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Thread: Old vs New Oval

  1. #76
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    Maybe an approach would be to employ whichever mandolin works for the style of music. The reason I say this I have gone back to cheaper well rounded mandolins ( Eastman 505, Breedlove KO mandolins, both with wide frets and radiused boards) for my playing with lesser instruments. I used to have more expensive mandolins. What has happened is my rhythm and attack has improved and can get the tone I want in my head.

    A metronome really helps in practising scales arpeggios and the melody. I also listen carefully to recorded music and I have done Artistworks, Homespun series, and Peghead Nation courses. I refer back to these from time to time. I really like Butch Baldesarri's approach to playing traditional music. I now consider the search for the holy grail of mandolin perfection is less of a priority now that I have solid well setup mandolins.
    Nic Gellie

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  3. #77
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    While I am at it, there is a binary classification for old and new mandolins.

    First some old short necked mandolins have small frets and the Gibson brand all over them

    Second some new short- necked mandolins have either small or large frets and have the Eastman, Gilchrist, Hester, Pomeroy, Black etc.

    These two classes of mandolins have either the classic Gibson tubby or enhanced tone

    Third we have the modern oval holes with long necked raised large frets and x-bracing (e.g. Breedlove, Collings, Girouard, Weber, etc.)
    With a cross-over tone betwen a f-hole and an oval hole.

    It is all a matter of choice. I made a beautiful F2 mandolin with large frets that ended up in Brazil not without a long time in Brazilian customs.

    I got advice on how to graduate the top from Jonathon Maclanahan bless his soul. It worked.

    This year I am making an A2, an F4, an A-5, and two F5s, one with a beautiful Engelmann spruce top and the other one with a Red Spruce top.

    So I am going for a modern version of the old designs pretty much.

    So out with the new and in with the old with a slight twist in graduations.
    Nic Gellie

  4. #78

    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    When I was shopping archtop ovals, I tried the new hybrids and the old traditional tubby sounding ones and went with the traditional sound. Tubby is the common phrase, but I would also use the terms 'darker' and 'woodier' as those are more positive terms. :-)

    The dark sustained sound of a traditional oval - less bark and more sing - spoke to me. The hybrids on the other hand were an answer to a question I wasn't really asking...

    I suppose if you wanted to cover all your bases though you would have to have all three: an F hole, hybrid oval, and traditional oval sound.
    Davey Stuart tenor guitar (based on his 18" mandola design).
    Eastman MD-604SB with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: THR-10, Sony XB-20.

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  6. #79
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    So Kurt I noticed that you went with the Eastman 600 series F and O styles. Can I ask you if you went with these because they were more traditional sounding and in the case of the oval it had more of that darker tone you were seeking on a budget. I was pretty impressed with the MD404Bk that I have a video of direct from TFOA in Holland.
    Nic Gellie

  7. #80
    Registered User rnjl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    I have a beautiful archtop A-oval made by Will Parsons because I wanted a rounded neck- hate skinny V necks- and 14 rather than 12 frets like my A model Flatiron. I have no idea how it's braced but it's so easy to play and sounds great- you can chop but it's got a great tone for fiddle tunes.

    Don't know if he's still building but he's a talented luthier.

  8. #81
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    Mike Black is who I would call if looking for an oval. You might find a great old Gibson, but getting a great sounding mandolin with no issues from Mike is a sure thing. To clarify, I don't have an oval from him, mine is an A5. Yet.

  9. #82

    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    I had a modern Bluett F4 which was beautifully made but very quiet campared to an old teens Gibson F4. My current 1919 F4 is much louder than a couple of early 1920s F4s I've had with truss rod. The 1919 one is lighter so there's old and old, so to speak. I think set up, bridge material, string spacing, plectrum all contribute. Depends what you are after. I find that, given time, your ear gets used to whatever it has been playing for a few months so may as well get one you like the look of and if that performs reasonably well then that should be it.

    To repeat, set up is everything ( as well as plectrum and strings)

  10. #83
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    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Freeman View Post
    Yes, that looked great and was priced to fly off the shelf. I have a really early Mike Black A2-z (currently on his bench for some TLC) that I adore. I like it over a dozen or so teens and early '20s Gibsons that I owned at different times. The Black has modern refinements that help both playability and sound. I found with the old Gibsons that there were usually a few notes that had an inconsistent response—hollow yet piercing at the same time—that just drilled an auditory hole into my brain. The Black has the classic teens Gibson sound, but the response is consistent throughout its entire range.
    Nice playing !

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  12. #84
    🎶 Play Pretty 🎶 Greg Connor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    Collings is the one I would buy if I was inclined to spend the money. Mandolin is not my primary instrument.

