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Thread: Eastman Mandolin Review

  1. #51
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    No hate here. I have a 615 and I feel like I got what I paid for (didn't pay sticker). It's a nice mando but I've played better, include some other Eastmans. There is some sloppyness in the workmanship and such. Not unhappy with it, not terribly thrilled with it. My Kentucky 380s was much more bang for the buck than my Eastman. A third of the price and sounds slightly better.

    Played a used webber the other day and an old montana flatiron. That's where I'm headed next.

  2. #52
    Registered User guitharsis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    I've owned 3 Eastmans, two 604's and one 804. They were all nice instruments well worth the price paid for them. One of the 604's was outstanding. Should've kept it.

  3. #53
    Registered User LKN2MYIS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    I'd buy my Eastman blonde 2-pointer again in a minute.

    Plays sweetly, sounds real good, and is a stunner. Got mine from Steve Perry.
    John
    Long Island, New York

  4. #54
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    I have an Eastman 815 Blonde left hand. I love it. The fit and finish is perfect, it sounds great and has great action. I say this from the perspective of owning a Weber Yellowstone and Absaroka and a Breedlove KF. The case is great too. I couldn't be happier. When you factor in the price, it is a phenomenal instrument. The Breedlove has a wider neck and much simpler appointments but sounds similar. The Webers (both radius) have a similar action but are a bit woodier and slightly louder (but this may also be a factor of age).

    Contrary to other posters, I really can't get over the fit and finish. I give it a slight edge over the other instruments. Mine is a Spring 08 manufacture. Maybe they are increasing the build quality over time.

  5. #55
    Registered User Chris Willingham's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    i'm an extremely satisfied eastman owner. Happy Steve Perry customer too. I don't know what he does, but the mandovoodoo makes a difference. I've played bass since I was a kid, switched to mando about a year and a half ago. went through a johnson cheapo, upgraded to a micheal kelly for about two days, decided there should be more sound for the money. played three eastman's at a shop in okc. sold on eastman, but went with gianna's violins due to the mandovoodoo and superior setup.

    A small shop builder who lives nearby played my eastman a few weeks ago. Granted, his mandos sound and play way better, but cost much more. He was very impressed with my 815, especially for the cost.

    I know I'll upgrade someday, but for now the eastman makes me happy and keeps the MAS at bay (kinda).

  6. #56
    Registered User jessboo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    I just traded away a 515. not that i didn't like it but a friend finaily cut loose with a fiddle that i had been wanting. had the 515 for six months. got it brand new from a friend who goes threw a bunch of mandolins. the only thing bad i can say about it is. I traded a french fiddle for an absaroka the first of sept. and the 515 wouldn't let me play the abs. it was one of the most tempermentle mandolins i've ever owned. take it out side with the change of humidity from in the house and she would throw a fit for about 15 minutes before she would settle down. then she would jut scream! she was a monster of a mandolin. broke in the old fashion way. whipping her like a goverment mule. fit and finish on the 515 was an good as any mandolin made. all and all i would buy another eastman with out thinking twice about it. but for now i'll setal for giving tha abs the attention its been missing.
    Last edited by jessboo; Oct-18-2008 at 11:10pm. Reason: more information
    "Mandolins are an Illness" Conrad Deislar

  7. #57
    Joshua Jkf_Alone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    I have had a 2004 615 for a few months now. I love it. Playing several new Eastman Mandos, I can see what people are saying about the tone and setup of them. Here's the thing though, I don't like the setup of hardly ANY instrument, unless it happens to be set up similar to what I have been playing. As far as tone goes, if you go to a music store to try out mandolins (and you are actually thinking of buying) spend enough time with an instrument to wake it up before passing on it. The one that sounds best to your ears right now may have just been played for an hour before you walked in the door. Also strings have such a HUGE impact on tone.



    I dislike reviews comparing radically different instruments (breedlove and eastman) because if you like a breedlove's tone/feel (i don't care for them myself) you probably won't like an eastman's tone/feel. Eastman mandos have skinny necks and smaller frets, while Breedloves have fat necks with bigger frets. Completely different animals.

