View Full Version : Carved top/Flattop tone differences?
I'm getting a serious case of A style oval hole MAS (ASOHMAS). http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif #While I'm pretty lucky to live in an area that has plenty of good Bluegrass F styles to try out... the oval hole pickin's are pretty slim. #Just wondering what the tonal (or other) differences are between the carved top mandos and the flat tops? #I'd be using this mando to play fiddle tunes mostly solo or with one or two other people.
In my experience, some flat-tops have more of a guitar-like sound, by which I mean they sound best when strummed. Others tend to have more of a harp-like sound, with a lot of overtones. I've never played a flat-top that had much of a bark, though they may exist. Carved top oval-holes can sound very similar to f-holes. If you read the guesses for the mando-tasting CD, a lot of people thought the Loar was an oval hole of some kind:
http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin....tasting (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=12;t=15370;hl=mandolin+and+ tasting)
I'm not saying one is better than the other, but they certainly are different.
I've been doing a good bit of research into flat top vs. carved top sounds. #In my experience one can expect a good flat top to have just as fine a tone as any carved top but, they are most likely going to be less powerful with less volume. #As to specific oval hole tone, #it is all over the map. #Most are deep and resonant/ringing, which is what most folks are after in an oval hole. #But they can be quite similiar to an F-hole sound too.
I have a nice flattop that sounds juicy, full, and resonant when picking at home. If I play with one other guitar, it sounds great. If I play with two other guitars, some of the juiciness and fullness jumps overboard. If I play with a banjo, I can't even hear it.
But I sure do like it for what it's good at.
My first mandolin was a Flatiron pancake-style mandolin from the Montana workshop (I now regret having sold it to my cousin). It was a flat top oval hole. The thing was so incredibly loud! It did have a lot of projection and good tone. As an apartment dweller, it some times caused problems for my neighbors...I don't know if it was just that particular one or what, but some oval hole flat tops can be darn loud.