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Thread: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

  1. #1
    Registered User Froglips's Avatar
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    Default My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    I have been posting about the mods I keep installing, so I though I would share a pic with you-all. Click image for larger version. 

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    I do not really remember what it sounded like when I first got it home 3 months ago now. But it sure does sound really great, and stays in tune forever now that I swapped out the tailpiece, bridge, and tuners. I just hate chrome, and sunburst paint jobs on pretty much anything.
    Frog...

    It's not how you pick your nose ... It's where you put the booger!

  2. #2

    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    I like that a lot. I like that darker finishes and not sunburst also. That's my kind of look.

  3. #3
    Registered User Mando Mort's Avatar
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    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    Looks like it is just inviting me to pick it up and play.
    "All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out." - Mark Twain

    Eastman MD615SB
    Martin D35
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  4. #4
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    Very nice! What tuners are those? I wanted black tuner buttons on my 9-month-old MD315 but ended up with white buttons on Grover 309's. I left the stock tailpiece and bridge (so far) but did add a K&K twin internal pickup. It looks like we have the same style strap, though!

    When I started getting some marks in the matte finish (my glossy mandolins ARE a lot more resistant to dings and scratches), I started doing some relic-ing on the top. I don't think I'll ever have nerve to show pics here on the Cafe (I KNOW the ridicule I'll receive, lol), but I like it and non-mandolin players who've seen it have had positive responses.

    My MD315 is sounding sweet, woody, and old. I'm surprised at how different my MD315 sounds from my MD505. The MD505 is a bit louder, but also harsher in tone. I put some flatwound strings on the MD505 but it didn't seem to make much difference from the Monel that I had on it before. My playing time keeps going to the MD315!
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Silverangel Econo A #446
    Pisgah Wonder, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  5. #5

    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    What all have you done to it?

  6. #6
    Registered User Froglips's Avatar
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    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Brock View Post
    Very nice! What tuners are those? I wanted black tuner buttons on my 9-month-old MD315 but ended up with white buttons on Grover 309's. I left the stock tailpiece and bridge (so far) but did add a K&K twin internal pickup. It looks like we have the same style strap, though!

    When I started getting some marks in the matte finish (my glossy mandolins ARE a lot more resistant to dings and scratches), I started doing some relic-ing on the top. I don't think I'll ever have nerve to show pics here on the Cafe (I KNOW the ridicule I'll receive, lol), but I like it and non-mandolin players who've seen it have had positive responses.

    My MD315 is sounding sweet, woody, and old. I'm surprised at how different my MD315 sounds from my MD505. The MD505 is a bit louder, but also harsher in tone. I put some flatwound strings on the MD505 but it didn't seem to make much difference from the Monel that I had on it before. My playing time keeps going to the MD315!
    The tuners and tailpiece are from stewmac. Tuners are Golden Age.
    Frog...

    It's not how you pick your nose ... It's where you put the booger!

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  8. #7
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    I had a Eastman 315 a few years ago and I had a lot of fun customizing it. I installed Grover tuners, an Allen tailpiece, Cumberland Acoustic bridge (custom African Blackwood that I sent to Steve). I also made an arm guard and did a speedneck on it. I ended up selling it to get my Girouard F-5 and the new owner was thrilled with the upgrades.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  10. #8
    Registered User Froglips's Avatar
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    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    Quote Originally Posted by briwayjones View Post
    What all have you done to it?
    Well, I technically screwed it up swapping the tailpiece with the one you see in the pic (Allen style from Stewmac). I ended up drilling out 9 holes, and filling them in with Oak/Poplar plugs behind the tailpiece. This was because I could see it was off center by like 1/64". After moving it 4 times, it is now off center by 1/32". I am just leaving it alone before it just falls apart.

    Then I swapped out the tuning machines with the Ancient looking Golden Age ones from Stewmac. They went right in the holes, but the top bushings were a little smaller, so I had to shim them up with some shrink tubing. Now it looks like I want, and actually stays in tune.