  8. #58
    Marbhna Luimni Eddie Sheehy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    I have a 915 mandolin and a 615 mandola. They are excellent mandolins. I have also played the new bowlbacks and find them quite remarkable. Eastman instruments are real bang for the buck.

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  10. #59
    ******* Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    Eastman fan here. I got mine here on the cafe classifieds and am really happy with it. I only paid $400 (used) for my 505 and feel that I got a great deal. The finish seems good. It came to me setup nicely. I do have a bit of buzz going right now, since I put on some lights and I don't think the 505 likes them very much (but my fingers sure do).

    I think everyone has to be realistic when it comes to these instruments. They're probably aren't very many of them that sound/play like a vintage Gibson, but they're not claming to be vintage Gibsons; they're simply putting out a good instrument for people who don't want to spend a ton of money on a decent instrument. Eastman is doing this very well, and I am glad. If all there were available on the market were Gibsons and the like I'd never have gotten into playing mandolin. I've got a great job, and make great money, but I'm a family guy raising kids who wants to have a decent instrument to play on. Eastman makes instruments for guys like me.

    Someday, when priorities are different for me, I'll own a Collings, Gibson, Weber or something along those lines. But for right now I'm very happy with my Eastman. It sounds good, plays good and is helping me play music.

    In fairness, I've not played many mandolins. Probably only a dozen in reality in my two years of mando-dabbling. The "best" to my ear and hands was an F-style Kentucky, but I didn't want to spend a grand on a mandolin. Still don't. The Eastman does what I need it to do. I highly recommend them to anyone who just want a good instrument.
    Eastman 505

  11. #60
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    I have tried a few Eastman mandolins, but did not like any of them.

  12. #61
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    Matt,

    I think that, while in general Eastman's are well made, excellent values, they're still relatively mass produced Chinese instruments...not that that's necessarily a bad thing (b/c they put out some real gems, as some of the above testimonials declare), but it does lend to more variability than an independent luthier or even a shop that puts out smaller numbers. I feel similarly about my Kentucky...I've played a few that were pretty darn good, but mine's just OK sound wise and came with some neck issues, so it really dampened my excitement when it first arrived. If yours hasn't been set up well I'd definitely save up and have that done...if it has, I hope it really opens up for you while you're saving for the next upgrade, or that the upgrade comes quickly!
    Chuck

  13. #62
    Registered User bjc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    I bought my 515 as an after thought...just in case I was gonna play more BG..I already had a 614...and even though it was the last one left in Steve Perry's shop...it has turn into an angel...it is now THE main acoustic mando for me...I've played the Gibsons and nothing impressed me enough to fork out the cash (Now, I'm a electric guitar player by trade and own 5 gibsons's...I'm loyal)...but for my level of skill and compared to the other price points, I honestly think it's the best for the money...But I'd suggest playing one first or going to Steve's joint...he'll be square with ya...
    PeacE
    Brian

  14. #63
    Registered User Chip Booth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    I don't really get it. I've played quite a few of these, some that friends own and many at festivals. So far I have played only one, a bottom of the line F hole A model, that was a really good mandolin. The rest have been just ok, not junk by any means, but just ok. In general they seem to be a step above most of the Pac Rim brands I have tried out, but I have played a few very nice instruments by other chinese brands as well.

    Hopefully all the good Eastmans got snatched up by Cafe members.

    Chip

  15. #64

    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    Matt,

    I think that, while in general Eastman's are well made, excellent values, they're still relatively mass produced Chinese instruments...
    I would not call an output of 600 mandolins a year ... mass produced. Eastman is a SMALL shop with a small yearly output of around 600 mandolins yearly. I don't know what your idea of mass produced is, but I don't think 600 a year would qualify.

    I have long been an Eastman advocate on the board. I play professionally and my instrument of choice is an Eastman 515. I had a Gibson F that I sold because I felt it did not stand up to the Eastman. Although I currently also own a Collings F, the Eastman is the one I play on stage most of the time. They simply are fantastic instruments.

