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Thread: One versus two-piece backs

  1. #1
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    Default One versus two-piece backs

    Hi folks,

    Any opinions on the desirability of a one vs two piece mandolin back? Just aesthetics, or any other considerations? For me, who is hoping to buy an F4 someday soon and can only do it remotely, wondering if there are any general tone characteristics (or maybe durability factors on these century-old instruments: do two-piece lend themselves to seam separation. One piece to cracking?) with either choice to consider, all other things being equal. (Yes, I know there are MANY variables that go into how a mandolin sounds , just wondering if there is anything to be said about this particular dichotomous choice).

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  3. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    I don't know what the percentage frequency of back center seam failure is, but it's not extremely high.
    Other than that fairly low chance of a glue joint failure, there is no difference other than aesthetics between mandolins with one piece or two piece backs, all other things being equal.

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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    I agree with John's comments above. A center seam is not under a lot of tension, compared with other joints.

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  7. #4

    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    When I ordered my Northfield F5M I specifically wanted a one piece back but solely because of aesthetics...I just like the look.
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    One piece backs are very cool and desirable. They often come on high end mandolins. On the other hand, book-matched backs are also aesthetically beautiful and interesting to view. In terms of quality, it is just preference because both are durable, are equal in sound and workmanship, assuming the condition that all other factors are somewhat equal. I have a one piece back on my A5 and a book-matched on my F5. I love the sound and appearance of both. Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    Purely an aesthetic decision. I think perhaps, to justify the MAS one feels anyone, one should get one of each.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

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  13. #7
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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    One piece is my cup of teaClick image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    I like a 28 piece bowlback.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMatt View Post
    One piece is my cup of teaClick image for larger version. 

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    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    Both please!

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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    Quote Originally Posted by lflngpicker View Post
    I love the sound and appearance of both.
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    ... one should get one of each.
    Quote Originally Posted by BrianWilliam View Post
    Both please!
    Lawrence Welk agreed with you. He often said, "A one an' a two."

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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    I asked for a one piece back for my Girouard Concert model oval A, purely because I love the look of a one piece back:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    A pair of Gibson F4’s made in 1913 with one-piece and two-piece backs. They are a few factory numbers apart and sound very similar.

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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    Likely January 1922 FON # 71080
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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    A fairly well-matched pair of 1916 instruments: H2 mandola and A4 mandolin. Both two-piece, though the A4 is so cleverly crafted it's hard to tell. There are short stretches near the top and bottom where the straight line of the seam can be discerned. For most its length, though, the swirling grain obscures the seam so well I thought at first it is a one piece. Just a touch disappointed by that.

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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    I asked for a one piece back for my Girouard Concert model oval A, purely because I love the look of a one piece back:

    Click image for larger version. 

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  30. #17
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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    I have owned many mandolins with two-pc. backs. I have also owned and seen many mandolins with center seam separations of varying degrees.

    So it's because of this problem I tend to lean towards a single-piece back instrument. However, that said I own a F5 with a 2-pc. back and another mandolin and mandola with one-pc. backs...

    One piece or two... either will do!

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  32. #18
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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    Quote Originally Posted by Glassweb View Post
    I have owned many mandolins with two-pc. backs. I have also owned and seen many mandolins with center seam separations of varying degrees.

    So it's because of this problem I tend to lean towards a single-piece back instrument. However, that said I own a F5 with a 2-pc. back and another mandolin and mandola with one-pc. backs...

    One piece or two... either will do!
    Glassweb, I am glad you posted. You have more experience than many, being around here 17 years! I didn’t know those back seams separate, but I have seen acoustic guitars do that very thing. Interesting!
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  33. #19
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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    I have had both and either can float my boat! A bookmatched 2-piece back can be glorious in its symmetry, while a well-figured 1-piece can look like the sunrise or the ocean surface.

  34. #20

    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    Supposedly there is no difference in sound quality but my friend who owns an "anderson" would probably dissagree ...but the old loyd loars were all 2 piece backs . The disadvantage of a 1 piece is that the back can flex and is not as sturdy as a 2 piece. If you lived in a swamp where ya got a lot of humidity it might prove difficult to keep in tune .... But if ya lived in a region where there is not much change in temperature or humidity .... A 1 piece would be fine.

  35. #21
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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    Quote Originally Posted by hermdawg View Post
    ...The disadvantage of a 1 piece is that the back can flex and is not as sturdy as a 2 piece...
    I'll need an explanation on that one. I can't see any reason why a 1-piece back would flex any more and/or be any less sturdy than a 2-piece back made from similar wood.

  36. #22
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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    I like the one piece back I have on the Davidson two point mandolin, but thatís because it gives a larger canvas for all the wonderful woody patterns to play out. Emotionally thereís a completeness to having something without a join. I think if I were getting another Iíd get a two piece as thereís a fascination in seeing how the book match patterns meet and interplay.
    I canít see any real reason itís going to be an issue in terms of integrity or sound as theyíre carved after being joined, so dealt with as a unit from there on out to completion.

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  38. #23
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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    You don't 'book match' just 1 piece, you need 2..
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  39. #24
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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    Most of the center seam problems that I have experienced/encountered have been on old Gibson mandolins with 2 pc. backs... including Loar-era F5s and F4s...

  40. #25
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    Default Re: One versus two-piece backs

    I love my 1 piece back Gil. Mando bling for sure but I wonder how a 1 piece back impacts resale value? http://www.gilchristmandolins.com/539
    dave berry

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