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Oval or D Hole?

woodamandwoodamand Portland, OR✭✭✭ 2015 JWC Favino replica
I know this has been done to death - but I am about to order a GJ guitar and I am wrestling with the age old question - oval or D hole.
I have played a few different instruments of both types, but can't make my mind up and of course I can't play the models for sale, since they are in very not local.
I am happy to hear any biased comments, and that can include Favino fans as well. This is a major purchase for me, and it is kind of scary. In deference to our host, I will say that this instrument is not offered on this site, and that is all I will say on what I am considering, OK?
I will say, it is my impression that most folks here play oval hole, and what I am considering is a long scale, 14 frets clear of the body model for either the oval or D hole. I am looking for a versatile instrument good for both rhythm and leads, and for many styles.
Thanks in advance!
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Comments

  • Many of us have struggled with this choice when trying to figure out initially what might be best. For all music, it is my opinion that the D-hole may be more versatile. For this specific genre, I'd agree with Stuart that it is an aesthetic choice. I hope you find what you are looking for.
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2015 Posts: 579
    just to muck things up a bit, I love my Dupont oval for rhythm, very even crunchy and dry, my Holo D hole sounds bigger and oddly I don't like it as much for rhythm as it is not quite as crunchy but the notes for lead ring out clear as a bell and it's just loud and pure.
  • woodamandwoodamand Portland, OR✭✭✭ 2015 JWC Favino replica
    Posts: 226
    Scoredog wrote: »
    just to muck things up a bit, I love my Dupont oval for rhythm, very even crunchy and dry, my Holo D hole sounds bigger and oddly I don't like it as much for rhythm as it is not quite as crunchy but the notes for lead ring out clear as a bell and it's just loud and pure.
    Two D holes, and no ovals I guess. Me, this is a one and done thing, you know?
    Murky....

  • edited October 2015 Posts: 3,707
    What sound do you want to get. That is the question that will lead to long term satisfaction. If you are going to buy unheard, (which you do not have to do if you buy from Michael here) then your best bet is to go for a guitar brand or luthier (budget?) with a reputation for building with the sound you want to get. The D holes will sound different from the oval holes, even with the same luthier. The larger hole area guarantees that. But it is not the only factor in producing the sound.

    Only you can know what you want it to sound like.

    FWIW. inhave 2 D's and 2 Oval, one of which has a sound box.

    And yes keep in mind that the player has no little part in producing the sound a guitar gets.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    edited October 2015 Posts: 5,777
    @woodamand Here's a few of my observations concerning D Holes vs Oval Holes

    1) Oval holes are much more popular (3 to 1 at least.) For a few reasons: Django and most Gypsy pro lead players play an oval, they generally produce clearer, more audible leads, and they are drier and more focused.

    2) D Holes tend to be preferred either by dedicated rhythm players who want increased bass/mids for a bigger chordal sound or lead players looking for a more "modern," balanced sound. the D holes are closer to a flatop in their frequency response so they're characteristically less aggressive and more versatile. Many of the D hole players are using the guitar in a variety of styles other Gypsy jazz and/or are using it to play unaccompanied which it also does well due to its fuller tone and more "open," naturally reverberated sound.

    Your welcome to come back up to Seattle and try a few more Oval and D holes. Getting your hands on a guitar is always the best. Like @Jazzaferri said, these differences vary greatly from luthier to lutheir, with some building thin, scratchy sounding D holes and/or bass heavy, muddy oval holes.

    Thanks,

    Michael
    BucoStringswingerJazzaferriBlueSkies
  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20
    Posts: 386
    My solution? Get one of each! That is what I eventually decided would work for me. IMO, if you are a flattop player, you will prefer the D hole with it's increased Bass response. If you are an archtop player, you will prefer the oval hole with it's increased midrange response. And just to further mix things up, what about long scale vs. Short scale? Maple vs. Rosewood sides and back? Spruce vs. Cedar tops? Favino vs. Selmer body size?

    Michael brings up one point that should be a consideration. Oval holes are more popular and therefore easier to sell. While no one wants to buy something with the expectation of selling it, it should be a concern. Our tastes change and nobody lives forever. Gypsy guitars are hard to sell, and the D hole Gypsy guitar is harder to sell than the oval hole Gypsy guitar.

    My best advice is play before you buy or else get an approval period. All acoustic guitars sound and play differently as each piece of wood is unique. I have owned 10 Gypsy guitars in addition to the two that I now own. It took me awhile to figure out what works for me. All of that said, if I could only keep one of my Gypsy guitars it would be the oval hole. Perhaps that is the answer that you are looking for?
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 579
    I believe the biggest problem you will have is understanding your new guitar(s) until you understand what you are supposed to be hearing and that will likely take a while.
    MichaelHorowitz
  • edited October 2015 Posts: 3,707
    One thing to keep in mind...at least for some of us nuttier types....lol... once you kinda know what you want to hear...when the right guitar comes along you will know almost right away. They will say....I'm the one for you.

    Years ago I was wandering through a guitar store with a musician friend and idly. Running my fingers across the strings of a number of guitars. One just jumped out at both of us. I bought it, even though I wasnt really in the market for another guitar...it was just that special. One of the best sounding flat tops either of us had ever heard. Small unkown builder just got everything soooo right on this one.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • woodamandwoodamand Portland, OR✭✭✭ 2015 JWC Favino replica
    Posts: 226
    IMO, if you are a flattop player, you will prefer the D hole with it's increased Bass response. If you are an archtop player, you will prefer the oval hole with it's increased midrange response.
    Stringswinger - The light bulb just came on in my head when I read that - that settles it! I am a dyed-in-the-wool archtop player (even though I own a D-35 go figure) and the last thing I want is anything that sounds like a flattop. Plus if everything goes horribly awry at some point, the oval hole as was pointed out would be easier to sell.
    I didn't tell you I have most all of the decisions made already:
    Selmer not Favino style
    Long Scale
    14 frets clear
    Spruce top
    Walnut neck
    Thin Nitro finish - not shiny, hooray!
    Here is my last option: the back and sides are laminated, and I can have the standard rosewood or a bunch of other woods. I am very attracted to curly maple. My understanding - please correct me if I am wrong - is that with plywood the outer layer is not so important. If that is the case, I can have an even more lovely guitar, although I am sure the rosewood would grow on me in about 20 seconds. Thoughts?

    And thank you all for chiming in I really appreciate it.
  • NejcNejc Slovenia✭✭ Altamira M01
    edited October 2015 Posts: 92
    If you go for a laminated back and sides I dont think that the outer layer of wood impacts the sound that much (other people might say a different story). But you might consider asking what types of woods are used in the "sandwich" construction, those can impact the sound very heavily.
    As far for the look I personally consider the oval hole a bit more feminime and the D hole more mascular if that makes any sense.
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