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Thread: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

  1. #1

    Default Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    Hi all

    am considering purchasing one of the Eastman Mandolins either a MD 515, with its gloss finish, but have also been playing the Eastman MD 305, with satin finish, and Eastman
    MD 315.In playing the last two both have their own appeal, and am having difficulty choosing the better Mando.Each seems to have its own voice.Dennis Vance from the Mandolin store has good things to say about the 305 ....and commends the Eastman line for its quality and sound design.Can we hear from players who have these mandolins so that I can have good guidelines as to my ultimate choice.I have also played the 515 and find it charming with its delightful voice.While in the store at Guitar Factory in Gladesville ,Sydney, the people there are generous enough to let me play a Collins F5, and a Weber, and am absolutely blown away with their beautiful voicings.However, Collins and Weber mandolins are too expensive, so am using the F5 Collins as a benchmark, and find that the Eastman Line comes close to mimicking the sound of the Giants like Collins, in the store.So Let`s talk Eastman! Which Eastman would you choose and why? Please assist.

  2. #2
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    Sorry if this comes across as glib but choose the one that you like the sound of best!

    If one of the 300 series sounds best then get that unless you’re swayed by the “snob value” of the higher range series. I asked a similar question recently and the consensus was that most of the premium of the 500 series over the 300 was better tuners and a hard case.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    [Wish upon a star for a Collins....WoW!

    The MD 515 has a wonderful sound while the cosmetics are spectacular.The 305 really delivers a smooth sound but all these instruments don't cover all areas as far as strumming, single lines, harmonies, chop chords etc etc...so even the top outstanding mandolins fall short in one or two areas.when I listen to the strumming and chording of these instruments from online videos of Utube I don't hear a full satisfying chordal tone ,its either too metallic or lacks penetration by being too tiny.All seem to have a brilliance in the treble that sparkles due to the combination of Solid Spruce top and Maple back and side.But when listening to the bottom end the 305 seems to deliver a dark tone the 304 tone on the low register is tiny and dead.A mandolin should have both bass tone and treble tone equally potent delivering the pure pitch of the notes, the fundamentals, with sparkle, in both registers, so that the voices blend and achieve sonority.Too many overtones flood the voicing of the mandolins.I hear this flood of overtones in the higher end of the Eastman line.But it`s not to say that overtones are bad.Depending on how one plays, overtones can create a rich sound (515 in mind) that is very appealing.However, am more in favour of a mandolin like the 305 that achieves delivering the sound of fundamentals without the flooding of overtones, which in some cases may or may not clash with appealing sound of a melody, with drones, rich intervals, that accompany the main line (melody) with harmony.The search continues.....and Collins achieves a good balance in both voices that gives a brilliance in sound that the Eastman cannot achieve.


    The Eastman MD 515:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater
    Last edited by KoalaBear; Apr-06-2018 at 3:10am.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    Eastman's gloss finish is beautiful and really does enhance the look of the mandolin. I can understand why anybody would choose the gloss over the matte finish. However, the gloss finish is quite sticky and therefore won't appeal to everybody. It is also very soft in the first year or two of life and it is VERY easy to mark it so beware! Personally I don't like matte finishes either on the neck or body, for me its gloss every time, in terms of feel, particularly on the neck.

    Eastman has come a long way in the last 10 years and there have been massive improvements in their instruments. They are exceptional value for money and seem to use consistently high quality woods. Can they compete with the well known US manufacturers? Probably not. However if your budget is limited and you can't stretch to the top end US instruments Eastman is a fantastic option, regardless of which model you choose.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    Don't be swayed by the number ! A higher number doesn't mean a better sounding instrument ! I once had a 915 Eastman but the sound was far inferior to the 500 series mandolins I owned . Of course the poor setup job I got from the Mandoshop contributed to the poor sound of the 915.
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  6. #6

    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    Yes agree with your remarks gloss adds a big difference in the visual appearance of the instrument......

    here is the gloss on the Collins F5 but how much does gloss contribute to the sound of the instrument .My guess is that gloss possibly has a minimal effect on sound production here more knowledgeable contributors may add their thoughts on the topic:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...&type=3&theate

  7. #7
    Registered User Mando Mort's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    My most recent purchase was the Eastman 615 and I love it for the sound, playability and looks. I tried the 515 and would have gone with that one except I liked the finish on the 615 and I could afford it. I don't think you can go wrong with any that you are considering. An earlier post said to go with the one you think sounds the best, and I couldn't agree more.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    Something worth considering?

    Unless I am mistaken, your post makes it seem as though you are in Australia, and you have been able to play a few Eastman's near you . . . so why not just purchase one of the mandolins that you are playing, instead of ordering from the internet?

