TAMPA — Virgil Mandanici calls himself Clark Kent.
Kent, remember, is Superman’s alter ego, the regular guy who ducked into a phone booth and became a superhero.
Now, Mandanici isn’t exactly Superman, but he wears enough uniforms to boggle the mind of anyone.
He’s worked as a computer technician, a disc jockey, a comedian, a photographer and a cartoonist, and he is still trying to figure out what he wants to do tomorrow.
Today, he finds himself creating classic guitars — and they are nothing like what you might find at a mall or superstore. These are custom guitars.
And they sell for thousands of dollars.
Mandanici, who operates out of his Carrollwood home, not only builds custom guitars but also teaches guitar lessons. He is passionate about it and can go into deep details on the styles of playing, from Springsteen to Clapton to Jimmy Page.
The interesting thing is that, with all of the detours Mandanici has made in his life, he never thought he would thrive as a builder of guitars.
“I think I made a podium or something once,” he said. “I just decided I can do it. I got started, tried things here and there and started building guitars. I’ve always been described as a Renaissance man and that’s what I am doing now.”
One of his first guitars, called “Dueling Dragons,” went for $17,000. That especially got Mandanici hooked.
“I felt like MacGyver,” he said. “All I had was a circular saw, a hammer and a couple of clamps. I made it up as I went along.”
He has played guitar since he turned 13 and hasn’t quit. He still teaches and played with bands until recently when his hands couldn’t take it anymore.
“I can still play but my thing is to teach and build guitars now,” he said. “That’s what I am doing these days.”
Virgil Mandanici can be reached at (813) 695-3860.