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Thread: Peter Coombe A oval

  1. #1
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Peter Coombe A oval

    I am thinking of having an A oval being made by Peter Coombe.

    What are people's opinions about woods for top and back as well as the different models of A ovals. I am looking at having one with the Gibson snakehead sound.

    Even though this isn't a snakehead it sounds pretty good:

    https://youtu.be/Pk46G9sJ0s8

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.
    Nic Gellie

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    I would ask Peter what his ideas would be on that. He definitely know wood.

    Bias alert! I have a classical flat-top from him and love it. Not a Gibson sound, but a really nice sounding mandolin anyway.

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Hey Nic!

    TME has one without the wait: https://themusicemporium.com/product...odel-used-1997

    There's also one of Peter's A5's a bit closer to you: https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/199530#199530

    Best of luck in your hunt!
    Pat
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  5. #4
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    I would ask Peter what his ideas would be on that. He definitely know wood.

    Bias alert! I have a classical flat-top from him and love it. Not a Gibson sound, but a really nice sounding mandolin anyway.
    Not a problem Eric. I first saw Peter's mandolins at the National Folk Festival back in about 1998. I tried them out and was somewhat impressed back then. Then having had a Black A4 and an A2Z, and now a Collings MT2-0 I decided just recently to get back into a classical Gibson oval hole mandolin So I have contacted Peter about it and read up on his mandolins in his website.

    Here I asking for people's opinions as to what woods works for them and why. I am aiming for a red spruce top and perhaps a European maple back and sides for projection, headroom, and perhaps choosing the standard model rather than the custom A.

    I am interested in people's impressions of their Coombe mandolins - what works for them and why. How similar or different to Gibson's they have played. Then I can say to Peter what might be best for me. As I am a part-time luthier we can engage in how best to do it.

    Does that seem reasonable?
    Nic Gellie

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    Registered User Dean Gray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Hi Nic. I have 2 Coombe mandolins, a classical model (flat top/oval hole) and an A5 (arch top/f holes). So not quite what you are after, but I can tell you about them anyway.

    The A5 is a red spruce top and for the back and sides I wanted a timber that would help mellow the sound a bit. Peter went looking through the woodpile and came up with some lovely claro walnut. I think it's a good combination. I also asked for a slightly wider nut, and settled on his standard mandola width of 32mm, which suits my hand nicely.

    The classical model was my main mandolin up till now and has (big leaf?)maple back and sides, stained dark like a violin. His flat top mandolins are great, sound beautiful and cost less than a carved top. Mine sounds great with thomastiks or pb strings. It currently has d'addario flat tops.

    Even though the oval hole seems to sound louder to me as I play it, my wife assures me the A5 is louder as she shuts the door on me!

    Lately Peter has made some red spruce/jarrah combinations and they sound really really good too.

    Oh and he recently sold an oval hole A model with beautiful birds eye maple back and sides..... I wanted that one too!

    Re standard or custom, I can't really help, but one more to consider is his stunning Lyon and Healy replica..... if you're thinking a mandolin for classical stuff, could be a winner.

    Good luck with your decision.

  8. #6
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Quote Originally Posted by Dean Gray View Post
    Hi Nic. I have 2 Coombe mandolins, a classical model (flat top/oval hole) and an A5 (arch top/f holes). So not quite what you are after, but I can tell you about them anyway.

    The A5 is a red spruce top and for the back and sides I wanted a timber that would help mellow the sound a bit. Peter went looking through the woodpile and came up with some lovely claro walnut. I think it's a good combination. I also asked for a slightly wider nut, and settled on his standard mandola width of 32mm, which suits my hand nicely.

    The classical model was my main mandolin up till now and has (big leaf?)maple back and sides, stained dark like a violin. His flat top mandolins are great, sound beautiful and cost less than a carved top. Mine sounds great with thomastiks or pb strings. It currently has d'addario flat tops.

    Even though the oval hole seems to sound louder to me as I play it, my wife assures me the A5 is louder as she shuts the door on me!

    Lately Peter has made some red spruce/jarrah combinations and they sound really really good too.

    Oh and he recently sold an oval hole A model with beautiful birds eye maple back and sides..... I wanted that one too!

    Re standard or custom, I can't really help, but one more to consider is his stunning Lyon and Healy replica..... if you're thinking a mandolin for classical stuff, could be a winner.

    Good luck with your decision.
    Hi Dean

    I hadn't considered the flat top model. It does sound louder than the carved top model from the clips I have listened to I need to compare the two again and see which one I like more.

