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Thread: New OM day, and some questions about others

  1. #1

    Default New OM day, and some questions about others

    Hi cafe, first post here!

    I have been casually interested in an OM for a long time, and after seeing the Arcadian Wild a few weeks ago I finally decided to seriously consider it. A guy at my church has a couple OMs so I asked for his input on them, and he sent me home with one to borrow for a while. It's a Weber Bitterroot, 22" scale. I found it fun, kind of difficult to play (as expected) and decided to pick up something for myself.

    Like many others I bought a MDO-305, from Montana Lutherie. Its 1" shorter scale and substantially thinner neck made a huge difference in playability. The overall size difference was a little shocking too!

    I think I'll be shopping for an upgrade on the Eastman's sound though. I guess my question is, are there other archtop OM makers with thinner necks like this? The Bitterroot sounds better for sure, but I find myself reaching for the other...
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  2. #2
    Registered User Marcus CA's Avatar
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    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    duplicate post created by editing
    still trying to turn dreams into memories

  3. #3
    Registered User Marcus CA's Avatar
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    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    If you like the feel of the Eastman, but want a better tone, you might like their MDO605 model. It has the same dimensions as the MDO305, but in their mandolin line, the 600 series have significantly better tone than the 300 series, so presumably, that is the case in their OM line, as well. As a bonus, Eastman's 600 series instruments come with a built-in pick-up. https://www.eastmanguitars.com/mandolin_cousins
    still trying to turn dreams into memories

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    Registered User McIrish's Avatar
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    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    I could be wrong, but I thought with Eastman the higher numbers were for more appointments: better looking wood and bindings. Some people have noted that some lower level models occasionally sound better than the higher end ones.
    I have the Eastman MDO305. I wish it had a bit more body to it. It plays very well. It's just the sound is a little thinner than I hoped. I believe it is due to the body size.
    Gibson 2016 "Harvey" Fern
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  5. #5
    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    I had an Eastman MDA815 mandola for a while. It was beautiful in looks, but left me wishing for a better sound. I wound up just selling it because I played it very rarely.
    Drew
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  6. #6

    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    I just listed an Old Wave GBOM if interested. The neck is slim and easy to play. Great tone!
    Teri LaMarco
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  7. #7
    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    The Weber neck profile is pretty chunky. I loved it when I started playing but eventually found I like a thinner profile. I’m a GBOM fan with two flattops, a Pono & a Northfield, and saving for an arch top from Austin Clark. Both flattop & arch top GBOMs have their own sound so definitely a try before you buy or have a good return policy. Since it’s feel you’re chasing, I’d say that applies regardless what you end up buying
    2020 Northfield Big Mon
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    2021 Northfield Flattop Octave Mandolin
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    And a few electrics

  8. #8

    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    Thanks all! Urobouros - do the Pono and Northfield have smaller necks than the typical Weber? Still need to get the calipers out and check width/thickness so I can actually make some progress...

  9. #9
    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    The Northfield & Pono necks have more of a C profile like a guitar whereas I'd call the Weber profile more of a D. According to the specs the Northfield nut is slightly wider, 1 13/32", than the 1 3/8" nut on the Pono but I'd have sworn both were wider than the Weber. I need to get a caliper measurement to be sure.
    2020 Northfield Big Mon
    2016 Skip Kelley A5
    2011 Weber Gallatin A20
    2013 Collings Mandola
    2021 Northfield Flattop Octave Mandolin
    2019 Pono Flattop Octave
    Richard Beard Celtic Flattop
    And a few electrics

  10. #10

    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    Thanks! You're motivating me to actually measure mine...maybe a table of measurements will be useful for others too, who don't live close enough to a shop who stocks any.

  11. #11
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    have you changed out the strings to the D'Adderio MANDOLA set? I did and been happy since - not that I had anything for comparison, that is. . .

    I've made OM my Covid challenge. It's been fun, but I'm no "musician." I'm just a hobbyist!

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

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

  12. #12

    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    It came from Montana Lutherie with JP 48-14, which is pretty close to the EJ72s everyone recommends around here. I just bought a pieced-together set of slightly heavier Elixirs (.052 G strings) that I haven't put on yet. I think I'd be reasonably happy already if I didn't have something right next to it for comparison!

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  14. #13

    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    OK finally dug out my fancy harbor freight calipers. I did not take the strings off these so I know these measurements are inexact, but the relative difference is more interesting to me.

    The Weber is thicker and wider as expected. I expected it to be much thicker, but the difference is only 1/16 at the nut and gets smaller from there. Width is where the real difference lies - the Weber is a hair narrower at the nut but widens quickly, and string spacing at the bridge is 0.200" wider.

