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Thread: My first OM: a series of daft questions

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    Question My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Having been a bad player of a cheap mandolin for years Iíve decided to upgrade: to an OM. Iím more interested in in playing chords and singing than playing tunes, so the OM scratches my GDAE itch but with a fuller sound.

    Iím based in the south of England and would like to be able to try out the instrument before I buy it (but am willing to forgo this for something special).

    Budget and options
    Realistically, my budget is £550 but Iím prepared to stretch it a little if thereís a really good reason. Iím after an oval rather than f hole.

    Iíve got my eye on the Ashbury style E from The Acoustic Music Box as itís all solid, designed by Phil Davidson and set up by him in the shop. The fact that it comes with a case is also a temptation.

    Itís not set in stone so my first question: does this look like a good option or could I do better for the money/get as good an instrument for less? I am happy to look at second-hand instruments.

    Scale Length
    Iíve noticed that the Ashbury is at the shorter end of the scale spectrum.
    What difference does the scale length make to the sound?

    Sympathy vs octave strings
    What are the pros and cons of each setup?
    What capacity do I have to change from one to the other later on (on the same instrument)?

    Floating vs fixed bridge
    I also noticed that the Morgan Lewis (out of my price range and out of stuck but bear with me). Comes with a fixed bridge like an acoustic guitar rather than a floating bridge.
    What are the pros and cons of each setup?

    Tailpiece
    Some of the instruments Iíve seen talk about their tailpieces being able to take ball end rather than/as well as loop ended strings.
    Is a loop end specific tailpiece going to limit my choices later on?

    Strap
    Iíve only just noticed that the Ashbury has not attachments for a strap.
    What are my options for attaching a strap once Iíve got it?

    Thanks for tolerating this long barrage of questions.

    Andy

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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Andy

    I've got an Ashbury E Style and I'm very happy with it - I upgraded from a Thoman/Hora budget model and the change was really noticable difference.

    ScaleThe shorter scale was one of the attractions for me - easier to play some chord shapes and note progressions, if you're coming from mandolin that might be a benefit. Some say that the longer scales are better for chords, shorter ones for tunes, but the chords sound great on mine.

    Strings The Ashbury is set up for unison as opposed to octave strings, you'd probably need a new nut and bridge if you wanted to use octave strings. Haven't tried it, but I imagine it would end up sounding more like a 12 string guitar.

    StrapMine came fitted with the "knobs" (can't remember the term!) to fit a strap.

    Hope this helps

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    That's really helpful. I played it a couple of times in Hobgoblin in Southampton and really liked the sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    Andy
    Strings The Ashbury is set up for unison as opposed to octave strings, you'd probably need a new nut and bridge if you wanted to use octave strings. Haven't tried it, but I imagine it would end up sounding more like a 12 string guitar.
    That's what I thought the case would be.

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    StrapMine came fitted with the "knobs" (can't remember the term!) to fit a strap.
    I've just checked the Ashbury site and you're right: it states it comes with strap pin. It appears that the pin is cropped off all the photos they're using.

    Thanks again.

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    I just put octave strings on my Buchanan and it seemed to work without any changes to the nut. Might as well try it, if it doesn't work you are just out a pair of strings. The Buchanan has a pin bridge like a guitar.

    You might want to look at one of Paul Hathway's http://www.paulhathway.com/octave-mandolas/ he's based in London and you could try one out at his house or Hobgoblin, also in London. More than you budget new though, but they come up second hand for less. I have one of his mandolins and it is very nice sounding.
    - Jeremy

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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Pin! That's the word I was looking for!

    @derbex good to know the nut doesn't (or at least might not ) need changing. May try it next time that I change strings

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Quote Originally Posted by derbex View Post
    You might want to look at one of Paul Hathway's http://www.paulhathway.com/octave-mandolas/ he's based in London and you could try one out at his house or Hobgoblin, also in London. More than you budget new though, but they come up second hand for less. I have one of his mandolins and it is very nice sounding.
    Oh, I have been looking at Paul's stuff: it's lovely. I just haven't seen any come up second hand recently. Do they appear often?

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    I fancied trying it out and just bought a couple of extra strings, not ideal as one at least isn't wound, but they sound OK. For melody you do have to get used to it a bit as, especially on the upstroke, you might only hit one string and if it's the high one it can sound weird.
    - Jeremy

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Not that often -but there's one, with a case, on ebay now https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/octive-ma...wAAOSwFytaH8bz

    NFI &c.
    - Jeremy

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Budget:
    That's a limiting factor. In my opinion a used Hathaway would be your best bet. It might be your last OM even if it becomes a favored instrument. The others (as well as Trinity college) will be just fine to start with but if you really like OM you will probably want to upgrade.