    I only ask because there is almost always a variation from instrument-to-instrument, from any manufacturer, especially the PacRim instruments - so why take a chance on finding an Eastman in-hand that you like, and then getting one shipped to you that may not have the exact same tonal and/or physical qualities?

    In short, if you have one in you hands that you like - grab it!

    Just a thought . . . .

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    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    I own a 315, and agree that their tone is Collings-esque, but definitely not Collings. Iíve played 615 and 815s I wouldnít trade my 315 for, and Iíve heard a couple of higher end models that were awesome. The tuners, bridge, tailpiece, and gig bag are cost saving features, and when I first got it I thought about changing out the tuners and bridge, but have gotten used to them, theyíre functional, and I doubt Iíll ever get around to it. I did get a Travelite case to replace the gig bag...

    If you can play all three, get the one that sounds and feels the best to you. None of these are going to have a great bass response, because itís just not how theyíre voiced. Of course, my perspective is skewed as a Silverangel owner...

    Good luck!
    Chuck

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  11. #10

    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mando Mort View Post
    My most recent purchase was the Eastman 615 and I love it for the sound, playability and looks. I tried the 515 and would have gone with that one except I liked the finish on the 615 and I could afford it. I don't think you can go wrong with any that you are considering. An earlier post said to go with the one you think sounds the best, and I couldn't agree more.

    After playing the 615 today at the store am very happy with its performance.Either would possibly suit me just need a couple of weeks to have the funds.Like its cousin, the 515, is excellent in appearance and has a formidable sound.

  12. #11
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    I have owned a few Eastman mandolins over the years including a 315. The sound for the price range was good, however you should know that with the 515 you get better tuners and a cast tailpiece. Those two things are worth the extra cost to me.
    Charley

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  13. #12

    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    Are all of the mandolins made around the same time?

    I ask because, there shouldn't be a big difference in tone between a 305, 315 and 515 if they are from the same time periods.
    Robert Fear
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  14. #13

    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    I used to have a 315 that I thought was really good. It was extremely playable, and the intonation was great. It had a lovely mellow tone. I wouldn't have minded a little more bass, but it always sounded lovely. I never minded the tuners or tailpiece either, though I upgraded to a hard case. I ended up wearing through the satin finish on the neck in less than a year (I could never decide whether to be disappointed in the finish, or pleased with how much practicing I was doing lol). I think a matte vs a glossy finish can affect the tone to varying degrees, with a matte finish making it more open and less piercing or focussed, just my two cents though.

    Play it first if you can, I tried a number of higher series Eastmans before buying they were all pretty good, but the I got 315 sounded and played the best.

    Ultimately traded out for a flat back A-style, but I needed something that looked a little less modern for renaissance fair gigs.

  15. #14

    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    It seems like Eastman's 515 or F5 equivalent model body size is a touch smaller than a true Gibson or Flatiron. I remember trying to fit an F5G into my Eastman case. It wouldn't fit. Eastman posts their body dimensions. I'm still looking for Gibson's.

  16. #15

    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    A satin finish is going to shine up over time where your arm touches it. I don't mind this look at all, my 15 series Martin guitar has a large shiny spot.

    There is a classy look to the 500 series Eastmans that the 300s lack. All else being equal, if I were keeping it for a while,!id buy a 500.

    If my goal was to upgrade in a year or two, I'd start a fund with the difference and get the cheaper mandolin. Tone is basically the same.
    Silverangel A
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  17. #16
    Down the road I go Trav'linmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    Koalabear, I have 3 Eastmans. I found they fit my hands nicely. Some folks don't agree wirh the shape of the neck. Personally, I would purchase the one YOU like the sound of the most. Then, test different types of strings and picks. You will find a combination that's a winner. BTW, my favorite to play of the three is the 404 oval hole. Best sound is the 815.
    Good luck and hope this helps.
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  19. #17

    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trav'linmando View Post
    Koalabear, I have 3 Eastmans. I found they fit my hands nicely. Some folks don't agree wirh the shape of the neck. Personally, I would purchase the one YOU like the sound of the most. Then, test different types of strings and picks. You will find a combination that's a winner. BTW, my favorite to play of the three is the 404 oval hole. Best sound is the 815.
    Good luck and hope this helps.

