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Thread: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

  1. #1
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Hey friends, I’m thinking I’d like to get myself an arch top oval hole. I had a desire to fill the oval hole void and have given the old college try to a Flat top Flatiron 1N, and while I’ve liked it a lot, I just don’t think it’s the sound for me. Many thanks to those of you who helped me in that attempt, but I think it’s time to explore the arch top end of this breed.

    My plan is to start raise funds and to set money aside and eventually sell the flatty to raise somewhere in the $800 to $1000 range, or maybe more... I dunno... just thinking out loud.

    Here are some musts for what I want:
    A style is my preference
    Arch top of course
    Radiused Fretboard
    Built in pickup would be nice but not a deal breaker.

    I would love to get something custom made, but know that the above price point makes that a low probability, even for something bare bones. I like my Eastman MD305, so I have leaned towards an Eastman MD604 as it fills all of the above but I am a little hesitant to go 100% that direction. I do plan to go give them a test drive at my local shop to check them out. I’d like something that is a step above the 305, so the Kentucky 270 series is out. I know they are nice but just want something a little more than that. I’ve also thought about the old Gibsons which I have seen in that price range, but the idea of a 100 yr old instrument is not necessarily an adventure I’m sure I want to take (nor can I afford to take).

    I guess I’m just curious if anyone had any other ideas for options outside of the Eastman option.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by soliver; Nov-25-2017 at 6:55pm.
    aka: Spencer
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  2. #2
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Well, vintage Gibson mandolins don't have to be that much of a gamble. Especially if you can play it. A repaired (and maybe refinished) A Jr. or A model would be in your price range. Especially from an established and respected dealer.

    But, if you don't want to go that route, then might suggest looking at a used US made Breedlove or maybe see if you can snag a deal on a used Weber. Am admitting a huge bias as I have a Breedlove mandolin. As well as a vintage Gibson. Used Breedlove prices have dropped. And some good deals can be snagged, if you like the sound.
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  4. #3
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    This just popped up on the classifieds today:
    Used Eastman MD604Cs Mandolin Ac/El for $650
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/117947#117947

    2 Breedlove OO American/Premiere at $850
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/116048#116048
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/117625#117625

    Here's a sweet looking Weber Bitterroot at $1800
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/113654#113654

    And a Weber Gallatin at $2000
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/117806#117806

    I lean towards the Breedlove and Weber because I prefer a raised fretboard and also a longer neck. These attach at the 15th fret, whereas the traditional oval hole attach at the 12th fret. If I were buying, I'd probably go for that used Weber Bitterroot, if money allows. If not, the Breedloves are quite nice. I do really like the sound of the Eastman oval holes but just would like a more modern neck. At $650, that Eastman 604 is a really good deal.

    I actually recently bought a Chinese made Breedlove Crossover OO. I had initially panned the Chinese Breedloves but hadn't played any oval hole ones. The FF is an overpriced mandolin, but I found a used OO for less than $400 and was pleasantly surprised. They are all solid wood arched top and back, but are pressed tops, not carved. Still, the setup and hardware are good and I really like the sound and feel. Here's a one for $380:
    https://reverb.com/item/7170283-bree...st-with-gigbag
    If you want a hardcase, it fits really well in the Musician's Gear Hardshell A-Style Mandolin Case, which is $40 right now:
    http://www.musiciansfriend.com/acces...-mandolin-case

    Edit- Actually, here's a better one with adjustable truss rod and solid tailpiece shipped for $375 (after 15% discount until 11/28/17)
    https://reverb.com/item/6381056-b-st...n-violin-stain
    In fact, that's the same shop I purchased mine from and they were great to deal with and the mandolin was perfectly setup when it arrived.
    Last edited by colorado_al; Nov-25-2017 at 9:00pm.
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    2015 Blueridge BR-40TCE Tenor to Octave Mandolin conversion
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  6. #4
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Thanks guys, I hadn’t given Breedlove much consideration, but I’ll have to get my hands on one of the older ones and give it a try. I have played a recent crossover and really didn’t care for it. But I have also given consideration to an vintage Gibson A.
    aka: Spencer
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    "You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage
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    Registered User Mike Scott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Check out Morris (NFI)
    Thanks, Mike


