View Full Version : Which mando for old time?
I am a beginner on mando (played guitar for a long time), and have me an Eastman F-style which is allowing me to learn fairly rapidly. #I want to play both bluegrass (not newgrass) and old time. #I do not now jam with any old time types, but I hear tell that bluegrass-oriented mandos do not fit well sonically.
I also hear that Phoenix mandos have a mellower sound than the average bluegrass-oriented instrument (not to mention a range of voicings that might be more suitable), and my guess is that they might bridge that gap. #Anyone know for sure?
I accept that I've got a long way to go with my Eastman, and that I'd be foolish to buy an instrument I had not played, but you know about curiosity ...
I enjoy playing old-time music with most any mandolin, but that said, the oval hole mandolins are great. You would do just fine with an older Gibson A, a Flatiron "pancake" or one of the newer lines with the oval hole, x-braced design. If you are looking at the custom-made instruments, consider the Old Wave oval hole a-model. While I have not played one, I am under the impression that they are designed in the vein of the earlier Gibsons and have the tone.
I have a sweet newer A-style with F-holes (bought from a cafe member) that I think sounds very good for oldtime. #It rings out well on open chords and is nice and warm when picking individual notes/melodies. #
So, I think woods/construction/age might have as much to do with an oldtimey sound as oval-hole vs. F-holes or A-style vs. F-style.
The mando player for Foghorn Stringband plays a newer F-style with F-holes. #For all intents a "bluegrass" instrument, if you will. #But he makes it sound great for oldtime.
You can play anything - I play a Rigel G110- which definitely isn't Old Time - not an oval hole, not old, but it sounds pretty sweet, and it can cut through when I need it to. Sure some folks are a little surprised to see it, but no one actually complains.
Milke Seeger saw me playing it and ran over to get a look at it. He played it for a minute and said it sounded nice, but it definitley wasn't "old time" . OK for him, he has a collection of fine old instruments to pick from. If I need to be "authentic"- like posing for a picture- then I have an old SS Stewart cant top koa mando from the 20s I can use, but it's too quiet for big jams. It seems to me that if you bring a F5 to an OT jam, and play lots of chop chords and try to play solos, then you might get an odd reaction, but if you are trying to fit in, contribute to the groove, then any mando will do it.
Oval hole Weber Hyalite...dy.
Oval hole Weber Hyalite...dy.
An oval hole Hyalite witha litle fancier finish is my dream mando right now. I bet the mahogany makes it mighty sweet.
All of the ideas above are great and you can certainly play OT on any mando. But it deserves mentioning that the "traditional" instrument for OT is a teens Gibson oval, either A or F. These are to OT what a Gibson F is to bluegrass, although not as expensive. I don't have one and probably never will. I play OT on a Rigel also, although I may get Mr. Bussman to make me an A oval copy later this year.
There are problems with the teens ovals that even those who own them will admit: They are not all good, so you don't want to buy one you haven't played. Some are clunkers. Also, they don't stay in tune well, even with upgrades to modern tuners. Also they can develop structural problems as they get older. However, the good ones just sound incredible. There is nothing quite like them. Some go for big bucks, but not all of them. A friend of mine found a perfect A-0 in a pawnshop for like $500. I have seen them online every now and then for under $1000.
One day ask a fiddle player whether there is a difference between a bluegrass, old-time, jazz/swing or classical violin. They will say, "no" (at least the ones I asked did). There are clear differences in the tone of an oval hole, arched top; f-hole arched top and a oval hole flat-top mandolin (amoung others). That said, I would think if you had the biggest ban)o killer Master Model and had some musical tact, it would fit in just fine in an Old-Time jam.
fatt I-don't-have-a-master-model dad
One day ask a fiddle player whether there is a difference between a bluegrass, old-time, jazz/swing or classical violin. #They will say, "no" (at least the ones I asked did). #
The ones I ask say there's a difference- first the difference between a fiddle and a violin: a fiddle holds more beer http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif
then there's the matter of a good shuffle- something that comes hard to classical violinists, and so on to things I don't know about- even though I play the fiddle.
I dare say the jacks of all trades are masters of none, maybe one.
In the teens- when teens oval hole Gibsons were made- some played old time, lots played classical I bet. same is true for the old cant top Martins and the like.
Nowadays it seems that oval hole Gibsons are stamped as approved, but back when they were made I don't think that was the case. Everybody played what they had....and that's what I do.
It also goes for banjos- big resonator BG banjos are fine- if they are played OT style with an ear for volume and fitting in.
JGWoods...Oval Hyalite, is very sweet in tone and feel. That matte finish is nice. I agree JFlynnstl in terms of the old gibsons...too much up keep, and such. Track down a current axe, and rock out...old tyme wise that is. Later, dy.
JGWoods - you missed my point. Sure there's lots of difference in the style of the music and the approach to playing it. There is a huge cultural difference, but the instrument is the same. I'm pretty sure you could take a classical violin and give it to a mountain fiddle player and not miss a beat.
How about an oval hole fiddle for OT music? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif
The mention of an Old Wave oval struck me since I was trading off a friend's Old Wave oval last night and commented to her how the thing just rings. It's got wonderful sustain. I can play it loud, but it's not as "powerful" as my F-9... I would consider it a good choice. I would also vote for something like a Mid Missouri, Weber, or Arches (to plug a list builder) flat top. But, as others have said, you can certainly fit in with your Eastman... I think it's more a matter of style than instrument type. As F-Dad said, you just need to have "musical tact."
Mine's a 1918 A1
JGWoods - you missed my point. #Sure there's lots of difference in the style of the music and the approach to playing it. #There is a huge cultural difference, but the instrument is the same. #I'm pretty sure you could take a classical violin and give it to a mountain fiddle player and not miss a beat.
Right you are, I missed the point, you were speaking of the instrument, I the playing thereof.
time to clean my glasses.
You had a mighty nice looking Kalamzoo mando that looked like a great OT player from here f-d. Did you sell it?
HERE'S (http://home.comcast.net/~fatt-dad/kalamazoo-mandolin.html) the link to my Kalamazoo flat-top oval-hole mandolin. I love this mandolin and it plays great for old-time. I decided to sell it, 'cause it's too close to my Flatiron 1N, which I also love. Currently, I have the d'Adderio FT-74 strings on the Kalamazoo, but would likely restring it with the GHS A-250s in the future. For awhile I tried the FTs (flat wound) on my oval hole mandolins, but finally decided I really preferred the more conventional string.
I woulda boughten that Kalamazoo from you, but I have a Flatiron Cadet that is slightly less authentic an Old Time player, but great sounding nonetheless.
My Rigel has spoiled me for 1 3/16 nut, radiused neck, fatty frets, and I am going to see about getting a flat top from Chris Baird _Arches- one of these days to get the neck I want with that nice pancake mando look and sound.
I have a teens oval hole GIbson A, which I sometimes play with the old time group. I play in a very loosly put together old time band that plays mostly for fun, not bucks. I mostly play my Breedlove K body cascade model. It is loud, sweet and very easy to play with the radiused fretboard. I find the flat fretboard of the A harder to play on, but that is just me. The tuners also slip a little from time to time, and I just took the pickguard off due to a rattle. No one has ever said my Breedlove wasn't okay, in fact, everywhere I take it someone offers to buy it from me. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif