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Thread: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

  1. #1
    Registered User Freddyfingers's Avatar
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    Default Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    Hi. Itís been a while since I saw updates on the goldtone Mandocello threads. I was hoping to hear from some of the folks that purchased them, how they feel about it after having it a while. I am also curious if anyone here has played a goldtone and a Eastman. I am in the market for one or the other, and itís hard to get a answer from a dealer as to the differences between the two. Is the Eastman worth more than twice the price?

    The few videos on the goldtone always have buzz on the low strings, and acoustically it sounds thinner, but that could be the recordings. I have even heard buzz from Eastman demos. I donít care for buzz, but perhaps with strings that thick itís unavoidable.

    For me, I prefer a full sounding low end growl, will either do that? Are this pickups on the goldtone adequate? I would have to pay someone to install some k and k on the Eastman, so new itís over $2000.

    Thanks for any input !
    Its not a backwards guitar.

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    Registered User Freddyfingers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    Fairly quiet here.
    Its not a backwards guitar.

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    Registered User Mike Rodbell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    While not exactly the comparison that you're seeking... I own a GoldTone Octave Mandolin (OM-800). Once I got past some intonation issues (was related to torque bar adjustments), I found the sound to be OK, not terrific. For a $400 instrument, its OK. I've since purchased a much pricier Mandocello from Dammann Instruments. They are absolutely worlds apart. The intonation, resonance, playability, and general sound quality are significantly different with the more expensive instrument. The Dammann instruments aren't cheap (between $3500 & $4500). Haven't tried the Eastmans. The other challenge is that buying these things aren't like going to your local guitar store. (It's difficult to find a place to try out several instruments).

    Stuff like buzz should be correctable by a decent luthier.

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    Registered User Drew Streip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    I've played one of the f-hole Eastman mandocellos at my local store. It was a very good-sounding instrument, as it should be at ~$2K. I've never played a more expensive or boutique m'cello though (or any other, for that matter). However, I've played enough string instruments over ~20 years to know that it was a solid, middle-to-high quality piece of equipment. Didn't play it amplified.

    If they still have it, I'd be happy to try to make a quick video (with the store's permission).

    Regarding string buzz -- there are two ways to achieve it. One is from strings buzzing on the fret tops (nut slot too low, or fret(s) too high).

    The other is from too-close spacing between the two strings of the same course and strings buzzing against each other. I'd guess this is what you're referring to. When you have double strings that big, I can see the temptation to narrow the gap in order to fret both cleanly, especially if you have smaller hands and fingers like me. Much wider, and you risk pressing between the strings, resulting in a dead note, bad intonation, or even more buzzing.

    I think that, as long as you have "normal" size hands and a competent luthier, that should be fixable. It might even be worth making a test nut jig with several different spacing options to see which provides best results for you.

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    Registered User Freddyfingers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    Thanks guys, it’s good to get some feed back. No one anywhere near me stocks any Mandocello, let alone these. I have long fingers, but my doesn’t, and I am also trying to get her to play it now that she has some tenor guitar figured out. The Eastman’s seems to have the same neck with as a guitar, 1and three quarter inch. The goldtone is 1 and a half inch, which may be easier for her to manipulate.

    It seems to me the goldtone has success at first due to price, and people jumped on them because of of that. If I though it would be a main piece of performing gear I would take the time to fly to a store that has a selection, but I can’t justify that , since I am also in the market to upgrade my Loar 700 mandolin, and also get a octave mandolin. So helpful chimes like here do me a world of good
    Its not a backwards guitar.

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    Registered User Mike Rodbell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    I see that you're in Virginia. Whereabouts?

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    Registered User Freddyfingers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    Mineral. About an hour outside of Charlottesville. I’m on the spotsylvania side of mineral.
    Its not a backwards guitar.

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    Registered User Mike Rodbell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    I'm just east of Charlottesville, in Palmyra (fluvanna county). I think there's a used mandolin shop in Richmond, although looking at his inventory, its probably not worth the trip (I haven't done so). His site is at: http://www.vintagemandolin.com/instr...#otheracoustic

  11. #9
    Registered User Freddyfingers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    Thanks for the tip. I have seen that sight before. They have a large collection of nice collectible and vintage gear.
    Its not a backwards guitar.

