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Thread: Bracing f5's

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    United Kingdom


    Does anybody have opinions on Tone bar bracing opposed to (x) bracing for F5's Andrew Mowry built my mandolin with the standard tone bar bracing. I have noticed such makers as Gilchrist regularly use (x) bracing. Who started (x) bracing? Which do you all prefer?

  2. #2
    Registered User pickinNgrinnin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002


    Check this link. It's a question that comes up often. Some heavy hitters weigh in on this topic - including the late Charlie D.

  3. #3
    Registered User mandolin breeze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    "My Home Is On My Back"

    Default Re: Bracing f5's

    I am really curious to understand the tonal differences between an F-hole mando X braced vs tone bar braced. In searching the forum, I keep seeing this dead link (the link in pickinNgrinnin's post above this one). Anyone know what this link was to? Any other info or thoughts on topic would be appreciated.

  4. #4
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Southeast Tennessee

    Default Re: Bracing f5's

    "Who started x-bracing?"

    The earliest mandolin I have seen with X bracing was a May Bell from the '30's. It was an f-hole A model.
    I have seen X bracing in Gibson L-7 archtop guitars from the same period. I don't recall seeing it [at least not for certain] in any prewar Gibson mandolins.

    Unless someone knows of an old Gibson F-5 or F-12 with original X bracing, I would guess that the use of it on an F model is a 1980's innovation by a modern builder.

    Traditionally, the origination of X bracing is credited to C.F. Martin Sr. sometime around 1850. Historically, X braced instruments by other makers from the same period have come to light.

  5. #5
    Registered User amowry's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Bend, OR

    Default Re: Bracing f5's

    I'm not sure if Gilchrist uses X bracing much anymore. I've built a few F5s with X bracing, and the difference wasn't as pronounced as I would have expected (I probably wouldn't be able to tell that they were X-braced, playing them blind). I've also built a number of archtop guitars with X and parallel bracing, with similar results. If anything, X-bracing might give a slightly warmer sound, which is what you would expect because they are less stiff longitudinally. However, I carve both types to give roughly the same overall stiffness. Sometimes it's amazing how little the bracing pattern effects the sound, as long as you get the overall stiffness in the right ballpark. Flattop guitars sometimes having wildly different bracing patterns, resulting (sometimes) in minor sound differences.

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  7. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Farmington, MN

    Default Re: Bracing f5's

    I put parallel, and then X braces into the same mandolin to compare. It's all in this thread;

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