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Thread: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

  1. #26
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    JW - Just for the experience,treat that Ellis to a set of the GHS A270's. It's not for nothing that Tom Ellis likes them so much & i'm coming to the conclusion that they might be 'the' strings for my Weber. The DR's sound fine,but as the Weber is a bit bright in itself,maybe the A270's will calm it down,
    Ivan
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  2. #27
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    I've had some mandolins that were really "fussy" about strings. Sounded great with some sets, not good with others, but in the case of my own Ellis, it seems a very tolerant and accepting kind of instrument, as it sounds absolutely great with just about anything decent! I've had GHS, J74's, EXP's, even a couple of sets of (discontinued) Martin phosphor mediums on there and all have sounded really nice.

    Nice catch that Ellis... It has a very nice back and great color. I'm sure it will also welcome being woken up and played a bit after such a long slumber with dead strings in its case. No way to treat such a beautiful instrument!

    PS: what kind of side binding does it have?
    Gibson F5 'Harvey' Fern, Gibson F5 'Derrington' Fern
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  3. #28
    Registered User Benski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    I love to tinker with my mandolins to see what various combinations of strings/picks/setup produce in terms of both sound and feel. My beautiful Ellis F5 came directly from Tom with the GHS A270's that he recommends and they sounded excellent (did I mention that I'm in some combination of love and lust regarding this mandolin?). I tried D'Addario J74's on it and they were ok, but nothing special. J75's also didn't add anything in particular. So far, my favorite has been the new D'Addario EXP74CM (the "Chris Thile" set). They added a really nice deep thunk to the sound and had both a sustain and a decay rate that I really like. I also like the feel of them, especially the slightly upsized E string (.0115" - it may sound silly/insignificant but you really do feel it...or at least I do).

    One of the online string retailers recently ran a sale on the Thomastik's so I figured what the hell and just put on a set of the Starks. They've only been on the F5 for a day or so and the sound is not terribly much different than the EXP74CM's...but the FEEL is really, well, luxurious is the only word I can think of. Being flatwound, I'm having to pay attention not to overshoot my slides, but that's an easy adjustment to make. There is also, I think, a slight decrease in volume from the EXP74CM's, and I will probably go back to them once the Thomastiks come off. The tension feels overall lower as well. I play 1-2 hours per day so this is a nice feature.

    One additional note about the Thomastiks: they have a black cloth wrapping/taping for a few inches on both ends. The ones just above the loop help dampen sympathetic vibrations by the tailpiece, I'm thinking. But the ones on the other end really help facilitate string changing...nice to be able to see the windings as they go around the tuner peg, and they seem to help keep the end from flailing around while tightening the string to pitch. Story at 11 on how they perform over time.

    As far as the Ellis A goes, I've tried all the above (except the Thomastiks) on it and Tom's A270's sound the best to my ears.

    For the record, each mandolin has its own sound and personality, within the Ellis spectrum, and they are the two best sounding and playing mandolins I've had the pleasure to own.

    Point is, the string testing odyssey is a journey of discovery of subtlety, nuance and small degrees of difference.

    Enjoy the ride and congrats again on your new Ellis.
    2009 Bush Fern '34
    2005 DMM

  4. #29
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by Benski View Post
    I love to tinker with my mandolins to see what various combinations of strings/picks/setup produce in terms of both sound and feel. My beautiful Ellis F5 came directly from Tom with the GHS A270's that he recommends and they sounded excellent (did I mention that I'm in some combination of love and lust regarding this mandolin?). I tried D'Addario J74's on it and they were ok, but nothing special. J75's also didn't add anything in particular. So far, my favorite has been the new D'Addario EXP74CM (the "Chris Thile" set). They added a really nice deep thunk to the sound and had both a sustain and a decay rate that I really like. I also like the feel of them, especially the slightly upsized E string (.0115" - it may sound silly/insignificant but you really do feel it...or at least I do).
    Both my Ellis F5 and Pava came with GHS A270s as well, and I just couldn't fall in love with those strings. They work well on the Pava, and I keep them on there because my wife plays it and wants to stick with what Tom recommends. But the G and D strings on the A270 set are just too 'grippy' for my tastes, making slides awkward. The tone is great on the Pava, but just didn't tickle my fancy on my Ellis. J74s were just kind of 'blah' as well. I've been using EXP 75s and now the new EXP74CMs, and they play well, but the tone of the coated strings doesn't really bring out the best in the instrument.

    A few weeks ago I was given a set of strings from Euphanon, and I was immediately pleased by the punchiness of the G and D strings. Per their website, these are made by one of the major string companies, but I don't know which. I really do like the sound of them, although the A and E strings are smaller gauge than I prefer. They apparently use a 0.014" A string, which is oddly undersized for the set. But I like the G and D strings in this set.

    The hard part thing about trying all these different strings is that it can get really confusing as to what you like or don't like, since it depends on what you just took off and put on. I may try A, B, C, and D in that order, but by the time I get to D, it's hard to judge whether I like it better than A, since they were so far apart.

    One of the online string retailers recently ran a sale on the Thomastik's so I figured what the hell and just put on a set of the Starks. They've only been on the F5 for a day or so and the sound is not terribly much different than the EXP74CM's...but the FEEL is really, well, luxurious is the only word I can think of. Being flatwound, I'm having to pay attention not to overshoot my slides, but that's an easy adjustment to make. There is also, I think, a slight decrease in volume from the EXP74CM's, and I will probably go back to them once the Thomastiks come off. The tension feels overall lower as well. I play 1-2 hours per day so this is a nice feature.
    I agree, the Thomastik Starks were really luxurious to play. But I'm surprised that you found them to sound similar to the EXP74CMs. They're worlds apart, to my ear. The TI Starks were just too mellow and lacked the volume I was looking for.

