View Full Version : What ya playin' OT fiddle tunes on?

Loren Bailey
Nov-15-2004, 8:16pm
Ok, Just wanted to spark some new conversation on the OT board. Realizing that the music that truly speaks to me is OT I made my first "real" mando purchase. Here's my axe:

Weber Gallatin
Oval (D) hole
Integrated fingerboard
Matte burst finish
Mahogany back
GHS PB strings (silk n steels and silk and bronze were too mellow)

Has a warm boxy tone, fiddle tunes sound very "clean"

Now what are you all playing them OT tunes on??


Nov-15-2004, 8:51pm
My main mando for OT right now is a koa SS Stewart oval hole, built like a Martin flat top. Strong bass, fairly loud, a sweet player overall. I will use my Flatiron Cadet at times- now kept tuned GDGD- and I don't have any qualms about using my Rigel G110 though I do get strange looks at times when I do so.


Jim M.
Nov-16-2004, 12:05am
'24 Gibson F2 or Brentrup oval-hole A or a fiddle

Nov-16-2004, 12:47am
or a fiddle

Yeah, I hope that's true of me someday too.

My main mando of late, since I've only had it ~6 months, is a 20s Gibson A1, but will occasionally play another A-f or A-O mandolin. I also play a flat mandola quite a bit for OT jams depending on the other instruments.

John Flynn
Nov-16-2004, 6:50am
I used to play my Rigel A+ Deluxe for OT and sometimes I still do. But my main OT axe is now a Parsons Flat-top, with a spruce top, walnut back and sides, professionally set up with GHS Silk and Steels.

Jim Garber
Nov-16-2004, 8:02am
Primarily fiddle for oldtime but in a band I usually play my 83 Flatiron A5-2 so I can actually hear myself. In jams I play either 23 A2Z or 24 F4 tho lately I have also played my teens Lyon & Healy.


Nov-16-2004, 6:02pm
Kalamazoo KM 21, built 1940. Steel strings, sometimes deep as a well, sometimes giggling like a young brad

Smuggled out of Canada.

Nov-17-2004, 9:08am
Primarily fiddle for oldtime but in a band I usually play my 83 Flatiron A5-2 so I can actually hear myself. In jams I play either 23 A2Z or 24 F4 tho lately I have also played my teens Lyon & Healy.

You have great choices. One reason I play my Rigel G110 in band situations is so I can hear it, and be heard- what did they do in the old days? Those F4s and A2Zs weren't louder back when, so how did anyone hear'em?

Jim- I've see the delightful pix of your bowlbacks- 13 or so, now I find you have 4 more mandos...at least- what's the total? It is an admirable collection from everything I've seen so far.

best regards,

Nov-17-2004, 10:28pm
I like the sound of my 1914 Gibson A the best among my humble collection for OT, and definitely find the wide, thick neck to be the most comfortable.

I scored on a Weber Aspen #2 for a great price on Evil-Bay a little while ago, and that has a proved to have a very nice sound, too, though if there's alot of instruments, it doesn't cut through so good.

Once I tried to play my f-style, but the ridicule was too much to bear (joke).

When my buddies get sick of my fiddle-imitations on mandolin, I play my old Gibson L-00 or, at the larger jams, my good not-so-old HD-28.

Nov-17-2004, 10:32pm
what did they do in the old days?

At least around here, the oldtimers (age wise) say that old time music was just fiddle and banjo. #You will get some wierd looks from some old guys if you try to bring a mandolin (or even a guitar sometimes) to their jams.

I say traditions are made not to be broken, but to be built upon. #Still...NO SAXOPHONE!

Nov-18-2004, 8:58am
I believe Kevin is right about the fiddle and banjo in old OT music. BTW that's a clawhammer style on the banjo.

WV Mike
Nov-19-2004, 12:57pm
I switch between my 16 Gibson A Model and my recently purchased Parsons Flat-top Oval hole. I like the deeper sound of the Gibson, but I find the Parsons easier to play.

Mando Johnny, I didn't know you had a Parsons.

