View Full Version : Fake Fern with Virzi

Sep-28-2006, 10:17pm
Check this (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=300033224957) out. Who might have done it?

Tuners are way too high. I know some Loars have this problem, but are any of them THAT bad? The sunburst isn't right either.

Darryl Wolfe
Sep-29-2006, 8:04am
I am good, but cannot quite figure this one out. #The tuners are simply modern style (late 20's early 30's) and the mando is drilled Loar style. #There are many attributes of this instrument that are dead on. #In many respects it looks like a rebound/refinished early Fern. #The Virzi is original and the peghead and body shape are dead smack correct. However the inlay is very slightly off and the f-holes appear a tad big. #I do not recognize the work either. Summary, I've never seen anyone get this close on so many of the hard to accomplish details.

Ken Waltham
Sep-29-2006, 8:46am
I would bet money on that being a Cliff Sargent copy. It has a lot of his hallmarks, the old Gibson parts, accuracy on the shapes, and a bare neck finish, with 3 piece neck.
Those tuners are from a post 24 F4, and the Virzi may well be from an oval hole, or even a Loar, since it would be like Cliff to have one of those.
Or, knowing him, he may have simply made the Virzi and the stamp.
He used to send me many photos, and I'd bet money on this one...

Darryl Wolfe
Sep-29-2006, 9:24am
Good point Ken, and I agree with you on this one. Cliff was very good at this type of thing.

Sep-29-2006, 9:27am
I am totally unqualified to even comment, but who/what/why notwithstanding, I must confess that looking at the pictures of that bare neck gives me the hots. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif

Sep-29-2006, 12:25pm
this is one of those instances where a good 5 minute hands on inspection would reveal a lot - i am sort of leaning toward this being an actual gibson body, the lines are really good and there is more *right* than wrong. obvious finish work on the instrument - the only thing i cant put my finger on is the peghead scroll - something just looks odd with it. its too big for a front bound scroll. the mitre does point in the right direction though, that is usually one of those minute things a copist would miss.
i mean, who would put an original virzi in a fake gibson?

Sep-29-2006, 12:34pm
I think Cliff used to write something on the inside of the tops of his mandos to distinquish them as copies. Would be worth asking the owner to take a look.

I would wager Cliff built this mandolin.

Cary Fagan
Sep-29-2006, 12:37pm
I wondered about this auction. Maybe I'm overly suspicious but I did notice it's money order or cashier's check only, the seller's address is vague, and the bidders identities are secret. Seemed a bit odd.

Sep-29-2006, 12:52pm
I wondered about this auction. Maybe I'm overly suspicious but I did notice it's money order or cashier's check only, the seller's address is vague, and the bidders identities are secret. #Seemed a bit odd.
The guy has great feedback and take a look at his other items, that fiddle looks a lot like Vasser's.

Sep-29-2006, 3:33pm
There's also something distinctly odd about the photos. If i wanted them to look like that I'd lightly smear grease on a filter.

Sep-29-2006, 11:28pm
Without evidence of a FON stamp in the lower Fhole and no traces of a paper label with serial number under it I'd stay clear of this one for being the real deal. A Fern with a 3 pc. neck and Virzi? The binding looks off to me for a Fern. A 50's redo? The back curvature looks off to me. The front is dead on it. The scroll looks right.
Aren't the Virzi feet too thick? The position in the hole is off. The slope of the feet is off. I couldn't take a photo like that of my Virzi Fern from either hole.
The nut is too thick. Non-Gold plated parts?
The first slopes of the peghead are too short and not correct curve. I'm seeing Cliff's work in it too. That being said it's probably a great sounding/playing mandolin and should fetch at least $5000.

Michael Lewis
Sep-30-2006, 2:48am
If it is Cliff's work then someone changed out some hardware. Cliff went to the trouble to make the adjuster wheels for the bridges he used because the commercially avaiable ones weren't 'right', and that one has large flat wheels. Not like the ones Cliff made. He also at times went to the trouble of welding extensions to the shafts of period A style tuners to turn them into F style, but he would most probably not let the buttons fit the headstock that way.

