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Thread: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

  1. #1

    Default Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Searching old threads for tonal differences between F and A style mandolins I kept running into the claim that "all" or "most" F style mandolins have solid wood scrolls. The two I own have hollow scrolls so I can discount the "all" claim immediately. How about the "most" claim?

    Similarly many claims that the volume and shape of the mandolin body have "no" effect on tone make no sense to me, but those who say that the differences are so small as to be unnoticeable could be right. But that again leads to the question, were they comparing to F styles with solid or hollow scrolls?

    Are those who make hollow scroll F styles simply wrongly harboring the illusion that all that extra work is going to make any difference?

    Obviously a charged subject. The one person in the old threads I read who attempted to answer how the flow of air would be different in a hollow scroll mandolin received no replies other than mocking disdain. Having spent two decades in the fluid power industry learning about pneumatic circuits I think he may have had a valid point about the scroll acting as an air compression "spring".

    So, to start, which mandolins that sell for over a $1000 have a solid wood scroll?
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  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    The whole scroll is hollow? How are you determining that?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    The whole scroll is hollow? How are you determining that?
    I didn't have to determine how far the hollow extended to know that it is not entirely solid wood as has been alleged.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    To clarify, the claim was repeatedly made that because the scrolls were solid wood they contributed no additional air volume to the body and therefore could have no effect on tone.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Basically all scrolls on all F mandolins are partially solid and partially hollow. Or I should say 99.9 %.

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  7. #6

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Mandolins are partially solid and partially hollow.

    That does tell me that the commentators who puzzled me were just flat wrong. How much of the scroll is solid on most upscale mandolins?
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  8. #7

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    I wonder what practical purpose knowing would serve. If it is to discount one or the other because of this attribute, I could point to half a dozen other more likely also unprovable attributes. Two mandolins made from the same materials can sound drastically different. There is nothing better than playing them. In fact sometimes I think knowing the finish, or the neck width, or much of anything else is doing a disservice to the search. Even knowing the price can skew perceptions. Maybe some Luthiers can shed light on this. I'm sure someone, somewhere, sometime has experimented with pretty much everything that can be changed.

    If there were a definable provable difference, I would think builders would say, and charge more for it.
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  10. #8

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Well, Br1ck there is definitely something to that. I try every mandolin I come across and from that data I can say that 1 3/16" is the most comfortable for me so I tend to seek out neck widths of 1 1/8" or 1 3/16". Given infinite time and access I would try every mandolin in the world and decide which ones I like best. Given my actual constraints I find it helpful to objectify some of my experience so that I might focus my search.

    I also believe it is desirable to understand how mandolins differ so that I can note these differences and assess their impact as my experience database grows. Part of that process is eliminating false information, ie: all F styles have solid scrolls. Perhaps it's the CPA in me but rightly or wrongly that is my method.
    199? Ike Bacon F5
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  11. #9
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg P. Stone View Post
    Mandolins are partially solid and partially hollow.

    That does tell me that the commentators who puzzled me were just flat wrong. How much of the scroll is solid on most upscale mandolins?
    I have never heard of any F-5 mandolin being built with a solid enough neck block to equate it with an A model. That said the only luthier I know that has built a truly hollow scrolled F-5 is James Condino.
    Most , if not all builders of F-5 mandolins start with a neck block like the one in this set of plans. Partially solid, partially hollow....

    https://www.elderly.com/products/gib...lans-version-3
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  12. #10

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Thanks, that's exactly what I wanted to see.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    I have never heard of any F-5 mandolin being built with a solid enough neck block to equate it with an A model. That said the only luthier I know that has built a truly hollow scrolled F-5 is James Condino.
    Most , if not all builders of F-5 mandolins start with a neck block like the one in this set of plans. Partially solid, partially hollow....

    https://www.elderly.com/products/gib...lans-version-3
    199? Ike Bacon F5
    1945 Levin 330
    192? Bruno (Oscar Schmidt) banjo-mandolin
    200? Olympia OM6-SW
    early Eastwood Mandostang
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  13. #11
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg P. Stone View Post
    Thanks, that's exactly what I wanted to see.
    Check out Apitius' take on scroll blocks...it's in his blog...definitely not solid, and definitely contributing to his F magic!
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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Here's maybe a better illustration:

    https://www.stewmac.com/Materials_an...dolin_Kit.html

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    Registered User Steve Baker's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    I never realized how the neck/scroll all fit together. Thanks for sharing that.
    Steve

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Winn View Post
    Here's maybe a better illustration:

    https://www.stewmac.com/Materials_an...dolin_Kit.html

  17. #14
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    If you didn't find the Apitius info, here's the link to the blog
    http://www.apitiusmandolins.com/Oliver's%20Blog%20Page.html
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  18. #15

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    The point which the luthiers and researchers have made in these types of discussions again and again is that the real question on the sound of the instruments is in the vibrational modes. How does it affect the modes of vibration. And how do the modes of vibration relate to the sound. If you can answer that question then you can explain the difference. If the answer is not very much then it will not make much difference.

