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D-hole vs Oval hole

Hey! I'm a bit new to Gypsy Jazz and all of the gypsy guitars that I've played were Oval holes. I am now ready to buy my own gypsy guitar, but I cannot decide between Gitane DG-350 John Jorgenson Model (Oval Hole) or DG-350 Jan Akkerman Model (D-Hole). An inexperienced friend told me that D-holes are used as rhythm guitars, as I also have seen (mostly on youtube), though Angelo Debarre often plays a D-hole when playing lead. I think that D-hole guitars are much cooler looking :D , but my concern is that they (while playing lead guitar) don't cut through the sound of 3 backing guitars playing rhythm manouche?
So I would appreciate som thoughts, advices and suggestions on this matter.
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  • I was under that impression when I started to play this style, but have found that it isn't always true. The soloist in my sit plays a D hole (MDC-60) where I play rhythm on an oval hole. We also play with a sax and he has no problem cutting through, plugged or unplugged.
  • redbluesredblues ✭✭
    Posts: 456
    jkaz is on the money there. And welcome to the forum.



    There is an extra point to be added regarding the D-hole design, an MDC-60 is more or less 2k more expensive than the models you are thinking about. That is just an example, when you look in this range of Dupont, Hahl, Le Voi, Holo, Nonis, etc.. these machines are so finely made that they would cut through a banjo jam, oval or grande bouche.

    Nothing solid here just advice, but in your price range I would look at the Gitane range endorsed by Dorado Schmitt (DG-370, I played one, it rocked) and the Harmsworth and Willis http://www.harmsworthandwillis.co.uk/xhtml/dhole.html which just blows out the water in terms of positive reviews, and in your price range would probably be my choice.

    All of the above is based on looking for a D-hole with projection, if you want oval hole you have many more options.

    Happy hunting.

    redblues
  • TimmyHawkenTimmyHawken Lansing,MINew
    Posts: 118
    I think the who D hole rhythm guitar vs oval hole lead thing is based on scale length, some volume differences and tonal differences.

    Selmer-Maccaferri D holes were built with shorter scale length and wider necks--more similar to classical style guitar, where the oval hole scale length is much longer. Oval hole style scale lengths are comparable to Fender Strat lengths! But many modern style D holes are built with longer scales now-a-days too, the D hole Jorgenson Gitane model, for instance. I'm not sure about Jan Akkerman though, but if it is a long scale guitar, this might is a moot point in your case.

    My experience is that there is a decent gap between volume of the two for sure, but there are many factors in creating volume. The guitar quality, your pick, your rest-stroke style, if your rhythm player is listening, etc. I've found, though with limited experience on D holes, that the volume seems louder while your playing it, but that it's kind of an illusion--the oval has much more projection straight away from the guitar. I think it's always interesting to have a friend play a guitar and notice the difference between how it sounds while playing vs in front of the guitar.

    There are also certainly pretty vast tonal differences too. But again, there are many factors in what makes tone, quality of guitar, wood types, strings, etc. I think it's safe statement though, that D holes in general create a warmer, perhaps deeper tone. The highs don't project as much as the oval holes, but the lows are more apparent.

    Besides those distinctions, I have no advise for you. I like them both, but happen to have an oval hole guitar. It's what I started with and I've stuck with it. If I had more money, I'd own as many guitars as possible and probably have 3 of each style :D
  • redbluesredblues ✭✭
    Posts: 456
    I think it's safe statement though, that D holes in general create a warmer, perhaps deeper tone. The highs don't project as much as the oval holes, but the lows are more apparent.
    The truth, the man speaks. (to be read in a Yoda voice)
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,645
    Oval hole style scale lengths are comparable to Fender Strat lengths!
    Actually, Timmy, according to Fender, the Strat scale length is 64.8 cm, putting it just slightly longer than the short scale Selmer at 64cm. The long scale oval hole Selmers were 67cm (Jacques Favinos are generally even longer at 67.5). You also occasionally run across odd sizes, such as 65 and even 68![/quote]
    ... I've found, though with limited experience on D holes, that the volume seems louder while your playing it, but that it's kind of an illusion--the oval has much more projection straight away from the guitar ...
    Absolutely. Because the sound of a D hole disperses more widely than that of an oval hole, the player tends to get more direct feedback. A listener probably won't be able to tell much difference in volume, all other things being equal (such as, comparing a Dupont MD-50 to an MDC-50).
    There are also certainly pretty vast tonal differences too. But again, there are many factors in what makes tone, quality of guitar, wood types, strings, etc.
    In my experience, the factory-built D holes tend to be more "wet" sounding, rather muddy in fact, or what I would call a "tubby" sound. The high end builders, like Dupont, Shopis, AJL (to name a few) seem to be able to build D holes with much tighter and more focused sound.

