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Thread: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    In terms of loudness I think both are equally as loud but an oval definitively has more sustain ! I like the sustain of a quality oval and I have on order a Girouard with an Engelmann top.
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  2. #27

    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    I'll bet you could have a Silverangel Econo 0 built for you. It would surely be cheaper than a Collings.

    I agree with your point about being happy with a modestly priced import, until you play a Collings.

    Like a fried asked me last night, had I played that 1941 D 18 a local store has (50k). Why on earth would I do that to myself?
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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    Quote Originally Posted by soliver View Post
    But at the Jam tonight I was told by a seasoned player that ovals just donít hold up in a jam session (refering to loudness). That would be a bummer since 99% of my playing (other than practice) is at the Jam session.

    Iím a little confused because Iíve also heard others say that ovals can be really loud... so which is it?
    Ovals can be really loud. Or not, for the same reasons that any mandolin can be loud.

    They are, to my experience, less focused than an f hole. Like the adjustment on the shower sprayer, the f hole seems a narrow focused spray, the oval is more spread out.

    The quip I have heard on the difference between ovals and ff holes, played well:

    In response to an ff hole instrument: "what a great sounding instrument"

    In response to an oval hole instrument: "what beautiful music"
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  5. #29
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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    My Flatiron Pancake (which I know the OP didn't bond with) is a very loud mandolin to the player, and anyone sitting close by, but it doesn't have the projection of even my cheaper FF holed instruments. I remember one bluegrass jam about 12 or 13 years ago to which I took my 1N because it was the "best quality" mandolin I owned at the time. It was like taking a knife to a gunfight when compared to the Davis F style mandolin that pro there that day was playing (Mike Bing of the Bing Brothers...good guys, and he's an excellent BG and OT mandolin player, very tasteful). Took my Kentucky 675-S to the same jam the next year with much better results. The FF instruments just have more focused projection, like arch-topped vs flat-topped guitars. I still love that little Flatiron and, in fact played it some last night. Wouldn't hesitate to use it in our praise band at church for the right song/atmosphere. But, won't be taking it to another BG jam again unless a big giant decides to crush all of my FF-holed instruments with his big giant foot
    Chuck

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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    Hey Jeff, you posted the same comment on post #20

    Thanks everyone for the input ... I'm still just not 100% sure what I'll end up doing, but it's take. Me several moms to save up 1/2 of what I need so the way I see it, I've got some time to figure it out.
    aka: Spencer
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  7. #31

    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    Without any doubt, ovals are no good in a jam session, almost regardless of price. I love Gibson F4s and have had several and every time I've taken one to a session, I've known after five minutes that, much as i love the look, they can't do what a £150 ($200) Savanna SA-120 can do. i.e. Cut through.

    If you do 90% of your playing at sessions, then it really has to be an F-hole mandolin and solid woods at that. NO DOUBT WHATSOEVER.

    Jimmy P
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  8. #32
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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    Quote Originally Posted by jimmy powells View Post
    Without any doubt, ovals are no good in a jam session, almost regardless of price. I love Gibson F4s and have had several and every time I've taken one to a session, I've known after five minutes that, much as i love the look, they can't do what a £150 ($200) Savanna SA-120 can do. i.e. Cut through.

    If you do 90% of your playing at sessions, then it really has to be an F-hole mandolin and solid woods at that. NO DOUBT WHATSOEVER.

    Jimmy P
    UK
    Maybe you haven't been playing the right oval mandolins. My Collings MT2O gets plenty loud and is my go-to for many situations, including jams

