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Thread: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

  1. #1

    Default newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    Hello all,

    I was wanting your "expert" opinions on the tone, workmanship, and play-ability of the older Eastman f style mandolins (2004-2005) compared to what they put out today.

    Thanks!

    Pat

  2. #2

    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    I do not own an Eastman, but I have a friend who does and it sounds great for the price. I have also seen a couple played in blue grass bands and have spoken to the players. They both very much liked their Eastmans.

  3. #3
    mandonucs John Uhrig's Avatar
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    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    I have a 2006 514 (oval hole). Great sounding mandolin. I have no complaints about the fit and finish either
    John in SE New Mexico

    1920 Gibson A2
    1920's Clifford-American Mandolinetto
    2006 Eastman 514
    2015 Eastman Bowlback

  4. #4

    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    All of mine are recent, so don't know much about the history.
    Trinity College TM325 Octave Mandolin (converted to 4-string tenor guitar).
    Eastman MD-605SB, MD-604SB, MD-305, all with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
    Amps: QSC-K10, DBR-10, THR-10, Sony XB-20.

  5. #5
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    I have a current MD 305 and am a big fan.
    aka: Spencer
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  6. #6

    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    I was looking at this one: http://www.ebay.com/itm/222166037766...%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

    Sounds kinda pricy but was wondering if this is about the right price range for this instrument.

    Pat

  7. #7
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    A friend who works in a Music Store , had an opportunity to go to the Eastman Importer's warehouse ,

    and got to play a lot of inventory of lookalike , same model of mandolins , to pick the one thats sound appealed to him .

    A way of saying each one will sound individual in spite of appearing Identical..

    Being of natural, Wooden, materials..

    I can say even less about the playability changes that may have taken place
    over 12 years of weather changes, someplace.. unknown..

    Humidity/ dryness, heat and chilling..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  8. #8

    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    As a fellow newbie, I'd advise buying your first mandolin from a dealer who does first class setups. My Eastman MD 505 has been a good first mandolin.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    I have a 2006 and 2010 a-styles (505 and 605). Ones on the upgrade trail (CA bridge, grover tuners, maybe evo 50/80's) and they both spent a lot of time at our local acoustic instrument specialist. When i took them in, the senior tech spent about 45 minutes looking at them with dental mirrors and whatnot

    They're in excellent condition, except the 2010 has a lot of finish checking (i should take a picture). Eastman had a few batches of that and also sticky neck finishes sometime over the last 10 years, but i don't consider those problems. The one thing that's a problem: the tuners. Strongly recommend 309's or golden age.
    The Keepers: Kentucky km900, looking for next one
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  10. #10
    texaspaul texaspaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    I owned 3 pre 2008 Eastmans 2005 MD615 it had bound f holes very nicely finished mandolin sounded clear & clean with good projection I preferred a bit stronger mids and low end. All my Eastmans had small fret wire which show a lot of wear in a short period of playing.
    I have 2 oval holes a 2006 MD504 and a 2008MD 804D 2point. Really liked the 894 the 504 not so much. I think I gave up to quick on the 615 it seems to take longer for the mature sound to developers than some and I was not fair comparing it to a small builder F5 that had been played about 15 years. I had hoped to save some wear on my older mandolin by playing the Eastman.

  11. #11
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    I've been acquiring Eastman mandolins for about a decade, starting with a 615 mandola. I now have a DGM-1, DGM-2, and an 805 mandocello.

    IMHO they've been getting better over time. The 615 had really soft finish, and could feel a bit "sticky" on the neck. The two DGM's are beautifully fit and finished, and the 'cello -- despite a failed tailpiece, which Eastman replaced -- is excellent as well.

    In short, I wouldn't pay a premium price for an "early" Eastman (not really that "early," after all), over one of the current models. Of mid-priced mandolins, I'd say you're likely to be satisfied with an Eastman.
    Allen Hopkins
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  12. #12

    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    I agree with Allen. The Eastman's have gotten progressively better over the years. This is the case with all of the imports.

    While there is no difference in the specs, the newer versions have had some minor tweaks in addition to improved workmanship. The latest Eastman's I received, feel like there is a bit more girth to the neck. This is just a seat of the pants observation, I haven't measured them.

    They seem to be graduating them a bit thinner now. The tone is more open on Eastman's of the last year. There is a different look to the finish lately.

    They have also worked out a few bugs over the years.

    I wouldn't avoid an older Eastman. The olds ones are nice instruments. The newer ones are just better.
    Robert Fear
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    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    Thanks for all your advice! You mando guys rival all of my fellow clawhammer banjo chums with advice! I think y'all might have saved me some money as well!

  15. #14
    Plinkity,Plinkity Hillsdale Leroy's Avatar
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    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    I don't think you can do better for a beginning Mandolin than an Eastman.
    Because mine has eight, does that make it twice as cool as a ukulele?

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    Registered User TEvans's Avatar
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    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    There is an Eastman 805 in the classifieds that looks awesome! And they are asking about as much as you'd spend on a 515 new.
    Austin, TX

    Ellis A5

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    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    I have an 815V from 2009 that is amazing, I played it against a Weber and a Northfield this week, put mine back in the case and walked out with it, a much better sound. I would be careful of the 2005-6's hit and miss, they do get better all the time. I have a DGM3 that just gets better everyday

  18. #17
    Registered User Chris Bowsman's Avatar
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    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    I love my recently acquired 315. It's loud, sounds great, plays great, and barks like crazy. FWIW, it was made 7/13.
    "There ain't too many folks, who can play too many notes... on the mandolin"

  19. #18

    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    I owned a 315 I bought new, sounded ok but the edges were a little rough where you can tell it needed more sanding but over all it was not bad.

  20. #19

    Smile Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by pbarge View Post
    Hello all,

    I was wanting your "expert" opinions on the tone, workmanship, and play-ability of the older Eastman f style mandolins (2004-2005) compared to what they put out today.

    Thanks!

    Pat
    I have the md615 acoustic-electric and the md 305. Despite being an entry level instrument, the 305, in particular, has great tone, perhaps the best tone, because of the satin finish. Both are hand carved (in China) and have 3/16" neck which makes playing much easier than mandolins with the standard 1/8" neck or the Gibson F5 and Epiphones which are even thinner at 1.06". The finish on the md615 was beautiful and it has an internal pickup. Recording is the test of tone, in my opinion, and I like what I hear on the playback, very much! Lot's of bark, very woody, not at all tinny or shrill, and very loud in the case of the md305. The tuning keys are of average quality, but work perfectly well. I replaced the tuners on both mandolins for aesthetic reasons with tuners that had removable buttons. Since these are solid wood, graduated and hand carved mandolins, there is every reason to believe they will only sound better as time goes on when they are fully opened up. The only thing left is to play them better!

  21. #20
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    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    I just bought a new MD515 with the classic finish this past December and I like it very much. The workmanship and tone are very good for this price point. I am quite satisfied with my purchase.
    Eastman MD515 with K&K pickup
    Lakewood acoustic guitar with K&K pickup

  22. #21
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    Default Re: newbie looking at Eastman mandolins

    Agree, go newer if you can. I can remember playing some in the 2006-2008 vintage and was underwhelmed. Last summer I picked up a 315 on clearance to use as a "beater," and I'm really impressed with how good it sounds. Loses a little up the neck compared to my Silverangel and MT, but it's honestly getting better in that category. And, I picked it up on clearance for $429...

    That said, I've heard some really good sounding older models, but the quality seems to be improving in jumps over the past couple of years...
    Chuck

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