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Thread: One month with new Eastman MD315

  1. #1
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default One month with new Eastman MD315

    So far I'm pleased with the instrument. The finish was prettier (not blotchy) than some pics I'd seen on the Eastman site. I was pleased that the tail piece really was the cast version, and not the stamped version that was in the pic on the store's web site or in their description.

    The first notes from the mandolin were surprisingly muted and I wondered if I had a dud, but after just a bit of playing the volume jumped.

    Like many folks, I'm finding the tuners perform less than ideally, with a couple being very hard to turn. I applied some Tri-Flow and worked the tuners a bit and that helped a little. Still stiff. When I change the strings I'll work the tuners more. If that doesn't help, some Grover 309's will probably be installed.

    My only other physical issue is the slots in the nut - the strings regularly catch in their slots, then pop as I tune up. I've never had any of my low-end Kentucky or Eastmans do that. Between the stiff tuners and the nut issue, I sort of wonder if the store really did the full setup as advertised. I've never lubricated my nut slots, but may need to look into that (I'd take it back to the store to check the slots if the store weren't a few states away. Nobody in the KC area had a 315 when we bought this one.)

    I do love the F-style (my first)! Whether or not it makes much difference in sound, I just love that look. I was surprised at how much the scroll seemed to be in my way at first, after years with A-styles, but now I don't notice it. I do think that having the MD315 has shifted my preferences for my "big upgrade" instrument to an F-style.

    I'm still trying to figure out the difference in sound between the MD315 and MD505. The MD505 seems a little smoother in tone, while the MD315 seems a bit louder, but I can get such a wide range of volume and tone out of either instrument, just depending on how I pick, that it's hard for me to really tell the base sounds and capabilities of either instrument. I think I'd be fine playing either one, but the MD315 is getting my daily play and goes with me on trips or out to play.

    So far, this instrument has made me a happy camper. Highly recommended for the price point.
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315
    Recording King RK-R35 banjo, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

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  3. #2
    Registered User Jim DeSalvio's Avatar
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    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    It would not surprise me if the nut slots did not need a little "touch-up" with the appropriate nut files. Even with a great set-up, I usually have to do just a little to fine tune each slot. The nut files I purchased from Stewart MacDonald were pricey, but worth every cent as I use them frequently on guitars and mandolins.

    Congrats on the F Style. Everyone needs an F!!!!
    Jim D

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  5. #3
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim DeSalvio View Post
    It would not surprise me if the nut slots did not need a little "touch-up" with the appropriate nut files. Even with a great set-up, I usually have to do just a little to fine tune each slot. The nut files I purchased from Stewart MacDonald were pricey, but worth every cent as I use them frequently on guitars and mandolins.

    Congrats on the F Style. Everyone needs an F!!!!
    Lol about the "F"!

    I'm surprised that a "great set-up" would need a touch up! Do you lubricate the slots?

    I've thought about those nut files and will probably buy a set. I was thinking they were about $80 per set, but they are $48.58 - not inexpensive, but after thinking they were $80... (It would be over $100 for nut files if I bought the set for light strings AND a set for medium strings. I always use medium strings, so I really wouldn't need to buy both sets.)
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315
    Recording King RK-R35 banjo, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  6. #4
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    I just did some searches on the Cafe about lubricating nuts. It looks like a properly slotted nut should not need lubrication.
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315
    Recording King RK-R35 banjo, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  7. #5
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    Another vote in favor of nut files- I got a set for one instrument, but have used them on every one of my lower priced instruments- cautious use can really improve playability and intonation- just take it slow.
    -Dave
    Flatiron A
    Way too many other instruments

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  9. #6
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    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    Stephen Perry
    www.giannaviolins.com - Primarily violin family
    mandovoodoo.com - Acoustic blueprinting
    South Side Chicagoland

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  11. #7

    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    I just got a 315 to upgrade from a rogue A style. Iím very happy with mine as well ( though the A strings tuners are a little troublesome.)

