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Thread: oval hole tops?

  1. #1

    Default oval hole tops?

    Do oval hole F styled mandos not have carved tops due to the oval hole? I was looking at specs on oval hole vs. f holed mandos and all listed carved tops in that price range but the round hole version.

  2. #2
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: oval hole tops?

    All F-style mandolins have carved tops.

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    Registered User bruce.b's Avatar
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    Default Re: oval hole tops?


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    Default Re: oval hole tops?

    A more correct answer would be that all the old Gibson F style oval hole mandolins had carved tops.

    Some imports may have pressed tops, and occasional experiments have been made with flat tops.

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    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: oval hole tops?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tavy View Post
    All F-style mandolins have carved tops.
    That is not true.

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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: oval hole tops?

    Quote Originally Posted by courier View Post
    Do oval hole F styled mandos not have carved tops due to the oval hole? I was looking at specs on oval hole vs. f holed mandos and all listed carved tops in that price range but the round hole version.
    What models are you looking at? It depends on the maker, but most good F style oval mandolins will have carved tops. Not all do however.

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    Registered User QCS's Avatar
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    Default Re: oval hole tops?

    I’m with Al, depends on which builder you are interested in. I have a Pomeroy F4 that has a carved top, and a beautiful one piece back. Good look with the search.

  8. #8

    Default Re: oval hole tops?

    I can't write anything short here that would be useful except that maybe, yes, oval holes come in carved and flat-top versions.

    Carved-top are more common, every major manufacturer makes carved-top oval holes of some sort.

    Oval holes are more varied in sound, traditional ones are made by Eastman, the classic dark, tubby oval hole sound, others make hybrids (like Collings and Northfield), that sit somewhere in between the dark traditional oval hole sound, and the bright barky tone of an f-hole.

    Flat tops are less than half the price to make, and I don't know where in the sound spectrum they sit yet, but I have one on order from Red Valley, who only make flat-top oval-hole mando variants.

    In no way do I have exhaustive knowledge, there are many oval holes I wish I could try, but can't.
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    Default Re: oval hole tops?

    Not all arched tops are carved. What specs are you referencing?
    Steve

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    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: oval hole tops?

    There are several types of tops. Carved (machined), Hand Carved (implies that some to all of the top was shaped by hand), flat, induced arch (kind of bent over the support braces, and pressed (wood is steam bent to an arched shape. There are costs, benefits, and disadvantages with each to varying degrees.

    Any of the above can sound fine but the sound may not be what you're after. In answer to your most basic question, F style mandolins with oval holes can be arch topped. In general, most F style mandolins have an arched top as that is the expectation for the shape. There are exceptions. In the US, most of the mandolins sold are arched somehow from high end mandolins to inexpensive imports. Other countries have more flat and cant topped instruments. It depends on what the predominant music style being played and the cultural traditions are. In the US, for mandolins (already a small niche instrument in the stringed instrument world) bluegrass is the largest musical style being played and folks really want something that fits that look (but not everyone).

    Jamie
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: oval hole tops?

    Perhaps this is a good time to translate the "codes" currently being used in catalog descriptions by large manufacturers.

    "Spruce top" generally means a top made out of laminated wood [plywood].
    "Maple back" usually also means laminated.
    "Solid top" indicates a solid piece of wood.

    "Arched" top or back means that the wood has been pressed over a form and bent to shape.
    "Carved" means machine carved.
    "Hand-carved" does indicate that at least some hand carving was employed.

    "Lacquer" can mean almost anything.
    "Nitro-cellulose lacquer" means that at least the top coats are traditional nitro-cellulose lacquer.

    At least some manufacturers are currently applying one coat of nitrocellulose lacquer over a thick polyurethane base, and conveniently omitting any mention of polyurethane in their description.

    "Varnish" might indicate anything from polyurethane varnish or "conversion" varnish to true spirit or oil varnish.

    In other words, the description must say "hand carved and graduated solid spruce top," AND "hand carved and graduated solid maple back" to indicate a fully hand carved solid wood instrument.

    The same principles apply to catalog descriptions for guitars, banjos, and violin family instruments.
    Read manufacturers' descriptions very carefully, and assume nothing if it is not spelled out.

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