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Thread: Eastman MD-305

  1. #1

    Default Eastman MD-305

    Hello all, I am a brand new newbie here. I have been lurking for a little while and decided to join the madness. I've been playing guitar for 34 years and started playing mandolin around 2 years ago. I am thoroughly enjoying it, and now that I becoming more serious about my playing, I have decided to upgrade from my $120 Ibanez beater to something a little better for all occasions. I am mostly going to be playing bluegrass. I have been looking around and doing some research, and I am thinking about the Eastman MD-305. It looks like a solid player's mandolin for the price. I would rather have an F shape, but whatever. That is nothing but cosmetics, and the A shape 305 still looks pretty good...I dont really care enough to pay the extra $200-$300 for an F shape, especially when I am reading that A shapes seem to give better performance in their price range

    I am hoping to get an opinion or two, perhaps some validation, to see if I am correct in my conclusion...? From what I have gathered, the MD-305 is a decent instrument. Would anyone agree, disagree, or recommend another? Keeping in mind I will be doing bluegrass collabs...Thanks in advance for any and all input, and thanks for having me here.

  2. #2
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Welcome! Yep, the 305 is a great choice at that price, as long as you buy one that's well setup (if you buy from a cage sponsor it should come well setup) or if you fancy DIY, I'll save someone else the energy of recommending Rob Meldrum's free setup ebook, which you can get by emailing him. At this point someone else will have to tell you his address, I don't know it. But yes, that's a good choice, so I say go for it!
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
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    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

  3. #3

    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Thanks! Yes a good set up will be a must, so I will most likely be purchasing from the mandolin store for this exact reason... Plus their prices are very good, with the set up included w/purchase.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    I got to play a friend's MD-315 just last night, being the F shape at the same level in their lineup, and was duly impressed; the 305 should do well. (Don't even try to plan now on how long you'll keep it; when & if ever the time to upgrade comes, you'll know it then.)

    Considering that you probably won't get much selling your Ibanez, most of us would keep it as, per exactly your words, a "beater": an instrument that may be exposed to picnics, boat trips, rainstorms, toddlers, airline handling... the list is endless.

    Best of luck!
    Last edited by EdHanrahan; Jul-17-2019 at 6:16pm.
    - Ed

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  5. #5

    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Quote Originally Posted by EdHanrahan View Post
    I got to play a friend's MD-315 just last night, being the F shape at the same level in their lineup, and was duly impressed; it should do well. (Don't even try to plan now on how long you'll keep it; when & if ever the time to upgrade comes, you'll know it then.)

    Considering that you probably won't get much selling your Ibanez, most of us would keep it as, per exactly your words, a "beater": an instrument that may be exposed to picnics, boat trips, rainstorms, toddlers, airline handling... the list is endless.

    Best of luck!
    Thank you! Yes that MD-315 is a beautiful instrument, and I can only imagine it plays and sounds good...I am mostly considering the 305 because it is a couple hundred dollars cheaper, and not much difference, if any, besides the looks...I may be wrong, though...That's why I am here!

    I have also heard great things about the Kentucky KM series, for the value minded player, like me. I dont care which brand is on the headstock. I only care about the sound, volume, and playability for a bluegrass setting.

  6. #6
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Quote Originally Posted by Pickcity1474 View Post
    I have also heard great things about the Kentucky KM series, for the value minded player, like me. I dont care which brand is on the headstock. I only care about the sound, volume, and playability for a bluegrass setting.
    While the Eastman is comparable, many feel that the Kentucky line is voiced more for bluegrass.

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    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    I like the Eastman's, but agree with Pheffernan that the voicing for blue grass is found most readily with Kentucky. I think the KM-250 is worth a listen.

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    Registered User stringsattached's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    My Eastman MD-305 sounds and plays great after being set up perfectly by Folkway Music in Waterloo Ontario .
    ==================
    Ken

    Eastman Fan

  10. #9

    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    The Kentucky KM-150 has a flat fretboard. The KM-250 and the Eastman MD-305 are radiused. If you are happy with the fretboard configuration on your current mandolin you may want to factor that into your decision. Some folks prefer a radius and some prefer a flat fretboard. Some are happy to play either. Personally I prefer a radiused fretboard and find it improves playability (YMMV). That was a deciding factor for me when I recently picked up an MD-305 to use as my own 'beater'. I'm already growing quite fond of it.
    "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..."