  9. #33
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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    As someone who has been making oval hole mandolins for 25 years, I will chip in and say that there are ovals and there are ovals. Some don't cut it in a jam session, and some certainly do. Some of mine do, some don't. It depends on how they are made. If you make them light and with great clarity to the sound they will cut it. In that respect a Red Spruce top greatly helps, and that is what Gilchrist uses in his Model 1 oval, and is what I am now using in my new Custom model ovals. These are specifically designed to penetrate through the noise in a jam session, and that is exactly what they do, but they ring and sustain much more than an F. However, these mandolins are high end hand made oval hole mandolins well over your budget, but that is what you can get if you pay the money. Some of the old Gibsons can be loud, and I have had some pretty loud ones in the workshop, but they don't have that crystal clear clarity and bite that is necessary to really cut it. Flat tops can also be loud, but they also lack the clarity.
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  11. #34
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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    My '22 A2 is a warm, rich sounding mandolin, with a lovely tone. It can also be heard well in a jam. Technique is part of volume and I have watched players on a mandolin that should be easily heard, have trouble with volume. There was a post not long ago of someone having that same problem, I don't remember if it was an oval, I think it was an ff hole mandolin. Attack makes a huge difference and I don't think we simply say ovals aren't loud enough for a jam. I know of several old Gibson's that have a very luscious sound without being bright and can easily hold their own in a jam. They are also very clear and defined, but still warm and rich. Now if they only had a longer neck for easier access to the upper register.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís FAQ..

    An A5 gives you the neck/ sound chamber, F holes of an F5

    without the cost of the extra labor involved in those decorative pieces,

    But many posting here seem to need that look.
    writing about music
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  13. #36
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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    Quote Originally Posted by soliver View Post
    Hey Jeff, you posted the same comment on post #20

    Thanks everyone for the input ... I'm still just not 100% sure what I'll end up doing, but it's take. Me several moms to save up 1/2 of what I need so the way I see it, I've got some time to figure it out.
    I am nuts


    My understanding thinking on the statement is kind of general. I interpret like this:

    If what you are playing is "mandolin music", as in music normally done on the mandolin, where a mandolin is the normal expectation for that music, then F holes might be favored. The reason being that you want to highlight the mandolinnyness.

    If you are playing music that has appeared on a lot of different instruments and there is no real expectation for mandolin, an oval hole might be preferred. The oval hole sound is more blendy, more a team player, less prima donna and more in the chorus.

    Exceptions everywhere but that is my general feeling. ff holes - the mandolin is the point. oval holes - the music is the point.
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  14. #37
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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    The quip I have heard on the difference between ovals and ff holes, played well:

    In response to an ff hole instrument: "what a great sounding instrument"

    In response to an oval hole instrument: "what beautiful music"
    No disrespect intended, but I have never agreed with that quote. It's cute and also vacuous, in my opinion.

    On the one hand, it suggests that F-hole instruments are less able to make beautiful music than oval holes. I doubt that you, or I, or anyone here really believes that. Listen to Thile or Marshall playing Bach. Heck, the Gibson F-hole design was originally intended for Classical music, which is some of the most beautiful music ever created (allowing for the usual cultural biases).

    And on the other hand, that quote suggests that oval holes aren't as great sounding instruments as f-holes. Which I would also dispute, having heard some great-sounding oval holes -- i.e. purely as an isolated instrument without regard to the music being played on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    My understanding thinking on the statement is kind of general. I interpret like this:

    If what you are playing is "mandolin music", as in music normally done on the mandolin, where a mandolin is the normal expectation for that music, then F holes might be favored. The reason being that you want to highlight the mandolinnyness.

    If you are playing music that has appeared on a lot of different instruments and there is no real expectation for mandolin, an oval hole might be preferred. The oval hole sound is more blendy, more a team player, less prima donna and more in the chorus.

    Exceptions everywhere but that is my general feeling. ff holes - the mandolin is the point. oval holes - the music is the point.
    Well, again, "the music is the point" for a whole bunch of people playing F-hole instruments too! We're not all buying these things just because they look right for a given genre of music.

    I take your point about blending in with oval hole mandolins, but that's very situational. Oval hole mandolins can sound nice in an OldTime jam with one or two fiddlers, a banjo, and a few guitars. In an Irish session with a half-dozen fiddlers, whistle, flute, and concertina, a mandolin is already at a disadvantage in volume and "cut." Get into a Scottish session with one or more smallpipes and "blending in" is not really what you want. You want half a chance of being heard at all.

