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Thread: Virzi today...

  1. #1
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    Default Virzi today...

    I am always interested to see a contemporary instrument with the Starship Enterprise docked on the underside of its soundboard:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/194081#194081

    AFAIK, he is not the only currently active builder offering a Virzi in his mandolins. Has public perception (or one of my favorite terms, "conventional" "wisdom") turned around on the Virzi Tone REDUCER, as it was always referred to with a sneer? The arguments both for 'em and against 'em have been fully hashed and rehashed. Has anyone played this particular example, or other recently produced instruments carrying a Virzi? Does anyone know about any re-thinking/re-engineering of the device by any builder/proponents?

    I play a vintage F5 issued with a Virzi and I might have been inclined to disdain or at least overlook mandolins issued with one, just from the bad rap the Virzi had received for so long, had not a trusted councilor sagely advised me to shop with my ears, not my inspection mirror. Whilst not possessing the most amplitude of some other mandolins I am familiar with, its sound does carry...I have turned heads 20-30 feet away with a simple whump-whump of a stacato closed chord. Speaking of the whump, it produces such a pleasing sound when "chopping", with enough midrange velocity to set off my somewhat hair-trigger tinnitus if I hang an ear right over the f-hole. A moderate pickstroke will produce a respectable report without hearing a full consonant pick attack at the front. Single notes leap nicely from the instrument, with bold low notes, whilst full and clear on the thin strings...not zingingly bright like Bush's Hoss, but a more dignified bell tone, and even response throughout its range. The aforementioned moderate pick attack will generally produce all that needed in most applications, with the assurance that there is still some power in reserve between half and full throttle. Are these properties all due to the Virzi? Given my disinclination to fish a bent coathanger through the endpin hole and yank the thing out, I won't ever have a direct comparison.

    So, yes...seeing the linked mandolin does cause me to wonder if the tonal-taste-makers or mando-social influencers have now given the Virzi their endorsement. Does anyone else have Virzi experience to share, especially with a contemporary instrument? Knowledge of any resurgence in its popularity? I hope to hear more on the topic...!
    too many strings

  2. #2
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Virzi today...

    There are quite a few builders who will include a Virzi in their builds. I had a Brian Dean (LaBraid) L&H Style A reproduction that had his take on the Virzi inside. I never heard it with or without but I liked the sound of that mandolin an awful lot (Oval hole Engleman over Black Walnut). I think you'll find a mix of strong feelings and mostly huh? feelings about the virzi. I suspect most folks couldn't say a particular mandolin had one in it just from hearing it played alone.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Virzi today...

    The most powerful Gibson I've played was a March 31, 1924 F-5 with a Virzi. It was a very bright sounding mandolin, and it showed evidence of heavy use.
    This was at George Gruhn's shop a few years back. There was another F-5 with Virzi there, signed on the same day, that was not nearly as strong sounding.

    I commented on this to George. His response was "When they got it right, it worked well."

    Make of it what you will. I do understand that there's a whole lot more to producing a really good F-5 than whether or not it's got a Virzi, and just like any other model, signed F-5's vary quite a bit in tone and projection, Virzi or no Virzi.

  4. #4
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Virzi today...

    I don't know about powerful but the one I played at Retrofret a few years ago with a Virzi hosted a wonderland of tones to my old ears. I had a blast playing it for about 30 minutes. What a privilege! And I am also not sure what the Virzi was adding or subtracting.
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    Default Re: Virzi today...

    I don't think Lynn is the only builder offering a Virzi, I know Weins did.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Virzi today...

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I don't think Lynn is the only builder offering a Virzi, I know Weins did.
    Also, Paul Duff and Mike Black. See 2020 thread on the subject or just put virzi in the search: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-tone-producer
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    Default Re: Virzi today...

    Ah, shoulda searched instead of posting. Sincere apologies to all who are annoyed by redundant, duplicate posts...
    too many strings

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    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Virzi today...

    Some of the best Loar era F5s I’ve ever played had a Virzi in them.

