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Old 06-04-2019, 02:49 PM
scooter74 scooter74 is offline
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Default F vs round hole mando

Wondering what the difference is between F hole and round hole mandos.
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Old 06-04-2019, 03:40 PM
merlin666 merlin666 is offline
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My local luthier Sawchyn Guitars also builds mandolins and his entry level (900 US) "Beavertail" model is very popular. He recently introduced a new model "Hobo" with f holes. A store describes their difference as follows:

Quote:
As compared to a Beavertail, the Hobo has a darker, deeper, warmer, and slightly lo-fi tone. Itís a fun solo instrument, with less projection and horsepower, but more overtones, and richness.
Though a friend who has both thinks that the Hobo is louder ...



Last edited by merlin666; 06-04-2019 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 06-04-2019, 04:16 PM
frankmcr frankmcr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scooter74 View Post
Wondering what the difference is between F hole and round hole mandos.
Pretty much same as with guitars - round "more open", f-hole "more focused".

Either kind can be used for any type of music, although same as with guitars there are people who say "You CANNOT play bluegrass on a round hole mandolin!!!" and/or "You CANNOT play 'Celtic' music on an f-hole mandolin!!!" Those people will always be with us, bless their hearts.
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Old 06-04-2019, 04:33 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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I see that the mandos you show are effectively, flat tops. I confess I don't have much experience with that style as got into mandos because a bluegrass band wanted me to join but needed a mando player ... so, as I was broke, my girlfriend (at the time) bought me an Ibanez "F5" and I've been through many F5 styles since.

As already said, "f" holes, more percussive, focussed, and projecting, (ideal for a rhythm and lead instrument in a four/five piece combo).

The round, or oval soundhole version (A or F 4 style) tends to give a rounder (sic) and warmer tone.

Neither is better nor worse, it's just a matter of personal choice.

This is my choice :

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Old 06-04-2019, 04:48 PM
merlin666 merlin666 is offline
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Now where would something like this fit in?

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Old 06-04-2019, 06:04 PM
frankmcr frankmcr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by merlin666 View Post
Now where would something like this fit in?

"Mandolins - Hybrid"

Nice looking instrument!
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Old 06-06-2019, 03:35 PM
cu4life7 cu4life7 is offline
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Many describe the F-hole mandolins are being able to cut through the mix better and they have the punch necessary for a good chop chord in bluegrass. I personally fell hard for the Oval hole mandolin by Collings. I haven't had the same experience with gibson ovals and others I have tried, but Collings does it very very well. I wouldn't personally get a F style with an oval because I detest the way they look, but it works for the A-Style.

In an ideal world get both. But the general census seems to be that if you want to play bluegrass than get f holes, if you want to play folk or Irish or anything else really an oval hole or round hole might be for you. Keep in mind there is also a very different sonic pallet between flattop mandolins and Archtop mandolins.

You will never get the bluegrass punch with a flattop. Hope all that helps.
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Old 06-06-2019, 03:47 PM
scooter74 scooter74 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by merlin666 View Post
Now where would something like this fit in?

Oh no, not more options!!

Thanks for the replies so far, all.
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Old 06-10-2019, 03:21 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Scooter - although there will be exceptions, with archtop mandolins your choices are generally either a pair of F holes or a single oval soundhole; it’s with flattop mandolins like the ones shown in the second post that you’ll find a round soundhole. (The F holes on one of the flattop mandolins shown are extremely uncommon.)

To my ears what you get with an oval soundhole on an archtop mandolin is more low end response and more sustain. They also tend to have what I consider to be a sweeter, more musical-sounding tone. The practical problem with playing one in an ensemble, however, is that they don’t project and cut through a mix of other instruments nearly as well as an F-5 style mandolin with F holes.

That’s why it’s rare to ever see an oval soundhole A model mandolin in a bluegrass band: it’s hard for it to cut through when there’s a banjo clanging away at the same time.

