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Thread: Newbie OM questions

  1. #1
    Registered User abousall's Avatar
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    Default Newbie OM questions

    Hi all!

    Mandolin and tenor banjo player for decades, now looking for my first OM. My musical reasons include playing to back-up singer(s) including myself, and back-up/accompaniment for Celtic and Celtic-influenced fiddle tunes, and playing fiddle tunes as well when I don’t feel like playing the tenor in a loud jam. My thoughts are that a 20” length might be easier coming from Mandolin and my 20” Vega Fairbanks tenor. I am looking for opinions on Guitar body versus Mandolin body, favorite builders, and any tips on locating one (it is clear that they are few and far between these days). My budget can stretch to ‘several thousand’ dollars for the right instrument, and I would prefer to buy a US, Canada or UK built instrument but am open to positive opinions about Trinity College and similar. Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie OM questions

    Weber make a 20" OM. Are you looking to commission a build or hoping to find a 20" OM? If it's the former then I'd probably throw some Irish builders into the hat as well - Frank Tate, Madara Ó Faoláin, & Paddy Cleere come to mind.
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
    2015 JP "Whitechapel" tenor banjo
    2018 Frank Tate tenor guitar
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  4. #3
    Maurice McMurry MrMoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie OM questions

    Mid Missouri Mandolin Company octaves come up on eBay and Revreb from time to time. They usually sell for $600 - $800.

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  6. #4
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie OM questions

    Cafe member Shaun Garrity had a lovely OM made for him by Lawrence Nyberg with a shorter scale - here's the thread: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...n-Build-Thread
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
    2015 JP "Whitechapel" tenor banjo
    2018 Frank Tate tenor guitar
    1969 Martin 00-18




    my Youtube channel

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  8. #5
    Registered User RFluke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie OM questions

    Beard Instruments posted a list of soon-to-be-availabe instruments that contained an octave mandolin about a week ago.

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  10. #6
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie OM questions

    Since your in Wellfleet, you might want to consider Nick Apollonio in in Rockport ME. He builds a lot of OM's, citterns, and "Irish" zouks. Prices are fairly reasonable.

    I own one of his giant 12-string guitars (labeled "Count Bassy," and for good reason); somewhat idiosyncratic construction, but high quality materials, fit & finish, etc.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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  12. #7

    Default Re: Newbie OM questions

    Girouard makes octaves. I picked up the one that was in the classifieds awhile back. A style with f holes, 20 inch scale. Instruments like that turn up if you are willing to wait for it.

  13. #8
    Registered User abousall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Newbie OM questions

    Must be beautiful! I have a Girouard symmetrical 2 pointer mandolin that is a lovely instrument
    Paul Greenspan
    Wellfleet MA
    Max Girouard Symetrical 2pt Mandolin, 1920s Vega Washburn Tenor Banjo, Chuck Lee Glen Rose Vintage w/Electric tone ring.

  14. #9
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    Default Re: Newbie OM questions

    I own a Weber Bitterroot 20 incher that I love. A style body, with F holes. I used to have a 22.5 inch Hyalite, and the scale length was too much for me to comfortably play melody on, despite a great set up (and despite the fact that I play guitar and bass without any issues). Of course, there are those that will chime in that longer scale lengths are perfect for them, so that really is an individual choice.

    I own the Weber because I picked up a Girouard GBOM with a 20 inch scale at The Music Emporium back before lock down. I played it alongside a 22.5 in Northfield GBOM, and, man, the shorter scale length made a huge difference for me. I almost bought the GBOM that day, but didn't want to deal with trying to fly back home to NC with it. Also, based on the location (high on the wall) and dust on it (TME cleaned it up nicely before handing it over to me), I figured I'd buy it online when I got back home. I was there on a Saturday, flew home Sunday, and went to the website to buy it Monday, and it had sold. Insert cussing emoji. Well, 20 inch OMAS was raging, and The Mandolin Store had mine in stock and were willing to trade for a mandocello and another mando I had, so here we are.

    I think I prefer the tone of the mandolin shaped OMs, just because it's noticeably distinct from a flattop guitar's tone, and I head up the youth praise band at church (haven't played together in over a year now). So, there's almost always a kid with a guitar, though they may not be the most proficient on it. The OM gives me a nice rhythmic tool that fills a sonic space that sounds good but is just different enough to be noticed. That said, If the Girouard hadn't sold, I'd own it now; it was a spectacular instrument! I also enjoy playing Irish trad, and the mando shaped instruments match that tone a little better for me.

    So, definitely include Max on your list for consideration. Weber, is making some very nice instruments currently, and, of course, you could talk to Bruce and Mary about commissioning a build as well. Northfield's instruments are very nice, but I think they're all 22.5 inchers. They may be willing to adjust that for you (not sure, but can't hurt to ask). On more of the budget end of things are the Pono and Eastman offerings, which can be very nice for less coin. All the Ponos are flat tops, which may serve you very well for vocal accompaniment. Of course, the builders Jill and Allen mention are excellent as well (I think there's an Apollo in the classifieds now).

    Good luck in your search. It may be worth getting lost on YouTube connected to some good speakers and listening to discern which tone will work best for you given the options (flat top/mando style/oval hole, arched/carved topped F/O, and their GBOM variants). That may help you narrow the list a bit.
    Chuck

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