Nov-19-2004, 3:59pm
Well, I recently went to an OT jam with my Trillium Octave Mandolin... lots of folks asked what the heck it was, but nobody voiced any objections. One fella let me know that the Celtic jam was the next night (I couldn't tell if he was being critical or just trying to be helpful...).

not particularly traditional, but sounded nice...:laugh:


Nov-19-2004, 4:25pm
More than likely the guy was just trying to be helpful. So far as I understand, OMs are pretty much a standard instrument in a typical Celtic lineup (probably don't need to be telling you this, since you own one), but I can't say that I've ever seen one at an OT jam muself. I bet the guy just thought you were interested in Celtic music and was trying to turn you on to the jam.

There is a pretty cool CD called Norman and Nancy Blake Natasha's Waltz that has a bunch of either OM or mandocello on it. Very mandolin heavy, and has Peter Outroshko on it. It's not really old time, more like chamber music, or probably best to say just a poutpouri (sp?) of styles.

I've always thought it'd be cool to jam out on Old Time tunes with the full array of mandolin family instruments. Unfortunately, I only know one Octave Mando player...don't even know anyone who owns a mandola, let alone a mandocello.

Martin Jonas
Nov-24-2004, 10:34am
I find that my 1920s Majestic flattop (small round hole, Portuguese style) is a good match for OT fiddle tunes. It has certain roughness around the edges which doesn't suit most other style of music I play, but is just right for this. It has a woody "plonk" a bit like a string bass, just a few octaves higher, if that makes any sense. Here (http://mandolinproject.150m.com/wbb.html)'s my attempt at Whiskey Before Breakfast on the Majestic (it's MP3 number 3 on the list).

Although I understand that Majestic (http://www.majesticguitars.com) 4-string banjos are well-regarded in OT circles, my mandolin is a bit of an odd one -- Majestic were a US company, but mine was built under license in Germany and is clearly a German design. Still, I claim OT authenticity-by-proxy...


Nov-25-2004, 9:32pm
I took my F-style to an OT jam, and thought I'd share some food for thought.

While playing my f-style in melodic unison with banjo and fiddle, I found that it competed with the fiddle in terms of volume and projection. This may be fine in some contexts, but the type of music we often play around here is totally fiddle-centric...that is to say, everything is supposed to be subordinate to and supportive of the melody as played by the fiddle. Any kind of harmony I was trying competed with the melody. It just didn't feel right.

I missed my A. In a strange way, playing "second fiddle", so to speak, really gives you alot of freedom to mess around on rythm or harmonies, while not being so intrusive to the driving melody line, which, at least around here, is the most important part of a tune. I kinda felt I was stepping on the fiddler's toes playing with my f-style.

All of this is somewhat overstated. It was a good, fun jam...I was just kinda thinking about the dynamics of my f-style vs. my a-style while playing, and those where my main impressions.

John Flynn
Nov-25-2004, 9:46pm
We have some of that fiddle-centric thing going on around here also, but that's not the only possible reality in old-time. If you listen to Curtis Buckhannon, Clyde Curley, Skip Gorman, John Rossbach or Bruce Ling, you can hear some great mando-centric old-time where either the fiddle is "second," there is no fiddle at all or they are co-equals. That is the way I'm interested in playing! For that, you need an axe that projects. I think it boils down to a choice of what role you want to play in the group making the music. In my OT band, my fiddler and I are co-equals on melody and harmony. If I'm crowding her, she lets me know and I back off, and vice versa.

Nov-25-2004, 9:48pm
Prolly heard this before on other threads, but I play either my Old Wave A-oval or my Weber Aspen. The OW is loud enough and good tone with Silk and Steel on it. The Aspen is delightful, though not big in sound with TI mittels.


John Flynn
Nov-26-2004, 7:52am
what did they do in the old days?
I agree with the preivous comment about "just banjo and fiddle" in the old days. In addition, I was at a jam this past Memorial Day with the "grand dame" fiddler in our area, a lady who has been playing OT for I guess about 70 years. She said that when guitars first started in OT, they were not nearly as loud as many guitars today. The instruments were small-bodied flatops and even some arch-tops. The didn't use the "boomy" dreadnaughts that are more common today. Also, they played with just thumb picks and the technique was strictly a bass note on the beat and a light down strum on the off-beat. So the guitar was much more sparse than what you hear today.

Nov-27-2004, 9:54am
Yep- just banjo and fiddle in the Old Days- when Old Time Music wasn't old. So what did people play on the mandolin back then? Judging by the large number of Old Gibsons around, as well as all the other oldies, the mandolin was fairly popular in the teens and 20s of the century just past.

What were they pickin?


