Results 1 to 21 of 21

Thread: How Much Better Does It Get

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Ms
    Posts
    113

    Default How Much Better Does It Get

    New to mandolin and bought the Eastman MD305, I see a lot of experienced acoustic owners who've had and have some high dollar instruments that think you'd have to pay 2-3 times as much to match the quality/sound/playability of the Eastman acoustics. I have an Eastman E10 OM that plays and sounds as good as I'd want or need.

    Having never played a mandolin I have no idea as to the improvements in going up in instrument. The MD305 is hard to fret cleanly, bought from The Mandolin Shop and they said they'd do a setup but I don't know if they had time or did or if it can play better. I don't live anywhere near a mandolin shop to actually play and hear the difference say in a grand or two grand instrument that would be the most I'd want to invest for the couch/porch.

  2. #2
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Statesville, NC
    Posts
    3,131

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    The usual recommendation is to PM cafe member Rob Meldrum and he will send you a setup guide for free. Lots of good reviews on here about it.
    You could then check yourself on how good the setup is.

    Or send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

  3. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Philphool For This Useful Post:


  4. #3

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    Your MD305 is a very nice instrument, a huge bang for the buck. I know because I just bought an MD305 for my 'beach' mandolin to bring along when I want to keep my higher priced Northfield safe at home. And I played a wide variety of mandolins in that price range and up to 2.5x higher before settling on the MD305. Mine was set up really well, though I will probably have it adjusted slightly after I play it for a few months and it settles in. (I have found that small action adjustments can make a big difference in playability on mandolins.) But in answer to your question, it gets MUCH better once you start looking at instruments in the ~$2K-and-up (and way, way up) range. The question then becomes what do you want from your instrument? Inlays and other cosmetic details, higher quality woods with beautiful figure, gloss finishes and different types of lacquers that are more labor intensive, perhaps a custom fretboard radius or neck profile suited to your specific tastes? Then there's the matter of tone, which is a topic of much discussion and debate. The MD305 has a very comfortable neck and a nice, clear woody tone with plenty of volume and bark, a fine chop, and is certainly good enough to use as a performance instrument. I like the new cast tailpiece though wish that they had rounded the corners a bit more as I find it uncomfortable at times depending on my arm position (I've ordered an arm rest to deal with that issue.) But you'll hear a lot more subtlety and complexity of tone from a higher priced instrument made of fine tonewoods by a skilled craftsman who is spending weeks or months on the build versus hours in a production factory setting. And the greater the skill of the player, the more nuanced the musical expression that can be achieved from those more refined instruments.
    "Well, I don't know much about bands but I do know you can't make a living selling big trombones, no sir. Mandolin picks, perhaps..."

  5. #4

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    Playability is a funny one because you can set up even a Rogue to play well.
    The Eastman MD 305 is a nice one. Can you post a couple of simple tunes to the Song a Week Social Group?
    Old UserName: AtSunrise. DOUBLE STOPS in Rise by Eddie Vedder:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7SsNJkZBKuA
    https://www.youtube.com/user/Joedynamo1066

  6. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Ms
    Posts
    113

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    I really like the looks of the 305 as it is, I don't need no eye candy just good tone and plays well. I understand what is meant by woody tone and I like that. Know very little about setups and don't know to what extent the dealer went to as far as setup. It may already be as good as it gets and that'll take getting use to on my part id so. Funny my guitar neck seems so wide after playing this mando so much.

    I really don't have a good way to record except using my iphone and I doubt anyone could make much or any judgement from that sound.

  7. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Central Illinois
    Posts
    3,049

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    Quote Originally Posted by CBFrench View Post
    New to mandolin and bought the Eastman MD305, I see a lot of experienced acoustic owners who've had and have some high dollar instruments that think you'd have to pay 2-3 times as much to match the quality/sound/playability of the Eastman acoustics. I have an Eastman E10 OM that plays and sounds as good as I'd want or need.

    Having never played a mandolin I have no idea as to the improvements in going up in instrument. The MD305 is hard to fret cleanly, bought from The Mandolin Shop and they said they'd do a setup but I don't know if they had time or did or if it can play better. I don't live anywhere near a mandolin shop to actually play and hear the difference say in a grand or two grand instrument that would be the most I'd want to invest for the couch/porch.
    The Mandolin Shop where ?Location ?
    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 !

  8. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Ms
    Posts
    113

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    oops I meant The Mandolin Store, the one listed here.

  9. #8
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Statesville, NC
    Posts
    3,131

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    I'd expect the setup to be pretty good coming from TMS.

    Being new to an instrument with 2 string courses and shorter scale length often makes a newcomer to mandolin find that it is harder to fret than the guitar that they have become comfortable with.
    A little time and practice might make a big difference in the way that fretting is perceived.

