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That is a great site. Thanks for sharing it with me. I have never played a mandolin with a Virzi but I would sure like to come across one sometime. It doesn't seem like the greatest thing to put in a mandolin but it is interesting and a cool part of the Loar "mystique" I think. Thanks again.

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  • 4 months later...

As you may know, the Virzi tone producers were licensed from the Virzi Brothers, who were violin makers, during the Loar era (more or less). Loar was a big fan of the Virzi plates, which tend to give an instrument a warmer, more complex tone but at the expense of some volume and projection. Lloyd Loar, of course, was a concert-style mandolinist, so his tastes didn't necessarily run toward the sound Bill Monroe eventually cultivated that now more or less defines the F-5 style of mandolin. Volume and projection win out over warmth and complexity in the eyes (and ears) of most modern bluegrass mandolinists. And, in fairness, even without a Virzi, a good Loar has a lot of warmth and complexity to it.


Loar-era F-5s without the Virzi often are more valuable than ones with a Virzi, and there have been lots of Virzi-ectomies performed on those instruments over the years by players who want a more cutting bluegrass chop from a vintage Loar. Many mandolinists find them especially appealing on oval hole instruments and F-4's in particular can sound exceptionally sweet with a Virzi.


I've never heard of a factory-installed Virzi on a recent Gibson mandolin, although now as in the past, nothing's impossible with Gibson. There are custom builders who will make you an instrument with a Virzi-style of plate under the top. You'll find a ton more information if you search the Mandolin Cafe'.

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