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  8. #6
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    I would mention Breedlove (USA made) also. I have not played one, but I have heard them on videos here and was impressed. There are several made in Oregon used OO's listed here and at Reverb sub $1000.
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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    There are big differences between the old-style Gibson 12-fret oval holes and the newer hybrid types (i.e., neck joints at the 13th through 15-th fret). For the former, the fretboard rides on the top and (typically) for the latter it's elevated. I'm very happy with my paddle head 1920 A3. I owned one hybrid and didn't like it - not from the same family to me.

    Folks like both; however.

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

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  10. #8
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    have 2 a plain brown A0, and a TR A4 , both are 1922 'paddle heads'...


    the old ones have flat fingerboards, but a re fret has the possibility to have the finished fret tops radiused.
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  11. #9
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Thanks guys, … I was looking at the thread on White mandolins by Tyler White (I think?)… I reached out to see what he would charge for a bare bones A oval hole… just to see,… may be way out of my range, but worth checking I think.

    Curious though, how does an elevated vs non elevated FB effect the sound?
    aka: Spencer
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    Check them out here

    "You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage
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  12. #10
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Quote Originally Posted by soliver View Post
    <snip>

    Curious though, how does an elevated vs non elevated FB effect the sound?
    Not sure? They are different and you'll hear it. To me, it's neither louder or softer. To others, the non-elevated fretboard seems to make a volume difference. The way I see it, if you really want volume, get a resonator!

    So, loud is not the end game, perhaps? The paddle-head and snake-head Gibson's are all integrated fretboards; however. And, if that's the sound you are looking for, that's one way to go. If you want something other than the paddle-head or snake-head sound, then go for a hybrid!

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '84 1N, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  13. #11
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Above your stated price range but there's a nice Weber Vintage A in the cafe classifieds right now (NFI on my part).

  14. #12

    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2Ku5txiFVA

    There is also the Eastman dgm2 if you can find one. I got one on sale and had the neck radius and the frets replaced with banjo ones and a new bridge. It's a lifer now.

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Another plug for Sonny Morris. I don't think he'll install a pickup, but on my custom hybrid F4 he installed a support block in the lower treble side bout for an output jack. Here's a nice Morris two point oval in the classifieds.

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    Gilchrist (pick) Owner! jasona's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    With pickup see if you can find an old Rigel.

    I would desperately love a Coombe or Baird but those can be spendy
    Jason Anderson

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    Registered User Mike Snyder's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    As a matter of clarity, Mike Black makes an A4 and A2Z with the fretboard extension integral with the top of the instrument. They are well beyond your price range but I wanted to make it clear that an non-elevated extension does not necessarily equate to less volume. I can only speak for mine, and it has good volume. In decibels it won’t keep up with my F5, but they’re different creatures with different types of sound dispersal. I have heard and played several old Gibson ovals which can be heard well, also. Generalizations frequently have exceptions.
    Mike Snyder

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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    2016 Franzke A5 Custom w/Rubner tuners & James Tailpiece & McClung Armrest
    2014 JBovier A5T w/Grover 308 tuners & McClung Armrest
    2017 Kentucky KM-272 w/SOliver Armrest
    2015 Blueridge BR-40TCE Tenor to Octave Mandolin conversion
    1960s Harmony H1213 Archtone Guitar to Mandocello conversion

  21. #17
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Just to clarify at this point, I’m trying to establish what to save towards. Only a little bit saved up at this point and will likely get in the range of half to 3/4 of what I need from the sale of one Mando, but there is a good deal more to go yet.

    Next week I’m planning to drive into Atlanta and check out an Eastman Oval at Maple Street Guitars and see what they sound like.