    The reason for the "mocking disdain" you mention is that people will start speculating randomly based on this or that without understanding or knowing what a vibrational mode is or what it means. In case you do not know, the term has a specific, mathematical definition in physics. There is a lot of mythology based on speculation because there is not a clear understanding of this and how mandolins work. The mandolin does not just work as an air pump.

    You will notice in the Apitius link that he increased the size of his block to improve it and reduced the air volume in the scroll. He felt getting a good attachment of the plates was a lot more importance than the reduced air volume.

    The general consensus among people who actually have built mandolins is that there are other factors which make a LOT more difference than hollow or solid scroll, including wood choice, plate carving, bracing and how well the mandolin is put together. The biggest difference a solid scroll can make is added weight. The overall weight does affect the modes and does make a difference. But again that difference is not as large as any of several other items.

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  20. #16

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    The point which the luthiers and researchers have made in these types of discussions again and again is that the real question on the sound of the instruments is in the vibrational modes. How does it affect the modes of vibration. And how do the modes of vibration relate to the sound. If you can answer that question then you can explain the difference. If the answer is not very much then it will not make much difference.

    The reason for the "mocking disdain" you mention is that people will start speculating randomly based on this or that without understanding or knowing what a vibrational mode is or what it means. In case you do not know, the term has a specific, mathematical definition in physics. There is a lot of mythology based on speculation because there is not a clear understanding of this and how mandolins work. The mandolin does not just work as an air pump.

    You will notice in the Apitius link that he increased the size of his block to improve it and reduced the air volume in the scroll. He felt getting a good attachment of the plates was a lot more importance than the reduced air volume.

    The general consensus among people who actually have built mandolins is that there are other factors which make a LOT more difference than hollow or solid scroll, including wood choice, plate carving, bracing and how well the mandolin is put together. The biggest difference a solid scroll can make is added weight. The overall weight does affect the modes and does make a difference. But again that difference is not as large as any of several other items.
    I did look at the Apitius link and he carved out additional air space in the scroll block so perhaps he was not so caviler about the function of that space as you imagine. The real wrong position on these matters is one which uses absolutes. As for the "vibrational mode" I'll take a leap and guess that those mocking the poster didn't know what it is either, else they wouldn't be making ridiculous claims like scroll being solid. I have some notion, having worked on analysis of resonance patterns with a guy in the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra who had a similar interest.
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    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Back in 1992 when I was ordering and waiting for my A3 Gilchrist I had a conversation with Stephen Gilchrist about the A style and F style. At the time I didn't care much for the F style, I considered it gaudy and awkward looking. I asked Steve point-blank if the difference between the two styles was purely cosmetic and he quite emphatically stated YES! He went on to say the variations in sound were based on all the other elements involved in construction and design, not the cosmetic aspects between A and F.

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  23. #18

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Mr. Gilchrist would know, although I expect his remark was an oversimplification.

    In my quite limited experience many of the A's I've tried were not quite as deep as most of the F's so my small sample size has left me with an unwarranted expectation as I encounter each new mandolin.

    When I started on mandolin earlier this year I expected that my main axe would be an A, partly due to extensive reading of this forum. The first mandolin that I bought was in perfect condition and a fifth of the original price. It just happened to be an F. My latest and hopefully long term instrument also accidentally is an F due to my desire for a 1 3/16" nut and V neck.

    I've hung a bunch of instruments off my neck over many decades and I really like the feel and security of having one strap end in the scroll. I like having the point against my leg to prevent slipping when I grab the mandolin without strapping it on. I like the F body style ergonomically and also aesthetically for the simple reason that it is asymmetric.

