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Thread: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

  1. #26
    Registered User Onesound's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    Stumbled across this thread and wondering if Jim ever found his "dream" mando.

    I've been down a somewhat similar road. IMO, experience has taught me that the hybrid mando (oval hole with longer scale and raised fretboard) is an unsatisfactory compromise between the short scale oval and long F. I've had a Bussman oval short scale that had a deep, rich and very recognizable oval tone. Then went to an f hole "Bluegrass" braced style for its increased punch and volume. It did all those things wonderfully, but at the expense of richness of tone.

    Next mando was a Weber Bitterroot Oval Vintage Custom, thinking it would satisfy my tone cravings. Although it had the "looks" of a vintage Gibson, it had the scale and raised fretboard of a "traditional" Bluegrass instrument. It definitely had volume and chop but unfortunately totally lacked the tonal characteristics of a vintage oval. I would say that it was really much closer to a "Bluegrass" mando in sheep's clothing. There may be other hybrids that come closer to a vintage oval tone, but I haven't run across them.

    In that constant search for my ideal tone machine, I've come to prize richness of tone over volume. Whenever I have the opportunity to pick an old, weathered, teens Gibson my heart swells. Now, THAT's good tone! Since I don't play much Bluegrass, a strong chop is not on my radar. Neither is volume since I don't need to compete with a banjo! :-)

    I have small hands, so the short scale is not a problem for me (now, a soprano uke, that is a problem...). Unless you constantly play above 3rd position, I would wager that feel of the scale difference is negligible. (One caviat, I do prefer shorter guitar and banjo scales.)

    My advice to anyone thinking about a hybrid would be to play one along side a short scale oval and long F before making a buying decision.
    Cheers,

    Brian

    Angels don't play harps, they play mandolins

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  3. #27
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    Just for clarity, the scale length (nut to bridge) on the short oval and long elevated F5 instruments are the same. The distance from the nut to the body joins. The shorter necked old oval hole mandolins have the bridge pushed towards the tailpiece on the body more, which contributes to their tone differences.

    Jamie
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  4. #28
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    Quote Originally Posted by Onesound View Post
    Stumbled across this thread and wondering if Jim ever found his "dream" mando.
    Jim Magill did get his dream mandolin which you can see in his avatar and here.

    I went thru a sort of similar search but I ended up with a Brentrup A4C which is a modernized Gibson A4 snakehead replica. Mine has transverse bracing and the shorter neck. It has the tone reminiscent of a vintage oval-hole Gibson but with added volume and clarity. Especially notable is the sweetness of the notes up the neck and the sustain. it is exactly what I was looking for. My only beef is the beefier neck. If I could get one just like it with the same neck as my snakehead I would be in heaven. However, I can handle that and I love playing it.
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    Jim

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  5. #29
    Registered User Onesound's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    You are correct, thanks for the clarification. I keep forgetting that. As you say, its bridge placement relative to the soundboard that moves. Come to think of it, I've not seen more that about 1/8 difference between any two scale lengths (13 7/8" vs. 14"). Shifting the scale lower on the top moves the "sweet" spot closer (how would you say - 2nd octave?) to the the end of the fretboard / sound hole where the picking occurs.

    My Weber sounded significantly better (to my personal preference) when it was picked around the 12th to 16th fret. But it wasn't convenient to pick way up there on the neck most of the time.
    Cheers,

    Brian

    Angels don't play harps, they play mandolins

  6. #30
    Registered User Onesound's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    They both look awesome! Of course, it's the playability and sound that counts. By the looks of them I would bet that they are cream of the crop in all regards! Don't we all appreciate a pretty face, too?

    You hit on it: shorter neck, NOT shorter scale. I've havn't recently counted but don't the trad. Oval A necks usually meet the body at their 12 fret, whereas the A5s meet at the 14th (or whatever)?
    Cheers,

    Brian

    Angels don't play harps, they play mandolins

  7. #31
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    Very nice Lawrence Smart oval hole at Carter's now for $4,500. Was part of a Quartet he built for the Healdsburg Guitar show.
    I played the oval hole at his booth and then heard the Modern Mandolin Quartet take them for a spin.

  8. #32
    Registered User sgrexa's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    There is a beautiful Gavin Baird in the classifieds now that I believe is a Peter Oshtrusko (sp?) prototype. I don't have MAS right now, but that is one that did tickle my fancy a bit and Gavin is retired from building as far as I know. For traditional early Gibson A model tone, I would also HIGHLY recommend Peter Coombe. Marty Jacobson does incredibly fantastic work with a more "modern" sounding and looking oval model. Good luck!

    Sean

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  10. #33
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    Old Wave by Bill Bussman or Black
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  11. #34
    Registered User Russ Donahue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    I'm going to agree on the Arches - if you can find one. They are wonderfully warm and resonant instruments.
    One watch by night, one watch by day...if you get confused, just listen to the music play.

  12. #35
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    I would think Marty Jacobson would be a contender as well.
    Charley

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  13. #36
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    . . . and my buddy Dave Cohen. No joke I love his oval hole mandolins and I've played a few over the years.

    f-d
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  14. #37
    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    Quote Originally Posted by sgrexa View Post
    There is a beautiful Gavin Baird in the classifieds now that I believe is a Peter Oshtrusko (sp?) prototype. I don't have MAS right now, but that is one that did tickle my fancy a bit and Gavin is retired from building as far as I know. For traditional early Gibson A model tone, I would also HIGHLY recommend Peter Coombe. Marty Jacobson does incredibly fantastic work with a more "modern" sounding and looking oval model. Good luck!

    Sean
    I watched the video of that Gavin Baird A model and I have to say its one of the strongest sounding oval hole mandolins I have ever heard. Really sweet tone but it doesn't have the tubby low end many ovals have. I've been having a strong desire for a oval and I sure wish I could get that one right now.
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  15. #38
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    (I got to be honest though, can any of these beat my new-to-me 1925 Gibson A-1? I'm just really loving that mandolin! It just doesn't have the long neck design.)

    f-d
    °papŠ gordo ainít no madre flaca!

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  16. #39
    Registered User Onesound's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    Never played one, but the A4 style sound bites on the Pomeroy site are pretty impressive. They look real nice, too.
    Cheers,

    Brian

    Angels don't play harps, they play mandolins

  17. #40
    Troglodyte Michael Weaver's Avatar
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    Didn't realize this was an old thread until I saw the post by John McGann. That always throws me.....
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  19. #41
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    I'm a big fan of Gilchrist and Kimble ovals. The Brentrups are really nice too. I'd love to give that Smart a test drive. And that Holst...one of the coolest deigns I've seen in a long time. Hard to beat a good snakehead too!

  20. #42
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    OP was not john McCann .

    f-d
    °papŠ gordo ainít no madre flaca!

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

  21. #43
    Troglodyte Michael Weaver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    OP was not john McCann . f-d
    #22. It was late and I started reading from the first page.
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  22. #44
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oval-holed mandolin builders?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Weaver View Post
    #22. It was late and I started reading from the first page.
    Oh yes, I see now. I didn't know John, but feel like it would have been great to know more about him and his music.

    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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