"As the owner of a number of one off, custom built, and boutique guitars I am thrilled (and fortunate) to be the owner of the Silver Willow. It is the most exquisite and finely crafted guitar I have ever seen, let alone owned. Not only is it truly a work of art, but it is a uniquely wonderful sounding guitar and a delight to play. I have no doubt that you will quickly become one of the most respected luthiers in the business. I can't wait to see what you have in store next. Thanks again not only for a stellar guitar but also for going the extra mile with the videos and documentation. I will treasure this for many years to come."
"First off, I'd like to say what an incredible surprise "The Bridge" guitar is/was. When "The Bridge" was first presented to me as a wedding gift from my Ciocia Krysia, I couldn't believe my eyes as to what I was seeing. To be completely honest, I had forgotten about the whole survey - which to be found out later by yours truly was nothing but a con to get into my head. A clever way to get me to spill my guts about my "dream guitar" to help out a Tampa luthier Virgil Mandanici to build his guitar building business.
Ultimately, the precision with which Virgil made this piece of BROOKLYN and New York City history - a one of a kind guitar emblazoned with the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Skyline - remains unmatched in my opinion. His craftsmanship on the building of the body and the intricate spectacle of the inlay on the neck are truly AMAZING and INSPIRING. Virgil paid no expense to make my guitar shine and look iconic. Apart from the cosmetic look of the guitar - the handmade custom PUPs are out of this world. I'm a Gibson man at heart but these pickups WAIL. Love the coil tap to switch from Single Coil to Humbucker with ease. All the sustain and tones you get out of the PUPS whether clean or dirty are spectacular...would make even Eddie Van Halen jealous! I'll attest to the tone as I played "The Bridge" guitar at my wedding for my wife....a little Neil Young - "Harvest Moon". I plugged straight from guitar to DI BOX into the soundboard and holy F*%# the sound was astonishing...and that was technically the first time I plugged in...even unplugged this guitar sounds amazing. Once I had a moment to really sit down with the guitar I was able to plug into my 1967 Ampeg Reverb Rocket II with a vintage Tube Screamer for measure. DAMN. The warmth and cleanliness of the clean tone is amazing...the dirty tones - dirtier the better.
Virgil surely put his heart and soul into my build. More so, he placed a good amount of mojo into "The Bridge" making this guitar a player's piece, not a show guitar for a case. I would most certainly recommend his line of guitars to anyone...no matter what genre you play...you will be beyond pleased. A beautiful looking guitar is all fine and good, but one that looks astounding AND plays better than the guitar looks is hard to come by...and you will surely find it all in a Virgil Guitar."
Michael Lukaszewicz - Brooklyn, NY
Owner of custom-built guitar, "The Bridge"
"Dear Guitar Enthusiast, I am writing this letter as a recommendation for considering Virgil Guitars for your custom guitar build. My guitar "The Eagle" was build #10 completed in November, 2013. From developing concept and theme with Virgil to final delivery, every step of the process was a superior experience. Communication was thorough and clear, all commitments, expectations and timelines were met or exceeded. Most importantly the guitar itself is remarkable in quality, playability, tone and unique appearance.
During a visit to Virgil's studio in 2013, I was able to demo a guitar and get a tour of the manufacturing process. Virgil's passion and painstaking attention to every detail was very apparent. The workmanship simply does not compare to mass produced American manufactured guitar brands. It's worth mentioning Virgil's guitars were priced similar to many "Artist" series from well-known brands, yet for the "well-known brands" the owner has no input on theme, inlay, paint, hardware and wood selections for body, neck and fretboard.
A few months had passed, Virgil was building momentum and a following, it seemed like a good time to make a commitment and get a build underway. From an investment perspective I believe Virgil Guitars will inevitably increase in value. Considering quality, materials and workmanship I felt a Virgil Guitar was a good value as a player. However, my decision to purchase was not as an investment but as a workhorse guitar replacing my Les Paul.
Immediately after my deposit, the first step was wood shopping for the guitar body. Virgil directed me to some sources where I could view wood options along with a documented history of the tree location and date planted. Interestingly, my grafted walnut body was from a tree planted in the 1800's in Oregon. It was the impression of an eagle in the wood grain that inspired the Eagle theme. Imagine when you describe your guitar to friends and family actually knowing the origin and date of your body. I don't recall Fender, Gibson or PRS providing this information.