    So, I'm a convert to the F side and will probably stay that way for some time as I'm unlikely to buy another mandolin for a couple of years.
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  25. #19

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    As for the "vibrational mode" I'll take a leap and guess that those mocking the poster didn't know what it is either, else they wouldn't be making ridiculous claims like scroll being solid.
    And you would be making that leap kinda like Wiley Coyote going off the edge of the cliff with his feet wildly scrambling in mid air because the people making that point again and again have included Peter Coombe, a prominent luthier from Australia who uses Chladni patterns and driven resonances regularly in his mandolin building and Dr. David Cohen who did research with Stanford acoustic scientist, Dr. Thomas Rossing doing interferometry of resonance eigenmodes specifically on mandolins among other posters.

    I did look at the Apitius link and he carved out additional air space in the scroll block so perhaps he was not so caviler about the function of that space as you imagine.
    Apitius was interested in reducing weight, not increasing air volume by his own statement. Most of the holes he added were not connected to the main cavity in any way. Here is his statement on why he did the additional material removal:

    In order to reduce the extra weight caused by this design change, the area is hollowed out as much as possible as indicated by the #2 and holes are drilled for even more weight reduction. I have weighed both the traditional shape and the Apitius design and have found the Apitius to be the same weight to a gram lighter than the old style which both weigh in at around 74 grams. The Apitius block, while no heavier, offers a more rigid attachment for the functioning part of the top plate.
    There is no mention of air volume in his discussion of the design.

  26. #20

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    You obviously are thinking of another thread since no one in the thread I mentioned cited either method. Chiadni patterns are widely used but weren't mentioned by the mockers. In my day we used strobe photography. Indeed I wrote that, far from giving a shred of evidence they made ridiculous statements, ie: scrolls are solid wood and do not effect body volume. I'm stating simple fact yet you smear me with a comparison to a feckless cartoon character. Since your idea of a discussion is personal attacks and ignoring inconvenient facts there's little point in restating what you ignored the first time.

    Since you would rather hurl insults than learn something I will bring the Aitius website to you:
    "In order to reduce the extra weight caused by this design change and retain much of the air volume
    Click image for larger version. 

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    If you still can't understand that air volume in the scroll is viewed as important, something to be traded off, ask someone else.
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  28. #21

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    No surprise that someone who rushes to the defense of those denigrating a forum member for the sin of expressing an opinion at odds with their own would exhibit the same behavior himself. Personal attacks are used by those who wish to intimidate the other because they are incapable of marshaling coherent thoughts for persuasion.
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  30. #22
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    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    I really didn’t want to join the fray here, but just can’t help myself. First no disrespect to anyone. Seems to me there is great info on what generates tone. I’ve had A and F styles from small builders made from the same woods. Different sounding beasts. In my feeble memory the A was deeper and darker. Then again, there was a more pronounced arch on the top and back than the F. The F is more balanced than the A. So, I fall into the individual woods and construction method camp here.

    As to the miniscule (sic?) additional volume added to F style (having viewed all the photos and diagrams provided)by the scroll, I kind of doubt that has much if any impact on tone. Just my opinion which I’m sure doesn’t count for much if you’re on the other side of this “spirited” discussion.
    Thanks

  31. #23

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Thanks for expressing your opinion, Mike. Since you didn't chant the magic words "vibrational mode" that opinion, along with the opinions of 90+% of professional players and luthiers is apparently worthless. So use the phrase and do not cite any actual studies which show how the application of atomic motion in physics pertains to this discussion as that would negate the magic.
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  32. #24
    Chief Moderator/Shepherd Ted Eschliman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Perhaps we can temper the discussion with a higher degree of civility. For some, experience is everything, for others it's all about math and most, a smattering of each. That alone opens the doors to dissension, and it would behoove all to tame the barbs a bit as history has proven there are a lot of differing ideas and interpretations of this subject.
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  34. #25

    Default Re: Which higher priced F style models have solid wood scrolls?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Eschliman View Post
    Perhaps we can temper the discussion with a higher degree of civility. For some, experience is everything, for others it's all about math and most, a smattering of each. That alone opens the doors to dissension, and it would behoove all to tame the barbs a bit as history has proven there are a lot of differing ideas and interpretations of this subject.
    Should a poster who mocks others' ideas saying that they deserve to be ridiculed because their ideas don't match his deserve no push back? Here's CarlM stating that the victims of denigrating attacks are to blame: "The reason for the "mocking disdain" you mention is that people will start speculating randomly based on this or that". If you want this to be a place where people of all levels (I'm only 3 1/2 months in) can ask questions and offer opinions then there needs to be some response somewhere against the advocates of personal attack.
    199? Ike Bacon F5
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    192? Bruno (Oscar Schmidt) banjo-mandolin
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    early Eastwood Mandostang
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