The extra mass created by the solid wooden scroll of an F-5 style mandolin also seems to add to the instrument’s projective qualities. For years I thought that most mandolin players in bluegrass bands own F-5 style instruments because they were simply imitating Bill Monroe, the guy who invented bluegrass music as we know it, but having played some F-5’s in a bluegrass setting I realized that those scrolls that looked so gaudy and unnecessary to my eyes actually do play a role in how well the mandolin cuts through the mix. A style mandolins with F holes don’t cut through quite so well.

So if you’re mainly interested in playing bluegrass, that’s something to consider. But if you’re more interested in playing all sorts of different musical styles on mandolin, look at the symmetrical A model mandolins, because you’ll get more mandolin for your money that way.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 06-10-2019, 12:34 PM
hat hat is offline
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so where does an F4 fit in?
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Old 06-10-2019, 03:05 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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The F-4 was the top of Gibsonís mandolin product line until Lloyd Loar developed the F-5 in the early 1920ís. In terms of tone and sustain it performs more like an oval hole A model than an F hole instrument.


whm
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Old 06-12-2019, 05:53 AM
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SalFromChatham SalFromChatham is offline
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Those Hobos look nice!

I have an Eastman MD304 round hole, my partner has the same Eastman, and I also have a Big Muddy round hole. My son has an MD305 F-hole. At home I cant tell the difference between styles.

Wait. I should clarify... my Eastman sounds thinner than my buddy's - same model. So what I mean is I cant tell the difference that might be attributed to the F vs round in the same model... There can be existing tonal differences in two specimens of the same model.
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Old 08-01-2019, 03:49 PM
PHJim PHJim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
Scooter - although there will be exceptions, with archtop mandolins your choices are generally either a pair of F holes or a single oval soundhole; itís with flattop mandolins like the ones shown in the second post that youíll find a round soundhole. (The F holes on one of the flattop mandolins shown are extremely uncommon.)

To my ears what you get with an oval soundhole on an archtop mandolin is more low end response and more sustain. They also tend to have what I consider to be a sweeter, more musical-sounding tone. The practical problem with playing one in an ensemble, however, is that they donít project and cut through a mix of other instruments nearly as well as an F-5 style mandolin with F holes.

Thatís why itís rare to ever see an oval soundhole A model mandolin in a bluegrass band: itís hard for it to cut through when thereís a banjo clanging away at the same time.

The extra mass created by the solid wooden scroll of an F-5 style mandolin also seems to add to the instrumentís projective qualities. For years I thought that most mandolin players in bluegrass bands own F-5 style instruments because they were simply imitating Bill Monroe, the guy who invented bluegrass music as we know it, but having played some F-5ís in a bluegrass setting I realized that those scrolls that looked so gaudy and unnecessary to my eyes actually do play a role in how well the mandolin cuts through the mix. A style mandolins with F holes donít cut through quite so well.

So if youíre mainly interested in playing bluegrass, thatís something to consider. But if youíre more interested in playing all sorts of different musical styles on mandolin, look at the symmetrical A model mandolins, because youíll get more mandolin for your money that way.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
I have to disagree about the significance of the scroll on tone or volume. When I bought my Eastman MD605 13 years ago, I tried several Eastman mandolins, 605s (A style) and 615s (F style). I took them all into the back room of The 12thFret Music Store in Toronto and played the same things on all 5 or 6 mandos. I was impressed by allof them and, since I wanted it for playing bluegrass, I kinda wanted a scroll, but one of the 605s blew the others away and by the time our banjo player who was meeting me at the 12th Fret got there, I had already bought my new Eastman.
If you have a fixedprice point, you'll always (I guess I'd better say "nearly always") get a better quality mandolin if you go for an A style. If you really feel that you must have a scroll and money is no object, go for it. There are some lovely F style mandolins out there, but they're not cheap.

Many folks feel that the only known A5 Lloyd Loar mandolin, the one once owned by Tut Taylor, is the nicest Loar mandolin around.
(When I say "Loar" mandolin, I'm not talking about the modern mandolins called Loars, I mean the ones like Bill Monroe played.)
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