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Thread: Arch-top GOM - oval or ff hole?

  1. #1
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Arch-top GOM - oval or ff hole?

    I'm in the midst of GOMAS. I currently own the Eastman MDO-305 - an arch-top, a-body, f-hole OM.

    I think I want a 20-21-in-scale arch-top guitar-body octave mandolin.

    Sell me on ff hole v. oval hole. I see a lot of ff hole models and really want to sound just like Sierra Hull, but then again. . .

    I just want a new octave mandolin and want to get one built.

    So, ff hole or oval hole - selling points?

    f-d
    °papŠ gordo ainít no madre flaca!

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

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    Default Re: Arch-top GOM - oval or ff hole?

    I have no complaints about my Clark and it has the scale length you’re looking for. It has F holes - how much are you intending to spend?

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch-top GOM - oval or ff hole?

    I had a buddy named Carl who used to buy and sell lots of cool mandolins. When asked for his advice on which singular one to purchase, he was known to recommend the A5 as a general rule. He argued that the f-holes were more versatile and allowed you to play any style of music, from classical to bluegrass.
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    Default Re: Arch-top GOM - oval or ff hole?

    I have a Weber Gallatin 22" oval hole and a Weber Black Ice 22" F hole

    first there is already a huge tone and playability difference between Gallatin and Yellowstone so it is not perhaps fair to compare

    but the Gallatin is slightly louder and ringy-er , but somewhat muddy on the bottom end, the neck is fatter and the action while very good is still higher than the Yellowstone, I tend to prefer it for Celtic and perhaps something like "Black River" it might be better for

    The F has a sweeter tone, really good sustain, and is IMHO easier to play.

    So I think you can get decent sounds from an oval hole 22", but I personally prefer the F overall.
    if I had to get rid of one I would keep the Yellowstone.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
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  7. #5
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch-top GOM - oval or ff hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    I had a buddy named Carl who used to buy and sell lots of cool mandolins. When asked for his advice on which singular one to purchase, he was known to recommend the A5 as a general rule. He argued that the f-holes were more versatile and allowed you to play any style of music, from classical to bluegrass.
    hahhahhaaahaaa! And, I know this dude that builds mandolins and he got me wondering. . . Does this observation scale up to the big boxes?

    Discernment is part of the process!

    f-d
    °papŠ gordo ainít no madre flaca!

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

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch-top GOM - oval or ff hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    hahhahhaaahaaa! And, I know this dude that builds mandolins and he got me wondering. . . Does this observation scale up to the big boxes?
    So you have access to Dr. Dave Cohen, one of the leading experts on the physics and mechanics of musical instruments, and you're asking me for my opinion on sound hole selection? Discernment indeed . . .
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2014 Smart F-Style Mandola
    2018 Vessel TM5
    2019 Hogan F5

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  11. #7
    flyfishermandolinist Tim F Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch-top GOM - oval or ff hole?

    In my limited experience, having owned a couple of big mandos (an oval hole Weber Bridger OM which I wish I still had and an ff hole Galatin mandocello) I would say while both are great, Iíd go with ff holes all the way. I just personally love the punchy percussive sound of ff holes, and I canít think of a drawback on the larger instruments; sustain isnít a problem on big mandos. I have heard better sustain as a rational for the oval hole being better on mandolins and I somewhat agree.

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  13. #8
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arch-top GOM - oval or ff hole?

    Nothing less than 22”
    FF holes for an arch top
    Oval for a flattop

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    Default Re: Arch-top GOM - oval or ff hole?

    Quote Originally Posted by sgarrity View Post
    Nothing less than 22”
    FF holes for an arch top
    Oval for a flattop
    Almost agree, but, for me 22.5 was too much scale length to make it useful for anything other than 2 or 3 finger chording, and I’m not a tiny handed guy. I used to own a Weber Hyalite that was carved top and oval holed. It was a rhythm machine but, even very well set up, lead/melody was a chore. I now have a Weber Bitteroot that’s 20 inches. With the mandola string set on it it doesn’t muddy when wailing on chords and I can play all the lead stuff I want without fatigue...thanks, FD for the string set recommendation! I’ve also owned a Weber Yellowstone MC with FF holes, but turned it into the current OM, again because of the scale length.

    Having owned both oval and FF hole OMs, and liking the tone of both, my vote is for a carved top FF hole 20-21 inch OM. Think arch top vs flat top guitars when considering the tonal diffs between arch and flat top OMs.
    Chuck

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