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    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    I like my 305 just fine but then I'm new to mandolin but a lifelong guitar player and I guess it's just my old fogey ways but I don't think I'd ever buy an F style, someone might think I was a really good player just because of the well knowns associated with such and boy would they be disappointed...even tho they're some really great players that play A style...plus I just love the looks of an A and my 305 even looks old and well seasoned.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Quote Originally Posted by lukmanohnz View Post
    The Kentucky KM-150 has a flat fretboard. The KM-250 and the Eastman MD-305 are radiused. If you are happy with the fretboard configuration on your current mandolin you may want to factor that into your decision. Some folks prefer a radius and some prefer a flat fretboard. Some are happy to play either. Personally I prefer a radiused fretboard and find it improves playability (YMMV). That was a deciding factor for me when I recently picked up an MD-305 to use as my own 'beater'. I'm already growing quite fond of it.
    This is something to consider. I suppose either would be fine, but the easier the better. My $120 Ibanez actually plays OK, and it is flat...It isn't great, but it is OK.

    I live in metro Atlanta, and we have a couple of local Eastman dealers, and they do have the MD-305 in stock, and some others to try...I would like to find a local dealer who carries Kentucky mandos.

    Sound and playability. You all know the score. I realize that I am asking a lot for relatively little, especially in the world of mandolin. Still, I will not accept that a good mando cant be had and thoroughly enjoyed for less than a grand.

    Thanks for all the great replies. Looks like the MD-305 or the KM-150. Decisions...

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    I play a good bit of bluegrass mandolin. I bought an Eastman 305 for a friend as a wedding present. It is a fine mandolin for bluegrass. I would have no issue playing one in a jam. The main complaint that folks seem to have with respect to the Eastman is that it can be overly bright, bordering on brittle. I have heard this for myself in several different Eastman mandolins. In my experience, every Eastman I have had the opportunity to play for any length of time benefits from heavier strings. The lightish strings that they ship with are indeed very bright, but put on a set of J75s and the tone thickens up. You have been playing stringed instruments for a long time, so I suspect you could handle the heavier strings.
    Mandolins: Dudenbostel A1 #74 (2014)
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  14. #13

    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Quote Originally Posted by dwc View Post
    I play a good bit of bluegrass mandolin. I bought an Eastman 305 for a friend as a wedding present. It is a fine mandolin for bluegrass. I would have no issue playing one in a jam. The main complaint that folks seem to have with respect to the Eastman is that it can be overly bright, bordering on brittle. I have heard this for myself in several different Eastman mandolins. In my experience, every Eastman I have had the opportunity to play for any length of time benefits from heavier strings. The lightish strings that they ship with are indeed very bright, but put on a set of J75s and the tone thickens up. You have been playing stringed instruments for a long time, so I suspect you could handle the heavier strings.
    More good insight. Thank you. Yes, I will have no problem handling the heavier strings, and if possible I will ask for them specifically with a set up when I order.

  15. #14

    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Quote Originally Posted by CBFrench View Post
    I like my 305 just fine but then I'm new to mandolin but a lifelong guitar player and I guess it's just my old fogey ways but I don't think I'd ever buy an F style, someone might think I was a really good player just because of the well knowns associated with such and boy would they be disappointed...even tho they're some really great players that play A style...plus I just love the looks of an A and my 305 even looks old and well seasoned.
    Ah, I don't mind what others think. I'm not very old (45), but I also think the 305 looks just fine. I like player's instruments, and don't get my head turned too easily by bling. Not saying the 315 is too fancy. I think it looks great, but $200+ more expensive just for the looks? Maybe for some, but not me. Of course this is assuming the 315 vs 305 is purely cosmetic, of which I am not entirely certain. I'm no expert.

  16. #15
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    My first mando was the Eastman md305 and I still have it and use it for iffy weather outdoor jams. I dont see a need to sell it because it sounds fine and plays great. Knowing what I do now, however, the tone of the Kentucky line suits my ear a little better than the Eastman when played by itself. Yes the Eastman can sound a little thin when played on its on. But accompanying a band or a jam it really cuts through and sounds just fine. Its all in the environment its used.

    I do prefer the look and thin satin finish of the 305. Its just badass. Looks fantastic with my added black ebony abbreviated pick guard and matching armrest.

    I wouldn't get caught up in radius or flat fret board. That difference is subtle and the thickness and curve of the neck is far more important. You have to play them to know which fits your hand better as everyone is different.

