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Thread: Duffeyisms

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    Default Duffeyisms

    I've been re-reading some old Pickin and Frets mags and was reading a Frets 1980 article about John Duffey. He said he was out of touch with the retail market but that with the F5-L Gibson was making the best thing they had produced in years. "But the dummies still won't cock the neck back! You can't raise the bridge on it. It's such a simple thing to do, especially if your starting from scratch, to cock the neck back so you can have the bridge anywhere from 1" to 1 1/8" high.

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    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    I remember that article and John's statement. (As a German back in the early 80s I had to look the word "cock" up in the dictionary.) I have never understood, why John thought that mandolins with really high bridges necessarily sound better. IMHO he was wrong on that.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    John was an advocate of that extra angle for more down pressure, I've played his old 7 and a few with that deep neck angle and it sure doesn't hurt them! I like that.

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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    Was the Duck that extreme? It apparently developed a neck bow.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    All of John's redone/modified mandolins and the two Ducks had the deep set neck, I know Akira has the one John gave him but the original short scale neck was busted in an airline mishap so Akira had a long scale neck put on it with the deep set neck-high bridge.
    I'm not sure where John's original Duck is? But I know the old 7 real well as my Uncle has had that since 68-69, and Akira has the 12 and they have the high bridge-they both sound spectacular! I have the deep set neck with higher than Gibson standard on a few mandolins and really like it, just my opinion, but makes sense putting more down pressure on the top for more sound but hey I'm no engineer!

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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    I've read those old FRETS magazines so many times. It is as familiar as The Bible to me. There is still good information in them. Some instrument knowledge I feel may have advanced since then.

    I like my higher bridge mandolins but I remember Bobby Clark saying he did not like a high bridge on mandolins. He's pretty good (ha) maybe he should know. Probably depends on the mandolin.

    John Duffey what a character, what a hero.

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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    I really like that extra angle-neck set back more, I've had this done to my Mandola, an old Gibson modified job, my main F-7 Loar Buster, and my last 7 conversion a 34 I swapped to a friend, also a monster 35 elevated board F-hole A-50 that sounds like a F-5! My 58 F-5 that's still in the works is getting that also "I sure hope so anyway" I like the results?

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    Registered User Russ Jordan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    I have had mandolins with that deep neck set, but found them stiff and harder to play. They were indeed louder, but seemed to have more displeasing overtones. Herschel Sizemore played a Kirk in the 70’s with a deep neck set, and it sure sounded good in his hands, though!
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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    For me anyway, with each mandolin I have after playing it for awhile and switching to another it takes me a little time to get used to the different spacing? And playing someone else's mandolin it also takes me a few min./tunes to get the hang of it? But I'm also a weird one that can't play a mandolin without a pickguard? I'm no pinky planter but I need a guard for I guess the feel/ and the way I play I use it as a guide if that makes sense? Cray-maybe but I need a guard! LoL!

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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    When did the steep angle originate? In other words, it wasn't how F-5's were originally designed. So was the intention to just get more volume or maybe "chop" from the later more heavily built instruments? An F7 had a short neck so to convert them a new neck was needed. Were they always re-graduated or was the steep neck a way to get more from a heavily built instrument?
    To me this is a key element to how home made F-5's began to be produced, by first re-working the 7's and 12's. I missed that era and would love to know more about it.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    As far as I know Big John started that on mandolins, but I've see old violins with a steep angle, to me it makes sense-putting more down pressure on the top. I know John's old F-7 that he redone-used and recorded with in the early 60's "there are many photo's of that one" has a weird type fern peg head inlay. That's just a freakishly great conversion, there were no re-grad plans back then so John must've winged it and the results were GREAT! Maybe John got the idea from the violin/fiddle?

    I can speak for just the 7 he did and that baby is thin topped, you can look at it and actually see the tone bar placement from the outside looking down at the top-but its still going and stable for what close to 60 years?

    John was a luthier on the sideline and did that as a job after he quit playing on the road before the Scene formed, I would love to get my hands on one of his creations-I'd probably let go most all I have for one.

    Akira knew John well, I'm sure he could maybe speak more, I know his Duck and John's 12 have the deep set neck.