    Never hurts to double check the setup measurements.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

  10. #9

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    I would give you two paths you can take, both have their merits.

    Path one: enjoy your 305. It really is a great mandolin for an afordable price. If you aren't surrounded by well stocked mandolin stores, you might be happy indefinitely.

    Path two: go looking for trouble. Seek out and play as many mandolins as possible. Quickly realize the quality of tone a small company or individual luthier can provide. $1500 or so will get you this. When you have one of these, you begin to need to pay double or triple for smaller and smaller improvements, and make no mistake, you will want to. But having a Silverangel, Weber Galatin, or Collings MT will quell most of the worst MAS.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  11. The following members say thank you to Br1ck for this post:


  12. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Ms
    Posts
    113

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    I would give you two paths you can take, both have their merits.

    Path one: enjoy your 305. It really is a great mandolin for an afordable price. If you aren't surrounded by well stocked mandolin stores, you might be happy indefinitely.

    Path two: go looking for trouble. Seek out and play as many mandolins as possible. Quickly realize the quality of tone a small company or individual luthier can provide. $1500 or so will get you this. When you have one of these, you begin to need to pay double or triple for smaller and smaller improvements, and make no mistake, you will want to. But having a Silverangel, Weber Galatin, or Collings MT will quell most of the worst MAS.
    I strongly believe you hit the nail on the head. I'm 68, only gonna get so good, not going any further than from couch to patio's, altho a great sounding and playing instrument is good for the soul. Probably have all I need but dang I got a case of the wants now and that Collins MT sure is looking good to me...

  13. #11

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    I started out with a Kentucky KM505, which was a pretty good starter mandolin. After joining the MC and reading and hearing all about the rest of the mandolins out in musicland, I got a bad case of craving a better mandolin. I found a Collings MT2 and poof! Mandolin craving gone. I am glad I found a mandolin that satisfies my desire for great construction, tone and beauty, otherwise I'd still be on the path of craving another mandolin.

  14. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Ms
    Posts
    113

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    How much playability difference does the 1 1/8 nut make vs 1 3/32

  15. #13
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    2,722

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    Quote Originally Posted by CBFrench View Post
    I strongly believe you hit the nail on the head. I'm 68, only gonna get so good, not going any further than from couch to patio's, altho a great sounding and playing instrument is good for the soul. Probably have all I need but dang I got a case of the wants now and that Collins MT sure is looking good to me...
    A Collings MT is a wonderful thing. I described mine as the first musical instrument that I owned which did not limit me in any way, and it still continues to be the benchmark for construction (fit/finish) and playability against which all others are measured. But then you learn about an independent luthier like Stefan Passernig who used to work at Collings but now builds in his own shop. And you read all of the threads in the archives raving about his work. Suddenly, one of his mandolins shows up in the classifieds:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/141511#141511

    So you follow the link:

    http://www.mandomutt.com/products-pa...-passernig-a-5

    And you realize it’s the same one that Ben Hodges samples here:



    The asking price is high, but a few hundred dollars less than new. Just imagine how much more it would be if it were an MT2V! You know that fatt-dad has been hankering for a Passernig, so he’s sure to pounce if he sees that ad. And that’s how you come to own a Passernig A5.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5

  16. The following members say thank you to pheffernan for this post:


  17. #14

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    Quote Originally Posted by CBFrench View Post
    How much playability difference does the 1 1/8 nut make vs 1 3/32
    It's really personal preference, although large hands seem to like a wider nut. I have three mandos - one with a 1 1/16 nut, one with a 1 1/8 nut, and one with a 1 3/32. I don't have large hands, and can switch between them pretty easily. You might find more of a playing difference between a radiused and a flat fretboard.

  18. #15
    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    807

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post

    And you realize it’s the same one that Ben Hodges samples here:



    The asking price is high, but a few hundred dollars less than new. Just imagine how much more it would be if it were an MT2V! You know that fatt-dad has been hankering for a Passernig, so he’s sure to pounce if he sees that ad. And that’s how you come to own a Passernig A5.
    Oh yea. I played that one and a matching mandola at Fiddler's Green when they were hanging about. Really impressive instruments.

  19. The following members say thank you to Mark Seale for this post:


  20. #16

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    Mandolins do seem like a lot of money, but think about it. What can you spend $5000 on that you will use on a daily basis? Year in, year out, rain or shine, that has the potential to forge lasting friendships, contribute to worship if you so choose, or support your community causes. You can entertain your children or grandchildren, keep traditional music alive, maintain you mental health, and get a vigorous brain workout.