    Scale
    All else equal, shorter scales are easier to play and longer scales tend to have a richer sound. A nice 20 inch will still sound better than a mediocre 23. For me 22 is the perfect compromise but there are many great 20 and they are noticeably easier to play.

    Sympathy vs octave strings
    Not something to worry about too much. Some folks get two nuts and saddles so they can go back and forth. I like the lowest string octave strung and the other three in unison. I think you will find your preference as you play.

    Bridge
    Mando bridge sound a bit more like a mando, fixed bridge sounds a bit more guitar like.

    Tailpiece:
    With so many online string retailers you can pretty much get what you want with either ball or loop. Plenty of threads suggesting slightly heavier strings for a 20 inch scale. I agree.

    Strap
    NFI but I love these. They fit almost anything
    https://themandolinstore.com/product...-for-a-styles/

    Have fun. CBOMs have become my favorite and most played instrument.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    With regard to the tailpiece, it's easier to put together a non-standard set of strings -- e.g. you have a couple courses in octaves, a couple in unison -- if you can use guitar strings, since these tend to come in a wider choice of gauges than loop-end mandolin strings. There are expedients, such as crushing the "ball" with pliers and using the resulting loop, that allow you to fit ball-end strings to the tailpiece hooks of mandolin-type tailpiece; I find the "two-way" tailpiece set-ups convenient.

    Octave strings on the lower two courses produce nice, rich chords, and if you're basically chording you may find this attractive. They can sound a little complicated if you're playing lead, since the melody "gets lower as you go higher," if you get what I mean, when you leave the octave courses for the unison courses.

    "Fixed bridge" generally means a pin bridge; not too many fixed-bridge instruments with tailpieces. Also means you're using ball-end strings (see discussion above). I don't have any mando-family instruments with pin bridges, can't comment on the sound.

    Options for strap attachment are getting an after-market threaded strap button and screwing it into the end block -- although Hobgoblin advertises the Style E as having a "strap end pin," so you may only be thinking about fastening the other end of the strap. In that case you can screw a threaded strap button into the neck block where the neck joins the body, or you can attach that end of the strap around the headstock above the nut. I'd get pro advice as to where to locate the strap button, since you can exert a certain amount of downward pressure on the instrument while playing, and you don't want the strap button to tear out; similarly, you don't want to split the neck block by mis-locating the button installation.

    If your budget's £550, hope you get a deal on the Style E, which is listing in the US for $995/£740.
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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    The Ashbury comes with a pin/button where the neck joins the body as well

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post
    Budget:
    That's a limiting factor. In my opinion a used Hathaway would be your best bet. It might be your last OM even if it becomes a favored instrument. The others (as well as Trinity college) will be just fine to start with but if you really like OM you will probably want to upgrade.


    Have fun. CBOMs have become my favorite and most played instrument.
    Thanks for that. It's all really helpful.

    Is this second hand Hathway That Jeremy spotted a good deal? Beyond the obvious tailpiece, what are the differences between that one and a modern Hathway?

    Cheers.

    Andy

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post

    If your budget's £550, hope you get a deal on the Style E, which is listing in the US for $995/£740.
    The Acoustic Music Box are doing it for £530. It's the standard 32016 model rather than the deluxe 32017 one.

    Thanks for the advice on the pin. Getting someone who knows what they're doing sounds like the way forward.

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Andy my Hathway mandolin is an early one, I am guessing quite a bit earlier than that mandola as mine has the original style label, tuners on a strip and used to have the old type bridge and it sounds really good. When it needed a refret, after about 20 years, I took it to Paul and he upgraded the bridge and it sounded even better. Difficult to comment on the sound as I have had it so long that to me it's what a mandolin should sound like, but I have played a couple of newer ones and prefer mine, but that could be down to strings, plectrum &c.

    That said, I had a better look at the photos of the one I sent you and the back isn't pristine, if you could live with it I would be tempted to make a lower offer.
    - Jeremy

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Shan Andy View Post
    The Acoustic Music Box are doing it for £530. It's the standard 32016 model rather than the deluxe 32017 one.

    Thanks for the advice on the pin. Getting someone who knows what they're doing sounds like the way forward.

