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D- hole vs. oval hole?

Mark DSMark DS New
edited February 2010 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 37
So can someone explain this difference to me? Is the D-hole style intended for rhythm playing? Does one project better than another? If I'm going to be doing some solo and some rhythm is one more versatile? I know nothing about these guitars and can't even find a place that sells them to try them for comparison.


  • JazzDawgJazzDawg New
    Posts: 264
    Well, I'm in the same kind of boat. Not many around my area to compare. The seemingly norm is D-Holes are for rhythm (more of a bass response) and the petite bouche is for lead work, having more bite. But... Django used both in his career for lead. I've seen others use the opposite the petite for rhythm and the D-hole for lead.

    I've got smallish hands and someone suggested that I might be more comfortable with the D-hole, as it has a smaller scale length (frets are closer together as a result). The other consideration is usually, the D-Hole has a wider and thicker neck. The (petite bouche ) has a longer scale length. I was about to get an oval hole type, but now I don't know what to get. I do have short scale flat top guitars, so maybe the D-Hole is the way to go for me, though I do prefer a low profile neck, I find my classical great for what it's supposed to do, but kind of chunky for practicing GJ style.

    I've seen Leigh Jackson using a D-hole, think it's a Gitane D-500, playing lead on YouTube, and it sounds pretty loud, but I've never used or seen one in an mixed ensemble or jam - so bottom line is I don't know for sure. Hopefully, someone like Dennis or Jack can lend their experience to the discussion.

    Just for the sake of comparison, here's a link with some specs on different Gitane models: ... table.html
  • Matthias LenzMatthias Lenz Lucklum, GermanyNew
    Posts: 101
    To me it comes down to personal taste and preference.

    Whereas the usual guideline seems "D for rhythm, oval for lead", practically it´s all done the other way around as well. Propably that´s the reason why there´s so many 14-fret D-holes around, as they seem to combine the more rhythm-suitable D-hole sound with the better "punch" of the longer scale, making for an instrument that´s good for both rhythm and lead.

    Apart from the player (that makes 80 percent of the sound anyway), the general quality and pricerange of the instrument is an issue as well. Personally, I own a Gitane DG 255 (oval hole). It´s okay for lead, but not too pleasant for rhythm. BUT : I´ve tried a DG 500 (a friend of mine has one), and it´s even worse for rhythm (sounds muddy to me). That´s already against the usual guideline, and both instruments are in the same price range.

    My duo partner has a DG-320 (not sure about the model number, but it´s the Jorgenson 14-fret D-hole). Now this is already a better quality instrument, and seems to be very fine for both lead and rhythm.

    So, generally it´s more important to have a "dry" sound, and the difference between D and oval holes is a matter of taste rather than "lead or rhythm". As long as the guitar sounds dry, it´ll be fine for both.

    Hope this helps a little :wink:
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    A while ago Teddy G wrote that the oval hole helps the guitar project more at a distance and the D-hole is better heard by the player, so when a rhythm player is on a D-hole he perceives his volume louder so he plays softer and a lead player on an oval will automatically do the contrary so in the end a good balance is heard by the audience.

    The way I've seen it it's not as much a matter of the soundhole, D or oval, but more about scale lenght, the longer scale that is usually associated with petite bouches is often punchier and lets you play harder so works better for lead.
    I have a long scale D-hole that's punchier than almost every oval I have played.

    Also, Django's early work was done on a short scale D-hole and I think his sound is incredible and cuts through the rhythm section.
    So it's definitely not just one for lead and the other for rhythm

    Some players that have used D holes for lead are Bireli, Andreas, Criss Campion, Yorgui, Tchavolo, Angelo...
  • JazzDawgJazzDawg New
    Posts: 264
    Matthias and Angelo,

    Thanks for the info. Speaking for myself, with no real way to 'try and compare' in my area, I guess it would be better to just get myself to a DjangoFest, where some dealers might be displaying their instruments, or at least see some folks with them.

    Every guitar I've owned, I bought because I liked the way it sounded, felt in my hands, and played for me. That seems to be the priority consideration, especially since, if a player isn't happy with an instrument, it gets sold, or gathers dust.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Dupont has made some MC-50 (d-holes) with the short scale, but with the narrower neck of the long scale models. I have one and love the way it plays and sounds. I don't know how common the narrower neck is, but it does exist. I think the short-scale guitars sound sweeter and less harsh than longer scales.

    If you like the d-hole look (and I do), you can always get a long-scale d-hole in your price range. If you like the sound of the shorter scale, except for the Dupont, you might look at a short-scale 14-fret model like the ones Shelly Park makes. I think the necks on those are narrower. Michael had a couple for sale awhile back. One will pop up again.

    Enrique is right about scale length probably being more important than the shape of the soundhole. I also think Matthias is right about cheaper d-holes being muddy, especially on the lower notes. I actually like short scales d-holes for mostly lead and long-scale ovals for lead and rhythm.

    For not too much money, you could always buy a used Gitane d and oval hole and play them both. Sell the one you don't like. Or go to a GJ event and ask as many guys as you can to try their guitars. Most people in this music are pretty good about that. You could try 40-50 guitars in a few days.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • LuckynpLuckynp Manchester, EnglandNew
    Posts: 6
    This is a very interesting discussion for me, as I am about to take the plunge with a Macaferri type guitar. I have played a number of styles and types of guitar, but most recently have returned to the classical guitar, and I have found the guitar that suits me best is a short scale (630mm) with a 49mm nut width, as I have quite small hands.

    It seems to me that a short scale D-hole with a wider neck would suit me very well, as I have been quite uncomfortable with narrow necks on steel string accoustics recently. I am seriously considering a Gitane D-500.
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    The d500 is a cool guitar but consider also the Cigano Dhole CJ 15 (not the laminate top!)
    It sounds just as good as the Gitane, if not better and it's way cheaper.
    If youre willing to spend more $$ some luthiers make short scale ovals as well.
    Good luck!
  • Pugs47Pugs47 New
    Posts: 102
    If you settle on a 12 fret d-hole, I have a beauty I must sell. Michael Collins made it and its a Favino sized body in flamed maple. absolutely georgous with a shatten pickup. I sell it for the cost of a Gitane Jorgenson, $1374. plus shipping. This guitar new would be $3500. Send me a personal email and I'll forward pictures, or its featured on Michaels website. I have a 14 fret Hommage D-hole short scale and a Dell Arte 503 Legend and a Draleon Samois 8000. I need to liquidate!
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