    I’m glad to see a lot of old Gibson fans here. I have a 1917 A4, just back from the luthier last Spring. It has a tone that makes the instrument hard to put down.

    I also have a Breedlove Oval hole / Wide Neck (Made in Oregon). Not in the same category as the Collings but a nice mandolin just the same.

    Half the fun is finding the one that speaks to YOU.

  13. #85
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    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Connor View Post
    Collings is the one I would buy if I was inclined to spend the money. Mandolin is not my primary instrument.

    I’m glad to see a lot of old Gibson fans here. I have a 1917 A4, just back from the luthier last Spring. It has a tone that makes the instrument hard to put down.

    I also have a Breedlove Oval hole / Wide Neck (Made in Oregon). Not in the same category as the Collings but a nice mandolin just the same.

    Half the fun is finding the one that speaks to YOU.
    Better take a look at Girouard Ovals !

  14. #86

    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Connor View Post
    Collings is the one I would buy if I was inclined to spend the money. Mandolin is not my primary instrument.

    I’m glad to see a lot of old Gibson fans here. I have a 1917 A4, just back from the luthier last Spring. It has a tone that makes the instrument hard to put down.

    I also have a Breedlove Oval hole / Wide Neck (Made in Oregon). Not in the same category as the Collings but a nice mandolin just the same.

    Half the fun is finding the one that speaks to YOU.
    Quote Originally Posted by yankees1 View Post
    Better take a look at Girouard Ovals !
    Better NOT try a Collings Oval if you don't want to spend any money!!!!!! (You see what I did, yanks?)
    Gunga......Gunga.....Gu-Lunga

  15. #87
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Connor View Post
    Collings is the one I would buy if I was inclined to spend the money. Mandolin is not my primary instrument.

    I’m glad to see a lot of old Gibson fans here. I have a 1917 A4, just back from the luthier last Spring. It has a tone that makes the instrument hard to put down.

    I also have a Breedlove Oval hole / Wide Neck (Made in Oregon). Not in the same category as the Collings but a nice mandolin just the same.

    Half the fun is finding the one that speaks to YOU.
    Steve Gilchrist has managed to find tone in A oval designs. Instead of spruce tops with birch backs and sides he uses red spruce tops and red maple back.

    Here is an example:



    It sounds great and we'll rounded.

    And this Eastman 404 for much less money and made to the same design does not sound too bad either:



    I have gone back to being a fan of traditional Gibson As.

    Pere Coombe makes some great ones too and so do many other makers including myself.

    Nic Gellie

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    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    Quote Originally Posted by ColdBeerGoCubs View Post
    Better NOT try a Collings Oval if you don't want to spend any money!!!!!! (You see what I did, yanks?)
    Oh my ! You on drugs ? Next thing I may hear from you is you are now rooting for the Cardinals !!

  17. #89
    🎶 Play Pretty 🎶 Greg Connor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    Quote Originally Posted by yankees1 View Post
    Better take a look at Girouard Ovals !
    I looked, and actually drooled a little looking, at the Steve Gilchrist and Girouard mandolins. Those are some beautiful instruments.

    In the end, I can’t afford those either, so I conclude that my father in law was right when he said: “Don’t marry the bum, he’ll never amount to anything”. Let me just say that my banjo collection didn’t help!

  18. #90
    Still Picking and Sawing Jack Roberts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    I recently A and B'd my Coombe Mandola from 2009 with my 'teens Gibson H-1. It's a tough call: the Gibson is louder and has a more "hollow" sound--some call it "tubby" but I don't think that is the best description. The Gibson is definitely more "old-timey" and has a sound that can fill the room. The only strings that work well for me it are the D'Addario mandola EJ76 mediums.

    The Coombe sound is gentler, especially since I changed it to TI strings. I've tried everything, but there really aren't better strings than the TI Prazisions for this mandola. The sound is both more complex and more intimate than the Gibson. It has a sound that is better for Bach and for playing old songs with lots of double stops. I would hate to give up either one, but for now I enjoy the Coombe more.
    Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
    When time is broke and no proportion kept!
    --William Shakespeare

  19. #91
    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    Man! I sure enjoy reading all your thoughts and opinions. Thanks. You all know so much more than I, but one of the things I encounter is the differing sounds from in front of (the listener's end) the mandolin from the sound behind (the player's end) of the mandolin. Too many times I have heard a mandolin and thought that's the one but then when I have it in my hands it is an entirely different sound. When I am interestted in a mandoln and if possible, I get someone to play it for me while I listen. Just a thought.

  20. #92

    Default Re: Old vs New Oval

    Between the Collings and the vintage Gibson, I would go for the Collings, if anything for the neck.

    I have a Weber Hyalite that has a great tone and it was around 600 when I got it used.

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