    I played both the standard and deluxe and preferred the standard - the deluxe just had fancier decoration

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Quote Originally Posted by derbex View Post
    That said, I had a better look at the photos of the one I sent you and the back isn't pristine, if you could live with it I would be tempted to make a lower offer.
    I see what you mean. I'm completely out of my depth here. Is that cosmetic damage? What would you consider a reasonable offer?

    I appreciate being led by the hand on this.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    I played both the standard and deluxe and preferred the standard - the deluxe just had fancier decoration
    That's good to know. I'm not that interested in decoration tbh.

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    It's difficult to sure from the photos, it looks cosmetic, almost as if something had been stuck on and then peeled off, maybe with a bit of heat. I would ask the seller for some better pictures and to guarantee that it's in good playing order. If he says it is and it isn't then you can go through ebay for a refund even though it says no returns as the item would have been mis-described (you had better check that).

    The ebay lister seems to be a bit of a dealer, so I don't know what he would take, and I am the worst person to advise on pricing, but it has no bids at the moment so I would try quite a bit lower, I think the price is at the top end for one in perfect condition.
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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Shan Andy View Post
    ...Floating vs fixed bridge
    I also noticed that the Morgan Lewis (out of my price range and out of stuck but bear with me). Comes with a fixed bridge like an acoustic guitar rather than a floating bridge.
    What are the pros and cons of each setup? ...
    I dislike fixed bridges because you can't adjust intonation.

    Whereas with a floating bridge, you can scoot the bridge back a ways if the strings are fretting sharp. This can come in handy if you like experimenting with different gauges of strings (I like slack strings, but they fret unacceptably-sharp unless the bridge/saddle is moved backwards a little).

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Just a quickie on loop end v ball end strings; having been there, I think you'll find that it's difficult to find ready made ball end string sets in a variety of gauges. From memory, there was only one choice and that didn't suit the scale length of my Clark GBOM so I use custom sets of Newtone strings.

    The logical solution would be to put together your own ball end sets from singles but this can prove prohibitively expensive in the UK. I would advise that you check out the string options before you settle on any particular instrument.

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Not sure about international shipping but it's probably worthwhile to look at Strings and Beyond, Just Strings, and Emando to see if you can get bulk sets shipped. You can make a custom set and buy in bulk.

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post
    Not sure about international shipping but it's probably worthwhile to look at Strings and Beyond, Just Strings, and Emando to see if you can get bulk sets shipped. You can make a custom set and buy in bulk.
    It's not just the shipping, which itself can add a significant amount to the bill, but also import duty (if the order value goes over a certain amount) and the dreaded "Value Added Tax" which adds a further 20% to the bill (that's 20% of the cost of the strings, the cost of the shipping and any import duty payable). Then there are the currency exchange charges and, to add insult to injury, the Royal Mail charge £8 (it may be more nowadays) to collect the duty and VAT.

    I used to import multiple sets of strings but nowadays it's simply not worth the effort!

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Quote Originally Posted by derbex View Post

    The ebay lister seems to be a bit of a dealer, so I don't know what he would take, and I am the worst person to advise on pricing, but it has no bids at the moment so I would try quite a bit lower, I think the price is at the top end for one in perfect condition.
    Just had this from the dealer:

    "There was some non slip rubber matting glued to it ,which made it easier to control,highly polished n kept slipping. superglue is relatively simple to remove and re polish just haven't had the time to see to it"

    What do you think?

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    I think he should do the removal and repolishing or drop the price. It shouldn't effect the sound but it will change the resale and cost you money if you wanted to get it fixed up, maybe quite a bit if you wanted it to be invisible. If you compare it to the Oakwood Bouzouki that is also up for sale on ebay at the moment, the Oakwood would have been more expensive originally, has a good pickup and hasn't had any takers at £495, so I should think there's plenty of wiggle room.
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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Shan Andy View Post
    Just had this from the dealer:

    "There was some non slip rubber matting glued to it ,which made it easier to control,highly polished n kept slipping. superglue is relatively simple to remove and re polish just haven't had the time to see to it"

    What do you think?
    No time to "see to it", but time to photograph and list?

    Whatever was stuck to the back was also wrapped up the side, you can see it in the photo.
    rudy44

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    Default Re: My first OM: a series of daft questions

    Quote Originally Posted by rudy44 View Post
    No time to "see to it", but time to photograph and list?

    Whatever was stuck to the back was also wrapped up the side, you can see it in the photo.
    I saw that too.

    Given that I'm new to this game, what would be a "low but not taking the mickey" offer?

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