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Thread: What is the purpose of the scroll?

  1. #1
    Registered User dubblestop's Avatar
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    Default What is the purpose of the scroll?

    I had a wierd thought sitting in my morning stupor drinking my first cup of Joe! Is there an acoustical purpose/advantage to the scroll of an F model mandolin or is it just for "looks" (which I like, by the way)!
    Grady F5 (#65)
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  2. #2
    Registered User Rob Beck's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    As far as I am aware there is no acoustic function at all to the scroll, it is purely aesthetic. I'm pretty sure there are lots of discussions about this on the cafe that I have seen before if you want to delve deeper into the debate :0)

    Rob

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    Registered User David Houchens's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    Makes F's cost a lot more than A's.

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    Registered User Miked's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    To frustrate luthiers.
    Mike Bloder
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  5. #5

    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    The scroll provides a convenient attachment point for a strap and is more aesthetically pleasing than an installed strap button.

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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    The scroll is there because years ago mostly woman played the mandolin. (just kidding!)
    ntriesch

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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    I always thought it was invented to create "scroll envy" with owners of A style mandos.

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    Resonate globally Pete Jenner's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    The scroll is there to add mass. Mass is important. I prefer them to be made of cast iron.
    The more I learn, the less I know.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    They are there to look good and that's pretty much it.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  13. #10

    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    My theory is that the original makers were trying to copy the violin aesthetic. It's the same with the violin world. You can argue to violinists/violin makers that the scroll or indeed the pointy corners are ornamental but they will argue things like mass having a difference to tone - that the great masters had some secret knowledge. It's hard to prove this or indeed prove that the scroll shape is better than something else if mass really is the reason for it here.
    I have a cornerless violin which sounds good - the air chamber inside is the same as one with corners as the inside has blocks on a cornered violin. Is the resonating chamber the same internally on a round mandolin as it is on one with a scroll? I'm no expert but it's my feeling that the extra mass will either have no affect, a dampening affect or attenuates nasty high frequencies. I know this is true with a violin bridge which has some curly bits - easily removed. When removed the violin can sound harsh. On some instruments that need more brilliance it may be beneficial to remove them (I had good results with a viola when I removed as much non structural wood I could but the same thing did not work so well for my violin).
    Isn't it just used for a strap now? The violin scroll was probably originally for hanging purposes but they were dead into spirals and the golden section and all back then and so used the popular scroll design of the day.

  14. #11
    Registered User Pete Summers's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    Quote Originally Posted by Merula View Post
    My theory is that the original makers were trying to copy the violin aesthetic. It's the same with the violin world. You can argue to violinists/violin makers that the scroll or indeed the pointy corners are ornamental but they will argue things like mass having a difference to tone -
    I've always been under the impression that mass is detrimental to sound since a heavy object will not vibrate as easily as a lighter one. Thus, with regard to violins in particular, I've always believed that the lighter the instrument, the better in rings. One of the first things I do with my fiddles when I buy one is remove all those heavy ebony parts like chin rests and tail pieces and replace them with plastic or carbon fiber. I always notice the fiddle sounds louder.

    Have I been wrong all these years?

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    The Orville Gibson patented design also became lighter after it went into production. I think Orville was just looking for a design that was attractive to the mandolin buying public.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User Steve Sorensen's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    Victorian design aesthetic. Here's a nice bit of thought on the subject lifted from the internet --

    The Victorian Era
    Victorian period 1820s – 1900

    Turned to past for inspiration
    Rejected renaissance aesthetics
    Borrowed elements that were detached from origin (ornament)
    Ornamentation based on historical forms - more wealth = more ornament = increased social status
    Belief that ornamentation and design were the same

    Gibson's designs are an interesting contrast because he was driven by both the Renaissance design of the violin and the heavy and ornamented Victorian influence of the time.

    Steve
    Last edited by Steve Sorensen; Apr-04-2013 at 10:19am.

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  18. #14
    Wood and Wire Perry Babasin's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    Just like those ornate Victorian mansions in the old, rich part of town!
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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    It was put there by Gibson so that when Monroe walked by that barbershop in Jax, FL it would immediately catch his eye. All Monroe could see when seeing that F5 was "buy me, buy me" and he did.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    Quote Originally Posted by f5loar View Post
    It was put there by Gibson so that when Monroe walked by that barbershop in Jax, FL it would immediately catch his eye. All Monroe could see when seeing that F5 was "buy me, buy me" and he did.
    Funny, that same thing happened to me at Mandolin Brothers several years back.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  23. #17
    Lost my boots in transit terzinator's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    It's to make players of A-style mandolins feel superior, in that it shows they care more about tone than the frilly bits.

    Kidding.

    Looks like Orville's first modern style "Florentine" mandolin was about 1900, right?


  24. #18
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Summers View Post
    I've always been under the impression that mass is detrimental to sound since a heavy object will not vibrate as easily as a lighter one.
    I wouldn't like to say... but there is a school of thought in guitar making that very stiff and yes heavy sides combined with a very light top and back is the way to go. In other words hang the bits that you want to vibrate off the proverbial "immovable object". Of course a scroll isn't really relevant to that either

  25. #19

    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    It makes the mandolin bigger ,which can be aesthetically pleasing , adds weight in a balanced spot , convenient place for strap . turns a tool into a piece of art . ( as stated by everyone who posted before me )

  26. #20
    Mandolescent John Eischen's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    Click image for larger version. 

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Views:	219 
Size:	55.1 KB 
ID:	100558 Ionic columns from five or six hundred B.C.
    The volute has been a decorative flourish for a loooong time. Just kind of a classy signature to highlight a craftsman's talent and attention to detail. I think every piece of furniture my grandparents owned (back in the last century) had the same scrolls on legs, arms or backs.
    Looking at this century's furniture in my home, the fancier stuff still has them. I agree with everything everyone else said.

  27. #21
    Registered User Jim Baker's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    It is simply a status symbol.
    Jim Baker

  28. #22
    Mike Parks woodwizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    It's there because it's pretty and sells
    I Pick, Therefore I Grin! ... "Good Music Any OLD-TIME"

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  29. #23
    Registered User mandomurph's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    I think the scroll is really cool looking but I enjoy playing and hearing my A model just a well as my F.
    mandomurph

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  30. #24
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    Same reason tail fins were put on cars: To compensate.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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  31. #25
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the purpose of the scroll?

    There are a few F-models with the scroll hollowed out; these may have a different sound due to the larger air chamber.

    Siminoff's article on Orville Gibson talks a bit about Gibson's design ideas, in building the first F-model mandolins. Seems fairly clear, though, that the inspiration for the scroll and body points was visual rather than acoustic. And a very successful innovation, since more than a century later we're still copying the F-model silhouette.
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