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Thread: Oval vs F

  1. #1

    Default Oval vs F

    I'm sure this has been posted somewhere before. Is there a qualitative sound difference
    between and oval hole or f hole mando. I prefer an oval because it sounds mellower to me but maybe it's just me.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Oval vs F

    Oval more sustain in sound and more decay in sound of F holes whether an A or F mandolin . Bluegrass players normally prefer a F5 or A5 while folk and old time players generally prefer an oval . Not always true however !

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    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval vs F

    I am a big fan of both and have an assortment of each. Personally, except for bluegrass, I prefer the oval hole for most music, as I really like the rounder, fuller tone, especially for waltzes and other slower tunes that benefit from more sustain. The f cuts better in a loud jam or when playing on stage. However, my Collings can cut as effectively as the Ellis even in traditional grass settings, but does not have that G chord growl of the Ellis. The Hester F4 is more gentle, but just as loud as the Collings. Having said that, I did a blind test of all my mandolins playing a number of genres. The Ellis, at least that day, won that test by all three judges, in all genres. My response was all over the place, but depending on my mood or playing on a particular day, my evaluations of instruments change.

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    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval vs F

    Also...neck length is different. When switching from my "f" holes to the oval it always takes me a few minutes to adjust.
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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval vs F

    I am more of a melodic player (if you want to call it 'playing') than someone who 'chops' or plays straight chords - and I find that oval holes are much more likely to give me the tone and sustain that I am looking for . . .

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  10. #7

    Default Re: Oval vs F

    The answer is, has always been, and always will be, to have both. If you can’t have that, my advise is get a Silverangel with f holes and a redwood top.
    Silverangel A
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  12. #8

    Default Re: Oval vs F

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    The answer is, has always been, and always will be, to have both. If you can’t have that, my advise is get a Silverangel with f holes and a redwood top.
    I agree! I have one of those too and it’s surprisngly flexible and rich.

  13. #9
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    Default Re: Oval vs F

    Quote Originally Posted by B381 View Post
    Also...neck length is different. When switching from my "f" holes to the oval it always takes me a few minutes to adjust.
    That's not generally true. Gibson F2's and F4's have the shorter neck (and lower bridge placement), but so have the F7 and F12. My Runesson Lyon & Healy copy had the longer neck, and the same, I believe, is true of Collings ovalholes.

  14. #10
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    Default Re: Oval vs F

    The length of the neck is pretty standard. Older Gibson styled oval holes have a neck body joint around the 12th fret while Gibson styled F hole models join around 15th fret. This shifts the bridge towards the tailpiece on ovals and towards the top of the mandolin on the F holed mandolins. Hybrid ovals have a neck body join around 15th fret and have a sound between an f hole and oval hole.

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    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval vs F

    OK, neck fret position...

    It is different "feeling" as if shorter is what was meant.
    "It doesn't matter how much you invest in your instrument until you invest in you and your ability..."

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  16. #12

    Default Re: Oval vs F

    Collings ovals are joined at the 13th fret, one longer than a Gibson oval.
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    Default Re: Oval vs F

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    The answer is, has always been, and always will be, to have both. If you can’t have that, my advise is get a Silverangel with f holes and a redwood top.
    I agree ! I have two of each !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  18. #14

    Default Re: Oval vs F

    F holes have a more percussive and direct sound. Oval holes have a smoother fuller sound with more sustain. Both can be used to play anything, including bluegrass. Just listen to Peter Ostroushko, Red Rector, Nolan Faulkner, and Jethro Burns to get an idea of what can be done with an oval hole. Don Julin uses his Snakehead to play some pretty progressive stuff. I love and own both types, but prefer the oval hole and use it almost all the time. I hope this helps.

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    Registered User Al Trujillo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval vs F

    My perspective, from a 63 year old with impaired hearing, I can clearly hear what comes out of my f-hole. I’ve played a few oval hole mandolins and struggle at times to hear them. Something I guess about the pitch that makes it hard to hear.

  20. #16
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval vs F

    Have been slowing moving over to f hole mandolins more in the past year. Works better in both my full band and duo. Still love my oval hole, but the f holes have been getting the playing time this year.

    Oh, and for neck length differences, both my 1935's (Gibson A-50 and Kalamazoo KM-21) have the same short necks as an oval hole. The Collings has a longer neck, but never seems to be a problem switching between any of them.
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  21. #17

    Default Re: Oval vs F

    I wear hearing aids, but I am still looking for hearing aids that really sound like music did before some hearing loss! Anyway, I think there are some mandolins being made with a side hole portal aimed at the player. I have this on some classical guitars and it is really nice. I would like to see a maker like Collings consider such an option.

    Quote Originally Posted by Al Trujillo View Post
    My perspective, from a 63 year old with impaired hearing, I can clearly hear what comes out of my f-hole. I’ve played a few oval hole mandolins and struggle at times to hear them. Something I guess about the pitch that makes it hard to hear.

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    Default Re: Oval vs F

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    The answer is, has always been, and always will be, to have both. If you can’t have that, my advise is get a Silverangel with f holes and a redwood top.
    I completely agree - you need one of each. I do, and enjoy each for their different sounds.

  23. #19
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval vs F

    My take on things:

    RESPONSE TO A TUNE PLAYED WELL ON F HOLE MANDOLIN: Oh what brilliant playing. Nailed it.

    RESPONSE TO A TUNE PLAYED WELL ON AN OVAL HOLE: Oh what a lovely tune. Just beautiful.
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