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Thread: Eastman Octave and playing in tune

  1. #1
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Eastman Octave and playing in tune

    Newbie technique question here. Just purchased my first octave on Saturday. Have noticed that I have more of a tendency to fret either too hard or a bit off, so the notes are not as closely in tune as they should be. This was a bit of an issue during band practice yesterday.

    My main questions are - besides needing to improve my technique, would going to a set of J72 or equivalent strings improve things? Sort of asking if this is a problem inherent in a short scale octave with light strings? Or should I not worry about that part as much and concentrate on technique more. Strange that I've not had this problem with a regular mandolin in the past year, or with guitar in over 20 years.

    No matter what, am going to spend the next couple weeks concentrating on my left hand, just to get things to flow better and not pull notes out of tune as badly.

    Thanks in advance. Loving this instrument otherwise. Helps give our band a fuller sound.
    1910 Gibson A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 2018 Big Muddy MW-0, ca. 2000 Breedlove Cascade
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave and playing in tune

    OM can be a beast to play. It’s likely that, assuming your OM is set up well and the intonation is dialed in, that it’s just gonna be a matter of time for you to get used to the scale length. It took me quite a while, and I still struggle with a similar issue on my new mandocello. Actually on the MC it’s more a matter of fretting cleanly rather than pulling notes out of tune.

    Also, I’ve noticed that when I play my Eastman 315 with it’s skinny trad frets and then switch to my Silverangel with jumbo frets, or especially to electric guitar with jumbos, I’ll press everything just a little sharp for a second until I remember and relax the death grip. I’m conscious of it now, so it rarely happens. I’d recommend giving the OM all of your attention for a couple of weeks (if you can with band responsibilities) to ingrain your muscle memory with the reach and amount of pressure needed to fret. You’ll get there!!
    Chuck

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    Mando-afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave and playing in tune

    Those are great questions. My take: one of the most important issues is to be sure that one's fingers are pressing down fully, without pulling or pushing the strings up or down. This causes off pitches as much as tuning problems. Intonation, then tuning, followed by a firm pressure behind the fret without forcing the strings out of pitch, in that order.
    2001 Flatiron Festival F5
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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave and playing in tune

    Also possible that strings are on the light side and might accentuate changes in pressure more than heavier strings.

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    Default Re: Eastman Octave and playing in tune

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Newbie technique question here. Just purchased my first octave on Saturday. Have noticed that I have more of a tendency to fret either too hard or a bit off, so the notes are not as closely in tune as they should be. This was a bit of an issue during band practice yesterday.
    So ... took an instrument you've never played before to band practice ~24 hours after purchase and there was a bit of a problem?

    Is there some way to remove "Eastman" from the thread title? Because as it is now it looks like this is a thread saying Eastmans don't stay in tune, which it is not.

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  10. #6
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave and playing in tune

    Quote Originally Posted by jesserules View Post
    So ... took an instrument you've never played before to band practice ~24 hours after purchase and there was a bit of a problem?

    Is there some way to remove "Eastman" from the thread title? Because as it is now it looks like this is a thread saying Eastmans don't stay in tune, which it is not.
    Considered I played it on stage less than 6 hours after purchase, and after less than an hour of play - yup.

    Doesn't appear I can modify the title. It was phrased that way as I'm trying to find out if this is a common issue with short scale octaves. Or just with octaves in general. Again, it was surprising as I don't have the same problem on guitar.

    Ended up spending a few hours working on my technique today. Had a snow day from work. Also put in an order for J72 strings. Am hoping the combination of more work and slightly heavier gauge will help things out. Am performing on it in under 2 weeks with my band. Want it to be worth it for the audience.
    1910 Gibson A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 2018 Big Muddy MW-0, ca. 2000 Breedlove Cascade
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  12. #7
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave and playing in tune

    It is also worth checking the string height at the nut (or the slot depths in the nut, however you want to think about it). If the string height at the nut is too high, this will make the intonation problems due to pushing too hard on the strings much worse. I got myself a set of good nut files, which was really a revelation, careful filing of the nut slots on a lot of my cheaper instruments made a huge difference on all of them. Much better intonation and a better feel to the instruments. Your mileage may vary, I wouldn't advocate doing this yourself for the first time on a good instrument. You may need to see a luthier to get this addressed as part of a set up, if the string height over the first fret seems unduly high.
    -Dave
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    Way too many other instruments

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    Registered User NotMelloCello's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave and playing in tune

    Take your instrument to a competent luthier for a complete setup.
    The difference between death and taxes is that death does not grow worse every time Congress convenes. - Will Rogers

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave and playing in tune

    I changed the strings on mine.

    f-d
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    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '84 1N, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

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  18. #10
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave and playing in tune

    Thanks for everyone's insight so far. Besides just working on my technique, have ordered J72s. After spending a lot of time practicing yesterday (thanks to the storm), am getting better in general at keeping the E strings in tune.

    Am really taking to the voice this instrument has. Still wavering on pick choice, but will probably just stick with a Blue Chip.
    1910 Gibson A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 2018 Big Muddy MW-0, ca. 2000 Breedlove Cascade
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  19. #11
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave and playing in tune

    Update - two things seemed to have helped. First off, switching to J72s has fixed 90 percent of the issue. The higher tension makes it tougher for me to push the strings out of tune with less than perfect technique.

    Second, have discovered that Clayton acetal picks seem to work well with my particular octave and my particular style of playing. Not sure if it's less emphasis on treble or just the overall tone. Either way, the combination of those two things seems to have helped with about 99 percent of the problems I had.
    1910 Gibson A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 2018 Big Muddy MW-0, ca. 2000 Breedlove Cascade
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