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  1. #101
    Registered User Doug Freeman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Correction to my post above: EIGHT months to market, not nine.

  2. #102

    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Freeman View Post
    Just received mine at work from Elderly. Spent a lunch hour with it on a park bench for a test drive and I'm impressed. It exceeds my expectations. I imagined I'd find things about it—maunufactured under the pressure of backorder—that I didn't like. But that didn't happen. It is a beautifully designed and executed instrument. The maple is about as plain wrap as any I've seen on a mando family instrument, but I'd prefer it that way to one that's trying hard to be fancy but just isn't. The spruce top grain is very even and tight. The ebony is dark and consistent. The overall aesthetics are clean, elegant, and sublime. I bought D'Addario EJ-72 light mandola strings guessing I would want more low end out of it, but that exceeds my expectations too. Very balanced response, volume, and tone. I'm a bit unsure of the tuners—they seem a little sticky, but that could just be a matter of some graphite in the bushings or nut slots. Setup out of the box is great. I'm a consummate fiddler/adjuster in that regard, and other than the aforementioned graphite I doubt I'll do a thing to it. I will hit the ebony fretboard and bridge lightly with some lemon oil, however, as they have that parched, newly-manufactuered look and feel. That's about it.

    This instrument debuted at NAMM just nine months ago to the day! That Eastman could get them out in quantity in that amount of time is extraordinary in my estimation, and all the noise about over-zealous marketing, sales, backorder, etc. is laughable at this point. True, they didn't come with a hard case as originally thought, but Eastman and the dealers were all clear about that change. Take it or leave it. And the gig bag...will it protect the instrument in an aircraft cargo hold? Sure...if it's placed inside a legit flight case. Will it protect the instrument around the house, or going to and from a local music gathering? Absolutely...with the due care that any decent instrument ought to get in similar circumstances. (I have to say, in 45 years of experience with stringed instruments, I've observed that people who squawk the loudest about cases tend to be the ones who do the least with the instruments they contain. Same with tuning keys, my note above notwithstanding.)

    The Eastman MDO-305 is a tremendous value and fills a void in the marketplace that nothing else touches. It's worth having, and waiting for. That's my 2¢.
    Nice review, and I agree with you pretty much across the board. Hard to believe they could get this done for $699 as it is. I think you'll be pleased with the j72 swap. I am considering when i get a setup done on it to actually try a set with .052 on the bottom like other 21" scale OMs seem to have. I found the heavier gauge actually seemed to make it easier to play which is kind of counterintuitive. Certainly easier to get better tone out of bottom end with less pinky fretting precision (ie playing low C in open position). But hopfully that will also improve with practice, building strenght and muscle memory. It's not quite like guitar or mandolin.

    Re: the tuners, i agree mine are a bit sticky as well and the only place on the instrument where I'd complain a bit. Could be an issue of just tending to them in a setup or they might just be not super good quality tuners. Hasn't been a problem for me as it holds tune really well even after string changes. Since I really like the OM and probably won't have funds for anything much nicer in the near future (and because, gasp) it could just be the last one I buy, I'm considering try a set of the Rubner tuners on it. Big fan of ebony buttons.

    My back is a pretty plain jane too. No biggie. I'm with you on good quality simple appointments.

  3. #103
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    If those are the same tuners that they use on all the other 300 series instruments, people have been complaining about them for a long time. It is common to upgrade those, as well as replacing the stamped tail piece with a cast one piece. Both would be worthy upgrades when you get the time, money, and inclination. Getting drop in replacements is unlikely so plugging and drilling will probably be involved. Might be best to live with it until the warranty expires. Unless it's lifetime, of course!
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  4. #104
    Registered User Doug Freeman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Couldn't help myself, had to do some tweaking. Decided I'd go ahead and try the heavier EJ72 mandola strings. Glad I did, as they add definition and heft throughout the range—as noticeable on the E strings as on the Gs. Wondered whether it would require a truss rod adjustment but so far the relief, essentially flat to begin with, hasn't budged. Before installing the new strings, I dropped a bit of lightweight oil between the tuner string shafts and bushings and worked them with a manual string winder to loosen them up a bit. Also made sure the post screws weren't putting undue pressure on the pinion gears. With the addition of graphite in the nut slots, the tuners no longer stick as they did on day one. They're cheap-ass tuning keys, never will be great, but they'll do the job. The fit of the bridge base to the top was acceptable but improvable, so with a roller jig I sanded it slightly to better match the top contour. I then lightly rubbed the bridge and fretboard with linseed oil to moisten them up a bit. That's about it. This thing sounds and plays great. It's definitely a challenge and a finger stretcher—kind of messes with my memorized classical/baroque fingerings—but it's fun and helpful to my playing overall. It'll probably sound like an open-back Harmony banjo compared to my neighbor's F5-bodied Gilchrist OM (the price of which could buy 35 Eastmans!) but for my humble needs I doubt I'll upgrade in the OM department any time soon. Totally pleased with this purchase.