    What did I learn? I want a narrower string spacing. Now I can look more effectively! None of the manufacturers publish those specs but there is lots of chat here at the cafe. Cheers all.

    Eastman MDO-305
    Neck width at:
    - nut: 1.425" (a bit wider than the 1 3/8" on the spec sheet)
    - 5th: 1.570"
    - 10th: 1.690"
    bridge (outer string to outer string): 1.793"

    Neck thickness at:
    nut: 0.970"
    5th: 1.044"
    10th: 1.130"

    Weber bitterroot octave
    - nut: 1.414"
    - 5th: 1.634"
    - 10th: 1.790"
    bridge (outer string to outer string): 1.923"

    Neck thickness at:
    nut: 1.04"
    5th: 1.10"
    10: 1.167"

  15. #14
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    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    I have a Weber Bitterroot OM (20 inch scale) that I really like. They do tend to have chunkier necks, as you've noted. I used to have a 22.5 inch Hyalite that was a rhythm machine but the extra scale length made it tough for melody work in my hands. I played a Northfield 22.5 inch scale GBOM and a Girouard 20 inch GBOM side by side in TME in the fall of 2019, and the Girouard definitely had a slimmer neck profile. Northfield was more of a guitar neck profile but felt slimmer that my Weber (Weber > NF > Girouard in neck profile size/thickness). That said, the scale length is the key component for me; I can get used to the other factors pretty easily. I should have taken the Girouard home with me that day but didn't want to fly with it, and it had a little dust on it so I figured I was good. It sold later that day or the next...
    Chuck

  16. #15

    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    I’m excitedly awaiting the arrival of a Pono I picked up here on the cafe classifieds! It should arrive Wednesday. I’m eager to see how difficult it is to transition to the bigger scale of an OM.

  17. #16

    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    The Eastman is up for sale and I'm looking at other options now. The mid/high strings sound great and the feel is great, but the thin body is just too small and bass is lacking for my taste. After spending a few more weeks, the larger neck on the Weber is starting to feel more normal. I detuned and put a capo at the second fret for a while to roughly mimic a shorter scale length.

    After looking around at what's out there, I'm a little saddened by how few choices I have! Criteria are:
    - no longer than 21" scale (rules out Northfield, KR Strings, Pono, lots of others)
    - not onion-shaped/beavertail (rules out lots, purely an aesthetic thing)
    - ideally under $2,000 (rules out the really tasty ones!)

    I'm looking seriously at Yair Stern's octaves, which have almost a dulcimer-like sound...hard to get a feel for it. Besides that, looks like I'm saving up at least another couple thousand, unless I'm missing something!

  18. #17
    Registered User McIrish's Avatar
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    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    I too have the Eastman. It's fun to play and I actually like the longer scale length. As stated, the problem is the thinner sound o the lower strings. I have been looking for a long time for a way to upgrade but have not found the right octave mandolin. 20" seems too short for me. That's pretty close to mandola, which I already have. 21-22" seems perfect for me. I'm looking for an A style or even an F. I don't like guitar shaped mandolins family instruments. Just aesthetics.
    Gibson 2016 "Harvey" Fern
    Collings MT Mandola
    Weber 2017 Bitterroot A20-F Octave Mandolin
    Eastman MDO305 Octave Mandolin
    Petersen Level 2 Irish Bouzouki
    Eastman MDC805 Mandocello
    Collings 0002H
    Five & Six String Banjos
    Lots of other Guitars
    http://www.shadowfields.com

  19. #18

    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    It's been an interesting month. I sold the Eastman, bought and subsequently returned an in-stock OM from Yair Stern, and now just received this Octolindo from a cafe member. This one is finally a keeper!

    I softened on my scale length demand a couple posts above, having continued to acclimate to the 22" Weber and then getting the 19 5/8" Stern - that one was clearly far too short. Spec sheet says ~21.5" scale for the Octolindo; it measures a hair short of that.

    In keeping w/ above, here are neck measurements of the Octolindo. Compared to the Weber it feels tiny! Plays very nicely.

    Neck width at:
    - nut: 1.368"
    - 5th: 1.605"
    - 10th: 1.790"
    bridge (outer string to outer string): 1.884"

    Neck thickness at:
    nut: 0.890"
    5th: 0.953"
    10th: 1.012"

    One other thing worth mentioning - the spacing between paired strings is tighter. I measured 2mm on the Eastman, 2.5mm on the Weber, and 1.25mm (!) on this one. I have skinny pinkies so this actually helps a lot - my fingertips had been going right between the strings!

