Virgil built a guitar for all visitors to try out when they come to the studio and a guitar he would be able to play everyday.
Style: X-15T Speedmachine
Fingerboard:Rosewood w/ bloodwood binding, 24 frets, 25" scale, 12" radius
Tuners: 6-in-line Schaller Chrome locking tuners
Nut: Black Tusq Nut
Pickups: Virgil Guitars Lickup Pickups/ Zebra, no covers
Electronics: Vol, Tone & 2 mini dp switches for coil-tap
Bridge: Wilkinson VS100N Chrome Tremolo
Body: Sapele chambered body, Carved Hawaiian Koa top & Ebony skunk stripe
Neck: Flamed Maple
Headstock: Seahorse w/ Koa laminate
Pickup rings: Rosewood
Inlays: Skull inlay with gold tooth behind bridge, Virgil Guitars logo on fingerboard
When I started this company, I was NOT actually planning on starting a company! I set out to make myself a really cool guitar, which ended up being named "The Dueling Dragons". The DD guitar actually ended up being such a nice guitar, I really didn't even want to play it! One thing that DID happen during that almost year-long journey, is I ended up dreaming up different guitars that I knew I wanted to make. People sometimes are quite shocked when they find out that I am not a HUGE fan of inlays on guitars! I mean it's cool, I actually love it from an artist's perspective, but as for guitars, I am not totally sold on having too much inlay on MY guitar! I end up feeling guilty to play the thing!
By my second guitar, I was realizing that I should try building guitars to sell. I wanted the world to experience the builds I was making and I was LOVING the process of the build itself. This was a new-found passion I had already acquired during the building of the DD.
As I continued building guitars, I was hoping eventually I would be able to "afford" one of my own guitars. Some of you may think that is humorous, but it is true. Thus far, I have averaged less than minimum wage building these guitars. I know you may see some hefty price tags on some of these builds, but most people don't understand the costs of materials when you are building high-end guitars. For one thing, you are forced to buy the BEST hardware, wood and parts available and that comes at a huge cost, as does the euipment & supplies and time involved to start something of this scale. For MY guitar, I would just need to pay for parts, supplies and find the time to actually get this done as well.
I knew this guitar was needed, mainly for visitors to the shop & studio, so it was something that I could justify. I also wanted to make something that I would play and not be afraid of "banging up", get scratches, etc. A true "workhorse" per say!
Through all of my almost 40 years of playing, one of my favorite woods I had ever seen on guitars was Koa. I adored Koa wood! At the same time, I had NEVER seen a carved-top koa wood guitar in my life. These were thoughts that were coming to me by the time I was building Kon Tiki(a Koa drop-top guitar!). After months of searching, I finally scored a nice, 8/4 thick pice of Hawaiian Koa! It sat in my wood pile for almost a year before I moved forward with the build. I ended up building her side-by-side with Todd Grubb's "Grubbworm" guitar.
During the process of building "The Big Kahuna", I thought it only appropriate to inlay my logo into the fingerboard and even inlaid this cool looking skull right behind the bridge with a "gold-tooth display" (ZZ-Top?). I was pretty excited on several levels of this build - especially the fact that I finally get to beat the crap out of a Virgil Guitar and put it through its paces. It would give me a real chance to see how far I could push a guitar in the sense of something that I created.
When it finally came time to plug in MY dream guitar, I was amazed at not only the beauty and feel of this guitar, but the tone and sustain really made me melt. I know this sounds like I'm tooting my own horn here, but in all reality, I am very proud of this guitar I have build, but most of all? I LOVE when visitors come to my studio and try this bad-boy out. I adore watching people put her in their laps and giving it a try without any worries in the world. I encourage them to beat the crap out of it and make it scream... and they do. Be sure to check out the video on this page to hear TBK in action! If you are in the Tampa area, please contact us to schedule an appointment to take a test drive!
Virgil Mandanici, Owner of Virgil Guitars - Tampa, FL
Owner of custom-built guitar, The Big Kahuna