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  6. #105

    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Does anyone else have a demo of this octave being played. I played one at freshgrass, but couldn't hear it very well due to the crowd. Also, are there any other budget octaves around worth looking into?

  7. #106
    Registered User Doug Freeman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Here's a couple:




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  9. #107
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    For those that have them, do you still like and play it? Tried out one yesterday. Really trying to decide if I need it, or if I just like the idea of having one. Was able to play a duet with a fiddle player I've known for ages and it seemed to go well. Did take a bit of getting used to the bigger jumps than a mandolin, but not as much as my guitars.

    Still, it's very tempting. Probably will be gone today when I go back to look.
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  10. #108
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    For those that have them, do you still like and play it? Tried out one yesterday. Really trying to decide if I need it, or if I just like the idea of having one. Was able to play a duet with a fiddle player I've known for ages and it seemed to go well. Did take a bit of getting used to the bigger jumps than a mandolin, but not as much as my guitars.
    To answer your question, "Yes I have one and I like it a lot. I have put many hours on my Eastman octave and have become quite used to the larger fret spacing. I have several nice mandolins but have hardly touched them since getting the octave. I have experimented with the strings, the D'Addario mandola strings work the best for me. I can play pretty much every tune I know on the mandolin (not all) and the lower octave gives such nice rich tone it is a big hit with my family. When I first made the purchase, but before it arrived I did have second thoughts about it and thought I may have had another MAS moment. I now think it is one of the best buys I have made. The Eastman is a quality, all solid instrument and you will enjoy owning one for sure.

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  12. #109
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    The Eastman octaves seem to be selling well around here (Rochester NY); Bernunzio has four on his website, all marked "Sold."
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  14. #110

    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    And now Eastman are coming out with a MDA 315 - F5 Mandola... for sub $1,000 - to compete with the MDA 815?
    Pre-order at The Mandolin Store for $799.

  15. #111
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Thanks for everyone's help and advice in this whole thread. Decided to go for it this morning. Thankfully, the dealer still had it. While I may still do a few adjustments, including maybe heavier strings, it is surprisingly nice. Nice enough that about 7 hours after I purchased it, was playing it for a tune on stage tonight. Was just one tune, but it went off very well.

    While at the festival today, had a number of my friends play this particular one. Probably could have sold 4 of them by the time we headed home. Am grateful our local dealer got this one in stock. Going to be fun figuring out where it will fit in my music.
    1910 Gibson A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 2018 Big Muddy MW-0, 2015 Ashbury Style E OM, 1983 Flatiron 1N
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  16. #112
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    First performance with the new Eastman. As in I had purchased it about 7 hours before and had less than one hour of actual playing time. Went off a lot better than expected. Very happy with how it sounds and plays.

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    Last edited by Eric Platt; Mar-04-2018 at 8:38am. Reason: First link didn't work. Corrected
    1910 Gibson A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 2018 Big Muddy MW-0, 2015 Ashbury Style E OM, 1983 Flatiron 1N
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  17. #113
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Just bought one of these. It is brilliant! I enjoy playing this far more than the Weber Yellowstone I once owned, and far easier to play. Now that Weber have regrettably decided not to make any reasonably priced octaves any more, the Eastman more than makes up the gap in my opinion, and they deserve to fly off the shelf. I am not impressed with either the tuners of the case, but in every other aspect this is an absolute bargain.

    Robbie

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  19. #114

    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    I just pulled the trigger and ordered one from Elderly. Anyone find a decent hard case that fits yet?

  20. #115
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Finally got a set of J72 on mine last night. Yes, it's worth it, IMO. Immediately, my wife noticed there seemed to be more bass coming through.

    For playing ease, I can see why the J80 is standard. As well as a probable cost issue. And it's not like the instrument sounds bad with them on. Just more potential with the heavier strings.

    Now to decide on a pick. That's going to be the tough one. Down to about 6 or 7 different candidates.
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  21. #116
    Administrator Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    These are flying off the shelves... at times. The four at Bernunzio came in last week and all sold within 48 hours. But interestingly, the one at Elderly has been there five days, no bites yet. The Mandolin Store just posted one at a real low price that had a minor top crack repaired. I'm going to have to pick one of these up eventually. That's way too much fun for the price. Will likely buy the next one that arrives at Mass Street Music since they're less than a mile from Cafe headquarters. They got one in a month or so back but it sold before it hit their web site.

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  23. #117
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    These are flying off the shelves... at times. The four at Bernunzio came in last week and all sold within 48 hours. But interestingly, the one at Elderly has been there five days, no bites yet. The Mandolin Store just posted one at a real low price that had a minor top crack repaired. I'm going to have to pick one of these up eventually. That's way too much fun for the price. Will likely buy the next one that arrives at Mass Street Music since they're less than a mile from Cafe headquarters. They got one in a month or so back but it sold before it hit their web site.
    Yeah, I was surprised mine lasted as long as it did at the festival. Did help that I was able to test drive it before buying and was able to play with a fiddler to see how it worked in that type of setting. Was a classic example of talking myself out of it Friday night, and by Saturday morning was ready to buy.

