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Thread: "Perfect" Scroll?

  1. #1
    Registered User Jason Stein's Avatar
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    Default "Perfect" Scroll?

    Greetings,

    I'm wondering if players/builders/collectors would post photos/descriptions of what they consider a "perfect" scroll and why.

    I've seen some scrolls where to me there is an aesthetic advantage in the symmetry, carving, and finish. To me, however, some scrolls seem so close that I wonder what criteria folks use in their own discernment.

    I use the quotation marks around "perfect" because I know this is subjective. I'm not interested in seeing the worst scrolls - there are already a few threads on that.


    Thank you,
    Jason

  2. #2
    Registered User StevenS's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    While I, personally, have grown to find repeating the traditional F5 scroll too Victorian and antique, I think there are a handful of builders who have done a great job of refining and gently modernizing the geometry - Tom Ellis, Andrew Mowry, recent builds by Dan Voigt come to mind.

    Steve
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    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    Good thread concept, I remember a thread from some time ago where something close to this was discussed but I can't recall enough to search for it. It's actually been on my mind, and of course the Lloyd Loar scroll are the top of the standard. The term "eagles beak" to describe the binding in the center of the scroll is all I can recall...
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

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  6. #4
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    I prefer scroll where the button is almost flush. Many buttons seem to be outties.

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    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    Monteleone
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    Bill
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  10. #6
    Registered User Drew Streip's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    My perfect scroll hasn't been done, so far as I know. If I ever build an F5, my goal is to extend the ridge to the center of the button, rather than stopping in the corner.

    This is one of my only gripes with the typical F5 design -- when an otherwise-beautifully sculpted scroll ends with a straight vertical section in the innermost corner. The shadow on this picture illustrates what I mean: The curvature is great, the radii are complementary, all the lines are equidistant and set to converge in this hypnotizing spiral...and then boom, that ridge line just takes a shortcut straight down to the corner.

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  12. #7

    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    I've tried that, Drew. It looks weird once you see it in the flesh. The sides of the button end up sloping up and it ends up looking kind of un-anchored.
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  14. #8
    Registered User Steve VandeWater's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    I like the looks of a traditional scroll as in Drew's photo above. What bugs me is when the scroll is too tight to fit a strap around it.
    It ain't gotta be perfect, as long as it's perfect enough!

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  16. #9
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Streip View Post
    My perfect scroll hasn't been done, so far as I know. If I ever build an F5, my goal is to extend the ridge to the center of the button, rather than stopping in the corner.

    This is one of my only gripes with the typical F5 design -- when an otherwise-beautifully sculpted scroll ends with a straight vertical section in the innermost corner. The shadow on this picture illustrates what I mean: The curvature is great, the radii are complementary, all the lines are equidistant and set to converge in this hypnotizing spiral...and then boom, that ridge line just takes a shortcut straight down to the corner.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Scroll is 3D object so you should think of it as converging surfaces, the lines you see are just where the surfaces meet. In this respect original design is as good as it gets (not always executed to the best on Loars). There are basicly two sloped surfaces of which one converges into the flat button and the other ends at the inside point. If you carved the ridge line into the scroll it would look kinda "lost" in space and destroy any independence of the surfaces. Where would the ridge end? In the center of the scroll and then nothing? Or form a "circle" out of it inside the smll button making it really crowded and too busy looking. The carving of the surfaces has effect on the curves of binding where they meet inside scroll, that's why so many mandolins (and almost all modern Gibsons) show the ugly "eagle beak" at some angles. They look OK straight on but when you look from players angle the binding looks broken. On loars the transition is nice at all angles...
    SOme makers try to improve the scroll by making the outer curves converge smoothly but the original idea was not about that, the balance of the outside shape is given by the smooth and continuous curvature change (kind of exaggerated on the Monteleone scroll which I consider the only really original and balanced modernization of the design). I've spend so much time studying and drawing the original F-5 that I came to the conclusion that whoever designed the (new post Orville) F-4/5 design (I'm SURE the f-holes were not afterthought but rather two variants that were designed together but the other one used only later) was really bordering with genius as there are so many tiny details in curvatures that will throw off the whole if not followed. The whole body asymmetry is deliberate and even after removing the points the basic outline is not symetrical and if you force it to be symmetrical then the curve between the two body points will never look right and the bass side transition into the scroll will look out of balance. There are many other details of the design overlooked by most folks like the visible ends of kerfing inside F-4 mandolins were always cut into nice angle and nicely cleaned glue squeeze out on the back joint (visible - so it was done first) Someone was really conscious about how it should look as WHOLE and Gibson workers followed it to great success on teens F-4s and early 20's F-5s and pretty sharp decline of the details of the design after 1925 or so.... Perhaps Guy Hart was the person responsible for oversee the process and keep the design true to concept or he was even the one who created it?
    IMO, you cannot talk about the scroll as separate entity, it's part of the whole design and even exact position of fingerboard relative to the scroll will affect the balance.
    Adrian

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  18. #10

    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

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    '02 Gibson master model #70327 02-01-02
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  20. #11
    Registered User mtucker's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    I think this guy's scroll and overall aesthetics are some of the best.
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  22. #12
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    Quote Originally Posted by mtucker View Post
    I think this guy's scroll and overall aesthetics are some of the best.
    Who is the builder?