In my opinion, if you're buying a Virgil guitar you should take advantage of Virgil's mad skills for inlay design. Virgil and I referred to the process as the "Virgilization" of the guitar. On the 12th fret Virgil created an amazing etched eagle from abalone and eagle claws & diamonds for the remainder of fret markers. The inlay will only make your custom guitar even more unique. Virgil always provided suggestion and recommendations without being pushy. I trusted Virgil's experience and expertise to steer me clear of potential pitfalls or something I might overlook as an amateur.
The delivery of The Eagle guitar was first class. Including a very nice case, hardware for trussrod and tremolo adjustments, pickup specifications, hardware manuals along with the Certificate of Authenticity. My first impression after playing is the guitar feels like one solid piece of reverberating wood (good riddance neck bolts). The action was set very close with less than 1/16" variance. The pickups are very hot, much more than my Les Paul humbuckers. I've never used coil taps but can now really appreciate the ability to switch individual pickups from single to double coil and variations in tone.
Whether you're considering choosing in between a custom or stock Virgil Guitar, don't hesitate to choose Virgil Guitars it's a decision you will not regret. Your purchase supports a very talented artist, enthusiast and entrepreneur.
Marc Callison - Tampa, FL
Owner of custom-built guitar, The Eagle
"As a player, the most important thing for me in a guitar is playability and sound. Virgil Guitars are the best playing and sounding electric guitars I have ever played. Honest. Then when you add in the amazing beauty of the inlay and woodworking, you really have something very special. Having a Virgil guitar made for me was one of the best experiences of my life. I have been playing guitar for close to 40 years and I have always had the dream to create a guitar to my exact specs and Virgil nailed it. You have to know Virgil to understand the care and devotion he puts into these builds. He is an artist, a player and he is also obsessive compulsive, a great combo for us his clients (maybe not for his wife!).
Todd Grubbs - Brandon, FL
Instrumental Rock Guitarist
Owner of custom-built guitar, "Grubbworm"
"When I first learned of Virgil Guitars I had no idea what was before me. I didn't realize it then, but the journey that I was about to embark on was an idea made long before it found me. I live in WA and Virgil Guitars is located in FL. We have yet to meet however, Dueling Dragons, Virgil Guitars 1st custom guitar, reminded me of something magical. Following all of Virgil's FB posts, detailed 'stories' emerged of all his builds, and when I watched Virgil Guitars 3 part series of the Dueling Dragons build (and other build videos), I was hooked.
For my part, Virgil, you made me feel like I was there with you… I was on an adventure, an experience of yours, and I for one totally dig how you include your readers/followers in what you do and how you are going about building your guitars, kudos my friend! I'm a fan! All of Virgil Guitars builds are detailed experiences to me, they are like no other: there is more going on here than just a guitar build. So I asked myself, "Would it not be the coolest thing in the world to be a part of something so magical like Dueling Dragons, Silver Willow, Poisoned Ivy, etc.? How could I possibly afford one?" Then the idea changed… I'm already a part of the experience, the passion is there tenfold, so it's just a matter time… and Virgil you my friend are all over it, like a wizard and his craft.
Something magical happened one day: Virgil Guitars posted a picture of Red Head's headstock with just a little mineral spirits applied to the matched Burled Redwood—I passed out. When I came to… I realized that after seeing her come together (an X-15 Speedmachine body with a matched Burled Redwood drop top with a Wenge wood middle and a matched flamed Maple back, a stunning combination of colors, grains and wood-even more stunning in person), I was in the position to pull the trigger and take over Red Head's build. From the headstock, neck, body, skunk stripe, binding and hardware to the hand crafted appointments, and like a yin and yang thing going on of natural balance, she is so much more stunning in person than any picture can show. So "taking over a Virgil Guitars build' was perfect for me.
