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Thread: F5 with an OVAL hole?

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    Default F5 with an OVAL hole?

    [SIZE=6][FONT=Georgia]'Afternoon,

    I've owned at least a couple dozen F5 mandolins with varying degrees of quality over the years. Love 'em! Right now, there are three in my field of vision, along with other instruments I've played for a living for virtually all my adult life (believe me, it's a long time).

    But I'm interested in getting an F5 with an OVAL soundhole, instead of the usual F holes. I'm intriuged by the potential subtle tonal possibilities. I guess the main difference between the two is neck length -- the F4 has a shorter scale than the F5.

    I've been skulking around the internet for such an animal for a few weeks now, and I haven't found any. SURE, I can hire a luthier to do a custom build on one, but I don't want to wait a year or more for it, or pay what it would cost -- and I readily acknowledge that it would doubtlessly be worth the thousands of $$$ a luthier would charge; but so would a new car.

    The only two other options I see are 1) buying a kit and building it myself, or 2) having one made in China, where it would cost drastically less than what domestic builders get.

    But, 1) having made an F5 from a kit before, I'm not sure I can modify an unfinished top to accommodate an oval soundhole, and 2) China? Now? Forget it.

    So, not knowing everything, I'm open to ideas.

    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    Sure, you can make a "hybrid F-5" with an oval hole and a 14th or 15th fret joint, and the higher-waisted bridge position that comes with that.
    Most kits provide thick enough tops that you could graduate it to be thick enough (I'd start with .220"/ 5.5mm all the way from the neck to the bridge, it's not a circular distribution, it's more of a ramp from side to side, with the treble and bass sides being the thinnest, and the center being thickest all the way down). You can then do X-bracing or transverse bracing, or whatever bracing you want as long as you reinforce the area on either side of the soundhole.

    Lots of good stuff being made in China.. like the iPhone 11, which for all its status as a symbol of conspicuous consumerism (the greatest American export), is a much more difficult thing to make than a simple mandolin.

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    Mark Bluett of Bluett Bros in Pennsylvania makes that mandolin.

    http://www.bluettbros-violins.com/
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    I saw a beautiful Eddie Blevins F4 hybrid recently in the classifieds.
    He calls it the F4H model.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Northfield F2S is also like what you're looking for.
    https://www.elderly.com/products/nor...hole-with-case

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by DLC View Post
    I'm interested in getting an F5 with an OVAL soundhole, instead of the usual
    Quote Originally Posted by ColdBeerGoCubs View Post
    ColdBeer, I think I looked all over their website, and found only the standard F4 12-fret oval, and the standard F5 14-fret f-hole. I couldn't find a link for a 14-fret-to-the-body oval hole, as the OP requested. Did I miss something when looking?

    DLC, I do like those hybrids, and I'm interested in what's available as well.

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    ColdBeer, I think I looked all over their website, and found only the standard F4 12-fret oval, and the standard F5 14-fret f-hole. I couldn't find a link for a 14-fret-to-the-body oval hole, as the OP requested. Did I miss something when looking?

    DLC, I do like those hybrids, and I'm interested in what's available as well.
    Sorry, the Collings ovals are not traditional 12 fret models, they are 13 fret, raised fingerboards and x-braced I believe.
    Last edited by ColdBeerGoCubs; May-24-2020 at 10:45pm.
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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    I like your thinking. I think I'd give that Collings a serious look and then go from there. I also like your adventurous ideas as to fonts and type sizes. Not sure why we're all always using the compact san serif. : )
    '09 Gilchrist Model 1, “July 9” Red Diamond F-5, '12 Duff F-5, '19 Collings MT2, ’24 A2-Z, ’24 F-2, '13 Collings mandola, '82 D-35, Gibson Keb Mo.

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    THAT is a beautiful mandolin! Thanks for the heads-up!

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    .......
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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    There's a used Northfield F2S in the classifieds right now in fact (NFI) https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/154578#154578
    I had one once and they are pretty nice, but it just never sounded quite right to me, so I let it go and got an old F2.

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    I have an older Weber Vintage. It has an oval hole, 14 frets and X bracing and is my favorite mandolin. Mark Bluett makes a fine mandolin. i used a hybrid F4 he made on a recording I did. It was white with nice art deco inlays. It sounded great, we even got him to play guitar an the tune we recorded using that mandolin.

  20. #13
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    My epiphone mm40 l I think fits your bill. They’ve been discontinued so they are being run out if you can get one.