    I think Peter Coombe has one for playing in sessions. Did you realise that the A5 is modelled on a Gilchrist Model 3 mandolin? I am happy for you that the A5 really works for you too. It would be good to show a picture of them both showing back and front.
    Nic Gellie

  9. #7
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    I did find this thread useful for me. It has some interesting takes on the possibilities.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...ecommendations
    Nic Gellie

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    I have sadly never played any of Peter’s instruments but I would guess it would best to talk to him directly on how he voices them and other details. I assume you are looking specifically for other things than a down to the bone Gibson clone otherwise you would get a vintage Gibson. I love the idea and look of the different Australian timbers. Hopefully Peter will post here.
    Jim

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    Registered User Dean Gray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Hi again Nic. I'm sure Peter will see this soon and chime in.
    I'm actually in the US and heading home today. I will take some comparison photos when I get back (gonna take a while!).

    Make sure to ask Peter about the developments in his flat top design. Mine is 2nd generation. His new ones are 3rd generation. It is something to do with lighter tops and new bracing. I tried his last 2 pancake flat tops and was beyond impressed with both tone and volume.

    I do however really like the feel of my A5 - the archtop with high bridge puts your hand in a different position.....

    Sorry that this doesn't narrow things down.

  12. #10
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    I like what both you and Jim Garber have to say about this topic.

    Yes I am aware that the classical flat top is up to the 3rd generation using a guitar style fan bracing.

    I like what you to say about your hand position being in a different position on the A5 compared to the classical flat top.
    Peter sent me a picture of his latest flat top and a sound bite.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I really like the look of the new headstock Peter has created.
    It is real smick.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dean Gray View Post
    Hi again Nic. I'm sure Peter will see this soon and chime in.
    I'm actually in the US and heading home today. I will take some comparison photos when I get back (gonna take a while!).

    Make sure to ask Peter about the developments in his flat top design. Mine is 2nd generation. His new ones are 3rd generation. It is something to do with lighter tops and new bracing. I tried his last 2 pancake flat tops and was beyond impressed with both tone and volume.

    I do however really like the feel of my A5 - the archtop with high bridge puts your hand in a different position.....

    Sorry that this doesn't narrow things down.
    Nic Gellie

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  14. #11
    Registered User Dean Gray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Oh that is #300!! He was still working on it when I left. I'm going to have to visit him when I get back. I did see the new headstock design, it looks great in person, classy, not too fancy.
    This is a major milestone for any single luthier workshop.
    Congratulations Peter!

  15. #12
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    Hey Nic!

    TME has one without the wait: https://themusicemporium.com/product...odel-used-1997

    There's also one of Peter's A5's a bit closer to you: https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/199530#199530

    Best of luck in your hunt!
    Pat
    Pat

    I looked into the A5 in Italy. It is one of the earlier instruments based on the Gilchrist model 3 that Peter bought from Steve Gilchrist. The only issue is that I am not keen about blackface mandolins. I love seeing the wood on the top whether it is natural or a sunburst.

    Here is a great track recorded on one of his A5 mandolins:

    https://www.petercoombe.com/Sound/ma...5-Track-05.mp3

    Great rhythm and tremolo in a true Celtic style.
    Nic Gellie

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Gellie View Post
    Pat

    I looked into the A5 in Italy. It is one of the earlier instruments based on the Gilchrist model 3 that Peter bought from Steve Gilchrist. The only issue is that I am not keen about blackface mandolins. I love seeing the wood on the top whether it is natural or a sunburst.

    Here is a great track recorded on one of his A5 mandolins:

    https://www.petercoombe.com/Sound/ma...5-Track-05.mp3

    Great rhythm and tremolo in a true Celtic style.
    You could just reclaim your rightful place in the social group!

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  18. #14
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    You could just reclaim your rightful place in the social group!

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/199746#199746
    Yes I could. I have been doing some comparisons between the Mike Black and the Peter Coombe mandolins. I think because of the tuning of the plates Peter's mandolins come out sounding more bell-like in the trebles with more note separation. The Mike Black is more full on, a tad more strident perhaps also owing to the back being used. I am pretty sure that Mike would tunes his plates. Peter uses chladni plate tuning as far as I aware. So the two mandolins are just different. It just depends what tone one is looking for.

    Here is an example of Peter playing a standard oval hole mandolin:

    https://www.petercoombe.com/Sound/st...beg-si-mor.mp3

    In his playing he is not striking the pick that hard so obviously there could be more volume there if one wanted to.