Looking back at previous posts, I soon realized that I was already indeed a part of a beautiful experience like no other I have ever had, and at 51 that's saying a lot. When I opened her case (and she fits like a glove) for the first time… I was prepared--- I had big bean bags everywhere! However, I was unprepared for just how perfectly balanced she felt in my hands when she jumped into my lap. I had some expectations for sure, but wow, I was not prepared for this!! Tuning is on while playing (I absolutely dig these De Vinci tuners btw); only slight adjustments are needed after an overnight sitting; warming up and then all is good; her intonation is also dead on. Her neck is very comfortable and suited for many different types of playing styles- which is also perfect for me. So what about Red Head's playability and tones? In reality (anyone can decide) her playability and tones brings us to the beginning of the adventure… She plays and sounds exactly like she should play and sound—Perfect! Imagine that! Virgil Guitars "Lickup Pickups" (in house made pickups) and electronics allow me to hear Red Head produce tones I had not thought possible without effects—make no mistake, Virgil is a wizard – kudos my friend…
"After reading an article posted on Facebook by Guitar World on Virgil's first build, Dueling Dragons, (Click here for the Guitar World Article!)I watched all his videos posted on YouTube. From this research I was able to get a feel for Virgil's attention to detail and his passion for each build. I knew at that moment that I wanted this insane luthier to build my dream guitar. From our first conversation I could hear the excitement in his voice about the endless combination of woods.
Believing the propaganda by the major mass produced brands I thought the body wood of a guitar was limited to mahogany, alder, ash and basswoods to get the tone sounds. Virgil quickly dispelled that myth as I am the proud owner of Katana, build #14, Bubinga top, Wenge center and Roasted Birdseye Maple back and neck.
Virgil has been amazing to work with during my build. When you think you have everything you want he comes up with another idea that the client may not have thought of. Another bonus you get with Virgil Guitars is that Virgil posts pictures on FaceBook of your build on a frequent basis which gives you feeling of being more connected to your build and allows others to drool over what you are going to receive.
Aside from the esthetic beauty of the inlay and the guitar itself, the sound is amazing! I had Virgil put in his own in-house made "LickUp PickUps". From clean and crisp to smokey hot and growling. The sustain is unbelievable and even better than my Alex Lifeson Gibson LP.
If you want to sound like the masses then buy a massed produced guitar. If you are unique and original then buy a custom one off guitar by Virgil Guitars and introduce your own sound to the world."
My journey with Virgil began in November 2014. My wife Jessica wanted to surprise me with a custom guitar as a wedding present (we were married that prior October). She initially intended it to be a surprise but I got wind of it. I am sure glad I did because I got to be involved in all aspects of the build and more importantly, I got to know Virgil as a person.
I visited his workshop multiple times to 'hang out' while he was working on my build. He is equal parts luthier, artist, musician, renaissance man and mad scientist. My life has been enriched immeasurably through my association with him. He probably should have lived in 16th century Florence, Italy; he would have fit in perfectly there at that time!
The guitar he built for me is truly exquisite cosmetically. That is self-evident when you look at the pictures on this page. I am most impressed, however, by the playability and tone. It has the straightest, most perfect neck out of all my guitars and it plays better than any other guitar I've owned or picked up. There is not one quirky spot on the neck where there is even the slightest buzzing/fret rattle. The pickups are incredible. I prefer vintage-style pickups because of the clarity and warmth of sound, and I prefer to get overdrive/distortion from the amp and not my pickups. So, I had Virgil put in his handmade vintage-style LickupPickups. These pickups, combined with the 25 inch scale of the fingerboard, create crisp, bell-like tones and a tighter bottom end compared to my Les Pauls. There is a less of a murky sound and notes are more articulate with a snap to them. The LickupPickups are the clearest sounding humbuckers I've come across. My guitar really has the strengths of a Strat and a Les Paul without the associated limitations of both.
If you are in the market for a boutique, custom guitar, I sincerely hope you will consider Virgil Guitars. I am very grateful to my wife Jessica for bringing Black Mamba and Virgil into my life.
"Ever since I started playing guitar back in the late 80s, I've always eyed the high-end customs. Eyed from a distance, well beyond the roped off areas because I never could afford one. But I've always wanted to go to Gibson, Paul Reed Smith or Carvin and say "I want a guitar with this paint job, these pickups, and this neck" and have it made my way. Not because I'm a guitar god (I'm not. I'm not even a minor guitar deity) but a guitar can be a work of art that can be enjoyed both visually and aurally. (Virgil note: Don't let Robb fool you, he's a great guitarist!)
When I thought of 'custom', I always though big brand names with customizable options – much like buying a car and choosing heated seats and the cool pinstripe on the back. I never once thought of a completely custom built guitar from the ground up from an individual luthier.
All that changed the instant I played a Virgil Guitar. The very first moment I laid my hands upon Grubbworm (#11) I knew that somehow, I had to have a Virgil for my very own. When the opportunity finally arrived, I jumped at the chance.