    Anyone know another good spot in the Atlanta area for a hands on Mandolin experience? I’d love to get my hands on a vintage gibby!
    aka: Spencer
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    Hand Crafted Mandolin Armrests
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    "You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage
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  22. #18
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    If you're headed to Atlanta you really should go about 30 mile NE to Sawnee Mountain Music in Cumming. Better selection of mandos than ANYWHERE I found in Hotlanta. The guys at Maple Street are great, very good service but not much at all in the way of mandos. Probably bigger and better selection at Sawnee than I've seen just about anywhere, but I've never been to Gryphons, Gruhns, or Carters.

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  24. #19
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Thanks Mandobart, I live just Northwest of Atlanta in a suburb, Cumming is further than Maple Street Music in the city, but it sounds like it may be worth the drive!
    aka: Spencer
    Eastman MD-305
    Flatiron 1N

    Hand Crafted Mandolin Armrests
    Check them out here

    "You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage
    to lose sight of the shore, ...and also a boat with no holes in it.”
    -anonymous

  25. #20

    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Keep an eye out for a Paris Swing MS-140-BK John Jorgenson. They're gone now but still pop up used. A real hybrid between a Snakehead and F-5/F-4 but is super sweet. My avatar is a pic of mine.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    https://www.mandolincafe.com/news/pu...ns_00415.shtml
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  26. #21
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    I saw a Paris Swing MS-120 for sale on guitarcenter.com for $600
    http://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/In-...al-Mandolin.gc
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Not sure it is worth $600, but I've never played one, so maybe?
    2016 Franzke A5 Custom w/Rubner tuners & James Tailpiece & McClung Armrest
    2014 JBovier A5T w/Grover 308 tuners & McClung Armrest
    2017 Kentucky KM-272 w/SOliver Armrest
    2015 Blueridge BR-40TCE Tenor to Octave Mandolin conversion
    1960s Harmony H1213 Archtone Guitar to Mandocello conversion

  27. #22
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Not sure what your budget is, but you might keep an eye out for a used Northfield NF-F2S
    2016 Franzke A5 Custom w/Rubner tuners & James Tailpiece & McClung Armrest
    2014 JBovier A5T w/Grover 308 tuners & McClung Armrest
    2017 Kentucky KM-272 w/SOliver Armrest
    2015 Blueridge BR-40TCE Tenor to Octave Mandolin conversion
    1960s Harmony H1213 Archtone Guitar to Mandocello conversion

  28. #23
    Registered User MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Call me crazy - but I absolutely LOVE my Kentucky KM-272 . . . it cured my MAS!
    - 1929 Martin Style 20
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    - 2016 Kentucky KM-272

  29. #24
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeZito View Post
    Call me crazy - but I absolutely LOVE my Kentucky KM-272 . . . it cured my MAS!
    I'd like to hear more about it please. I'm considering buying one.
    2016 Franzke A5 Custom w/Rubner tuners & James Tailpiece & McClung Armrest
    2014 JBovier A5T w/Grover 308 tuners & McClung Armrest
    2017 Kentucky KM-272 w/SOliver Armrest
    2015 Blueridge BR-40TCE Tenor to Octave Mandolin conversion
    1960s Harmony H1213 Archtone Guitar to Mandocello conversion

  30. #25

    Default Re: Arch Top Oval Hole Mandos; Feed my MAS

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_al View Post
    I saw a Paris Swing MS-120 for sale on guitarcenter.com for $600
    http://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/In-...al-Mandolin.gc
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Not sure it is worth $600, but I've never played one, so maybe?
    That's the one I was after. They were sold out so I had to "settle" for MS-140. Glad I did. Tuning machines are junk but otherwise mine is a stellar mandolin. I didn't pay near that but they were around that price retail. I've seen them come up used for under $500 in bygone days.

    My MS-140 is 12-frets to the body, like a snakehead, whereas that appears to be 14-frets to the body like an F5.

    I didn't really think about the neck being shorter until I got one of those MK Festivals, which is pretty much a poor-persons F5. There is a difference, albeit subtle, and I do prefer the shorter neck for a number of reasons including it gives a much better setup and nicer feeling play-ability. Because the body on the MS-140 isn't as deep as an F5 the tone isn't tubby, sounding much more focused and louder - overall a more "refined" tone to my ear.
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