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Thread: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

  1. #1

    Default JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    New to mandolin, coming over from guitar. I'm considering a variety of options for a quality first mando. I'm wanting something playable and extremely versatile (not really a bleugrasser). I'm also considering a couple of oval options (and have searched thru the threads here related to strengths and weaknesses of each). If I go with one of the models in the thread title, which would you recommend and why?

  2. #2
    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    As is the case between brands they're different: made differently (Eastman small shop vs Bovier factory made), voiced different. They both can be as versatile as you want; at that price point you're good either way...YMMV
    1994 Gibson F5L made by Bruce Weber's team


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  3. #3

    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    Thanks DataNick. Assuming that you've played or heard both can you describe the difference in voicings? I know it is hard to describe sounds with words. I have direct access to Eastmans but not JBovier. Also if someone. could describe the JBovier neck profile that would be great. Thanks!

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    texaspaul texaspaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    Hi & welcome to the world of mandolins. These observations are for the individual instruments I have owned. My preference is the J Bovier over Eastman I have owned a J Bovier A-5 X braced an F-5 T from the custom shop, Eastman MD 615, 504 and 804 D (oval hole 2 point). In general Eastman brighter and thinner sound but very cutting. They have small frets and smaller nut width than J Bovier.
    My J Boviers have a good balanced sound the A5X ( the X braced F hole) was the best accross genres but not as loud as the JB F5T.
    Keep in mind this is for individual instrument each is unique play before you buy if you can.

    The best sounding Eastman I've played was a satin finished MD 305. Lesser appointnents and thinner finish than the MD 505 you reference.

  5. #5

    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    You can search the archives for much information. There are far more Eastman threads, but there are plenty of happy J Bovier owners. If you can play some Eastmans, and you like them, I'd buy one over an unknown, though I have bought two mandolins sight unseen and been happy with both.

    I played a very nice Eastman MD 315 recently. Very impressive. Sounded as good to me as the 615.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    Thanks. I've read the archived 305 vs 505 comparisons, but was trying to keep the comparison as simple as possible.

  7. #7

    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    Thanks. I've read everything I could find about them, but hadn't found much on tone or neck profile. JBovier necks are chunkier, then?

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    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    Love my 305... don't have much to compare it to, but am indeed satisfied!
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    texaspaul texaspaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    I would not use "chunkier" just larger nut width. Eastmans a little more V on the profile.

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    texaspaul texaspaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    When I ordered my J Bovier black top F-5T directly I spoke to Jeff C about finding one tgat closely matched the tone I was looking for. He did a good job on selecting one for me. My 1st preference was not a blacktop, but it had the tone I was looking for.
    All the Eastmans have been fine instruments some better sounding than others and all, especially the Eastmans needed playing time to develope their tone and volume. I loved the looks of my MD 615 with bound F holes real classy. The Eastman MD 804D was beautiful and a good ringy oval hole sound, but overall still my preference is both the J Boviers.

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    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    I have owned both, also. The Eastmans are a wonderful mandolin and have very consistent quality. However, for me, the J Bovier has both a more comfortable fretboard and neck, and a fuller, warmer voicing. I have owned an Eastman MD605 and J Bovier A5 Special and a Custom Shop F5T-Plus. J Bovier mandolins have amazing tone and action. I would buy another and may at some point do so. I have great respect and regard for Eastmans, knowing that they are a great mandolin, also. Ideally, you would have the opportunity to play both side by side, but that is rarely possible. You couldn't go wrong, as Nick stated.
    Dan Brooks

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  15. #12

    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    Welcome to the forum, Machschnell!

    I have an Eastman 505 that I am very pleased with. I can't offer a comparison to the J Bovier. Like others here, I don't think you could go wrong either way.

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  17. #13

    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    Thanks to all who have contributed thus far.

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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    I've owned an Eastman (505). Great mandolin, and not just "for the money." I've played a couple Boviers and liked them a lot. If it were me, I'd probably take the road less traveled and go with the Bovier.
    ...

