Results 1 to 22 of 22

Thread: F-style with shorter fretboard?

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    14

    Default F-style with shorter fretboard?

    I would like to find an F-style mandolin with a shorter fretboard, maybe 13". Any suggestions where to look?

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,857

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    I have been thinking of an A mandolin with ff holes and the 13" scale.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  3. The following members say thank you to pops1 for this post:


  4. #3
    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Vancouver Island
    Posts
    1,295

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    Hope you both find what you're looking for. In the meantime, putting a capo at fret one on a standard Gibson model would get you very close to a 13-inch scale.

    Could get a little confusing though with the fret markers.

  5. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Bruce Clausen For This Useful Post:


  6. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,857

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    I have a Martin with the 13" scale that I like playing, but prefer the sound of my ff hole mandolins. It's been a thought for awhile about a short scale ff hole mandolin.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  7. The following members say thank you to pops1 for this post:


  8. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    3,519

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    You may have to go with a custom build...
    Chuck

  9. The following members say thank you to CES for this post:


  10. #6
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Blue Zone, California
    Posts
    1,028

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    Quote Originally Posted by larichhall View Post
    I would like to find an F-style mandolin with a shorter fretboard, maybe 13". Any suggestions where to look?
    Are you wanting a shorter scale mandolin (which would also have a shorter fingerboard), or a standard scale mandolin with a shorter fingerboard? These are very different things.

    Edit: A short-scale mandolin would have the frets closer together on the fingerboard. A standard-scale mandolin with a shorter fingerboard would have a standard fret-layout fingerboard that simply has less frets.

    For example, some standard-scale mandolins have a truncated fingerboard to help avoid "clicking" the flatpick against the fingerboard (ie: Gibson Sam Bush, F-9, etc.). On the other hand, many early (pre-Loar) Gibson mandolins have a short-scale neck which changes the position of the frets on the fingerboard, and also of the bridge on the body which has an effect on tone.
    Last edited by dhergert; May-07-2019 at 11:13am.
    -- Don

    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."

    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MKLFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug
    (plus a large assortment of banjos, dobros, guitars, basses and other noisemakers)

    [About how I tune my mandolins]

  11. The following members say thank you to dhergert for this post:


  12. #7

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Clausen View Post
    ...In the meantime, putting a capo at fret one on a standard Gibson model would get you very close to a 13-inch scale.

    Could get a little confusing though with the fret markers.
    Not if you don't look at them.

    But... what I did, for using a capo at the 1st fret on an inexpensive ($50) mandolin that I didn't mind doing weird stuff to:

    1. Judicious use of a black felt-pen (aka Sharpie) makes the fretboard markers go away temporarily (at least on a black fretboard), although the Sharpie wears off eventually, so it needs to be reapplied periodically. I never actually look at the front of the fretboard anyway (nothing there I need to see), but I blacked out the markers anyway because I was making some little videos and didn't want to confuse viewers by having the markers show up on the 'wrong' frets for the tunes I was playing.

    2. More importantly for my own needs, I used the same Sharpie to put black dots on the white binding on the *side* of the fretboard (there were no dots at all there originally). IMO side markers are more useful and a lot easier to see when you're playing, compared to trying to lean over the instrument to see the front markers. Most times I don't need any of 'em, not because I'm a hot-shot player (ha! nope) but I mostly do super-easy first-position stuff where looking isn't required... but on the rare (yet important) occasions when I do want to see a fret marker for some higher note, it's the side markers that I rely on. The next new mandolin I get may end up being a slightly improved model (maybe $150 instead of $50 LOL!) and might already have side markers, in the 'wrong' places of course, which I will eventually prefer to somehow hide (hmm, a tiny dot of white masking tape ought to do it, at least it's easily reversible) and then make temporary new 'markers' at the new 'correct' locations, with the Sharpie again.