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  13. #8

    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    In my experience, if you had half a dozen 300 and 500 series Eastmans of both A and F styles, and you did a blind test, you wouldn't tell which was which. Some you'd like better, but it would be down to the differences in individual instruments. More than one poster has liked a 315 over a 515, and visa versa.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
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  15. #9
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    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    All the Eastman line lights up nicely with a bit of acoustic work. I have a post here somewhere describing the mandovoodoo process. I don't find it difficult, just tedious. Can't hurt, anyway. The advanced bridge tweaking does the most, but is a bit beyond describing in words well. If you want a little more clarity and focus.
    Stephen Perry
    www.giannaviolins.com - Primarily violin family
    mandovoodoo.com - Acoustic blueprinting
    South Side Chicagoland

  16. #10
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Perry View Post
    All the Eastman line lights up nicely with a bit of acoustic work. I have a post here somewhere describing the mandovoodoo process. I don't find it difficult, just tedious. Can't hurt, anyway. The advanced bridge tweaking does the most, but is a bit beyond describing in words well. If you want a little more clarity and focus.
    Really, I'm quite pleased with the MD315 sound. Good dynamic range, nice tone, good volume, and it can really project when I dig in (Lately I've been playing with guys who play loud and hard - a banjo, acoustic guitar, and amplified electric guitar and bass - but both the MD505 and MD315 have seemed to have enough volume. It seems to me that the MD315 might have a slight edge on volume over the MD505, but that is difficult to judge fairly.) Just wish a couple of tuners on the MD315 were smoother (and they do seem to be smoothing out a bit) and that I wasn't having the issue with the strings catching in the nut slots. Both are minor issues that can be easily fixed if they don't resolve on their own.
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315
    Recording King RK-R35 banjo, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  17. #11
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    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    I find playing certain songs that really lend themselves to banging out 3 or 4 strings at a time works the wood in a way that seems to help break the ice of a new mandolin. Personally, I like the song Down the Road in G or something like Jenny Lind in G-based Sawmill tuning, and play them first, loud, before playing anything else or practicing. Personally I think the MD315 is quite an outstanding value and brings great tone and playability at a very affordable price. But why mess around? If you're happy picking the 315, then take her to a good mando luthier and have a full blown setup including fret leveling.

    Congrats and I hope you continue to enjoy your frugal but wise purchase. Blessings

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  19. #12
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    Quote Originally Posted by flatpicknut View Post
    Just wish a couple of tuners on the MD315 were smoother (and they do seem to be smoothing out a bit) and that I wasn't having the issue with the strings catching in the nut slots. Both are minor issues that can be easily fixed if they don't resolve on their own.
    Another owner of nut files here, for my mandos and guitars. Or take your instrument to a local jeweler store (mom and pop preferred) and ask to borrow his files for a couple of minutes, or for a small price, and do it right there. I've done that before.

    Before you buy the files, one possibility is to try this: on your next string change, take a wound string, the G or the D, and and slide them in and out/back and forth through the slot for a minute or two. Sometimes the roughness of the winding can act as a file to sand things a little. You can buy a wound A for a few bucks online, and do that as well to the A course in the nut.
    Chris Cravens

    Girouard A5
    Montana Flatiron A-Jr.
    Passernig Mandola
    Leo Posch D-18

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  21. #13
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    Quote Originally Posted by RustyMadd View Post
    I find playing certain songs that really lend themselves to banging out 3 or 4 strings at a time works the wood in a way that seems to help break the ice of a new mandolin. Personally, I like the song Down the Road in G or something like Jenny Lind in G-based Sawmill tuning, and play them first, loud, before playing anything else or practicing. Personally I think the MD315 is quite an outstanding value and brings great tone and playability at a very affordable price. But why mess around? If you're happy picking the 315, then take her to a good mando luthier and have a full blown setup including fret leveling.

    Congrats and I hope you continue to enjoy your frugal but wise purchase. Blessings
    I bought the MD315 from a cafe sponsor that was supposed to provide a professional setup, so I hate to pay for another setup so soon, but if the strings keep sticking in the slots, I'll either buy a set of the nut files or pay for a setup locally.
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315
    Recording King RK-R35 banjo, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

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  23. #14
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    Quote Originally Posted by ccravens View Post
    Another owner of nut files here, for my mandos and guitars. Or take your instrument to a local jeweler store (mom and pop preferred) and ask to borrow his files for a couple of minutes, or for a small price, and do it right there. I've done that before.

    Before you buy the files, one possibility is to try this: on your next string change, take a wound string, the G or the D, and and slide them in and out/back and forth through the slot for a minute or two. Sometimes the roughness of the winding can act as a file to sand things a little. You can buy a wound A for a few bucks online, and do that as well to the A course in the nut.
    Interesting about using the wound string - I'll try that. I do think in the end I'll get a set of the mandolin nut files, especially if I buy more of these $49 Rogues as giveaways.
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315
    Recording King RK-R35 banjo, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  24. #15
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    Default Re: One month with new Eastman MD315

    Last time I changed strings, i lubed the nut slots using a thin pencil lead from a mechanical pencil - seemed to work well but it can make the nut look dirty. Some people recommend vaseline but I havnt tried that.
    Kentucky KM-150s
    Eastman MD315F
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