There are some other threads about this but I thought it would be good to get some fresh opinions.
I may be shopping sometime soon and I’m maybe looking to buy a guitar from a luthier I know well. He makes a 14 fret oval hole and D hole. Same price and, I’m guessing similiar specs.
With all things being equal, what difference in sound can I expect from these two otherwise identical instruments?
I have played his d holes and owned an oval hole from this maker for a number of years before making the mistake of selling it. But I cant remember what, if any, were the differences. It was a long time ago.
My head says go with the oval cos that’s what you know but I’ve never owned a D hole so there is a whole new adventure there...and they look pretty sexy...and speaking of sexy, Tchavolo plays one 😁
Remember we are not talking about the 12 fret D hole which is a very different beast.
Anyone with any experience to offer here?
Hard to describe with words. I have a oval and D hole that are both 14 fret and otherwise similar specs. The oval hole sounds slightly more focused and cutting to me while the D is slightly more rounder/fuller especially in the low end. But they both sound similar to each other and very Selmac-y (in a traditional sense, not "modern").
That said, every guitar is different and subtle so best to try before you buy if you can.
I've done a little research and read exactly the opposite, which is not to undermine your opinion. Therein lies the answer, too many variables I suppose.
What is encouraging is it seems any differences would be very subtle. With the main sound changing factors being other things like scale length etc.
The oval hole might have a stronger bottom end (around G on the 6th string, third fret), because the small soundhole lowers the pitch when you thump the top with a dull thud. The D hole thumps in at a higher pitch and adds more to the midrange. So the oval hole has a more "scooped out" sound ("turn up the bass and treble"), while the D hole has a more even EQ.
But also, the D hole might be louder to the player, whereas the oval hole sound tends to go straight out. The 14-fret D hole tends to be a little closer to the oval hole, though.
It's good to try both while playing with someone else, to learn whether you can hear yourself play with each guitar.
When I play my D , The sound just seems to ‘Swirl’ out of the guitar, I don’t know how to describe it otherwise but it’s just lush. My oval, yeah scooped that’s A good description. To me they have more in common than in difference. You can’t go wrong with either really, but ultimately you need both!
Twang, yeah I don't know how to describe it with words but it is the typical difference between the petite and grand bouche sound. I don't play the D hole much but I'll pull it out later and try to figure out how to describe it.
All characterizations about voice vs design formula are observations of distribution of characteristics. And I suspect that the notion that a D-hole is best at rhythm while the oval-hole is best for lead is partly an accident of history coupled with actual voicing/design features--Django settled on the oval-hole Modele Jazz, presumably for its scale length and cutting voice, and his example was probably as influential as the actual characteristics of the various design formulas. But there are still hear lead players who favor the grande-bouche and rhythm players on petite-bouches. The elements that determine voice go way beyond the shape of the soundhole. I've personally noted a range of voices across all the design possibilities--there's enough overlap that the only way to be certain is to play the individual instrument. And that's part of the fun of guitar-hunting.
Thanks Russell, and I agree with you, but we are not talking about the classic 12 fret.
Nor am I. I'm pointing to the variety of build/design factors that affect an instrument's voice and that predicting what will please one's ears is the result of a range of factors. Take it from a guy who currently owns two dozen guitars of all shapes, sizes, and design formulas. Some of them I would not have predicted I would like, based on conventional opinions of their designs or materials. And some I de-acquisitioned when they didn't turn out to be what the conventional wisdom predicted.
sorry, I misunderstood when you the referencing the whole “ D hole rhythm, O hole lead “ thing. I have bought and sold guitars my whole life and my experience is the same as yours. I would question quite a lot of the wisdom thats out there too. For example; a real pliage makes for a punchier guitar or tight grain spruce is brighter than open grain etc. For years it was widely accepted that cedar tops wear out whilst spruce would keep improving. Now that there’s a whole stack of great cedar topped guitars 50/60 years old out there the experts have had to concede that this isnt the case. I can feel myself going off piste so I’ll stop.
I hope I haven’t opened up a huge can of worms
Hey, let’s just throw the F hole Selmac into the discussion as well. Mwahaha
but seriously, that combination could possibly be my favorite. Actually has arch top sounding qualities but with that definitive Gypsy Bite. It’s a Beautiful combination