    I did not measure the Stern. Subjectively, it was on the narrow and very thick side.

  20. #19

    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    Actually since the cafe supports tables....

    Measurement Eastman MDO305 Weber Bitterroot Octolindo
    Neck Width at:
    Nut 1.425 1.414 1.368
    5th fret 1.570 1.634 1.605
    10th fret 1.690 1.790 1.790
    Bridge spacing 1.793 1.923 1.884
    Neck thickness at
    Nut 0.970 1.040 0.890
    5th fret 1.044 1.100 0.953
    10th fret 1.130 1.167 1.012
    Scale length 21" 22" 21.5"

  21. #20

    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

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  22. #21
    Registered User McIrish's Avatar
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    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    Thanks for the update on your journey. I have an Eastman, bought a Weber Bitterroot A20-F and still keep thinking about looking for more. For me, I did like the scale and playability of the Eastman better than the Weber, but the Weber has a bit more body to the sound. I have an aversion to guitar shaped octave mandolins, which is why I went with the Weber. The shorter scale of the Weber isn't my first choice though.
    This is an expensive habit...
    Gibson 2016 "Harvey" Fern
    Collings MT Mandola
    Weber 2017 Bitterroot A20-F Octave Mandolin
    Eastman MDO305 Octave Mandolin
    Petersen Level 2 Irish Bouzouki
    Eastman MDC805 Mandocello
    Collings 0002H
    Five & Six String Banjos
    Lots of other Guitars
    http://www.shadowfields.com

  23. #22

    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    I just started the Octave Journey myself. I ended up with a Clark and it's a dream to play. But it occurred to me that if you really like the Weber, call Montana Lutherie and see if Bruce will reshape the neck for you. It may be a less expensive option, plus you could send the Eastman and the Weber sized as close to possible to the Eastman. Just an idea.

  24. #23

    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    Quote Originally Posted by McIrish View Post
    Thanks for the update on your journey. I have an Eastman, bought a Weber Bitterroot A20-F and still keep thinking about looking for more. For me, I did like the scale and playability of the Eastman better than the Weber, but the Weber has a bit more body to the sound. I have an aversion to guitar shaped octave mandolins, which is why I went with the Weber. The shorter scale of the Weber isn't my first choice though.
    This is an expensive habit...
    Agree that there aren't too many options for you that aren't guitar-shaped. I like the archtop look of this one (even though the top is actually flat, which I didn't expect) but I absolutely didn't want a pin bridge and soundhole. The sound in my head was the Northfield OM (e.g. The Arcadian Wild - Silence: a Stranger) and this is very close to that for well under half the cost. After the Stern I decided to stop messing around with things that I knew wouldn't sound like that.

    Your Weber is 20"? Maybe you'd like one like this 22...too bad it's not mine to sell!

  25. #24

    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    Quote Originally Posted by slaminsam View Post
    I just started the Octave Journey myself. I ended up with a Clark and it's a dream to play. But it occurred to me that if you really like the Weber, call Montana Lutherie and see if Bruce will reshape the neck for you. It may be a less expensive option, plus you could send the Eastman and the Weber sized as close to possible to the Eastman. Just an idea.
    I would have considered that if it wasn't borrowed! I asked the owner about buying it and he's not interested in selling, but at one point in the journey that would have been plan A.

    A Clark is what I really want...but some things just aren't realistic. Congrats and I hope you love it!

  26. #25
    Registered User meow-n-dolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: New OM day, and some questions about others

    Quote Originally Posted by McIrish View Post
    I could be wrong, but I thought with Eastman the higher numbers were for more appointments: better looking wood and bindings. Some people have noted that some lower level models occasionally sound better than the higher end ones. size.
    I tend to agree with you. I own, and have owned, several Eastman mandolins, two mandolas, two mandocellos, as well as the 305 (No, I do not collect Eastmans, I lost several in fire a few years ago.) Whether my 915B is worth the extra money is most definitely a personal choice. Does it sound twice as good as a 515? It does have a slightly different tone. But better? Depends on what one expects or wants. Frankly, I doubt most folks, even mandolin players, could tell the difference.
    The 915 is distinct from the 415, but that is due to the use of mahogany vs. maple. And, again, the slightly warmer tone is something one either likes or does not.
    Eastman 915 B Mando
    Eastman MD-314 Mando
    Eastman MD-524 Mando
    Godin A-8 Mando
    Eastman MDO305 OM
    Eastman ER1 Mando
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