Getting a Virgil Guitar is more than the end product, it's a journey and Virgil is there with you every step of the way. This isn't a form you fill out, checking off boxes for things you want - it's a story you are part of in every way. Virgil helps you with wood selections, neck shapes, body styles, even the hardware like tuners & bridges to ensure you're getting the guitar that fits your wants and needs.
With a Virgil Guitar comes access to one of the most talented inlay artists you will find and it's no surprise that custom inlay comes with the same attention to detail and thorough attention that Virgil provides with the guitar itself. He knows what materials work best for the look you are trying to achieve and can work within your budget to get you a truly one of a kind instrument.
I saw my guitar go from a solid chunk of wood to the gorgeous work of art that it is today. Being lucky enough to have Virgil local to me, I also got to visit him in his shop, watching as my build came to life in real time. However, Virgil uses the power of social media and documents your build on Facebook and Twitter so that thousands of people can enjoy the experience right along with you.
It takes a while for a guitar to be built because Virgil doesn't rush perfection, and trust me, when that day finally comes and you pick up your guitar – you'll realize the wait was worth it.
La Pistola is my dream guitar. It is not only something to please your eyes, but the sound & playability of the guitar is beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I have had professional guitarists play her and each & every one of them have commented on how amazing the neck is. It simply does not resist your fingers as they move across the gorgeous, bocote fretboard. And with 15 sound combinations from the hand-wound Lickup Pickups™, I have a very wide range of tone available at my fingertips – from a chunky single coil at the bridge to smooth, clean humbucker at the neck and any combination in between, the sound you're looking for is there.
I cannot say enough good things about my experience in getting a Virgil Guitar. The experience was greater than I ever imagined and the final result is a treat for the eyes and the ears.
Robb Allen - Brandon, FL
Owner of custom-built guitar, "La Pistola"
"My experience with Virgil began when an old friend sent me a link to a write-up on Virgil's Dueling Dragons. Virgil's attention to detail captured me, and I bookmarked his pages for future reference. Fast forward to mid 2015 and I noticed Virgil had a semi hollow in his build sequence and was looking for someone to take it over. The timing was perfect as I was looking for a small bodied semi to add to my collection. Virgil and I had countless conversations over the ensuing couple weeks to formulate a plan for the build. As a musician of 40+ yrs, my requirements for a custom build were many, Virgil bent over backwards to incorporate the most important elements into my build, and I can't thank him enough. I was kept up to date, both online and off, throughout the build process. It was hands down the best experience I've had with a custom build.
Specific notes on the guitar itself:
She came in under estimated weight, and the balance is perfect.
Pickups are modeled after late 50's PAFs, Virgil was spot on recreating what I was looking for.
The neck is an absolute dream to play, I'm not sure if this is his normal profile, but it's fabulous.
The matte finish was exactly what I wanted, Virgil did a great job explaining this to Moe's Colors. I'm a sucker for a nice shiney guitar, but I feel this finish is better... and I don't have to polish it!
Side note: the OBEL/effects loop routes the pup signal to my pedal board and back, then out to my amp. This allows me to turn the volume up and down without changing the signal sent to the pedals. This means the pedals don't react differently to an increase in the input. This is especially important to those who use an envelope filter, octave pedal, or others, that vary according to input level provided.
Overall, an incredible experience I'll never forget. Virgil includes tons of extras with the build, a top notch case, and mutliple follow ups to ensure all is well. You can't ask for more."
Richard Bauer- Cuberland, VA
Owner of custom-built guitar, "Natural Beauty"
"From the moment you pick up a Virgil Guitar, you know instantly this is unlike any instrument you have ever held. It's just - different. And at a much higher level than most of us are used to. Extraordinary build quality, gorgeous design details you do not see on other guitars, and the sound! I have 2 humbuckers each with its own switching for single coil, series and parallel for a total of 15 killer tones. I can't stop playing it.The process is unlike anything I have ever experienced, a true collaboration between Virgil and I, between artist and musician. I got to choose everything exactly as I wanted it. Often, I would ask his opinion and we would talk it out and come to an agreement. Virgil is as much an artist as a luthier and my Golden Eagle is the richer for it. So am I. Buy a Virgil, you'll love the process and the guitar."
Mark Collier - Tarpon Springs, FL
Owner of custom-built guitar, "Golden Eagle"