Nov-28-2004, 11:50am
I think orchestral music was very popular amongst mandolin players in those days. I'm no historian.

Nov-29-2004, 10:22pm
I play my Gibson A9 for Old-Time tunes. It's plunkier than the F9, which seems better suited for Bluegrass. Right now it's strung with J74's.

This is According to Gibson's book: 100 years of an American Icon; Italian bowlbacks came to the US in the late 1700's but were not well recieved by the public. In the 1880's groups referred to as the 'Spanish Students' arrived from Madrid and became popular, playing Spanish and Polka Dance songs and some classical, including Mozart.
These musicians spawned many similar American ensembles featuring the mandolin and playing similar music. In the early 1900's mandolin societies became popular, and they performed popular American music, barbershop quartet music and 'Tin-Pan-Alley' music. The mandolins popularity waned with the rise in popularity of the guitar. In the 1930's Bill Monroe came around and well, you know the rest of that story...... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Nov-30-2004, 10:37am
Case in point about just fiddle and banjo back then. Here is a picture taken around 1910 of my g-grandfather's band, the "Curlee Rooster Band". I guess it isn't strictly fiddle and banjo as there is also a harmonica in there as well but you get the point. My g-grandfather is the one with the fiddle, though I understand he was a fine banjo player as well.


Jim Garber
Nov-30-2004, 10:43am
Jim- I've see the delightful pix of your bowlbacks- 13 or so, now I find you have 4 more mandos...at least- what's the total? It is an admirable collection from everything I've seen so far.
Sorry, jgwoods... I never answered since I forgot to track this thread.

Yeah, I am a collector, but one who chooses based on playability. When I get a spare moment I plan on photographing my group of non-bowlbacks (Hah! -- that is a term you don't hear much).

Those four as mentioned and a few more Gibsons and a few others. A few electrics also. My wife is a wonderful woman -- very understanding. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif


Nov-30-2004, 6:15pm
I have an Old Wave oval for old time music that has volume and tone that I like. I have also been looking at Octave Mandolins after I heard Mando Mafia use an octave in their set. It seemed to fill in the gap between guitar and melody mandolins, part melody, part drone.

Nov-30-2004, 10:02pm
I also think the octave does a great job for this kind of music. I play a Weber Sage #1 for a few of our songs in the band I'm in. I use it for our version of 'I'll Fly Away'. The drone effect really sounds cool and it's got just a little different sound which I think is pleasing for Old-Time. (may get some looks from the traditionalists but.....) http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Nov-30-2004, 10:17pm
I was just sitting here reading this with my Gibson EM-200 in my lap and was inspired to try "I'll Fly Away". Darned good if a little weird. How's that for tradition... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Jim Garber
Nov-30-2004, 10:41pm
I also think the octave does a great job for this kind of music.
I love Tim O'Brien's use of the octave mandolin to back up old timey vocals. No, not traditional in that it was not used much in the old days but it works just fine for me.


Shana Aisenberg
Dec-05-2004, 3:26pm
For old time I mostly play fiddle or open back 5 string Fairbanks Senator (around 100 yrs old). When playing mandolin either a 1924 Gibson A-1 snakehead oval hole or Brentrup A w/ F holes. Recently playing fretted dulcimer for old time again.


Steve Williams
Dec-06-2004, 2:19pm
For Old-Time I play either a 1925 Gibson A-Jr or a round hole flat top mando that I recently made. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Dec-12-2004, 10:02pm
To start: I play my oval hole two point, a luthier made instrument. has the right sound with dr74s for OT. But my question is where does a tenor banjo fit in in OT? Iv'e asked other players most of which say "IT DONT"http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif #Any sugestions? Id'e like to know.

Dec-14-2004, 8:47am
I think tenor banjo could fit right in there as a melody instrument in OT. I think a fiddle, mando, tenor banjo trio would be a great melodic package.

I wonder if the sound of a tenor banjo pickin with a clawhammer banjo would mix well.

John Flynn
Dec-14-2004, 8:58am
does a tenor banjo fit in in OT
Yes, it does. Curtis Buckhannon has been playing a tenor a lot lately in concert and will be playing it on a couple of tracks on his new CD. It sounds great as a lead instrument on selected OT fiddle tunes and is a great "change up" variation from the mandolin. His tenor is an open back, which is more mellow than one with a resonator.