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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    The Goldtone is pretty weak as an acoustic instrument. Somewhat like a hollow body electric jazz guitar, it really is made to be plugged in, but is passable unplugged.
    The Eastman has a much better acoustic sound as that is what it was designed for. However, the Eastman Mandocello is just an archtop guitar setup as a mandocello. It is the Eastman AR805 setup for 8 strings, with no other modifications. Which means that the nut is 1&3/4" or 1/4" wider than most mandocellos. Many find the string spacing to be too wide. Additionally, it comes from the factory with a .56 C string set that lends itself to buzzing and unsatisfactory sound. As emando.com suggests, getting the nut and saddle replaced to bring the courses closer together and the C string slots cut for .70 or .74 strings would be a big benefit.
    http://emando.com/shop/strings_cello.htm
    I would add that having the nut and saddle cut so that the strings are biased towards the treble side and use only 1&1/2" total width will also help with playability, unless you have large hands. Some just have the spacing for the bass courses brought closer together without biasing the strings towards the treble side.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    I own an Eastman mandocello, and my take on it is that it's basically an eight-string arch-top guitar –– same neck profile, body, etc. It sounds really good, with a sharper attack and more mid-range sound than my Gibson K-1 mandolin-bodied mandocello. Excellent overall construction, though the tailpiece did let go under string tension -- Eastman replaced it at no charge, and the new one seems better designed, without the weak "hinge" point. I have no hesitation in recommending the Eastman, but IMHO it's not very "mandolin-ish."

    Haven't played the Gold Tone, but I will note that it has some features the Eastman lacks: narrower neck, cutaway body for access to the upper frets (do mandocello players go for the upper frets, I wonder?), pickup system. Plus it's much less expensive. I own three Gold Tone instruments (travel banjo, "banjola," cello banjo), and have found the quality quite good, especially for the price.

    You say you "prefer low-end growl," so let me say that an f-hole, guitar body mandocello may give you less of that, than the older style, oval-hole instruments like the Gibson. The carved f-hole tops tend to have a sharper, mid-range-ish "cutting" tone, which could be better for lead, not as good for bass support. Of course, with the Gibson K's, you get their "baseball bat" necks, not as easy to get around on, and you're dealing with at least a 75-year-old instrument, whatever that may imply. Plus, prices have edged up closer to $3K than $2K at the lowest; I paid $1.5K for mine, but that was a while ago. Just a thought.
    Last edited by allenhopkins; Sep-07-2018 at 1:15pm.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Registered User Mike Rodbell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    Quote Originally Posted by Freddyfingers View Post
    Thanks for the tip. I have seen that sight before. They have a large collection of nice collectible and vintage gear.

    There's also a quirky little place not far from you in Louisa called Cars, Guitars and more. I picked up a mandolin from them a few years ago. Best to call first to find out what they have in stock. Tiny shop.

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    Registered User Freddyfingers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    Been there many a times. Got my Loar lh700 mandolin there, plus countless other oddities. Great shop, locally owned and operated.
    Its not a backwards guitar.

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    Registered User Freddyfingers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    It may wind up being the goldtone and dealing with the sound unplugged. I don’t have the ability to alter a nut or saddle, and the more I look at the Eastman’s spacing, my wife would just walk away from it.
    Its not a backwards guitar.

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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    Quote Originally Posted by Freddyfingers View Post
    It may wind up being the goldtone and dealing with the sound unplugged. I don’t have the ability to alter a nut or saddle, and the more I look at the Eastman’s spacing, my wife would just walk away from it.
    If you buy from a good shop like this one
    https://themandolinstore.com/product...man-oval-hole/
    you can have those modifications made as part of the setup before it ships to you.

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    Registered User Freddyfingers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    Found one place online that stocked it and did set ups, a place called blues angels music in Florida. They had it for 799. Explained my set up concerns, and they say they will address them. We will see in a few days. If it’s truly awful, back it goes. If the wife can deal, it stays. I can probably play either.

    Thanks for all the input. I will let yah know how it arrives.
    Its not a backwards guitar.

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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    Sweet! Let us know how it goes!

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    Registered User NotMelloCello's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    I was one of the first owners of Goldtone mandocellos - and I've commented A LOT on them in other threads here on the MC. Look them up and get my complete viewpoint. I am an experienced luthier with 40 years, and have more than just a players response to the instrument. No need to type it all out again here. Ultimately, the Goldtone is for a dabbler - not a serious player. And the acoustic sound is NOT usable at all - poor tone and no volume.

    I also own 2 very nice Eastman archtop guitars (an 810 F-hole and a 804 oval hole). Both are excellent guitars, just top notch. I have tried to purchase a used Eastman mandocello with a cutaway, but could never agree on price (sellers seem to want new prices for used stuff, and that is NOT happening on my budget).

    As for the buzzing strings - Eastman tends to install light strings when they should be heavier. Light strings buzz more. Also, the string spacing on the 'cellos is too tight as I understand. Easily rectified by a competent luthier. Also, a low nut will ONLY buzz open and has no impact on any fretted notes. PERIOD.