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    To the OP: I think they are both the same scale length.

    carry on. . .

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    To the OP: I think they are both the same scale length.

    carry on. . .

    f-d
    Indeed they are. That means the bridge is placed lower on the F4 than on the F5. The F7 is an f-hole with the shorter neck where you can see the difference in bridge placement very clearly.

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    it can also mean the body is longer? There are two sides to that equation.

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    If you’re looking for quality on a budget and ready availability, check out Eastman’s “14” models (you’re more likely to get COVID-19 going to the grocery store than from a box that sits on a ship for weeks, flies a few hundred miles, then sits on your porch for a while before you open it; you could also Lysol the box). If you’re looking for quality on a budget and want made in the USA (which I totally respect), check out Howard “Sonny” Morris mandolins. I’ve never owned a Morris, but have conversed with him about a couple, and he was very pleasant to deal with. His instruments have a good rep on this forum, and some longer time members have played Morris mandolins throughout the years.
    Chuck

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    This is the mandolin I made from the kit. It was mid-priced at around $350. I don't recall the eBay dealer's name, but I suspect he's out of business now. I covered it with faux cowhide because I use it a lot on shows with a Texas-based "Singing Cowboy," and for what I paid I'd rather lose it than one of my good mandos if it gets lost, stolen or damaged at a show. The cover, and the brass tack accents, does effect the tone some, but it's still plenty loud for the rowdy cowboy music I play it on. The challenge of covering over F holes with, say, a nicely worked thin tooled leather veneer, and cutting an oval sound hole to replace them is starting to seem pretty do-able. I'm sure I'll probably get something nicer eventually -- those Eastmans look REALLY good! -- but for now, I REALLY appreciate all the input. Thanks, everyone! (Sorry about the pic lying on its side; I can't seem to attach an upright version.)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    A5 type has the longer, 12th fret on the neck like an F5 , just wont satisfy that scroll envy..


    ... and there are Oval sound hole versions made..
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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by DLC View Post
    This is the mandolin I made from the kit. It was mid-priced at around $350. I don't recall the eBay dealer's name, but I suspect he's out of business now. I covered it with faux cowhide because I use it a lot on shows with a Texas-based "Singing Cowboy," and for what I paid I'd rather lose it than one of my good mandos if it gets lost, stolen or damaged at a show. The cover, and the brass tack accents, does effect the tone some, but it's still plenty loud for the rowdy cowboy music I play it on. The challenge of covering over F holes with, say, a nicely worked thin tooled leather veneer, and cutting an oval sound hole to replace them is starting to seem pretty do-able. I'm sure I'll probably get something nicer eventually -- those Eastmans look REALLY good! -- but for now, I REALLY appreciate all the input. Thanks, everyone! (Sorry about the pic lying on its side; I can't seem to attach an upright version.)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    That's cool! I thought of building an electric mandolin covered in cowhide. Here's a tele style I made a while back with real cowhide.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by jim simpson View Post
    That's cool! I thought of building an electric mandolin covered in cowhide. Here's a tele style I made a while back with real cowhide.
    Looks good!

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    A5 type has the longer, 12th fret on the neck like an F5 , just wont satisfy that scroll envy..


    ... and there are Oval sound hole versions made..
    A5-type has (typically) neck joint at the 15th fret. F4, F2 and A through A4 all have neck joint at the 12th fret. A5's seem to always have an elevated fretboard too. Hybrid oval-holes are like this too. I don't like the hybrid.

    f-d
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    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    Keep a lookout for say an old F-2 or F-4 that has neck issues? I had a 1914 F-2 that was a mess-busted neck, that I was going to put a 5 scale neck on but I gave it to David Harvey toward some work he's doing for me. That would've made a great conversion I think? Plus I'm a fan of the vintage stuff with the old/aged wood!

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    A5-type has (typically) neck joint at the 15th fret. F4, F2 and A through A4 all have neck joint at the 12th fret. A5's seem to always have an elevated fretboard too. Hybrid oval-holes are like this too. I don't like the hybrid.

    f-d
    Me too. The short scale is what give the ovals their tone. Hybrids usually sound like a not so good F5 in my opinion.

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    Default Re: F5 with an OVAL hole?

    This is the only oval I ever made. It was at the request by someone who had bought a couple of other F-5's. It required moving the oval forward a bit. I haven't heard it in years but it had a definite oval sound but not as tubby.
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