    P.S.: I never would have even thought of using a capo on a mandolin until I was playing a cute old Favilla and I noticed it had a scary-looking diagonal crack on the back of the peghead, I was afraid it would break if I kept it tuned up to normal pitch, so as a temporary short-term thing I tuned it 2 frets lower than normal (with light gauge strings too) and then stuck a capo on the 2nd fret. At first it was awkward having that dumb capo there, but I got used to it. Never got around to doing anything about the fretboard markers on the Favilla (I don't think a crude Sharpie technique would be appropriate for that particular instrument anyway), and eventually I put the nice old Favilla into 'retirement' mode (completely detuned to take all the tension off that neck) and switched to the aforementioned new $50 cheapie... I figured what the heck, might as well capo the new one too, I'd discovered that I actually *like* a shorter scale length on mandolin, although this time I went with the capo at the 1st fret - seems more like a fiddle scale which is what I was originally used to.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention, after an unfortunate incident with cutting the nut slots too low on the cheap new $50 mandolin, it ended up being a sort of "zero fret" thing where the first fret actually was where the strings were stopped at (same as if using a capo) whereas the former nut's only function was to set the spacing of the strings. You can view that $50 frankenstein-like creation in action here, blacked out fret markers as well as blacked-out *strings* between the nut and the first fret.

  13. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to JL277z For This Useful Post:


  14. #8

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    Sounds like you need a custom build, or to get a luthier to custom retrofit an existing instrument (probably much cheaper than a custom F-style).

    My background is in ergonomics and human factors. A 13" scale length mandolin doesn't feel any different to me, but I've made them for customers and it works for them. But I always wonder - is it the scale length or the lower tension that makes the bigger difference?
    I think it would be worth trying Thomastik Mittel strings, or GHS A250's, to see if it's really the shorter scale length that you need.

    Also -- is your mandolin well set up? Like, REALLY well set up, perfect fretwork, perfect bridge fit, 1-1.25mm action at the 12th fret? If not, then you're probably working too hard, and it might feel like a shorter scale length is what you need, when all you needed was a $60 setup.

  15. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Marty Jacobson For This Useful Post:


  16. #9
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    2,642

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    Quote Originally Posted by larichhall View Post
    I would like to find an F-style mandolin with a shorter fretboard, maybe 13". Any suggestions where to look?
    I believe that there was a Keith Newell F-style with a short scale in the classifieds lately, although it might have only been a short neck join. I know that he has built at least one 13” scale A5 in the past.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5

  17. The following members say thank you to pheffernan for this post:


  18. #10
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.
    Posts
    15,631

    Smile Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    Sam Bush Gibson model eliminated the 'florida".. (that kind of Shorter?)

    or this "violin scale" as I hear it called ..





    wallet time
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  19. The following members say thank you to mandroid for this post:


  20. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Clausen View Post
    Hope you both find what you're looking for. In the meantime, putting a capo at fret one on a standard Gibson model would get you very close to a 13-inch scale.

    Could get a little confusing though with the fret markers.
    Yes, LOL I get confused enough!

  21. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    Thank you, Don, for your response. I'm looking for something with the frets closer together. I have a bent ring finger due to arthritis and have trouble reaching the frets to make closed chords.

  22. The following members say thank you to larichhall for this post:


  23. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    Marty, thank you for this information,
    I found a wonderful used Weber A for my first instrument. I love the tone it produces. I bought it at a music store near me that is well respected and has a good reputation. The luthier put new strings on it for me and checked the setup.

    I would be willing to try new strings

  24. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    "gulp"

  25. #15
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Blue Zone, California
    Posts
    1,028

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    Quote Originally Posted by larichhall View Post
    Thank you, Don, for your response. I'm looking for something with the frets closer together. I have a bent ring finger due to arthritis and have trouble reaching the frets to make closed chords.
    Ok, good, well you may be able to find a pre-Loar Gibson with a short scale neck. I've not had one of these in my hands, but from my reading about them it sounds like they were Gibson's standard before Loar re-designed their mandolin production to go with a longer scale neck, sometime around 1922 if I'm not mistaken.