    If you can purchase an Eastman 'cello and have it set up properly, my guess is you would love it to death. More expensive brands should be great, too - if you can pony up the funds. Good luck!
    The difference between death and taxes is that death does not grow worse every time Congress convenes. - Will Rogers

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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Streip View Post
    I've played one of the f-hole Eastman mandocellos at my local store. It was a very good-sounding instrument, as it should be at ~$2K. I've never played a more expensive or boutique m'cello though (or any other, for that matter). However, I've played enough string instruments over ~20 years to know that it was a solid, middle-to-high quality piece of equipment.
    I have played more expensive mícellos, and I agree with Drew that the Eastmans are properly priced. They arenít a rip-off, and they arenít a bargain. I havenít played a Gold Tone, though, so I canít help you out with that comparison.
    still trying to turn dreams into memories

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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    I'm not sure whether Suzuki have any distributors in the US -- they used to be difficult to get outside Japan, but Thomann now stock them in Europe (link). For the price (less than half the Eastman), I think these are very nice. Shorter-scale than most mandocellos and therefore lacking a bit in the bass growl, but very playable and nice acoustic tone especially with Thomastik strings. Unfortunately, it contains rosewood and Thomann will not ship to the US because of CITES restrictions, so you would need a US distributor.

    I have the earlier MC-815 model, but it's very similar to the current model specifications for the MC-836, except for a maple back instead of rosewood (so no CITES problems with this one). It certainly isn't a restrung archtop guitar and it feels like a quality instrument.

    Martin

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    Registered User Freddyfingers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandocello, goldtone and Eastman comparisons please

    It arrived Wednesday. Hereís my take on the good and not so good

    Contrary to the shippers statement of thorough setup, it needs a set up. Best I can do is lowerthe bridge, which I lowered the C side all the way, and I think it needs some more. Not being the set up wizard, I will bring it in to a shop. I am guesssing a slight truss road adjustment, and worse case, sand down the feet of the bridge. Came with old strings, so I switched them out with a set I ordered from goldtone. Goldtone says DíAdario makes there strings, and they are a 70. Goldtone told me they tried heavier strings, but they didnít work. Itís playable, but I prefer lower action up at the 12 fret( yes, I play there).

    Itís heavier than I thought it would be. The pickgaird gives away that itís a inexpensive instrument. The two knobs Turn oblong. One knob is a volume over all, and the other knob switches from neck pickup to bridge pickup. Not a separate volume for each as I was told, but usable.

    After the new strings, it sounds ok. Acoustically it does not boom like my imagination thought two 25 inch .70 strings would do, but I could play it acoustically with other instruments. Nut width is very comfortable. I assume the Eastmanís wider nut would have been an issue. Especially for my wife who recently took up the tenor guitar with a narrow nut, now trying to push down heavy gauge strings that are far spaced.

    Tuners are adequate. Over all finish is good, no major flaws.

    Now the good, plugged in it sounds tremendous. I currently have a Schertler jam, 200 watt acoustic amp with a 8Ē and a small tweeter/horn. Itís a great amp. With the bass turned up a tad , itís a very full sound, kind of like how I envisioned it unplugged , but now realize even the Eastman unplugged canít do what a amp does. All the strings come through clear. You have to play with the knob that adjust which pickup comes through. The neck is very muddy, period. The bridge sounds like nails on a black board. But if you dial in just a tad of the bridge into mostly neck, itís clean, crisp enough for clarity, and bass city. I was pleasantly surprised how much I like the plugged in sound. And thatís through a small Schertler. Next week I have a Schertler Roy arriving. Two 8ís and a horn, 400 Watts, and a sub out. It will shake the house!

    So, I do agree you get what you pay for. After all was said and done, it cost me 779,shipped. I will see what a setup costs. Not until I play an Eastman will I know for sure if itís over all better or not, but once you plug an instrument in, a lot of the natural goodness goes out the window, and the pickups and amp make the sound. So I am good for now.

    I would also say, as expected, there is a slight learning curve. Itís not as easy as playing your Mandola , or tenor guitar stiff on it. The scale is longer, and there are thick strings. So when you go up the neck, I need to be careful, and not sloppy pushing down both strings directly, and not at an angle like single strings allow for on the fly. If you donít push straight down, the pair get pushed together, which makes a buzz sound. So proper form is the way to go.
    Last edited by Freddyfingers; Sep-14-2018 at 6:35am. Reason: Not done
    Its not a backwards guitar.

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