposition Trade Show" of Tripoli, North Africa, the Italian government awarded the "Gold Medal Diploma" to the company for their dedication and excellence as manufacturers. As a leading producer of high quality strings for the entire violin family including the harp, E. & 0. Mari offered both "La Preferita" and the "La Bella Brand" of orchestral gut strings. Since the 1920s the trade name "La Bella" has remained to describe a superior product.
In 1937, with the outbreak of World War II on the horizon, E. & 0. Mari decided to close their Italian factory. During the early 1940s, the Manhattan operation moved to Long Island City, New York and remained there for nearly forty years. Changing locations in 1981, the factory's present site is in Newburgh, New York.
Today E. & 0. Mari/La Bella Strings is still a family owned and operated company - passed from Olinto Mari to his daughter Elisabetta Mari and to her son Richard Mari Cocco Jr., President and her grandson Eric Cocco, Vice-President. An advocate of the arts and music education worldwide, E. & 0. Mari sponsors jazz and rock performance clinics, professional artist appearances and residencies, as well as an annual "Bass Summit" concert. La Bella also supports many guitar festivals and competitions by subsidizing scholarships and awards.
"All other things being equal, it is not much to say than an instrument is only as good as its strings."
A Guitar Manual, by Peter Huyn, Gene Leis, and E. & 0. Mari, Inc. ® 1966