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Thread: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

  1. #1
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    In the picture section, I was asked to compare my new Ellis with the one I had until last summer. I think this is worth a thread so here is my response:

    I did have an F5 that I got new from Gruhn Guitar many years ago. I sold it about a year ago and the repercussions of selling it led to getting this new one. The playability and finish are very much the same. The earlier one had one sided binding (not sure the proper name or which side, no while stripe around the pick guard and had a sugar maple back. The new one has double binding, a strip around the pick guard and western broad leaf back. This different woods provides the biggest difference. While both have that distinct Ellis sound, the older one has a sharper attack and cuts more. The new one a more full round sound. The first more grassy the second more broad in nature. For the music I play, which for the most part is not hard driving grass, I prefer the second, but either are proficient for any type of music.
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    Registered User Doug Freeman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Do recall what the year and/or number of your older Ellis F-5 was?

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    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Do not know the number. Was about 2008.
    Tony Huber
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    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    When comparing older vs new Ellis mandolins, I would stick with comparing the instruments made before Tom stopped building in the 1980's and the instruments built after he started up again. Pava Knezevic came on board with Tom about 2005 and has been doing much of the build work on Ellis mandolins short of the final hand carving, tap tuning etc.
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    Registered User Doug Freeman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    I wonder if other peoples' experience with 2005-to-now Ellis F-5s is similar to OP's: earlier ones more grassy, newer ones more full and round?

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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Freeman View Post
    I wonder if other peoples' experience with 2005-to-now Ellis F-5s is similar to OP's: earlier ones more grassy, newer ones more full and round?
    No, not really. However, Red7flag's new one uses a different maple than standard, current configuration which has to be factored in.

    I always thought Ricky Skagg's early one sounded "grassy" enough, regardless... and my own keeps me more than happy, and I only play bluegrass.
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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Freeman View Post
    I wonder if other peoples' experience with 2005-to-now Ellis F-5s is similar to OP's: earlier ones more grassy, newer ones more full and round?
    I don't know about the old-versus-new comparison, but the new ones sound plenty "grassy" to me, while also sounding full and round. It's really all about the playing technique.

    For example, Billy Bright's Ellis sounds really "grassy" to me in certain parts of this video. I'm assuming his is one of the post-2005 ones, but does anyone know for sure?


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    Registered User LongBlackVeil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Played Steve Smiths older ellis last weekend, it seemed brighter compared to my a5. His also sounded more open, but mine is only a few months old. Not sure how old his is


    I saw Billy's but didn't play it. I don't feel like I can fairly judge his.
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Regardless of old vs new, an Ellis is a great mandolin !
    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 !

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  11. #10
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by LongBlackVeil View Post
    Played Steve Smiths older ellis last weekend, it seemed brighter compared to my a5. His also sounded more open, but mine is only a few months old. Not sure how old his is


    I saw Billy's but didn't play it. I don't feel like I can fairly judge his.
    I was in a music shop when Billy brought in his brand new Ellis and heard it played a bit. It was really, really nice sounding, besides being simply beautiful.
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  12. #11
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by LongBlackVeil View Post
    Played Steve Smiths older ellis last weekend, it seemed brighter compared to my a5. His also sounded more open, but mine is only a few months old. Not sure how old his is
    Steve's F5 is number 113. I can't remember what year it was made, but I want to say it was 2009-2010-ish. So it's several years old (and it's been played a lot), but it's definitely not one of the older vintage ones.

    His is the one on the right in the photo below (which was from last year's HCAMP - another photo of this lineup taken by Steve is on the Ellis main page). Mine is on the left. But it's interesting that you say his seemed brighter. I actually thought his Ellis sounded rather dark and woody, compared to my Ellis which was only about 5 months old at the time. Regardless of the descriptions we use to describe the sound, his did sound good!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  13. #12

    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Welp, looks like I have #110 en route to my house right now. Very similar to your old one, unbound pick guard, etc. Hoping it has that grassier sound like yours as well. Look forward to picking on it.

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    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    I don't know about the old-versus-new comparison, but the new ones sound plenty "grassy" to me, while also sounding full and round. It's really all about the playing technique.