    Finally a word of caution. We have a guitar shop here that sells these and they know lots about guitar set up and little about mandolins. Even though you have them locally, you might consider buying from a mandolin specialty shop. Set up is the single most important thing on an entry level mandolin. For me anyway, they can be tough little buggers to get right.
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    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    ..... I have yet to play one but the Kentucky km 250 ( 252, 256 ) series would seem to me to be the best of all entry level worlds . To my ear , the Eastman just lacks a warmth and a fullness that Kentucky NAILS in even their entry level mandos . I play a Kentucky 150 and I'm blown away by the tone every time i pick it up The 250 gives you a radiused fretboard AND that same great tone .

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    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    When I bought mine, I also had to choose between the 305 and a Km150, and for me the biggest deciding factor was the price (150 is about 50$ cheaper) which for others might be small, but as a teenager working two part time jobs for only three months, it was pretty big. And I wanted a hard case, and the 305 came with a bag. The Kentucky is an excellent choice, and it's up to you which you get, IMHO you can't go wrong either way
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

  20. #18

    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Quote Originally Posted by roysboy View Post
    ..... I have yet to play one but the Kentucky km 250 ( 252, 256 ) series would seem to me to be the best of all entry level worlds . To my ear , the Eastman just lacks a warmth and a fullness that Kentucky NAILS in even their entry level mandos . I play a Kentucky 150 and I'm blown away by the tone every time i pick it up The 250 gives you a radiused fretboard AND that same great tone .
    I have been looking pretty hard at the km-250. It looks like a solid instrument for the price.

  21. #19

    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    When I bought mine, I also had to choose between the 305 and a Km150, and for me the biggest deciding factor was the price (150 is about 50$ cheaper) which for others might be small, but as a teenager working two part time jobs for only three months, it was pretty big. And I wanted a hard case, and the 305 came with a bag. The Kentucky is an excellent choice, and it's up to you which you get, IMHO you can't go wrong either way
    The money isn't really an object at all. Not saying I have $5k to blow on a new Collings, but I can have a much higher end instrument if I had to have it. I simply don't need it. I just want a solid instrument that plays and sounds good. If it looks good that is a bonus.

    In one day of being a member here I have gone from 99% certain of buying an Eastman to 99% certain I will buy a Kentucky. LOL...Thank you, Cafe! After reading your suggestions I have gone down the rabbit hole of checking out sound clips and videos, and the Kentucky is a nice sounding instrument. I believe it will be just about perfect for what I am doing.

  22. #20
    Registered User Mando Mort's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Your turnaround shows the value of the form discussions. Good luck! For what it is worth, I love my Eastman.
    "All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out." - Mark Twain

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  23. #21
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Well, if you can spend a bit more.... I'd check out the Kentucky 500 series, I was sorely tempted to get one of those, but money limited me. It's worth considering at least
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

  24. #22

    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Been watching this, brand new myself. Never held a mandolin, played guitar for many years. Pretty much sold on Eastman 305, but...., amazon has Kentucky 256 Artist $315. No case and I know will need professionally set up. Is the Mando on Amazon same Mando I would get from a dealer? What does artist mean in description of the mandolin?

  25. #23
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff H View Post
    Is the Mando on Amazon same Mando I would get from a dealer?
    Not necessarily. I've heard some of the better dealers say that they've sent some of the lower end mandolins back due to manufacturing issues. A good dealer who performs a setup on a mandolin before sending it to a customer can serve as a filter to help make sure the customer doesn't get a poor (though probably unusual) example of any particular model.
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  26. #24

    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Thanks, once I figure set up, and really no one near me that specializes , and case , not worth probable headache

  27. #25

    Default Re: Eastman MD-305

    Quote Originally Posted by Mando Mort View Post
    Your turnaround shows the value of the form discussions. Good luck! For what it is worth, I love my Eastman.
    I am still a bit torn, but will stop procrastinating within a day or so and place an order. I just want to play. I may end up going with something closer to the $800-$1k range. I am not really a beginner, just been playing a beginner instrument, and have picked up quite a bit playing that cheap beater. Bottom line, I want something that will serve me for years to come. I'm in it for the long haul. I am not one who suffers from MAS. LOL...I suffered from GAS when I was younger, but eventually learned what was most important. My skill level will not be solely dependent on a particular instrument, though I do believe a certain level of quality helps to inspire.

    I will be sure to post my final decision once it is made, and my thoughts once the new fiddle arrives!

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