  16. #65
    George Wilson GRW3's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    While I have visions of I guess what the old folks would call 'Sunday-go-to-meeting' mandolin, I believe my Eastman 515 will be in my use for a long time. I got it set up and fixed to my liking and it just gets better all the time. I discussed my mod process in my Customizing My Mando thread.

    One night I was uncharacteristically seated facing a hard (painted concrete block) wall during our weekly jam. I was surprised by how much sound I was making. I've throttled back a little.

    The good news is it really helps me understand what my next mandolin should be. The bad news is that really escalates the price. As far as my Eastman two point goes, I like it but I'm not as bonded to it as the f. I've got a set of Ted's strings to try on it. Only appropriate as I have it at work to practice his FFcp system during lunch.
    George Wilson
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  17. #66
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    While there can be general consensus on fit and finish, amount of handwork vs. machine work, and similar variables, tone preference is inherently subjective. Where threads like this can err, is in expanding an individual preference into a universal evaluation criterion. Some like the Eastman sound, some don't. I do think we all can agree that Eastman (along with Jade, new The Loars, and the higher end Kentuckys) is among the "class" of the Asian-import instruments. That Eastman instruments are compared to quality domestic manufactures, attests to that.

    I have a general prejudice toward American instruments, especially vintage ones, but I've purchased an Eastman 615 mandola and 805 mandocello. Quite honestly, I couldn't have approached their quality elsewhere, for several times the price I paid for them. They're not perfect, but I'm not aware of any instruments that are competitive.

    And I surely wouldn't refer to Eastman instruments as "mass produced," since the manufacturer incorporates substantial handwork and traditional luthiers' techniques. There are plenty of mass produced Asian instruments -- some perfectly acceptable at their price points -- but I wouldn't include Eastmans among them.
    Allen Hopkins
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  18. #67
    Registered User Chris Willingham's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    Went to a clinic in Dallas last night and I think a fellow board member (and fine picker) summed it up perfectly. I was playing his beautiful Gibson fern and he was playing my 815. He said, "There might be a difference, but it's not several thousand dollars difference!"

  19. #68
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    I'm relatively new to playing, but I've had a 615 for a few months now, and I love it. Workmanship is great (notwithstanding a post-purchase ding or 2), it plays real easy and has quite a bark for an oval hole. I've read that's due to Eastman's bracing system. I'm cultivating a slightly woodier, sweeter sound so I've just (5 minutes ago) sent for some Thomastik Infeld Starks (heavy), which should reduce the liveliness a bit, from what others have said on the Cafe. For the money, I think it's great!
    "Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't, you're right!" Henry Ford

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  20. #69
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    I ordered an Eastman 815V in April 2013 and it is now Sept 29 2013, and I am still waiting. The retailer offered to bring one in from another store, which I played this morning. Man I was disappointed. As a traditional woodworker with a rack of well-used old hand planes, of both wood (which I made) and Stanley steel, I recognize quality and the marks of a craftsmen. This instrument told it's story when I held it in my hands. Although beautiful to the distant eye, it was in pain. The F holes were ragged and unsymmetrical, and the dull blade used to rush-cut the circles at the ends left the unsightly scars of tear-out. The finish in the hard-to-reach places, like the bottom end of the fret board, was lumpy and non-existent in spots. It was difficult to judge the sound as the instrument had not yet opened and needed a set-up and decent set of strings. My experience so far, is out of tune with the many good reviews I have read on the 815. My original 815 request is still on backorder and I will wait and see. APB

  21. #70
    Mandolicious fishtownmike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    I picked up and Eastman and like AndyAPB the first thing I noticed was the rough F holes and finish imperfections. But I kind expected things like that on these Asians instruments. Don't be fooled into thinking your getting an instrument comparable to an upper level quality made instrument because your not. Don't buy that it's the labor cost thats makes American instruments more expensive. These are cheaper because the quality isn't the same as a Collings, Weber, Gibson or whoever your favorite builder is. Simple as that.