    It's possible the Elderly one has sold, and the website is not updated. Did an order with them Monday and it arrived yesterday, without any heads-up on it being shipped. First time that's happened in over 20 years.
    1910 Gibson A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 2018 Big Muddy MW-0, 2015 Ashbury Style E OM, 1983 Flatiron 1N
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  24. #118
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Yeah, I was surprised mine lasted as long as it did at the festival. Did help that I was able to test drive it before buying and was able to play with a fiddler to see how it worked in that type of setting. Was a classic example of talking myself out of it Friday night, and by Saturday morning was ready to buy.

    It's possible the Elderly one has sold, and the website is not updated. Did an order with them Monday and it arrived yesterday, without any heads-up on it being shipped. First time that's happened in over 20 years.
    This is not in defense of Elderly, but assuming someone can email you in 2018 and it's a guarantee 1) it arrived, or 2) it arrived and it's not in your spam folder is quite possible. Had a guy screeching at me a few days ago that had a dozen or so ads, said the classifieds didn't work--and then he finally did look in his spam folder after I told him twice, and there they were. No apology or nothing.

    But the first thing we all do is point the finger at who we think should be responsible when often it's an issue on our own end as users.

    A week doesn't go by that we're not working on issues we see arising with overly aggressive external email services that think they have all this figured out. They clearly do not. Bottom line is if you are not checking your spam folder once a day there's a pretty good chance mail is arriving right into your inbox and being missed.

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  26. #119
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    This is not in defense of Elderly, but assuming someone can email you in 2018 and it's a guarantee 1) it arrived, or 2) it arrived and it's not in your spam folder is quite possible. Had a guy screeching at me a few days ago that had a dozen or so ads, said the classifieds didn't work--and then he finally did look in his spam folder after I told him twice, and there they were. No apology or nothing.

    But the first thing we all do is point the finger at who we think should be responsible when often it's an issue on our own end as users.

    A week doesn't go by that we're not working on issues we see arising with overly aggressive external email services that think they have all this figured out. They clearly do not. Bottom line is if you are not checking your spam folder once a day there's a pretty good chance mail is arriving right into your inbox and being missed.
    Totally agree. Usually it's in the spam folder. My guess in this case is they were short staffed & just didn't have the time. In the end, no harm happened. Probably shouldn't have mentioned it. Just out of the ordinary for them. They are still my default seller if I can't get it locally.

    And to follow up, had more compliments of the Eastman at the old time jam this morning. And another person noticed the fuller bass with the new strings. Still in my honeymoon period with this instrument. Hope this feeling lasts.

  27. #120

    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    The Mandolin Store just posted one at a real low price that had a minor top crack repaired.
    Saw that one. I'm not sure why I decided to click around and see it since I had convinced myself that I was going to wait to pick up an octave until I got more passable at the regular mandolin and mandocello. Here's hoping it sells before I give in to my weakness for shiny new instruments.

  28. #121
    Registered User Steve-o's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    I've hesitated giving my opinion on the new Eastman Octaves, but believe it's only fair to give buyers a variety of opinions. My advice is to try to play one and compare it to other OMs before buying. I ordered an Eastman OM last year and waited many months for it to arrive. When I finally received it, I played it for 30 minutes and was frankly disappointed at how thin and quiet sounding it was, especially compared to my Petersen oval hole OM. I slept on it and tried again the next day. Same result. I played it in my bathroom to see if it was just the f-holes projecting the sound away from the player. Same conclusion. So I returned it.

    Those of you who bought Eastman OMs and love them - I'm happy for you. But despite my happiness with Eastman mandolins, the OM to me was a dud. (Caveat - I did not try heavier strings). You hear it all the time and it's true - try before you buy.

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  30. #122
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Steve,
    Agreed that it's best to try before you buy. And I may have been lucky. Not only did I get a chance to try it out, but did so with another musician to see how it sounded. Full disclosure - did have one fiddler tell me it sounded quiet. So what works for some doesn't mean it will work for all.
    If I didn't have the opportunity to try it out, might never have purchased one. In this case, glad I did.

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  32. #123
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Post removed.
    Last edited by multidon; Mar-12-2018 at 4:40pm.
    Don

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  33. #124
    Registered User Pete Braccio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    I like the sound of the one I received (after an 8 month wait). I did immediately put on a set of thicker G strings though to increase the low end. It really sings with J72s.

    The tuners do suck though. I replaced them with a pair of Rubners. Tuning is much better now.
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  34. #125
    Registered User Doug Freeman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman Octave

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Braccio View Post
    The tuners do suck though. I replaced them with a pair of Rubners. Tuning is much better now.
    Was thinking about the Rubners too. Which set did you choose, and did they drop right in? All screw holes line up? Thanks.

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