View Full Version : VIRZI - different effect on A and F hole Mandos !?

Dec-20-2005, 2:24pm
while sitting on my hometrainer I watched the Tony Williamson video where he compares Gibson A4 , F4 and F5 with-and-without Virzis.

So to my uneducated ear the oval hole mandos sounded better with Virzi while the F5 sounded better without... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Curious what all you experts think ....

Anybody know how much Virzis where installed ?

Dec-20-2005, 7:37pm
Not sure about the history of them. But some top end builders still install them.

Ken Waltham
Dec-23-2005, 2:19pm
I think they definately do sound different in oval holes or F5 instruments.
I own original examples of both, and have had several of each in the past.
My opinion, based on this ownership, is that I find them very desirable in oval hole instruments, it seems to focus the sound more, and make them a little "richer" in tonality.
Same applies to the F5's, but, to me, they need this characteristic mush less. While I definately like it, it appeals to me personally less than in an oval hole instrument.
As for playing a lame Loar, I never have. I would be pretty confident in saying I have played some 70 or 80 of them. I have liked every one I have ever played, in some way. Some more than others, but everyone has that " thing" going on.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

Brian Aldridge
Dec-23-2005, 4:24pm
I don't mean to pile up on you Paul, but I own a Loar with a virzi, and I own a Loar without a virzi. I agree with Ken, the virzi definitely does make a difference. His take on it is exactly how I see it too. Well said Ken. As far as lame Loars go, no disrespect intended, but that just shows your ignorance. I have read brilliant posts you have written, but you bombed on this one. Ken, looks like you have played 20 or 30 more Loars than I have.

Dec-23-2005, 10:36pm
I guess it really is all in the ears of the beholder. I've been lucky enough to be around 8 Loars and 3 Ferns over the last couple of years, and I thought each one was tremendous in it's own way. I liked some more than others, but I thought they were all exceptional. Very different (much more complex) than vitrually any modern mandolin I've heard or played.

Dec-24-2005, 8:15am
Thanks for your feedback . I wished I could say that I have played at least one Loar... but 70-80 http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif

And Brian / Paul pleeeaase no fighting because of different opinions !


Happy X-mas to all http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Mar-03-2006, 2:53pm
I've been doing some editing work on the boards here moving things to the new vintage forum.. fascinating that I missed this thread the first time around. I just picked up an A4/virzi from 1925, and have a very nice 1922 A snakehead to compare it to. The Virzi one has quite obviously got more sustain, and adds a sort of reverb effect. The mandolins are very similar in tone otherwise.. I greatly prefer the one with the virzi now

Mar-03-2006, 3:24pm
But Dan, how can you tell that the Virzi made the difference, especially when comparing instruments that were made 3 years apart?

Mar-03-2006, 5:57pm
Well I've played enough snakeheads recently to tell the difference. I have sound clips of each of them on the same mike setup, by the way.. so here's a mini-tasting that compares 3 snakes, a loar, and a wiens.. the 81564 clip isn't as edited (lots of random practicing). Each mando (except the wiens) has an archive record with pictures etc too..

81564/virzi (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/sound_clips/81564.mp3)
71261/novirzi (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/sound_clips/71261_scotland.mp3)
72707/novirzi (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/sound_clips/72707_scotland.mp3)
76547/Loar/virzi (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/sound_clips/76547_scotland.mp3)
Wiens22/virzi (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/sound_clips/wiens22_scotland.mp3)

Mar-03-2006, 5:59pm
3263/3pt/novirzi (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/sound_clips/3263_scotland.mp3)
Nugget91/novirzi (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/sound_clips/nugget_91_scotland.mp3)
15839/f4/novirzi (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/sound_clips/15839_noodling.mp3)
vega 10-string.. no virzi, large clip of practice again (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/sound_clips/vega_mandoviola_noodling.mp3)
34862/mandola/long practice clip (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/sound_clips/34862_mandola_noodling.mp3)

Mar-03-2006, 6:00pm
Recorded over about 2 years.. same gear & miking technique, no eq. I don't have them all any more, several went to finance 81564 http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Mar-03-2006, 6:00pm
To me.. the virzi is where it's at. I think I'm probably the charter member of the "Virzis don't suck" club though!

Ken Waltham
Mar-04-2006, 1:31pm
Dan; there would be no Virzi in a 1925 Snakehead. They left when Lloyd did.
Must be a 1924.

Mar-04-2006, 2:11pm
I find the topic of Virzi vs non-Virzi most fascinating. I've owned and played many Gibson F5s and Snakes with and without the Virzi. All I can say is that some great mandolins have Virzis and some don't. Some lesser sounding mandolins have Virzis and some don't. Simple as that. A chacun son gout...
And yes, let's please get away from "nastiness" on this website. We'd all be better off practicing more and pissing less...

