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Thread: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 and 4

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    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 and 4

    I have kind of got the "hots" for an oval hole F and wonder if any of you can give opinions on the ones listed, or more. What is lateral bracing? (do they all have it? Why is it used rather tan tone bars, or X bracing? Any info or opinion you can give me, as I search and educate myself, will be much appreciated. thanks

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    Lateral bracing in a mandolin usually refers to a single brace placed between the bridge and sound hole. It is what Gibson used on their oval holed mandolins in the teens and early twenties. Some modern builders continue to use this system, others (Collings and Girouard ie) use X bracing with good results. Also some makers are building "hybred" F-0 styles where the fingerboard is elevated and joins the body at the 15th fret (like an F-5) as opposed to the 12th fret.
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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    The old F-2's and F-4's used a single horizontal brace with the outer edge ~3/8" behind the back of the sound hole.

    The only factory original exception I have seen to this was a very late F-4, made just before WWII. It had no brace at all, and there were no signs that it had ever had one. I was surprised that the top was not distorted.

    I once installed tone bars in an H-2 mandola. I don't know how much it affected the sound-- the instrument was unplayable before I installed them. It is a good sounding instrument and so far has held its shape. I will note that it has always been strung rather lightly: 12-20w-32w- 48 or 50.

    I worked on an early Martin style 20 recently that had a single transverse brace set at an angle with the treble end of the brace about even with the sound hole and the bass end maybe 3/4" to 1" further back. It was also a good sounding instrument, with a bright high end.

    I do not know how Collings or Northfield brace their oval hole mandolins.

    One of the most powerful mandolins I have ever played was a rather amazing D'Angelico that was up at George Gruhn's shop. I was looking at it with George and suggested we look inside to see what made it tick. George agreed, and called his lead repairman down. What we found was a single transverse brace, much like a Gibson, but it was placed a bit further back. There were also 2 thin longitudinal braces under the edges of the fingerboard, but Greg [the repair person] thought that they might have been added later to stop a minor top crack near the edge of the fingerboard.

    Me, I think an old F-4 is hard to beat if you are able to find a really good one and get some decent frets into it. The only modern high-quality F-4's I have played were Gilchrists, and they were [of course] very good [I've never run into a bad Gilchrist], but a little more "modern" sounding than an old Gibson.
    Last edited by rcc56; Feb-08-2021 at 7:11pm.

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    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    I very much appreciate your thoughts. I continue my search for a good F oval hole and would go for a F4 if one were to show up in my range of acquisition capability. thank you !

  5. #5

    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    The Northfield and Collings will be more of a hybrid F oval with elevated fingerboard and neck joining at 15th or 13th fret. A couple other modern makers of the older Gibson style F4s are Bill Bussmann of Old Wave Mandolins and Don Paine of Pomeroy Mandolins. Both highly recommended. I think they both use X bracing, but they get the tone and power you'll want in an oval.
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    Collings MF-O Delux in the classifieds...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/165862#165862

    The specs say "tone bar bracing"

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    Really sweet Sawchyn F-4 in the classifieds...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/166201#166201

    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  8. #8

    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    i own an appitius and he does his bracing differently than anyone else. with all these new luthiers popping up you can kinda expext that. gilchrest from australia started the tone bar thing and pretty much perfected it ...but now days who cares as long as it sounds great.... in the future there will be miriad of bracing types some good some bad. just have to go with the flow . as far as your oval holes ...ive heard some good ones but the f4 is probably the most popular.

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    Registered User BBarton's Avatar
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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    I had a Sawchyn F-4 like the one indicated by Charles E. above but with honey blonde finish-- sold it to a close friend . Beautifully made instrument, but not sure of the bracing. I also have a Sawchyn A2Z style and it has lateral bracing, patterned from a teens Gib. I suspect his F-4 may be the same construction.
    Too many instruments...too little time

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    J.C., what is your price range, if you don't mind me asking?

    Reason for asking is a Pomeroy F-4 "hybred" that just hit the classifieds...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/166935#166935

    NFI
    Last edited by Charles E.; Feb-10-2021 at 3:38pm.
    Charley

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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    I have a Weber Vintage oval hole that is great.

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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    I have a Girouard F4 and not only the most beautiful instrument I have ever seen but with a fantastic oval sound !

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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    Again, I very much appreciate youir thoughts and comments. I am looking at the Pomeroy,(it is in my price range) I have also looked at the Sawchyn (it is probably on the very upper edge of my range unless the MAS really hits hard) and the Weber and Girouard sound wonderful! Send me a PM if you are thinking about putting them up for sale. I am still looking and looking. thanks

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    step 1: Where do you want the neck joint?
    step 2: You okay with an integrated fretboard?

    if the answers are 12 and sure!, then go F2 or F4. If the answers are 14/15 and no, then you'd pretty much have to go modern.

    typically the older design has transverse. The modern makers do all sort of stuff - x-bracing, tone bars, wacky (Cohen), etc.

    A 12-fret oval hole mandolin is (to me) uniquely different than a modern design.

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    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    Thanks fatt-dad! I guess I do really need to decide on the two options you list. thanks

  20. #16
    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    How about the Northfield F2S? Any of you played that one? What do you think?

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    My Brentrup has transverse bracing and the shorter neck (not scale) more like a modern copy of an A-4 and it is perfect for what I wanted—the basic tonal range of a vintage A-4 with some modern accents tonal-wise. I have played a few Collings hybrid ovals and they don't do it for me although I have liked some of the f-hole models. It is a matter of taste. If at all possible, play before you buy or else set aside part of your budget for shipping costs for possible returns.

    There are some nice oval hole mandolins in the classifieds. Though not an F, this Ellis 2 point looks really sweet. Offered at the Mandolin Store. Tone sounds very nice in the video. Maybe you could have an after-market scroll installed?

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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    It's been several years, but I remember trying a Northfield F2S (I think that's the right designation) and was very impressed with the sound.

    It had a hybrid sound that combined the desirable characteristics of both an F hole and an oval hole. The workmanship was excellent as well. Great looks, too.

    Age keeps me from buying one these days, or I would own one.

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    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    Thanks J.Albert, If age was a constraint i wouldn't own anything but a transister radio. I am 76 but, dang it, I'm just gonna keep going. I am not any good but I like trying. Have a blesssed day, J.C. Bryant

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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    I bought a Gretsch Park Avenue F with oval hole and electronics a few years back. Love it. Great tone and playability, and it is loud. All solid wood, excellent craftsmanship, especially for a Pacrim instrument. For some reason, Gretsch stopped offering them, but if you can find one, I would highly recommend.

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    Default Re: F model oval holes: Northfieod F2S, Collings MFO, Gibson F2 a

    Dang, where is the drool emoji. I call Dibbs on that Ellis above!

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