    Compare this to the A2Z being played at Fiddler's Green music shop here:

    https://youtu.be/OKJM52pFYx8

    Yes I am thinking about options carefully. I am also aware that I had two very good Mike Black mandolins.
    Last edited by Nick Gellie; Feb-03-2023 at 4:49pm. Reason: Spelling
    Nic Gellie

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Gellie View Post
    I am also aware that I had two very good Mike Black mandolins.
    We’re sorry, our judges were looking for “I had three very good Mike Black mandolins” (#12, #17, and #20):

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...as-an-A2/page2
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Just a small correction. The black face A5 that is for sale is not based on my Gilchrist. It was made before I got the Gilchrist. Current A5's have the smaller body and higher arching like the Gilchrist, but that is about the only Gilchrist influence. The Gilchrist mostly stays in it's case, I have one of my A5s I like more. Dean wants his A5 to sound like that one, but it is around 12 years old and played a lot so he needs to have some patience and wait for his to develop that played in sound. It will eventually.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
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  22. #17
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Quote Originally Posted by peter.coombe View Post
    Just a small correction. The black face A5 that is for sale is not based on my Gilchrist. It was made before I got the Gilchrist. Current A5's have the smaller body and higher arching like the Gilchrist, but that is about the only Gilchrist influence. The Gilchrist mostly stays in it's case, I have one of my A5s I like more. Dean wants his A5 to sound like that one, but it is around 12 years old and played a lot so he needs to have some patience and wait for his to develop that played in sound. It will eventually.
    Thanks for the clarification Peter about the blackface A5 in Italy. This is slight off topic. What are the woods used in your favourite A5 and if I may ask without giving away trade secrets what makes your instruments different to the Gilchrist?
    Nic Gellie

  23. #18
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    We’re sorry, our judges were looking for “I had three very good Mike Black mandolins” (#12, #17, and #20):

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...as-an-A2/page2
    Did I really? You have a better memory than I do.
    Nic Gellie

  24. #19

    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Gellie View Post
    I am thinking of having an A oval being made by Peter Coombe.

    What are people's opinions about woods for top and back as well as the different models of A ovals. I am looking at having one with the Gibson snakehead sound.

    Even though this isn't a snakehead it sounds pretty good:

    https://youtu.be/Pk46G9sJ0s8

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.
    Hi Nick,
    I have just come across your post and joined the forum to contribute.
    I purchased the Birds Eye Maple and Red Spruce custom oval hole that Peter had advertised on his website recently. I drove down to Bega from Sydney to try it out along with a few others including 3 classical flat tops and the other custom oval, (Tiger myrtle and Jarrah) that is still up for sale as far as I know.
    Peter indulged me for a long time whilst I tried out the instruments but after much deliberation I walked away with the Maple custom. It has a very sweet tone and a lovely treble which really allows the melody to come out. A very balanced instrument too without overpowering woofy bass notes. It seemed to come alive after playing a few pieces and I’ve no doubt it will improve over time. The sound is quite classical in nature but it also has excellent projection and I can really drive it by digging in with the right hand. I don’t know how it would compare with an old Gibson oval hole, never having played one, but I can confirm that it is a very nice mandolin indeed,
    I will upload a link to an example of the sound soon.
    Regards Quentin

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    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Brilliant thanks Quentin for that insight. That is very useful. Actually I don't mind the tubby tone of the Gibson A vintage A oval. I look forward to the sound clip of yours.
    Nic Gellie

  26. #21

    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Here is a link to a scrappy recording I made a couple of weeks ago so I could hear the mando from a different perspective. Note I took the pickguard off on this occasion just to gauge the difference in feel but it has now gone back on.
    https://youtu.be/A-iGzFDMn0c

  27. #22
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Quote Originally Posted by Quentin B View Post
    Here is a link to a scrappy recording I made a couple of weeks ago so I could hear the mando from a different perspective. Note I took the pickguard off on this occasion just to gauge the difference in feel but it has now gone back on.
    https://youtu.be/A-iGzFDMn0c

    Yes the custom oval certainly has more balance overall across the strings Quentin. Nothing wrong with your playing. It is one of the better recordings of a custom A oval mandolin I have heard in a while. Bien hecho!
    Nic Gellie

  28. #23
    Registered User Dean Gray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Hi Nick. Here are a couple of photos of my 2 Coombe mandolins.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Just had a good blast on the A5 after two weeks away, it feels and sounds great. It's definitely my main instrument now.

    Let me know if there's anything else you want to ask.

    Cheers!

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  30. #24
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Those mandolins look great. Would it be possible to send us some sound clips of them both when you have some time? I am interested in the Claro Walnut as a tonewood. Your thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dean Gray View Post
    Hi Nick. Here are a couple of photos of my 2 Coombe mandolins.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Just had a good blast on the A5 after two weeks away, it feels and sounds great. It's definitely my main instrument now.

    Let me know if there's anything else you want to ask.

    Cheers!
    Nic Gellie

  31. #25
    Registered User Dean Gray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Peter Coombe A oval

    Hi Nick, I am really happy with the claro walnut/red spruce combination. I did a lot of searching here through the archives and the general consensus was walnut can warm up the sound somewhat. Plus the claro walnut looks great too. Peter reminds me to be patient as the red spruce takes time to develop it's mature tone (amazing that some don't believe this occurs) but I love the tone as is and am starting to hear more depth in the lower strings with lots of daily playing. I notice more overtones/resonance happening than a few weeks ago, it is learning that it's no longer bits of different trees, and is now a magical music box.

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