Mar-04-2006, 4:33pm
Dan; there would be no Virzi in a 1925 Snakehead. They left when Lloyd did.
Must be a 1924.
81564.. probably Jan 1925.. (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/gibson/serial/81564)

'25 tuners, lacquer topcoat.. probably January '25, maybe in-progress before Lloyd left.. but the serials fall after the last signed Loar by a bit

Mar-04-2006, 6:19pm
I love listening to this stuff... yes, the 81564 is special. My favourite was the Nugget, though, as usual. Is that Scott T's?

Ken Waltham
Mar-04-2006, 9:24pm
Dan; that would be very unusual, and way cool if that's the case!
Regardless, I think Virzi's in oval holes are the greatest. It really does something for them, IMHO.

Mar-05-2006, 4:03am
Glauber- Scott hooked me up with that one. It was owned by another cafe member. Scott and many others think I'm a fool but it wasn't the one for me.. I had Jack's Loar at the time and that lit the fire under me for midrange, treble, and very focused laser-like notes.. the Nugget was great but would have required a big re-jigger in my playing style so I moved it along. That one was very open and responsive, and would make a wall of souhnd on a single note, so double stops were just too much. Droney irish/old-timey on it wasn't right, but tasty single notes were.. in that sound clip it sounds like a full band!

Back on the virzi.. Ken- I agree it's an unusual piece. My first thought was overspray.. but talking around Loarfest with Darryl & others the consensus seems to be that it was originally like that (matches later serial numbers on ferns etc in the feel/finish of the lacquer, tuner plates). The peghead doesn't have the black staining either- it's browner, as if there is less india ink on that pearwood than the others? It does seem to match up with other Gibson instruments with higher serial numbers.

I have to say- the lacquer on the neck is MUCH more comfortable to glide on, the feel of that mandolin is greatly improved by it. My other snake is LOUDER and not really "punchy", still pretty mellow.. but the virzi one just keeps pulling me back! It's like it has a reverb or a chorus in there.

Mar-05-2006, 12:49pm
virzi is Loar period and in that period black was a custom color option only... Bernunzio once told me he had never seen a Black Virzi F-4 ( my dream mando )... so Ken and all others... have you ever seen a Black F-4 with virzi ? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Ken Waltham
Mar-05-2006, 1:16pm
No, I never have. I have had a couple of early, teens F4's with Virzi. They both had Handel tuners, retro fitted Virzi's, of course.
As a matter of fact, I have only had maybe 3 blackface F4's. I like them, I find them very formal, they go well with the tuxedo's in the catalogs.

Mar-05-2006, 2:10pm
Sorry, I meant the face of the peghead fascia on mine is only lightly inked, not painted a deeper black like most of them.. the top is the standard redburst!

Mar-05-2006, 3:43pm
retro fitted Virzi's, of course.

thanks Ken for confirmation

i have heard about many folks removing the virzi but never about retro fitted ones ... cool nothing is impossible with these old Gibsonīs http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Mar-05-2006, 3:49pm
"Have a Tone Producer Put in YOUR Gibson"

Check out the bottom half of page 44 (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/documents/1923_service_manual/page44.html) in the 1923 Gibson service handbook (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/documents/1923_service_manual/page1.html)

Mar-05-2006, 3:55pm
Here're all the archive records of virzis in non-loars (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/list_mandolins.pl?virzi_noloar).. Only 4 records PRE '22, and 3 post Dec '24..

Mar-06-2006, 3:45am
"Have a Tone Producer Put in YOUR Gibson"

Check out the bottom half of page 44 (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/documents/1923_service_manual/page44.html) in the 1923 Gibson service handbook (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/documents/1923_service_manual/page1.html)
Thanks Dan !!!

I am wondering how they put the virzi through the soundhole http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Mar-06-2006, 9:16am
The back was taken off. Recent chat in the Loar thread about this by the way, you can see thinner backed loars as evidence of retro-fitted virzis. Some are very thin.. retro-fit virzi, then remove it! each time, the binding gets a little thinner as a little material needs to come off to make it go back together clean/pretty again.

Justin Carvitto
Mar-06-2006, 12:10pm
What are the spec's of a virzi (thickness, circumference...) and what kind of wood was used?

Maybe this is mentioned else where?

Mar-06-2006, 12:50pm
Hmm, their dimensions are noted in a number of places.. siminoff plans etc. I think you can buy just a virzi from Roger, if memory serves! Jamie Wiens also does them, his website (http://www.mandolinbuilder.com) has a little mini-feature on them with some pictures showing how they attach inside etc.

Roughly.. I'd say 4.5" oval disk, one single foot and one double to make a sort of tripod.. little C-Holes cut into them. A Virzi is a little smaller than a CD

Mar-09-2006, 9:41am
What are the dues for the Virzi's don't suck club. When I join can we all wear Spruce's virzi bolo ties? I really like the fuller tone on the Loar with rather than without. Gets a sound closer to the oval with virzi (to my ears at least). Kinda like the difference between a tinling silver bell and a brass one... words aren't working. Great clips.


Mar-10-2006, 5:04am
I like 'em both really.. I think it was Darryl who said something like this at Loar fest..

An F5 with no virzi is a confident soloist, one with a virzi sounds like a chorus