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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    Another thing I find interesting is the 30's F-7 bodies, in the first few years of production say 34-36 They have as nice wood as the F-5's of the same period, some with some serious matching flame in the maple, after them years they were more plain maple on the backs for sure "I've owned quite a few 7's from almost all the years or have seen many" but I believe they were on the racks and then just pulled "hey this one is needed for a 5, this for a 7, this for a 12 or F-10" We know they were still using up old F-4 necks from their stash for the 3 short neck models, the F-7-10 and 12" I believe Mr. Gruhn said this first with the necks.

    This was confirmed to me at least, others may disagree but when I sent Randy Wood my all original 1934 F-7 for him to put a long 5 scale neck on it, there was a real 34 F-5 in his shop getting some work done so I asked him to check the graduations on my 7 against the F-5 and he said it was the same! I found that very interesting to say the least. So I just had the neck job done and I no longer have that one it went to a friend but it sounded just like a 30's F-5.

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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    Quote Originally Posted by Russ Jordan View Post
    I have had mandolins with that deep neck set, but found them stiff and harder to play. They were indeed louder, but seemed to have more displeasing overtones. Herschel Sizemore played a Kirk in the 70’s with a deep neck set, and it sure sounded good in his hands, though!
    I agree about both the volume and stiffness issues. I hadn't noticed the overtone issue but do think my mandolin with the steeper neck angle has a "raw" characteristic to its tone. Maybe we are describing the same thing.
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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    I disagree with the tone about not being up to snuff on a deep set neck and harder to play, just listen to some of the early Gents recordings for the F-7 John redone, or his early Scene with the Duck or later Scene with the 12-granted since Akira had the fret board spacing fixed its a load better!

    I've played the Duffey 7 quite a few times and plays like melted butter! Mine are pretty sweet and easy to play but I also love my strings as close to the board as possible, I think back in the day people weren't into set-ups like today? Monroe had his manly action so that was the grass norm right, I bet Dave Appolon had his action low or he couldn't do that gnarly fast playing otherwise? I heard Dave wore out boards pretty fast!

    Just my opinion the matter as I find the mystery of Big John very interesting as a person, luthier, player and top multi range singer. Love the new book on him-it was informative and just a great read! Yes I will read again and again.

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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    Quote Originally Posted by William Smith View Post
    I disagree with the tone about not being up to snuff on a deep set neck and harder to play, just listen to some of the early Gents recordings for the F-7 John redone, or his early Scene with the Duck or later Scene with the 12-granted since Akira had the fret board spacing fixed its a load better!

    I've played the Duffey 7 quite a few times and plays like melted butter! Mine are pretty sweet and easy to play but I also love my strings as close to the board as possible, I think back in the day people weren't into set-ups like today? Monroe had his manly action so that was the grass norm right, I bet Dave Appolon had his action low or he couldn't do that gnarly fast playing otherwise? I heard Dave wore out boards pretty fast!

    Just my opinion the matter as I find the mystery of Big John very interesting as a person, luthier, player and top multi range singer. Love the new book on him-it was informative and just a great read! Yes I will read again and again.
    I was referring to the mandolins that I owned. Agreed on the tone of early Country Gentlemen.
    Russ Jordan

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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    [QUOTE=William Smith;1726....,,,,,,Just my opinion the matter as I find the mystery of Big John very interesting as a person, luthier, player and top multi range singer. Love the new book on him-it was informative and just a great read! Yes I will read again and again.[/QUOTE]

    I’m about 3/4 of the way through the book— interesting read but the author could have really used an editor! Some stuff is not accurate—just read on page 341 that Ronnie Simpkins went to work for Tony Rice In 1995, playing E-bass. No E-bass in the Unit!
    Russ Jordan

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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    Dean Roets, who used to play with Bristol Mountain Bluegrass here around Rochester, had Dick Deneve of Syracuse build him a mandolin with the most "raked-back" neck I've ever seen. Dean was proud of it, and had me play it (I had a 'teens F-2 at the time), and I could barely get three consecutive notes out of it. Dean's long gone now, and where the Deneve is I don't know, but I still remember that short encounter with Dean and his mandolin.

    I have one of Deneve's resonator guitars, Brazilian rosewood body with a bird's-eye maple top, really nice. Don't know if he's made other mandolins.
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    Default Re: Duffeyisms

    Yep no E-Bass in the Unit I've heard? Maybe at the inception? But hey I wasn't there! Its still a very good read I think! John was well, his own man, did things his way! I still want a Duffey mandolin for those out there who have one-contact me! Serious as a heart attack! I personally think his high bridge/ neck break angle is way KOOL and does have an impact on tone/sound! Will

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