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Thread: Oval hole differences

  1. #1
    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Oval hole differences

    Ok....backstory.

    I have an Eastman MD404 that is pretty nice. Love the sound. Got it and never researched it much, just enjoyed it. I researched it last night when looking at some specs and see the back is Mahogany. I'm good with the tone, nice sound.

    My question is not F style vs. oval, my question is the difference in sound in oval holes...from Mahogany to Spruce for example.

    I like the oval sound, just unsure of the difference in material sound differences...say between it and a Eastman 514.

    Thanks.
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  2. #2
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval hole differences

    Typically, maple is associated with a brighter tone and mahogany a warmer one.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Ken's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval hole differences

    Agree that maple is usually brighter and mahogany is usually sweeter, but there are so many variables that go into making a mandolin sound like it does that I don't think you can take just one of those variables (wood species) and expect a uniform sound result just because of that one thing. Your best tool is your ear. Play as many different mandolins as you can get your hands on including from as many different builders as you can, and then identify the ones that speak to you. Sorry to not give an easy answer, but the search will be fun.
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  4. #4
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval hole differences

    I'll defer to others on wood and how it affects tone. I just have my one oval hole mandolin, any more and it's birch sides and back. I have had maple before, but notice little in those regards.

    I think, "Oval Hole" mandolins are in two primary families. Those with the more conventional 12-fret neck joint/transverse bracing (and corresponding fret board in contact with the top) and those with something more than a 12-fret neck joint (heck, we see them at 13-, 14-, and 15-fret neck joints). These, "Hybrid" oval hole mandolins have an elevated fretboard (i.e., more like an A-5 style). The hybrids are sometimes x-braced, or something other than transverse.

    If we keep with conventional or hybrid, then we can discuss wood tone. If we mix them all up together, then we'll get confused.

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  6. #5
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval hole differences

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    ...
    I think, "Oval Hole" mandolins are in two primary families. Those with the more conventional 12-fret neck joint/transverse bracing (and corresponding fret board in contact with the top) and those with something more than a 12-fret neck joint (heck, we see them at 13-, 14-, and 15-fret neck joints). These, "Hybrid" oval hole mandolins have an elevated fretboard (i.e., more like an A-5 style). The hybrids are sometimes x-braced, or something other than transverse.

    If we keep with conventional or hybrid, then we can discuss wood tone. If we mix them all up together, then we'll get confused.

    f-d
    100% agreed. I do like my hybrid Oval a lot, very different from an oval without elevated fretboard
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  8. #6
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    Default Re: Oval hole differences

    There is also the flat or cant top oval. They have a similar, but different sound than a carved top with either neck.
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    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval hole differences

    I find mahogany to be a darker, more focused warm tone, with emphasis on the middle pitches rather than the bass or treble. That said, I think that it has a slightly deeper base tone than maple, while maple with its emphasis on brightness, is a more complete tonal spectrum. Maple is punchier, has more sustain and clarity in pitches.The oval hole itself contrasted with f holes has its own influence, but these wood qualities apply similarly. This is what comes to mind from my experience with mandolins, but particularly with guitars.
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval hole differences

    I had a mahogany back and sides oval hole Weber Custom Gallatin F - comparing it to all my other oval hole mandolins, which have had maple back and sides, I always found the mahogany to be light and sweet sounding, with not quite the volume of my maple back and sides ovals.
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