    Also some of the best Loar era F5s I ever played did not have a Virzi in them.

    Make of that what you will…

    My absolute favorite Loar F5 of all time, a front bound July 9th, did not have a Virzi.
    Last edited by Glassweb; Oct-05-2022 at 1:43pm.

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  10. #9
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Virzi today...


  11. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Virzi today...

    Quote Originally Posted by musicofanatic View Post
    Ah, shoulda searched instead of posting. Sincere apologies to all who are annoyed by redundant, duplicate posts...
    I don't think anyone is annoyed by it, folks simply want to make sure that everyone knows they can get a virzi equipped mandolin from other sources as well.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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  12. #11

    Default Re: Virzi today...

    Quote Originally Posted by musicofanatic View Post
    Ah, shoulda searched instead of posting. Sincere apologies to all who are annoyed by redundant, duplicate posts...
    That's OK, it's what we do here!

    Anyway, a virzi is a fancy name for a baffle, or a "modified" baffle in this case. Basically, a low cost or no cost way to get a different sound. (better or worse -- you decide...) Simply put, the idea is to increase the efficiency of the system at low frequencies compared to a standard (closed) box.

    Commonly used in PA enclosures and bass cabinets and (with less success) acoustic guitars. Sometimes called a reflex cabinet, a tuned port, or a version of a Helmholtz resonator.

  13. #12

    Default Re: Virzi today...

    im not sure if this was a loyd loar invention or not but i think it was discontinued after loar left gibson most of the mando's after that did not have the virzi ...but mabe you could still get it if you ordered it... not sure about that.

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Virzi today...

    History of the Virzi Bros from Simminoff,s website...

    https://www.siminoff.net/loar#tone

    When I worked for a professional violin shop in Raleigh NC for over twenty five years, we removed a few of these from violins and at least one cello during the restoration process. They were all stamped with the Virzi name. I remember them as being a bit crude.
    Last edited by Charles E.; Oct-05-2022 at 5:18pm.
    Charley

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    Registered User Cheryl Watson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Virzi today...

    I have a Skip Kelley (North Carolina) Sugar Maple/Adirondack red spruce F5 with a Virzi. I do not know if Skip has built any other mandolins with a Virzi. It was difficult for my luthier to install a K&K pickup being that he had to work around the Virzi, but he got it done and it sounds great plugged in. It has a breathy, very rich, and refined tone. I have had a few guitar players comment that they usually do not like the sound of a mandolin (what is WRONG with them? ) but they really like the tone of my Kelley. My red maple/Adirondack red spruce Daley F5 cuts a bit more and is somewhat louder, with a less refined tone than the Kelley. Both are in the traditional sound camp. I prefer the Kelley for vocal accompaniment and prettier tunes and the Daley for hardcore grass and when I need to be heard in a loud jam.

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    Default Re: Virzi today...

    Quote Originally Posted by jherm View Post
    im not sure if this was a loyd loar invention or not but i think it was discontinued after loar left gibson most of the mando's after that did not have the virzi ...but mabe you could still get it if you ordered it... not sure about that.
    Loar had nothing to do with inventing the product, he did however champion their use in Gibson products.

    Pictures for anyone unfamiliar.
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  20. #16
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    Default Re: Virzi today...

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Loar had nothing to do with inventing the product, he did however champion their use in Gibson products.

    Pictures for anyone unfamiliar.
    Affirmative. I've had a few violins in my hands, with virzis, that all pre-date Loar's tenure at Gibson. Lloyd was also a classically trained/educated violist and no doubt encountered the virzi through his background as an orchestral string player.

  21. #17

    Default Re: Virzi today...

    I recently played two Loar’s side by side, one with a Virzi. There was a subtle difference with the Virzi, slightly sweeter.
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    Default Re: Virzi today...

    Some Wade mandolins made here in Japan are built with Virzi. I played two at a shop a few months back. They were decent instruments. One was much better than the other. I don’t think the Virzi made much difference in the end… mostly just the quality of the builds.
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