  5. #30
    Registered User Benski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Tobin: I think I'm going to wind up agreeing with you...the Thomastiks will likely prove to be too mellow...I'm already missing the punch of the EXP74CM's.

    My metric for string testing is simple: do I get that "I'm in love with the sound" feeling when I play. A subjective metric, for sure, but at the end of the day, what else matters? I have been getting that for sure from the CM's. I will probably pull them off the F5 and slap them on the A5 and see how that goes, just out of curiosity (and to get my 42 bucks' worth out of them).

    Now PICK testing...that I can REALLY drive myself nuts over......
    2009 Bush Fern '34
    2005 DMM

  6. #31
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    I use Dr md11's and A270's but I prefer the A270's as they have more punch to my ears !
    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 !

  7. #32

    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    I took a look in #118 it is from 2007. Serial number looks like this 118-07. At that time Ellis was doing F5 Deluxes in addition to the F5 Specials. #118 is a Deluxe, back and sides are very attractive red maple. Deluxes have red maple and side trim has no black accent lines. Mandos from this time period aren't all F5 Specials.

  8. #33

    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Thanks for all the tips on the strings. I think I will order some EXPs for the next set.

    I am guessing mine is a special it has the side binding with the black accent lines. So that must be the Special? I was trying to figure that out too. It also has an unbound small black pick guard.

    -Josh

  9. #34
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by PKWebb View Post
    Deluxes have red maple and side trim has no black accent lines. Mandos from this time period aren't all F5 Specials.
    Wow, thanks for that. Is that the only difference?

    I had always been curious on the difference between the Specials and Deluxes. Mine was tagged as an F5 Special when I bought it (and that's what he calls 'em on his website), so that's what I've called it, but to be honest I wasn't sure! I know that F5 Deluxes are out there but I wasn't sure what the difference was. I thought it had more to do with the special fancy woods on the back, or gold versus nickel hardware.

    So if it has this binding, it's definitely an F5 Special?

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  10. #35

    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Well I'm just speaking from my own understanding but binding & back and side wood are the big differences between the Deluxes & Specials. #118 is a Deluxe & it has the gold hardware, so I don't think that's a factor. I had a phone conversation with Tom in which he mentioned that he only built one Deluxe with Sugar Maple, the rest were all Red Maple.

  11. #36
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    From Tom himself, covering the differences:

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...F5-Differences

    See post 17.

    Must say that the wood quality on all the Ellis instruments is outstanding... Special and Deluxe.
    Gibson F5 'Harvey' Fern, Gibson F5 'Derrington' Fern
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    '39 & '45 D-18's, 1950 D-28.

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  13. #37

    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    So, I guess mine is the F5 Special, then...

  14. #38
    Registered User ellisppi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

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    so this would need a new name
    Tom H. Ellis
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  16. #39
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by ellisppi View Post
    so this would need a new name
    Forget names. Does it need a new home?!?
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  17. #40
    Registered User Benski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by ellisppi View Post
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    so this would need a new name
    O Man....How about "Gorgeous"?!!?
    2009 Bush Fern '34
    2005 DMM

  18. #41
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by ellisppi View Post
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    so this would need a new name
    Now THAT'S class! Great work Tom...

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  20. #42
    Registered User Bigtuna's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by ellisppi View Post
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    so this would need a new name
    Very nice!
    "They say the ocean, she is a woman, who waits for her man to come home." M.Houser

  21. #43
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    I think Tom is suggesting what could the new name be of this style of F5 mandolin.
    Nic Gellie

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  22. #44
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    F5 Superior?

    Beautiful work, Tom.

  23. #45
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Great thread here! So, I currently own Ellis F5 #42 (Jan 1985, so built through 1984 fall/winter). This is the heavily quilted maple back mandolin that Ricky Skaggs owned from 1985-1998 and recorded/performed all kinds of stuff on, including one of the really cool videos on youtube of get up john. I've owned and played other Ellis mandolins and a room mate just bought a new Pava. This particular mandolin (#42) is simply amazing. Its woody and extremely quick/responsive and it cuts like a bluegrass mandolin. Its more in the bluegrass camp than the a vast majority of the Ellis' I've experienced from 2009-current. Not that its any better or worse than his more modern, round sounding mandolins. It is different and considering it was built to spec for Skaggs I'd imagine that is expected. Tom's work is just incredible and this mandolin, even in his early years, is impecable. I'll try and get some good pictures up and some recorded stuff too. You really can't go wrong with an Ellis mandolin. I've owned many mandos from the top makers and play on a Gil F5 97371 right now and this Ellis holds with all of them. I'll have it with me at the mandolin symposium this year.
    have a great day everyone.
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  25. #46
    Registered User Benski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Well, just to close the loop on my Thomastik experiment: while they may sound great on some folks' mandolins and feel nice under the fingers, they just didn't do it for me or my Ellis soundwise. So off they came and on went a fresh set of the D'Addario EXP74CM's.

    All I can say is that its great to have my old friend back.

    At least for the foreseeable future, they're the strings I'll be sticking with on my F5. You may want to give them a spin sometime.

    Cheers.
    2009 Bush Fern '34
    2005 DMM

  26. #47
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    "Black Beauty"
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  27. #48

    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Well, I just took advantage of the Elderly string sale and bought 2 pairs of the exp74cms, straight up strings mediums, and A270s. Interested to see how these all plan against the J74s I currently have on.

  28. #49
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by ellisppi View Post
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    so this would need a new name
    What about Excelsior? Normally, excelsior is a term used for shavings; it also means excellent.
    Nic Gellie

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  29. #50
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Excelsior, I like that! It's a term you never hear outside of naval or Star Trek references, but it has a majestic quality.

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