    Need to audition the 815.The ones that stand out for me are the 305 and 515 also the 615 sounds good.Lets hear from people who have these mandolins.Not easy to choose one from this lot. The sound of the Eastman line is awesome. What ultimately is your deciding factor besides the mandolin with the best sound?
    Here is a link previewing the Collins F5 selling at 11 Gs.Think Amazon in Oz will sell more Mandys than the Gladesville Guitar Factory:

    https://www.facebook.com/gaetano.bev...50773331646229

  20. #18
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    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    When I bought my 515 (about 7-8 years ago) there were two 515, a 615, and a Varnish 915 that had all just come in. Even thought they were within a couple of serial numbers from each other they all sounded pretty different. The 915 looked the best, but wasn't noticeably better sounding. The 615 had the best chop but kind of thin on the high strings. One of the 515 was very "collingsesque" even though I didn't know what that was then, but lacked authority. But the 515 I bought was the loudest and had a really punchy midrange with just enough chop and sweet top end to get by. So they are pretty different. I wouldn't buy one without trial period or hearing it personally. You gotta bond with it.

    Another thought: A new Eastman 5xx and up F is going to run over a $1000. Another $800 gets you into the used Collings MT or Pava market. I can tell you from experience that's a huge step up. Maybe the 305 will get you by until the inevitable MAS sets in.

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    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    Quote Originally Posted by KoalaBear View Post
    Yes agree with your remarks gloss adds a big difference in the visual appearance of the instrument......

    here is the gloss on the Collins F5 but how much does gloss contribute to the sound of the instrument .My guess is that gloss possibly has a minimal effect on sound production here more knowledgeable contributors may add their thoughts on the topic:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...&type=3&theate
    The Collings F5 is really lovely!! So tractile with the gloss finish.

    The gloss finish that Eastman use does effect the sound, certainly in my experience. It is a particularly heavy lacquer.....I believe they use poly with nitro over the top?. My Eastman T49V archtop guitar has the vintage finish which is a much thinner finish than the gloss and it is much brighter than my 900 series archtop with the standard thick lacquer.

  22. #20
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    KoalaBear: good luck on your search. However, note that the name of the mandolin you cannot buy is Collings not Collins.
    Jim

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  23. #21

    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    I am guessing you are looking from 305 to 515 because those are the models available to try locally? Because the natural step up from 305 is 505, and dont underestimate the value of the better hardware. I’ve played 40 years, my 2009 505, with the classic red finish, is the best one I’ve ever owned (yes I’m cheap, but I do play professionally) and absolutely unbeatable value. I don’t get the same richness of bass sound from any 305 I’ve tried. (Bear in mind, the 500 line was the original Eastman budget line. The 300s were brought in on the plan ”let's make something cheaper, because we’ll be raising prices across the board soon”. Not a criticism, but thats what happened.) And I stand by my opinion that the 500’s have better wood too. (I distinctly prefer the look and sound of the classic red finish to the generic and possibly overly thick sunbursts, and it displays the grain much better). Whatever you do, have fun with it.

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  25. #22

    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    The amount of craftmanship that goes into an Eastman is not the same as Collings. In fact, I've never played a bad Collings. I've played about 10 different Eastman's and only liked one. I'd say you need to play them first.

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    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    I have a MD 505, gloss. As a beginner, (7 months of lessons), I am very pleased with this instrument. I am now experimenting with different strings. I agree with what others have said, buy the one that sounds and feels right for you. Good luck!

  27. #24
    Registered User J-45er's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    MD315 Spruce top; maple back and sides; nitro finish
    MD515 Spruce top; maple back and sides; nitro finish
    MD815 Adirondack top; maple back and sides; nitro finish

    I don't own an Eastman but, within the last year, I strummed and plucked an 815 and either a 315 or 515 (don't know which) at a local store in the U.S. The Adirondack top on the 815 seemed to make quite a difference in sound - noticeably brighter/louder/ring. (There are other treads about whether an Adirondack top on a mandolin is worth a higher price.) I think the 815 was priced around $1,500 U.S. (could have been a little more). Likely, the only reason that it had not been sold was that Eastman had used a greenish stain color. The 815 I tried had a very remarkable sound that I believe could go up against any (I mean any) brand in a bluegrass setting.

    Given the comments earlier, it may be best to play the Eastman you are actually buying before you make the purchase.

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  29. #25
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    Default Re: Lets Talk Eastman Line.

    Several years back on the hunt I had the opportunity to play most of the Eastman line . I felt that hands down the 305 and 315 had the warmest , most open sound and the best projection . They were all very playable , I felt , a nice radius fretboard and , for me , a nice neck profile in general . But without question I 'd choose the 305 or 315 again for the reasons stated above. I sold the 305 to buy a Kentucky as I liked that tone and volume even more . I've since played many Eastmans and my opinion hasn't changed . Although easy to play I find they don't seem to have that full warm tone I prefer .For whatever this is worth .......good luck

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