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Thread: Eastman Octave

  1. #101
    Registered User Doug Freeman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Correction to my post above: EIGHT months to market, not nine.

  2. #102

    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Freeman View Post
    Just received mine at work from Elderly. Spent a lunch hour with it on a park bench for a test drive and I'm impressed. It exceeds my expectations. I imagined I'd find things about it—maunufactured under the pressure of backorder—that I didn't like. But that didn't happen. It is a beautifully designed and executed instrument. The maple is about as plain wrap as any I've seen on a mando family instrument, but I'd prefer it that way to one that's trying hard to be fancy but just isn't. The spruce top grain is very even and tight. The ebony is dark and consistent. The overall aesthetics are clean, elegant, and sublime. I bought D'Addario EJ-72 light mandola strings guessing I would want more low end out of it, but that exceeds my expectations too. Very balanced response, volume, and tone. I'm a bit unsure of the tuners—they seem a little sticky, but that could just be a matter of some graphite in the bushings or nut slots. Setup out of the box is great. I'm a consummate fiddler/adjuster in that regard, and other than the aforementioned graphite I doubt I'll do a thing to it. I will hit the ebony fretboard and bridge lightly with some lemon oil, however, as they have that parched, newly-manufactuered look and feel. That's about it.

    This instrument debuted at NAMM just nine months ago to the day! That Eastman could get them out in quantity in that amount of time is extraordinary in my estimation, and all the noise about over-zealous marketing, sales, backorder, etc. is laughable at this point. True, they didn't come with a hard case as originally thought, but Eastman and the dealers were all clear about that change. Take it or leave it. And the gig bag...will it protect the instrument in an aircraft cargo hold? Sure...if it's placed inside a legit flight case. Will it protect the instrument around the house, or going to and from a local music gathering? Absolutely...with the due care that any decent instrument ought to get in similar circumstances. (I have to say, in 45 years of experience with stringed instruments, I've observed that people who squawk the loudest about cases tend to be the ones who do the least with the instruments they contain. Same with tuning keys, my note above notwithstanding.)

    The Eastman MDO-305 is a tremendous value and fills a void in the marketplace that nothing else touches. It's worth having, and waiting for. That's my 2¢.
    Nice review, and I agree with you pretty much across the board. Hard to believe they could get this done for $699 as it is. I think you'll be pleased with the j72 swap. I am considering when i get a setup done on it to actually try a set with .052 on the bottom like other 21" scale OMs seem to have. I found the heavier gauge actually seemed to make it easier to play which is kind of counterintuitive. Certainly easier to get better tone out of bottom end with less pinky fretting precision (ie playing low C in open position). But hopfully that will also improve with practice, building strenght and muscle memory. It's not quite like guitar or mandolin.

    Re: the tuners, i agree mine are a bit sticky as well and the only place on the instrument where I'd complain a bit. Could be an issue of just tending to them in a setup or they might just be not super good quality tuners. Hasn't been a problem for me as it holds tune really well even after string changes. Since I really like the OM and probably won't have funds for anything much nicer in the near future (and because, gasp) it could just be the last one I buy, I'm considering try a set of the Rubner tuners on it. Big fan of ebony buttons.

    My back is a pretty plain jane too. No biggie. I'm with you on good quality simple appointments.

  3. #103
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    If those are the same tuners that they use on all the other 300 series instruments, people have been complaining about them for a long time. It is common to upgrade those, as well as replacing the stamped tail piece with a cast one piece. Both would be worthy upgrades when you get the time, money, and inclination. Getting drop in replacements is unlikely so plugging and drilling will probably be involved. Might be best to live with it until the warranty expires. Unless it's lifetime, of course!
    Don

    Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    Weber Bitterroot A
    Fender Octave Mandolin

  4. #104
    Registered User Doug Freeman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Couldn't help myself, had to do some tweaking. Decided I'd go ahead and try the heavier EJ72 mandola strings. Glad I did, as they add definition and heft throughout the range—as noticeable on the E strings as on the Gs. Wondered whether it would require a truss rod adjustment but so far the relief, essentially flat to begin with, hasn't budged. Before installing the new strings, I dropped a bit of lightweight oil between the tuner string shafts and bushings and worked them with a manual string winder to loosen them up a bit. Also made sure the post screws weren't putting undue pressure on the pinion gears. With the addition of graphite in the nut slots, the tuners no longer stick as they did on day one. They're cheap-ass tuning keys, never will be great, but they'll do the job. The fit of the bridge base to the top was acceptable but improvable, so with a roller jig I sanded it slightly to better match the top contour. I then lightly rubbed the bridge and fretboard with linseed oil to moisten them up a bit. That's about it. This thing sounds and plays great. It's definitely a challenge and a finger stretcher—kind of messes with my memorized classical/baroque fingerings—but it's fun and helpful to my playing overall. It'll probably sound like an open-back Harmony banjo compared to my neighbor's F5-bodied Gilchrist OM (the price of which could buy 35 Eastmans!) but for my humble needs I doubt I'll upgrade in the OM department any time soon. Totally pleased with this purchase.


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