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Thread: Eastman MD 315 vs Morgan Monroe MDM-1

  1. #1

    Default Eastman MD 315 vs Morgan Monroe MDM-1

    Hello all, 100% newbie here. I am looking to purchase my first mandolin. I have played my nephew's Kentucky K-150, so I can play a little. Looking for something a step up up from that. I play bluegrass and church music. I am trying to stay in the $600- $700 range. I have it narrowed down, although haven't been able to do a side by side comparison, to the Eastman MD 315 or the Morgan Monroe MDM-1. I do like the F style, just hope I don't lose out on a little bit of quality for the F style. I would greatly appreciate any input you would have, even if you think there is another mandolin I should be looking at. Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Registered User RayMan7's Avatar
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    Aug 2011
    BC Canada

    Default Re: Eastman MD 315 vs Morgan Monroe MDM-1

    If it was me I would go with the Eastman MD-313, or even a MD-515 if you look around for a used one. I havent had experience with a Morgan Monroe but I do know Eastmans generally have a good reputation, from their cheaper models to the expensive ones. I have a MD-515 that I got for $600 and it was definitely well worth it, it sounds great and it has good detail. I was looking at other mandos (The Loar etc) in the same price range but the Eastman always seemed to sound the best, and had higher detail especially in places like under the fretboard extension and in the scroll, so that just shows more work went into it.
    The new MDM-1 does actually look pretty decent, nice pickguard, cast tailpiece, radiused fretboard, nicely flamed maple back. So with either choice Im sure you`ll have a nice mandolin.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Eastman MD 315 vs Morgan Monroe MDM-1

    I am new to the mandolin also. My first mandolin was an Eastman 305. I liked it a lot and thought it was a great instrument. Being the grass is greener somewhere else I looked at reviews and comments etc. I hand an opportunity to purchase a Kentucky 1050 for a reasonable price so I bought it. For a couple or reasons it took me a while to warm up to it but it is a truly great instrument. I do understand to attraction to the f-style but you are paying an extra $200 for the same instrument (305 vs 315). You might find a good 315 used as well? If you have read any threads on what to buy you will see the A style is recommended, you do trade for the scroll. So my point here is at the upper end of your budget you might be able to find a used Kentucky 900 or 950 and I think you would be impressed with the difference in the instruments. I have not had the opportunity to play on but the new J. Bovier mandolins gets lots positive reviews as well.

  4. #4
    Constantly In Search Of.. Michael Bridges's Avatar
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    Feb 2013
    Canton, Ga
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    Default Re: Eastman MD 315 vs Morgan Monroe MDM-1

    I had a MM MDM-2 prior to my J.Bovier A5-T. The same instrument, but with a wider nut. I was happy with it. Radiused fretboard, nice tail piece, and I liked the "Distressed" look. Tone-wise, it was very strong in the mid ranges, a bit weak on the top end. To me, it seemed a bit heavily carved,like the body really couldn't vibrate strongly enough to really project a full tone. I had a Cumberland Acoustic bridge installed, and it really evened out the tone.All-in-all, not a bad piece for that point in my mandolin life.If you're not totally committed to the F-style, check out the JBs. Kyle at The MandoShop has great pricing, and to me, they're head and shoulders above anything close to the price range. Just another option to consider. Good luck, whichever way you decide to go, and welcome to the insanity!
    Music speaks to us all. And to each of us, she speaks with a different voice.

    J Bovier A5 Tradition

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  6. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Rochester NY 14610

    Default Re: Eastman MD 315 vs Morgan Monroe MDM-1

    Cafe´conventional wisdom is that the Eastman "300" series mandolins are a bargain, no frills in ornamentation or finish, but very well made. The ones I've played have been very good.

    I haven't had many chances to play Morgan Monroe instruments, but again, the gist of most Cafe´comments is that they're not as acoustically responsive as the Eastmans. On the other hand, each instrument is to some extent unique, and you may get a great MM or a not-so-great Eastman. Both instruments are all solid woods and hand-carved, which are positive qualities.

    Make sure you get a good set-up on whichever instrument you buy. If you're buying mail-order or on-line, some sellers do shop set-ups, others don't. For a "100% newbie," proper set-up's more crucial than appearance or sound, until you get the hang of it.

    My vote would be for the Eastman, but in the end it's your call -- and your mandolin.
    Allen Hopkins
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  7. #6
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    Saint Augustine Beach FL

    Default Re: Eastman MD 315 vs Morgan Monroe MDM-1

    Hands down, the Eastman 315 over the MM. You will not regret it.

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  8. #7
    Registered User
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    Jul 2014
    Franklin, NC

    Default Re: Eastman MD 315 vs Morgan Monroe MDM-1

    I have the 315 and love it.

  9. #8
    Registered User Mike Arakelian's Avatar
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    Jan 2013
    Eastern N.C.

    Default Re: Eastman MD 315 vs Morgan Monroe MDM-1

    Another vote for the 315!

  10. #9

    Default Re: Eastman MD 315 vs Morgan Monroe MDM-1

    Thank you everyone for the advice. Greatly appreciated. Looks like I will be strongly considering the Eastman 315.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Eastman MD 315 vs Morgan Monroe MDM-1

    I have the 315 and its a great instrument.

  12. #11
    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Aug 2012
    Fallbrook, CA

    Default Re: Eastman MD 315 vs Morgan Monroe MDM-1

    1994 Gibson F5L made by Bruce Weber's team

    "Mandolin brands are a guide, not gospel! I don't drink koolaid and that Emperor is naked!"
    "If you wanna get soul Baby, you gots to get the scroll..."
    "I would rather play music anyday for the beggar, the thief, and the fool!"
    "Perfection is not attainable; but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence" Vince Lombardi
    Playing Style: RockMonRoll Desperado Bluegrass Desperado YT Channel

  13. #12
    Registered User mandobassman's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    Delran, NJ

    Default Re: Eastman MD 315 vs Morgan Monroe MDM-1

    Much better choice. Stay away from Morgan Monroe.
    Larry Hunsberger

    2013 J Bovier A5 Special w/ToneGard
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    1909 Weymann&Sons bowlback
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    Ibanez PF5
    1993 Oriente HO-20 hybrid double bass
    3/4 guitar converted to octave mandolin

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