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Thread: Pluck / Strum Strength on Oval Versus F Hole

  1. #1

    Default Pluck / Strum Strength on Oval Versus F Hole

    I have mostly played f-hole "bluegrass style" mandolins. I recently acquired an oval hole mandolin. It is good quality and I greatly enjoy it. I have noticed that if I play it as "hard" as f-hole mandolins then it seems to overwhelm the instrument and the tone is "off".

    Any experiences with this? Should I expect that an oval hole may need to played "softer"?

    Thank you in advance for any insight!


  2. #2

    Default Re: Pluck / Strum Strength on Oval Versus F Hole

    Hi Adam and welcome to the Mandolin Cafe (what took you so long to get here?). It strongly depends on the oval hole mandolin you're referring to; the scale length, neck join and the strings and setup, and quite frankly playing technique. I have a teens Gibson F-4 with a standard 13 7/8" scale length with a 12th fret neck join. I'm using D'Addario EFW-74 flat wound strings with a soft but clear touch to the action. I can't really lean into the right hand strength that I must use with my 50's F-12 with the same scale length, 15th fret neck join and strung with D'A EFT-74s Flat Tops. They are two totally different Gibson mandolins, both F-hole and oval hole. I think you should look at the differences between the two of your mandolins and then make adjustments where necessary. I've had to. We would all be happy to help. Best of the New Year!!

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  3. #3

    Default Re: Pluck / Strum Strength on Oval Versus F Hole

    Adam, tell us what mandolins you have, that will help people give some better targeted advice. As Len says above, it depends on a lot of factors, perhaps you are comparing apples to oranges.

    I had a Weber Bitterroot that needed to be rode hard to get the best out of it. I tried Thomastik flatwound it, since I loved them on my A style. I took them off the Weber a day later, they just didn't fit that mandolin. I'd expect an oval hole to have a different sound than an F style, perhaps with a reduction in volume. Not necessarily played "softer", but perhaps played differently to bring out the best in the oval hole mandolin.
    Collings MT-O
    P.W. Crump OM-III
    Bun in the oven: Girouard A Oval

  4. #4

    Default Re: Pluck / Strum Strength on Oval Versus F Hole

    Thank you for all the input, it is helpful.

    I have a Campanella A-5 and Old Wave Oval. They are both exceptional.

    I think it is coming down to playing technique. I'm starting to get better tone out of the oval by using a more rounded pick and lighter touch. The oval seems to require a bit more concentration/precision to get good tone versus the A-5. There may be something logical about that given it has more overtones.

    Thanks again - cheers.


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