View Full Version : Old Wave oval-hole

Jun-11-2004, 10:44am
Last week during a vacation to Nashville, Gruhn's was on the must do list. Lo and behold there was a brand new Old Wave #325. There's no mention of this one on Bill's website, no "recently departed" photos or "available now" photos. Did Gruhn's commission it, or did one of Bill's customers bale out? I'll learn more from Bill once he returns on Monday. I'm told this beauty has an Englemann spruce top, the grain is extremely wide. The back, sides and neck are all Pennsylvania sugar maple. It's sporting a one piece bridge and very pretty tortoise binding on the body only. I love the natural finish. In the sunlight the back sparkles with rainbow colors. Some ovals have a tubby tone; but not this one. It's sweet yet has a good balance of tone and rich harmonics. The radiused fretboard and the traditional short neck plays like clarified butter. I've always wondered why some mandos have the small chunks of wood on either side of the fretboard where the neck meets the body, and some don't. Does this indicate a construction technique? This one doesn't have them and it keeps the instrument looking light. Old Wave and Peter Coombe seem to be mentioned when traditional style ovals are mentioned so I figured this was my time to get one. I stole the photo from Gruhn's site. I have to thank Gruhn's for their hospitality, and the transaction was a flawless joy.

Fred G
Jun-11-2004, 11:02am
That's really nice, enjoy!

Jun-11-2004, 11:12am
So how do you guys incorporate a srap on these traditional oval hole things? The fretboard isn't elevated and I'm not screwing a strap button anywhere on the heel. Is the headstock the only way?

Jun-11-2004, 11:33am
Wye knot?

Jun-11-2004, 11:43am

Darn, I'm headed to Nashville in the next week and I was going to take a look at the Old Wave. I had an Old Wave similar to that one, but sold it to buy a mandola. I just don't play mandolin that much, but it was a wonderful playing and sounding instrument. I still have an OW octave mando -- and will definitely keep because I have learned my lesson about letting OWaves go.

I think the headstock is your only option short of installing a strap button. I finally put a strap button on the treble side of the heal on my mandola and really like it. After a year or so I just decided that it might affect the value a little, but I don't own it to sell -- I own it to play and I didn't like the strap around the peghead.

Ask Bill Bussmann what he thinks.

By the way, Gruhns had Bussmann's "watermelon" mando when I was there last time. It sounded better than most of the expensive F's I've heard from other makers -- it just looked kind of strange (actually kind of cool).

Good luck, Hoyt

Jun-11-2004, 12:03pm
Sorry to buy #325 out from under you, Hoyt. I honestly was not in buying mode and waited until I'd been home a few days before calling Gruhn's with my credit card. Bill left me a message at my home phone the other day saying he'd be out of town until Monday. I will certainly be talking with him to learn what I can about this particular creation. He might even through in a few anecdotes. I'd like to know about the one-piece bridge; it looks like rosewood. I wonder if he experiemented with other bridges.
Gruhn's was charging the same price as listed on Bill's website, plus $30 for the UPS to Philly. With no fretboard or headstock binding and a traditional stamped tailpiece, it's rather plain looking. But I'm a fan of understated elegance.
The guys at Gruhn's also mentioned the watermelon mando sounded terrific.

Jun-11-2004, 1:58pm
does it have a truss rod? Thanks, BC

Jonathan James
Jun-11-2004, 7:42pm
That's a beauty. I played it during a recent visit to Nashville as well, and it was clearly one of my favorites of everything on the wall. Enjoy!

Jun-15-2004, 10:54am
Bill was kind enough to tell me more about #325. No truss rod or ugly truss rod cover on the headstock. Instead he's used carbon graphite reinforcement. The strings appeared to be J74's, but they were old. I only had a set of Martin light's so on they went. It lost some volume but the sustain is gorgeous. I'm using a 1.14mm Dunlop alligator pick. I usually use a 1.4mm on my F-hole mando's but the Old Wave seems to be more articulate with the thinner pick. I think I'll get one of the chocolate mando straps I see on the Classifieds. What's Mexican ziricote wood anyway??

"the colorado engelmann spruce top is wood I got from Don Musser who supplies engelmann to many of our favorite mandoluthiers, he harvested it in 1999 in the headwaters of the navaho river just over the state line from new mexico, the x brace is adirondack spruce from old standard, they supply martin and collings with top wood. all the top joints utilize freshly prepared hot hide glue, the maple looks like stuff I got from randy snoddy who claims he got it from a guy in Pa. who used to supply the legendary bob givens, but I dont think the back is sugar maple, might be red maple.
after final finish sanding I apply a few sealer coats of freshly prepared shellac to seal the wood before applying about 7 thin coats of lacquer, and sanding much of it off in the final rubbing and buffing process. That one may have
one of my red henry inspired mexican ziricote bridges. the neck has a 3/8x1/4 carbon graphite rod glued in with aircraft epoxy."

Tom C
Jun-15-2004, 11:07am
Pretty. It does have the short neck where you only have 10 frets to the body. I do not know if all oval 'oles are made that way. I'll have to view more pics of these. I understand with a long neck the bridge would be mis-aligned due to the 'ole so I'm sure this would be the right way and others may compensate somehow.

Jun-15-2004, 3:26pm
I was afraid the short neck would be a bother. Maybe because the neck is modern-narrow, or that the heal is rather skinny, but the short neck is no bother at all.