    In my experience, F-hole mandolins put a little more "oomph" in the fundamental of the note and less in the harmonics, which allows a more clearly heard "Ping" in the attack of the note. And that's all you're going to hear in a loud acoustic session like that. The sweet harmonics of an oval hole mandolin tend to get swamped, and the "Ping" has a little less oomph behind it. Just my experience, with exceptions for individual instruments, YMMV and all that.

    It's the playing context that matters, and that should determine one's choice of mandolin. And then we can make "beautiful music" together.

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  16. #38
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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    Quote Originally Posted by soliver View Post
    Hey Jeff, you posted the same comment on post #20

    Thanks everyone for the input ... I'm still just not 100% sure what I'll end up doing, but it's take. Me several moms to save up 1/2 of what I need so the way I see it, I've got some time to figure it out.
    Holy Katz... I was obviously not paying attention to how Autocorrect was biting me here!!!... that was intended to say: "... it's taken me several months to save up... ..." you get the point.

    Quote Originally Posted by peter.coombe View Post
    ... If you make them light and with great clarity to the sound they will cut it. In that respect a Red Spruce top greatly helps, and that is what Gilchrist uses in his Model 1 oval, and is what I am now using in my new Custom model ovals. These are specifically designed to penetrate through the noise in a jam session, and that is exactly what they do, but they ring and sustain much more than an F. ...
    Peter, thanks so much for that input. My current plan is to save up for one of Ken Ratcliff's Silverangel Econo A's and have it custom made, so knowing that Red Spruce will give the best result is very helpful! Many thanks there!
    aka: Spencer
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  17. #39
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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    Glad to be of some help.

    I would just like to add that making an oval that cuts it and still has that true oval hole sound that we know and love is hard. Hence the general opinion that ovals don't cut it, but that is just not true for a select few. I fluked it a few times in the past, but I think I have cracked it now after careful listening to a rather stellar sounding Gilchrist Model 1. Gilchrist has it nailed IMHO, and I have watched him play a Model 1 in bluegrass jams and with Mike Compton on stage. However, he has a vast amount of experience, more than anybody alive today. There are lots of hybrids around from other makers, but they all have some throaty quality that is characteristic of F's, not an oval, and I don't particularly like that sound. You really need to think a bit outside the box to do it, but still stick with the attached fingerboard and cross piece at the 12th fret that gives the true oval hole sound. It has to sound real nice, not just loud. Thinking back, I have come across one Gibson Junior snakehead that came really close, so Gibson did fluke it occasionally.
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  19. #40

    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    It's not so much volume as frequency.

    Oval holes have a fuller tone and can blend with other instruments thereby getting lost in the mix. F-holes tend to be mid-range focused which puts your mandolin voice in its own frequency space; with no other sounds canceling you out, playing tends to chop, or pop, from the rest. This is why lead guitar amps don't work well for acoustics or keyboards - they are mid-focused to jump from the mix and purposefully not full-range.

    I have an oval and an f - I prefer the oval when playing alone for its fuller tone - but I don't think it's a question of either/or - get one of each!
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  21. #41
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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    Just an update on my processing and process on this...
    I'm too unsure about how an oval hole will perform in my usual playing atmosphere, and I would really HATE to have worked and saved for as long as have (an will continue to until I have the funds) to commission/buy an instrument that sits at home when I go to the Jam, so I have decided to get an upgraded F hole model. From there, I will likely sell my Eastman (or maybe not,... dunno) and start saving for a comparable oval hole model. Fortunately, I get to go spend a day at Carter's and Gruhn's in September and play as much stuff as they'll let me put my hands on.

    So the upshot is that I still plan to end up with an oval hole instrument, just further down the road than anticipated.

    Now to decide what to get.... Ratliff or Ratcliff... or... ... hmmmmmm (imagine the "loading" Mac pinwheel here)
    aka: Spencer
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  22. #42
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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    the long neck , bridge shifted oval hybrid vs short neck bridge,
    more in the center of the body,
    by the same builder would be an interesting match-up..
    but you have to go where they're on display, or buy both and return one...




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  23. #43
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    Default Re: Letís talk ovals Vs fís

    For volume, I play grandpa's heavy century-old banjo-mandolin with steel fingerpicks. Cuts through everything.

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