I haven't seen all of Cliff's mandolins but have seen most of them, and he did use a heavy black for the burst, but most of them had more black and less yellow than this one. It would be a lot easier to say one way or another with it in hand.

Sep-30-2006, 10:54am
Any other Cliff Sargent info/pics? Is his work discussed in any old threads I should look for? Seems like quite a character.

Lowell Levinger
Sep-30-2006, 2:54pm
Here's a picture of one of his fairly recent mandolins.

Oct-01-2006, 6:53am
i dont see the same hand making those two mandos - not to say the ebay one is dead on - but it sure aint far off. this is a strange one for sure, anyone who would do a sunburst that bad on the back, not to mention the tuners, and still be able to duplicate the clean lines and carving and minute details of a an original F5http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif? i just think the mando may be a gibson....with issues.

i'm in no way in the bidding for this, i'm happily MAS-ed out - so that is just my opinion.

Oct-01-2006, 8:57am
Building and finishing are two completely different skill sets, and there's no accounting for taste.

Oct-01-2006, 5:33pm
I believe you are comparing new Cliff to old Cliff. That would be like comparing a new Randy Wood to his Roland White No.2. Big difference in quality and details. My question is why the Virzi? If this is an early copy from the late 60's to mid 70's there would have not been much interest in Virzi instalations. Roger Sminoff was doing a lot of research on the Virzi at this time and he fooled around with putting some in but I can't think of anyone else who experimented with doing a copy with a Virzi. Lately there have been several luthiers doing it but not that far back. And this one may not be that old. Maybe it's a "distressed" model by a well known builder.

Michael Lewis
Oct-02-2006, 12:08am
The pics that Lowell put up are of "The Sierra" brand, which Cliff made with Dan Bernstein. I dont think there were many made. Most of Cliff's mandolins had his name on the headstock. I know he made a couple with "The Gibson" on the headstock, but quickly realized that he shouldn't be doing that anymore.

Gail Hester
Oct-02-2006, 12:26am
I just noticed this thread but when I first saw the mandolin on ebay I thought it looked like a Sargent as well. #Here is our 1987 Sargent before it was refinished.

Darryl Wolfe
Oct-02-2006, 11:19am
I do not perceive the ebay mandolin to have been finished (as in lacquer or varnish) by Cliff. I just looks like his craftsmanship to me

Oct-02-2006, 1:11pm
Are those tuners on upsidedown? Weird looking truss rod cover to be a copy Fern. Also noticed on the ebay Fern the scroll is rather tight. Too tight to get a thin piece of leather in the curl.

Gail Hester
Oct-02-2006, 1:27pm
Yes, the tuners were new but upside down when we got it and the headstock was notched so they would turn. Also, I believe the original inlay was a flower pot not a fern. I have an original picture of this mandolin in a Loar case with old tuners, an old Gibson tailpiece and a flowerpot inlay.

Here is the Sargent after I refinished it.

Jim Hilburn
Oct-02-2006, 3:41pm
To me the back wood doesn't look at all like anything I've seen on any old Gibsons.

Darryl Wolfe
Oct-02-2006, 4:10pm
To me the back wood doesn't look at all like anything I've seen on any old Gibsons.
Early '23's Jim. Maybe not a fern though


Oct-15-2006, 2:50pm
I just got an email back from the seller. He says he's "Looking for $12,500. I think that's what a new Gibson master model sells for."


Oct-15-2006, 11:51pm
For an unnamed copy? I guess he can dream!

Oct-15-2006, 11:56pm
I sort of thought that it's value would be around $5K...

Oct-16-2006, 3:17pm
Repaired crack under original finish ... maybe that was Cliff's "distressed" model.

Russ Partain
Dec-05-2006, 8:41pm
That is simply not accurate. I knew Cliff briefly. I am in the Air Force and Cliff and I would swap war stories. I always remember him talking about being in Burma. Man, did he have it rough in comparison to my career. Listen to Michael Lewis. If he says something about Cliff, he is telling you the GOSPEL. Dan Bernstein made that mandoloin (with help form Cliff) They are simpley not the same. I have played them. I repeat. they are not the same.