    Keep in mind that the D hole was originally designed to accommodate the opening of the internal soundbox of the original Maccaferri-designed Selmers. Take the soundbox out (as many players did rather forcibly after they loosened up and started to rattle) and you drastically alter the character of the sound. Michael Bauer can correct me if I'm quoting the wrong person, but I think it was Rodrigo Shopis who likened it to taking all the furniture out of a room.
    Benny

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • SeventhSeventh New
    Posts: 4
    Thanks guys. It is true what Timmy H. says. I'm only interested in 14 fret D hole models, since that is what I've always been playing. The guitar feels so odd with 12 fret models.

    I've been checking out Dg 320 and Dorado Schmitt model dg-370 model as well. The 370 is a bit more expensive but it got pretty good reviews so I'm thinking it might be worth the extra cash. Can somebody compare the Dg 320 and 370 with the dg 310 - the Lulo Reinhardt model. That's the gypsy guitar I've had most experience with?

    Do you have some good oval holes to recommend in this price range?

    Seventh
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,645
    Seventh wrote:
    I'm only interested in 14 fret D hole models, since that is what I've always been playing. The guitar feels so odd with 12 fret models.
    BTW, just for completeness' sake, there are 14 fret D holes out there built with the short scale (640-650 mm). These are typically by some of the higher-end builders (e.g., Michael Dunn, Shelley Park, US-made Dell'Arte, etc.). They are attractive to people who feel that the longer scale is a problem due to their smallish hands (I used to think that, but no more), but the sound and projection may suffer somewhat as compared to the long scale guitars.

    IMHO, pretty much anyone can get used to the long scale. It just takes time.
    Benny

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • jimvencejimvence Austin, TX✭✭
    Posts: 73
    Seventh wrote:
    Hey! I'm a bit new to Gypsy Jazz and all of the gypsy guitars that I've played were Oval holes. I am now ready to buy my own gypsy guitar, but I cannot decide between Gitane DG-350 John Jorgenson Model (Oval Hole) or DG-350 Jan Akkerman Model (D-Hole). An inexperienced friend told me that D-holes are used as rhythm guitars, as I also have seen (mostly on youtube), though Angelo Debarre often plays a D-hole when playing lead. I think that D-hole guitars are much cooler looking :D , but my concern is that they (while playing lead guitar) don't cut through the sound of 3 backing guitars playing rhythm manouche?
    So I would appreciate som thoughts, advices and suggestions on this matter.

    In my opinion, the notion of the D hole being rhythm, and the Oval hole for lead really had
    less to do with the tonal properties of the soundboard hole, than the history of how some people
    associate rhythm with "D" and solo with Oval.

    Others on this board may be better with the history on this, but as I remember:

    Django's first Maccaferri guitar was the 12-fret (clear of body) model with a D hole.
    When he received his first Oval hole, it was the 14 fret model with an O hole.
    I assume then the 12 fret was relegated to his brother for rhythm. It made sense
    then that the 12 fret model was suitable for rhythm.

    So the concept of "Oval hole as lead" seems to come more from the fact that the original
    Ovals were 14 fret longer scale and better for soloing.

    So, while there are some tonal characteristic differences, I believe the fret/scale length had
    more to do with the selection of the guitar for rhythm more than the soundboard hole.

    These days, you can get a D-hole in long or short scale...I imagine you can get a short scale
    O hole..certainly if custom made.
  • CalebFSUCalebFSU Tallahassee, FLModerator Made in USA Dell Arte Hommage
    Posts: 557
    I always got the sense that this was more a matter of historical timing than anything else. Django was the star, Django got the new guitars. It seems to me that When the Selmer company came out the new Modelle Jazz, Django took to it because it was new guitar and either traded the old one away or gave it to Joseph, hence the whole lead rhythm dynamic is born. this is only an assumption of course but it seems logical to me.
    Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard.
  • noodlenotnoodlenot ✭✭✭
    edited July 2011 Posts: 388
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