    That's just talking about Gibson, though. There may also be some nice, old, shorter scale mandolins available from Martin, Vega or other companies.

    My details are slim about these, so I'd suggest talking to a reputable used mandolin dealer, a few which routinely advertise here in Mandolin Cafe, to get more details (unless someone with more expertise speaks up here).

    Unless you can find a used one, most likely your only other option would be to talk to one of our boutique builders and see about getting a new short scale mandolin built for you.

    Lighter gauge (and tension) strings might help, yes, in fact this might help as much as getting s short-scale neck. Worth trying if you haven't already done so. There would be a difference in tone, but there would also be a difference in tone with a short-scale neck.

    Sorry you're dealing with arthritis. I've got it too. My only recommendation is washing dishes by hand, the combination of hot water and movement continues to help my hands and fingers keep working. I don't have a solution for the stiff lower back, hips and knees though.

    Good luck with all this!
    -- Don

    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."

    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MKLFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug
    (plus a large assortment of banjos, dobros, guitars, basses and other noisemakers)

    [About how I tune my mandolins]

  26. The following members say thank you to dhergert for this post:


  27. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    3,519

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    My daughter chose to take my Martin Style A (13 in) over several other 13.75 choices because it is by far the easiest to play for her. But, that’s a cant top that’s not remotely close to a FF carved top in tone. Agree with trying lighter gauge strings but if that doesn’t help, going custom is probably your best bet. Fortunately, there is a good range of price points to investigate, from Sonny Morris on the lower end, Silverangel/Ratliff/Bulldog in the lower-mid range, and then the sky’s the limit from there. Skip Kelley has been doing some experimentation with neck joins on F4 styled instruments, and seems to enjoy thinking a little outside of the box. Love my A5 by him, and also really like my Silverangel. Good luck!
    Chuck

  28. The following members say thank you to CES for this post:


  29. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    You may have to go with a custom build...
    I would do that. Any suggestions of a builder?

  30. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    I think the luthier put D'Adderio strings on it. Are they a heavier string?

  31. #19
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    22,017

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    D'Adderio makes string sets from light to heavy, it depends upon the set. For years I played a heavy set, their J-75 set. I eventually moved to a lighter set, their J-74 set. I'm now playing their light strings, their J-73 set. I think they now are called EJ-73's. The brand isn't the identifier, the model number is. Try a set of light strings before you buy another mandolin.

    Beyond that you should explore 3 finger chords if you have trouble with a finger. There are times you can get by by not playing all of the strings on chords you can't reach. A lot of the pros will sneak a partial chord in here and there to make it easier. There are also (usually) multiple ways to play a chord. You can probably adapt.

    Keep in mind that the distance between the frets doesn't automatically change with a shorter fretboard.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  32. The following members say thank you to MikeEdgerton for this post:


  33. #20
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    Thank you, Mike. I will try lighter strings

  34. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    3,519

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    Quote Originally Posted by larichhall View Post
    I would do that. Any suggestions of a builder?
    I listed a few in the post #16, but forgot to mention Marty Jacobson, John Hamlet, Bruce Webber are others that pop into my head. Depending on your budget and patience, Don MacRostie (Red Diamond), Lynn Dudenbostal, and Duff are making some awesome instruments right now. And, of course, there’s Steve Gilchrist...
    Chuck

  35. #22

    Default Re: F-style with shorter fretboard?

    I'm sure Barry Kratzer would make you one for a great price. Bulldog Instruments on the Internet.

    Remember that if you use normal 11--40 strings, they will be slacker with 13 inch scale and won't have the attack you may desire. If you use lighter strings, say 10-34, they may not have the power to drive the top of an F style or F-hole mandolin.

    Best to buy a cheap F5 or A5 and put the capo on as suggested, tune it down a semi tone so you are in concert pitch and then see how it all feels.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •