Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    22

    Default F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    I'm looking to build an F Style mandolin with a slighter neck, especially at the nut.

    I have Siminoff's book and Guild of American Luthiers Loar plan. I also have my Washburn M-4 (F4 Style/Oval Hole) as a physical example.

    If I compare the length/width/heights of the plans and sample, I notice several variations. Generally, the GAL #26 plan looks larger. It's also deeper than the Washburn. The Loar plan, if I measure it from the centerline, is also off about 1/32" - 1/16" favoring the E string side. Even the f-holes are off about 1/32" - 1/16".

    The Washburn M-4 is somewhere between the Siminoff and Loar.

    The scroll and neck block are also very noticably different comparing the GAL Loar plan and Siminoff's. The Loar is larger in "diameter" and is more open in the cut-out.

    Are other Loar/Gibson plans truly symetrical? Should it be?

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Williamsburg, VA
    Posts
    277

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    Perhaps this will help answer part of your question:
    See the last question and answer in this interview with Charlie Derrington in Mandozine
    http://www.mandozine.com/resources/CGOW/derrington.php
    John Kasley
    Williamsburg, VA

  3. #3
    Registered User bernabe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Posts
    344

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    These slight differences in measurements or symmetry are not uncommon. The Loar plans came from an instrument that was considered worthy and would be good to use for your build. I dont know the source for the Siminoff plans and I would simply leave the Washburn out of the equation. You cant go wrong with either the Siminoff or the Loar plans. No matter how the instrument comes out [sound], it will have nothing to do with which of the two plans you chose IMO.

  4. #4
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    12,201

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    These are the most accurate F5 Loar drawings. You don't have to adhere slavishly to the Loar though.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    Yes, Question 51 (and its answer) seems to indicate that what I'm seeing on the plans is some slight asymmetry although the GAL plan appears to have the neck right along the centerline. I realy didn't notice anything until I had the form almost finished and I stacked the two sides right on top each other. It was immediately obvious that the two halves (besides of course the scroll and points) were slightly different and I wasn't expecting that since other instruments I've made were always symmetrical.

    Also a previous answer indicated the the treble f-hole of the Loar was adjusted. Although I'm not sure why only the treble side would be adjusted.. I'm sure there is a reason.

    If I take the Siminoff plan and fold it along the centerline, it's the opposite of the Loar plan. The G string side of the body is about 1/8" longer than the treble side which gives it more of a bulbous shape.

    Which kinda begs the question... If I'm trying to achieve a more "woody" tone, is one way better than the other?

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    Yeah, I know that I can a bit compulsive about accuracy. As a machinist I need to work out to +/- .0005 otherwise the part might not work at all. That's something I can't do with wood but if I have to "cut to the line" on a piece of wood, I've got to put the line in the right spot first. So, for me, the trick is finding that right spot. I know that neither may be wrong, but I'm the guy who has the get out the pencil and mark the material. So a decision has to be made at some point if I have multiple or conflicting plans.

    I saw the Elderly plans and balked at the price since I already have one set of Loar plans. I see that Siminoff also has other F Style plans for sale on his site.

  7. #7
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    12,201

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    Yes, the price seems a little steep, but they are accurate. Many others are not, and none are more accurate.
    Despite what some say and have said, I don't think the asymmetry of the F5 was planned, intentional, and done for a specific purpose. I think it just turned out that way, and I build my F5-style mandolins symmetrical to a center line, with added points and scrolls.
    As for +/- .0005", it's wood; fahgettaboudit!

  8. #8
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe
    Posts
    1,066

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    Quote Originally Posted by sunburst View Post
    Despite what some say and have said, I don't think the asymmetry of the F5 was planned, intentional, and done for a specific purpose. I think it just turned out that way, and I build my F5-style mandolins symmetrical to a center line, with added points and scrolls.
    My take on the centerline is that basically even if you try hard, things sometimes slide while gluing and centerline appears off. I believe that even the slight assymetry of F-5 outline, not counting scrolls etc., was intentional (not for funcion but for looks). If you have a look at art of the era, e.g. drawings of Alfons Mucha you'll notice typical flow of curves and balance in asymmetrical objects. The curve between the points on treble side is very symmetrical about its own axis (though there is some opening and the "hook" at the tip of the upper point to keep it from being boring) and if you draw the bass side symmetrical to this it would look awkward. The curve calls for straightening as it approaches waist so it can turn and bounce into scroll. On the other hand, if you draw treble side symmetrical to bass side it would make the curve between points very unbalanced. I spent hundreds of hours drawing my own F5 plans without adhering to Loar shape or size (long before I drew the Loar plans). I struggled to get the shape symmetric without success (that being my complete satisfaction) I rubber-erased through dozen drafting papers till I got to where I was happy... and exactly the aforemetioned things made the difference... Back then I knew Loars just from few pics of Bill Monroe and had no real measurements. There are higher principles (some call it "grand concept") that need to be fulfilled to keep "vibe of the era". Violinmaker schools / different eras can be distinguished by one look at their scrolls, that's it.
    Re: drawings.
    I'll add, that none of the plans printed on large printing machines will be 100% accurate as the printing companies keep humidity at higher levels and the machines stretch the paper slightly as it rolls through the machine at high speed to prevent crumpling (is that correct word?) of the paper. When you remove the paper from the machine it nearly always goes into lower humidity and shrinks a tiny bit (just like wood). I'd guess it will be 1-2% across the paper and slightly more along (direction of stretching). If you want really exact drawings you should print them with high quality plotter on high quality drafting paper.
    Adrian

  9. #9
    Registered User Rob Grant's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    FNQ, Australia
    Posts
    1,162

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    Seems to me one of the major advantages to the F5 style is that one can make slight errors in alignment and they are easier to compensate for with minor manipulations to the tailpiece or bridge. An A style, which is symmetrical in design, will show even minor deviations which can be almost impossible to compensate for.