    Edit: never mind I saw the Elkhorn tailpiece
    It ain't gotta be perfect, as long as it's perfect enough!

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  24. #13
    Registered User Markkunkel's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    I agree. Robb's work is something, indeed. I have a mango/cedar one of his that is a work of art. Click image for larger version. 

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    The lines of the button and the scroll more generally just seem to flow and to come together seamlessly.

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  26. #14
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    Post deleted. I just realized which forum this is and that this is a request for photos. Sorry
    Last edited by sunburst; Mar-17-2018 at 6:40pm.

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  28. #15
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    John Hamlett has blended the Gibson mandola scroll with his F5 and has come up with what i think is by far the most beautiful mandolin scroll of all time. Yes, even easier on the eyes than the original classics. High praise for sure. And the Hamlett tail piece is more graceful to my eye than even the James on my Stanley A5s. His fit, finish, tone and volume are all excellent.

    The Montelone scroll works with the whole mandolin shape and tail piece like nothing else. It may be in a class by itself.

    The Sorensen gets respectable honorable mention from me.

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  30. #16
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

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    Gary Vessel.

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  32. #17
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    Not sure if either qualify as perfect, but here are two master Luthier’s versions
    Weber
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    Ratliff
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    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
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  34. #18
    Registered User Lane Pryce's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    Although it’s seems like an eternity back in the early to mid 2000s I can remember looking at the photo of a F5 on Andrew Mowry’s web Page and thinking it was the most beautiful scroll I had ever seen. His work ranks as some of the best out there. Lp
    J.Lane Pryce

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  36. #19
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    This is from a poster of the 2005 Mandofest in Lawrence. Has to be a teens F-4. This scroll isn't perfect in execution as it looks like they could have scraped it cleaner and possibly over-thinned the binding on the outside edge but to me this is the classic Gibson look at a time they were selling everthing they could make. Years before Loar.
    Notice that the opening stays basically the same width right up to the junction point instead of getting progressively narrower. And the lines are always circular with no quick bends to make it fit together.
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  38. #20
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    This picture also captures something that some may not be aware of but notice why the fingerboard has the point before the extension, to blend with the oval hole.

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  40. #21
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilburn View Post
    This picture also captures something that some may not be aware of but notice why the fingerboard has the point before the extension, to blend with the oval hole.
    And one more... the gap between fingerboard and scroll is smooth continuation of the gap in scroll. 99.9% modern mandolins miss this.
    It's also perfectly visible on the Loar pic few posts earlier... It's not just the scroll but how all the parts of design fit to one another...
    Adrian

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  42. #22
    Registered User Jason Stein's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    Now I'm spinning down the rabbit hole of scrolldom.

    I've only focused on early Gibsons at this point (though the Monteleone above is a stunning, elegantly balanced, and beautifully executed modern scroll that works so well with his Grand Artist design).

    It's certainly true that a scroll has to be appreciated as only a part of the whole mandolin's form but I'm also very interested in what exactly in the close-up examination of the scroll folks appreciate.

    I've been looking at early Gibson examples in the Mandolin Archives and I'm smitten by the 1906 Gibson K4 Mandocello, #5264.

    The scroll seems asymmetrical, bulging to the left. I imagine when in playing position it adds a look of lightness, almost like a balloon lifting and balancing the weight of the mandocello.

    I'm not sure if this particular scroll is hollow, but it gives a visual impression of a large sound chamber with extra resonance.

    Also, notice the early version of the ridge that emanates from the fingerboard.

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    More to come!

    - Jason
    Last edited by Jason Stein; Mar-27-2018 at 1:33pm.

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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    That design is moving into the art of the time. Especially the back- it looks like it's moving- almost a Spanish lady dancing. Very cool. Probably not for bluegrass though.

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  45. #24
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Stein View Post
    ...notice the early version of the ridge that emanates from the fingerboard...
    Yes, and that was when the fingerboard was glued directly to an elevated area of the top, not to an applied elevated extender. Though the terminus of the scroll ridge was moved to extend downward (rather than toward the fingerboard) before the advent of the elevated extender, it still had an elevated part of the top to blend into. After the upper part of the top was lowered and the extender was added, the ridge didn't really have anywhere to go, so it just sort of faded into the top. That, IMO, is one of the reasons that carving a good, aesthetically pleasing scroll is so difficult. The design was adapted to the lower F5-style top rather than designed along with it.

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  47. #25
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    Default Re: "Perfect" Scroll?

    This one:

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