    How often does the bass boat or golf clubs get used in comparison, or hunting season last for that over/under twelve gauge? RV? Sailboat? It pales to what even an hour per day on a mandolin provides.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  21. The following members say thank you to Br1ck for this post:


  22. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Ms
    Posts
    113

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    Can’t get that Collings MT off my mind. Hate even thinking about something that I’ve never played and going on what one may love and the other hates. Don’t know what neck profile I’d prefer. My acoustic has a C that I really like don’t know anything about a V or what my Eastman 305 has.

    Then I’d need to sell the Eastman mando and a new Eastman acoustic guitar I have. I upgraded after I bought the guitar now I’m wanting to with my mandolin. Mercy me, decisions?

  23. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    Just an additional point for consideration:

    When my MD305 first arrived (and for ~3 months after) I was also pretty dismayed about the fretting difficulty. I sort of had it in my head that a smaller instrument would be easier to play than guitar or bass. Got to the point that I searched around here on the Cafe for answers and even found a promising thread by Kurth83 on cutting a new nut with more space between string courses (and less space between strings in the same course). For some reason (probably my general ineptitude with tools) I talked myself into holding off on the modification for a while, though.

    5 months down the road I can safely say that I no longer feel that recutting the nut, or even changing to a mandolin with a wider nut, was necessary for me (though I realize everyone's bodies/hands are different and your mileage may vary). My fingers are stronger now and much more comfortable on the mandolin neck. Time and practice have smoothed out the roughest notes. I still have a long, long way to go on this mandolin journey but at least it feels like I'm playing music now instead of making noise and I love my 305 more today than I have since the moment I first opened the box.

    So I guess what I'm trying to say is there may be some room for you and the 305 to grow together, but, if you have the desire and the means to upgrade - why not? The Mandolin Cafe is, among other things, an excellent MAS support group.

  24. #19
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Ms
    Posts
    113

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    Tks I probably need to just hold off and get to know 305 more better and not that I don’t like it, I’m loving having it and progressing pretty good, playing guitar steady for over 50 years is a big help

  25. #20

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    Quote Originally Posted by CBFrench View Post
    Tks I probably need to just hold off and get to know 305 more better and not that I don’t like it, I’m loving having it and progressing pretty good, playing guitar steady for over 50 years is a big help
    IMHO you are making the right decision to stick with your Eastman for now and get some more experience with it. I completely understand the allure of those Collings MTs. I'm lucky enough to live in an area where there are music stores nearby that stock a large selection of high end instruments. I've played several MTs (as well as many more expensive Collings, Weber, Ellis, and other one-man-shop hand-built mandolins). Every one was/is a beautiful - and beautiful-sounding - instrument, and each was unique/different in its own way. Collings makes one heluva gorgeous instrument. Their finish work is about as good as it gets for a small production shop, and they use beautifully figured woods for their mandolins. But the V profile neck on the Collings is a substantially different feel compared to that of the Eastman you now own, and I strongly recommend that you try one out so that you can feel it and hear it before making the investment. One good way to do that is to watch the classifieds here at the cafe until a used MT shows up for sale, as they come up fairly often. Most sellers will offer a 48 hour return policy. When you get to the point where you are serious about upgrading, you should be able to find a seller who will ship the instrument to you for an audition (you'll need to provide payment for the instrument and shipping up front). If you decide it's not your cup of tea, you'll only be out the shipping costs out and back, and the seller will refund your deposit. The cafe marketplace is one of the best things about this web site. I've had nothing but excellent experiences with every transaction I've done through the classifieds here.

    Attending bluegrass camps is another way to play a variety of instruments since most players at the camps are quite generous in letting others sample their instruments.
    "Well, I don't know much about bands but I do know you can't make a living selling big trombones, no sir. Mandolin picks, perhaps..."

  26. #21
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    2,722

    Default Re: How Much Better Does It Get

    Quote Originally Posted by lukmanohnz View Post
    I strongly recommend that you try one out so that you can feel it and hear it before making the investment. One good way to do that is to watch the classifieds here at the cafe until a used MT shows up for sale, as they come up fairly often. Most sellers will offer a 48 hour return policy. When you get to the point where you are serious about upgrading, you should be able to find a seller who will ship the instrument to you for an audition (you'll need to provide payment for the instrument and shipping up front). If you decide it's not your cup of tea, you'll only be out the shipping costs out and back, and the seller will refund your deposit.
    Or, if the instrument arrives as described but not to taste, rather than return it you can simply list it for sale. Assuming that you purchased it appropriately depreciated, you shouldn’t lose much if anything on the transaction, and you can then use the freed funds to try a Pava, Weber, Northfield, etc. Catching and releasing used instruments is one of the few cost feasible methods of sampling a variety of instruments when you live in a mandolin desert. It’s just a lot more fun to catch than release, and rationalizations abound.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •