I am an Eastman Fan. #My 814 got me an F4 (to me) for thousands less than a genuine F4.
I'll try and answer your question again Caleb. #I believe single person builder X can command a much higher price for several reasons.
1) They need to eat, clothe, provide shelter and health care for themselves and their family.
2) consistency (and consistently improved upon) in their instruments
3) a signature sound
4) a wealth of knowledge built and added to each instrument in how all of the components function together.
5) nuances in the build, little details that take increased time.
6) nuances in tonal range/dynamics that only evolve to a consistent level of instrument production by building many start to finish, taking careful notes and learning their craft.
Finally, if 2-6 don't live up to the price asked, number 1 becomes critical and the builder gets a new job. #I'm amazed by our builders here. #Their artistry, and skill in making these instruments. #I wouldn't trade lives with them for a minute! #I'll stick to $upporting them with my habit.
Many production companies (e.g., Breedlove, Collings, Gibson, Weber) accomplish this (steps 1-6) by having Lloyd Loar like people signing off on each instrument to ensure it meets the parameters and expectations of their Company. #A signature by Kim Breedlove, Bruce Weber, Charlie Derrington, Danny Roberts, the guy at Collings?? means something. #These people started building all on their own and have grown into bigger shops. #It's not just marketing.
Back to the Eastmans, which I like and am proud I owned and would own again, some Pro's use them happily. #I enjoyed mine, it inspired me to play better. #That's enough for me. #Approval from other people who played it, or people who post here isn't that important. #
As for MAS, it may never end. #I think at a certain point, especially when money is not the critical object, the quest isn't necessarily about better, but different, new changing styles and needs. #Paul Prestopino of Peter Paul and Mary plays a Strad o Lin on stage. I'm sure he could have any instrument he wanted, he wants his Strad O Lin, you want yours. #Life is so good.
There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946
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