  22. #71
    Registered User Gplayer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyAPB View Post
    I ordered an Eastman 815V in April 2013 and it is now Sept 29 2013, and I am still waiting. The retailer offered to bring one in from another store, which I played this morning. Man I was disappointed. As a traditional woodworker with a rack of well-used old hand planes, of both wood (which I made) and Stanley steel, I recognize quality and the marks of a craftsmen. This instrument told it's story when I held it in my hands. Although beautiful to the distant eye, it was in pain. The F holes were ragged and unsymmetrical, and the dull blade used to rush-cut the circles at the ends left the unsightly scars of tear-out. The finish in the hard-to-reach places, like the bottom end of the fret board, was lumpy and non-existent in spots. It was difficult to judge the sound as the instrument had not yet opened and needed a set-up and decent set of strings. My experience so far, is out of tune with the many good reviews I have read on the 815. My original 815 request is still on backorder and I will wait and see. APB
    I've been waiting since early July for my 815V. I have been concerned that quality might suffer in order to fill back orders. I have conveyed that concern to Eric Fawcett @ Eastman...not that it will make a difference, just to express my concern. I've worked in mfg. for 30+ yrs. I know how the games played.

    I based my decision on getting the Eastman, not just from the good reviews I've read, but from owning an Eastman acoustic guitar for several years. It is an incredible sounding and playing instrument. I enjoy playing it as much as I do my Martins and Santa Cruz guitars. Granted the quality of aesthetics is not on par, but it's a joy to play. I'm hoping the same for the mandolin.
    I enjoy playing musical instruments more than looking at them, especially with a magnifying glass. JMO

  23. #72
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    Likewise- I waited for the back-ordered Eastmans to show up at a few local shops and I'm still waiting ( since last February 2013 ) There are a few higher -priced Eastmans around but as one other Cafe-er has posted ....the nicest ones I've played ( tone-wise ) are the entry level A ( MD 305 ) and the F ( 315 ) ...warm and 'open ' .
    In the meantime , as I've indicated in other threads here , I came across and purchased a newer Kentucky Km-150 with , in my opinion ,terrific sound , beautiful fit and finish, exceptional playability and it STAYS IN TUNE ! Maybe I just lucked out ?

  24. #73
    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    Quote Originally Posted by fishtownmike View Post
    I picked up and Eastman and like AndyAPB the first thing I noticed was the rough F holes and finish imperfections. But I kind expected things like that on these Asians instruments. Don't be fooled into thinking your getting an instrument comparable to an upper level quality made instrument because your not. Don't buy that it's the labor cost thats makes American instruments more expensive. These are cheaper because the quality isn't the same as a Collings, Weber, Gibson or whoever your favorite builder is. Simple as that.
    My experience would agree with you...I love my Eastman MD515, but there is a discernible difference in workmanship quality between it and my Ratliff Country Boy F model made by Audey Ratliff in TN.
    1996 Flatiron Festival A
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  25. #74

    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    Quote Originally Posted by fishtownmike View Post
    I picked up and Eastman and like AndyAPB the first thing I noticed was the rough F holes and finish imperfections. But I kind expected things like that on these Asians instruments. Don't be fooled into thinking your getting an instrument comparable to an upper level quality made instrument because your not. Don't buy that it's the labor cost thats makes American instruments more expensive. These are cheaper because the quality isn't the same as a Collings, Weber, Gibson or whoever your favorite builder is. Simple as that.

    I think this statement belongs on a bed, ask a Northfield owner or anyone whos tried one how inferior theirs is. A production import should not and will not be on par with any domestic small shop offering no matter where it is made IMO.

  26. #75
    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Mandolin Review

    Quote Originally Posted by shortymack View Post
    I think this statement belongs on a bed, ask a Northfield owner or anyone whos tried one how inferior theirs is. A production import should not and will not be on par with any domestic small shop offering no matter where it is made IMO.
    Good point Vic! That should be taken in consideration...Regarding my observation, when it comes down to it I care more about tone than a little glitch here or there in finish, binding, etc.

    And my Eastman MD515 has good BG tone, bark, etc.
    1996 Flatiron Festival A
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    2010 Eastman MD 515
    2012 JBovier F5 Studio

    "I would rather play music anyday for the beggar, the thief, and the fool!"
    B.K. Nicholson

    Re:mastering the mandolin - "relentlessly obsessive"

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