    For example, Billy Bright's Ellis sounds really "grassy" to me in certain parts of this video. I'm assuming his is one of the post-2005 ones, but does anyone know for sure?

    I believe Billy got his Ellis around 2009-10
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    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by JWalterWeatherman View Post
    Welp, looks like I have #110 en route to my house right now. Very similar to your old one, unbound pick guard, etc. Hoping it has that grassier sound like yours as well. Look forward to picking on it.
    Congrats & good on you Josh!
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    Registered User Atlanta Mando Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    I played Billy's not long after he got it and at the time, I thought it was such an awesome mandolin. Played so smooth. I haven't played it since but gt in touch with him a few years ago trying to see if he would sell it and his response was heck no!!! He has a Gilchrist at one time didn't he? Anybody know the deal on that mandolin? What year it was, who has it now, etc...

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by JWalterWeatherman View Post
    Welp, looks like I have #110 en route to my house right now. Very similar to your old one, unbound pick guard, etc. Hoping it has that grassier sound like yours as well. Look forward to picking on it.
    Congrats, Josh! Is anything leaving to fund this purchase or is it a pure addition?
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  18. #17

    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Not sure. I should be able to check it out in a few days. If all is well, I would probably put the newly refinished MT2H on the market in a few months when it arrives. Maybe both that and the Stiver, but I really don't want to sell the Stiver. I got a really good deal on the Ellis, though so just went for it. I looked up pictures of RedFlags and it is almost identical looking... It was the one that was for sale at Carmel Music. http://carmelmusic.com/stocklist/sca..._F5_110_FB.jpg

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    Registered User Benski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Gorgeous mandolin, Josh. Enjoy!
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  21. #19

    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Um, ya.

  22. #20

    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    So, I picked up the Ellis #110, yesterday. It is a mighty fine instrument. First off, it is drop dead gorgeous. The tone is something else. I am still trying to full understand it. It is resonant and responsive, good pop and pretty dry. The previous owner hadn't really played it in years as he is a guitar player. So I changed the strings last night and they are still seasoning. I am excited to sit and pick it today. It is still somewhat of an enigma to me. Once I get a few hours behind it and get the strings broken in I will be able to give a better description, but ya, it is amazing.

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    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Cool Josh!

    Will you need to tweak the set-up?

    Good on you Bro!
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    I don't reckon so. It felt like a pretty good setup but with have to rough it up a bit to find out.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    What brand of strings are you using ?. When i got my 'used' Ellis "A" style several months ago,the strings on it were shot,so i put a set of DR MD11's on it (the strings i use on my other 2) & it's been terrific ever since. However,i did contact Tom Ellis to ask about his favourite strings & he really goes for the GHS A270 set which has a .016" 'A' string rather than the usual .015" . I decided to try a set for myself & i liked them very much indeed. The don't have the sheer 'punch' of the DR's,but they are sweet & open,full toned & feel like silk under the fingers. IMHO,they're way ahead of the J74's which i used for close to 8 years,but that's my opinion. Tom did mention that he'd tried DR's himself & liked them,but i think he prefered the GHS set,
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    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    Quote Originally Posted by JWalterWeatherman View Post
    So, I picked up the Ellis #110, yesterday. It is a mighty fine instrument. First off, it is drop dead gorgeous. The tone is something else. I am still trying to full understand it. It is resonant and responsive, good pop and pretty dry. The previous owner hadn't really played it in years as he is a guitar player. So I changed the strings last night and they are still seasoning. I am excited to sit and pick it today. It is still somewhat of an enigma to me. Once I get a few hours behind it and get the strings broken in I will be able to give a better description, but ya, it is amazing.
    Me, I like this description - the kid in the candy store version. thx.
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  29. #25

    Default Re: Old Ellis F5 vs New Ellis F5

    I think it had some old J74s on it when I got it. The previous owner said it had been sitting in the case for years, as he didn't play it hardly ever as he is a guitar player. I'm guessing them strangs were pretty old. I put J74s on it cause thats what I had around the house and typically use... sounds fantastic to me. Maybe I will try out something else down the road to see how they play but I am happy with the J74s.

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