    Then I swapped out the bridge with a Cumberland Acoustic one, and hand fit it to my arch top.

    Added an armrest, and wala! Franken-Mando!
    Frog...

    It's not how you pick your nose ... It's where you put the booger!

  11. #9
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    Quote Originally Posted by Froglips View Post
    Well, I technically screwed it up swapping the tailpiece with the one you see in the pic (Allen style from Stewmac). I ended up drilling out 9 holes, and filling them in with Oak/Poplar plugs behind the tailpiece. This was because I could see it was off center by like 1/64". After moving it 4 times, it is now off center by 1/32". I am just leaving it alone before it just falls apart.

    Then I swapped out the tuning machines with the Ancient looking Golden Age ones from Stewmac. They went right in the holes, but the top bushings were a little smaller, so I had to shim them up with some shrink tubing. Now it looks like I want, and actually stays in tune.

    Then I swapped out the bridge with a Cumberland Acoustic one, and hand fit it to my arch top.

    Added an armrest, and wala! Franken-Mando!
    Wow, if I had read this before I did my upgrades, I might not have done so! I thought about changing out the tailpiece for a James and now probably won't, lol.

    I only replaced the tuners (only needed to drill the outside screw holes) and installed the K&K (had to enlarge the hole in the end of the mandolin and in the cast tailpiece), so my experience was a bit easier than yours.
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Silverangel Econo A #446
    Pisgah Wonder, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  12. #10

    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    I sanded down the chrome on the tailpiece. That looks great too. Don’t sand too deep though. Also coat it with something.

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  14. #11
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    Quote Originally Posted by albino View Post
    I sanded down the chrome on the tailpiece. That looks great too. Don’t sand too deep though. Also coat it with something.
    Did you sand it to remove the gloss or did you just sand spots to make it look worn?
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Silverangel Econo A #446
    Pisgah Wonder, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  15. #12

    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    First I sanded spots to make it look worn (and to see what’s underneath), but I’ve sanded down most of it now. Sand it too far and it’ll go right back to the glossy look.

  16. #13
    Registered User Froglips's Avatar
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    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    I sanded the one I got from stewmac as well. I did not like the patina brass look that I ordered. So I sanded it down to the copper. Then I used copper enamel and painted the inside belly, where the strings hook to the tailpiece. Again, it was kinda an accident to sand it down to the copper like that. But I really like the end result.
    Frog...

    It's not how you pick your nose ... It's where you put the booger!

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  18. #14

    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    I upgraded my MD315 to Grover 309 tuners (from StewMac) and installed a pickup (pulled from an old Yamaha guitar). Reading through the comments I see many have upgraded the Tailpiece and Bridge as well and I'm curious why. From Eastman's website the specs for the Tailpiece and Bridge are the same for all models.

    Tailpiece: Eastman Cast Aluminum Tailpiece
    Bridge: Adjustable Compensated Ebony Bridge

    So why change them out? is it just for looks or does it affect the sound?
    Mine stayed in tune ok but now tunes much smoother with the new tuners.

  19. #15
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    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    The older models (like from 3-4 years ago) had a cheaper stamped Gibson style TP and a rosewood bridge. I toyed with changing my tuners, bridge, and TP, but at the end of the day the stock components are functional and the Eastman is my beater, so I never bit...

    I think changing to an Ebony bridge would change the tone to a slight degree (it actually made a big difference on a Kentucky I used to have). Changing the TP, possibly. Changing the tuners is unlikely to make much if any difference in tone, assuming the stock ones are holding tune. IMHO, Iím sure others may disagree.
    Chuck

  20. #16
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    Default Re: My 'Customized' Eastman MD-315

    Mine is one of the first couple of batches we got at the store where I used to teach. It came with a stamped tailpiece. I also upgraded the frets with the equivalent to Martin guitar frets. That and the Allen cast tailpiece made the largest change in tone which is full, open and loud. Not my best mando but it is my go anywhere do anything tool of choice.

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