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    fishing with my mando darrylicshon's Avatar
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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    Both make nice instruments, i love my F5-T got it straight from Jeff he's very friendly and asked lots of questions about what i wanted and picked one oit for me. I have compared mine to many other mandos some were Eastman sofar i like mine better than any. I'm trying to save for a trip to Nashville with mine to compare and hopefully upgrade, bit i know i will need atleast 3k. The best Eastman i have played sofar was a 315 almost every 315 has sounded better than thier higher models atleast sofar. I have played some nice Kentucky ones also and i'd like to try one of the new ones coming from thier factory
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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    What year Bovier? You can check serial # and month/year written on tailpiece cover. I don't think i can recommend anything til i get my Boviers setup but i really like the JB neck, radius fingerboard and .080/.043 frets, tone and playability with old, dull strings. I'd call the neck round, not chunky, I think Breedlove is kind of chunky but I didn't mind the chunkiness.

    The difference between those and Kentucky 900 is like the difference in humbucker vs Strat/tele tone, you shd try to play both sometime (or a Kentucky 505 which i also owned). I've liked Eastman's oval holes, some of them had really beautiful tone brand new in the store, but my 2 Eastmans that i own/have owned are f-holes.
    Last edited by gtani7; Dec-29-2016 at 3:24am.
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    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    Quote Originally Posted by Machschnell View Post
    Thanks DataNick. Assuming that you've played or heard both can you describe the difference in voicings? I know it is hard to describe sounds with words. I have direct access to Eastmans but not JBovier. Also if someone. could describe the JBovier neck profile that would be great. Thanks!
    Others have pretty well documented their tonal observations. I've only played one JBovier which was a 2012 F5 Studio that I owned. It was a bluegrass box with a woody tone, good mids, excellent pop and loads of volume. It did not cut very well in a band situation in the high mids and high registers whereas my Eastman md515 did better; however I preferred the JBovier tone. Limited sample size FWIW, my neck profile was v-shaped, Gibsonesque...YMMV
    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
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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    Quote Originally Posted by DataNick View Post
    Others have pretty well documented their tonal observations. I've only played one JBovier which was a 2012 F5 Studio that I owned. It was a bluegrass box with a woody tone, good mids, excellent pop and loads of volume. It did not cut very well in a band situation in the high mids and high registers whereas my Eastman md515 did better; however I preferred the JBovier tone. Limited sample size FWIW, my neck profile was v-shaped, Gibsonesque...YMMV
    I couldn't have said this as well and certainly not better, Nick. Dan
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    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    Quote Originally Posted by lflngpicker View Post
    I couldn't have said this as well and certainly not better, Nick. Dan

    Thanks Dan! and nice looking stable you've got there!
    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
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  30. #20

    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    2013 model.

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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    I have an Eastman 315 I bought on clearance at a big box store, and I've gotten a ton of comments on its tone from musicians and non musicians alike. It has a gentle V shaped neck and smaller frets with a traditional (narrow) but width, but is very playable. I've only played one Bovier, and it was their top tier F style at the time (6 or 7 years ago). It had a more rounded neck profile with a nice radius and larger frets. It had a more traditional tone than my Eastman, which has a Collings-esque modern tone. I prefer the tone of my MT to the Eastman, but the Eastman is a good 'in, for sure!

    If you prefer a narrower nut width and smaller frets, go Eastman. If you want a slightly wider nut and larger frets, go Bovier. They're both building very nice mandolins at the moment...
    Chuck

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    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    Quote Originally Posted by DataNick View Post
    Thanks Dan! and nice looking stable you've got there!
    Hiya Nick, I was watching to see if your 1999 Flatiron was still available a week or two ago and I saw that you had sold it. Good for you. It was something I was interested in and I am glad that this Gibson came up and is very similar to that wonderful instrument you sold. I appreciated your thread on Gibson in Bozeman, MT era. Very informative and helpful information. Dan
    Dan Brooks

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    Default Re: JBovierA5 vs Eastman 505

    Quote Originally Posted by Machschnell View Post
    2013 model.
    That's around the time production switched from Korea to China. The newer workshop produces the ones with small round white label that doesn't say "Made in some Country". I have one of each, they both play well, the one from Oct 12 (date written under tailpiece cover) has the same Wilkinson black/gold tuner problems as: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...thers-thoughts. I think it's the tapered peghead but the bushings were pushed in square, but replace with Grover 309 or Rubners and that'll be a solid instrument.

    There's other threads about the 2013 switch in production e.g. http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...=1#post1297580 (i got one of the ones described as the warehouse distributors' 2011 model, aside from 4 small f-hole cracks, it plays great, and the tuners are good
    Last edited by gtani7; Dec-30-2016 at 2:35pm.
    The Keepers: Kentucky km900, looking for next one
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    Shopping/monitoring prices: Yamaha brass, single/double reeds

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