    Which brings me to a point... why get your knickers in a knot over the dead accuracy of an F5 plan? "Cookie cutter" production is not the point of all this, is it? I hand build with each mandolin representing an individual entity. I lovingly produce individual, unique instruments. I want them to most of all sound good and look good. Stuff whether or not it's an exact copy of some factory production line product made back in the early 20s.
    Rob Grant
    FarOutNorthQueensland,Oz
    http://www.grantmandolins.com

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    Just noticed an uncorrected fat fingering in my original post. My intention is to have a WIDER neck at the nut. So it's not my intention to make a "perfect" version of a Loar. I'm not that skilled either.

    I know digital reproducing can be off and I'm assuming the GAL plans come off of a plotter. I checked the plan as best I could by lining up a slotted fingerboard with the plan and it was pretty much dead on. I compared my Loar template (copied plan on 1/4" hardboard) to some mandolins in the music store but, due to the arching of the instruments, it was darn near impossible to draw any conclusions. And I'm pretty sure the guys would get a little snippy if I showed up with micrometers and calipers...

    One thing that was apparent is that my Loar plan shows the point toward the nut having almost a flat underside (lacking much curvature) but all of the MK, Epi, Fender F Styles have a similar curvature on both sides of the point. My Washburn and the Siminoff plan do as well. Most of those had a pretty tight scroll too. And, like my Washburn, are not finished too well down in there and all looked like the have saw marks. I wasn't able to see the only Gibson that they had (locked behind glass).

    For me, If I look at Strad, Amati, Guarneri, Stainer violins, they all look like violins. Sound like 'em too. I know there are differences but it takes me a while to spot them. Plans exists for all of them and they're all different.

    So I think I'll procede with the Loar plans that I have. I'm sure that I'll have to make several "alterations" as I go.

    Thanks much for the input and advice.

  11. #11
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Manchester - Lancashire - NW England
    Posts
    8,436

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    from John Hamlett - "....., and I build my F5-style mandolins symmetrical to a center line, with added points and scrolls."
    That's maybe one more factor that makes your Mandolins stand out from the crowd (for me) John - they do look 'right'. As a former design engineer,anything that is 'supposed to be symetrical' but isn't,simply looks 'off balance',
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  12. #12
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe
    Posts
    1,066

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    The design is completely matter of taste. I started like you, Ivan, symmetry being my priority (I'm math teacher), but somehow my eyes got caught by that "something" ... balance is also subjective thing... imagine 1 pound on one side of bar and 2 pounds at twice the distance from rotational center... whole system is balanced but far from symmetrical
    Adrian

  13. #13
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Manchester - Lancashire - NW England
    Posts
    8,436

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    It's symetrical if you 'view the bar from the end' & have a centre line along it's length ie. there are alway 2 ways (or more ) of looking at something. I do understand you point however. I've seen a few mandolins that looked more than a bit 'lobsided' & no matter how good they might have sounded,i wouldn't want to own one like that. I've also seen a couple of (cheaper) instruments with off-centre' headstocks'.Surely, at any price,getting that right shouldn't be an issue.
    Here's a pic. of one of John Hamlett's awsome 'Firewood' Mandolins as he called them - fit,form & functionally (i suspect), as good as it gets,
    Ivan
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	John Hamlett mandolin full view.jpg 
Views:	192 
Size:	87.9 KB 
ID:	79675
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  14. #14
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe
    Posts
    1,066

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    It's symetrical if you 'view the bar from the end' & have a centre line along it's length ie. there are alway 2 ways (or more ) of looking at something. I do understand you point however. I've seen a few mandolins that looked more than a bit 'lobsided' & no matter how good they might have sounded,i wouldn't want to own one like that. I've also seen a couple of (cheaper) instruments with off-centre' headstocks'.Surely, at any price,getting that right shouldn't be an issue.
    Agree. The whole is just matter of personal preferences. From historical view, the F style (the 20's, not the Orville's) was not just A style with points and scrolls added, but rather completely new shape just basicly echoing the pear shape.
    I exclusively used my own F model like John, that is more symmetrical than vintage Gibson and fully understand the desire to be original. Only my latest two mandolins (under construction) are being done exactly to Loar specs. I finally wanted to do it as I drew it :-)
    Adrian

  15. #15
    Registered User Henry Eagle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Leer, Northern Germany
    Posts
    518

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    Go for it Adrian, your drawings are really spectacular! I bet after years of dealing with mandolins all of those "subtle" differences (to the Loars) must be really eyecatching from your perspective. Not for nothing did you win Darryl's apple a while ago.
    Henry

  16. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    amherst va
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    if your looking for dimensions i would check not saying it will help but it might. www.stewmac.com
    good luck

    marry christmas.

  17. #17
    Slow your roll. greg_tsam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    1,917
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: F Style Mandolin Dimensions

    OMG, you mean mando's are not symmetrical? Now that I know I'll be aware of this and always looking to see where they are out of line. Ignorance is bliss.
    Breedlove Quartz FF with K&K Twin - Weber Big Horn - Fender FM62SCE

    Wall Hangers - 1970's Stella A and 60's Kay Kraft

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •