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Thread: Eastman El Rey Video Review

  1. #1
    Administrator Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
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    Default Eastman El Rey Video Review

    Here is the video review of the Eastman El Rey ER-M put together by Alex Heflin.


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  3. #2
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    Cool. I didn't notice the pickup being angled on the instrument I reviewed ... so perhaps that adjustment was made after my Fretboard Journal review.
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    Registered User alexheflin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    I really dug your review as well!

    A ton of the initial impact of any instrument is the way that it is set up. That was my complaint about the tuners - they just didn't feel good. But I'm sure if I took the strings off and adjusted them a bit they would feel way better. It's very likely that they started to angle the pickup after your review.

    Also for those just stumbling into this thread that haven't seen it, click here to see Martin's review!

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  7. #4
    Registered User jefflester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    Wouldn't that pickup angling just be an adjustment of the height screw on the pickup? Adjust the treble side up or the bass down. Or is that center chrome thing just a pin and not a screw like a typical guitar humbucker height adjustment screw?

  8. #5

    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    Thanks for the review.

    I had a brief email exchange with Lollar asking about a 4-lead pickup with adjustable pole pieces and was told they're not selling their Mandolin pickup made for Eastman at this time.
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    Quote Originally Posted by jefflester View Post
    Wouldn't that pickup angling just be an adjustment of the height screw on the pickup? Adjust the treble side up or the bass down. Or is that center chrome thing just a pin and not a screw like a typical guitar humbucker height adjustment screw?
    The problem with adjusting the pickup up/down is that it doesn't take into account the differences in the strings.

    The core of the wound strings (which is what affects the pickup) is the same material as the plain A and E but is usually thinner for the D to take into account the winding.

    This is the reason why Leo made his Stratocaster pickups with the G pole piece higher than the rest - i.e. to compensate for the thinner core when using a wound G, which was the norm for the longest time. If you use a plain G with a raised pole piece, the G will be noticeably louder than the other strings.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    The other place to get a Lollar mandolin pickup is in the "hot plate" attachment for the National Resophonic RM1. I'm just a few days away from trying one of those out for the first time.

    Alex's comments about tone are very well taken ... it is something I've noticed over the years but haven't taken the trouble to put into words.
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    Registered User jefflester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Verne Andru View Post
    The problem with adjusting the pickup up/down is that it doesn't take into account the differences in the strings.
    I'm not talking about adjusting the whole pickup up or down, just one end of it. Either moving the E-end up, or the G-end down. But it's not clear to me from internet photos whether those are actually adjustment screws though they seem to be. Purpose being to improve "weak E" problem.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    I can't wrap my head around why a major manufacturer would release a product with a problem with pick-ups on an electric mandolin, that already has an image problem. To say that's just the way it is, is RIDICULOUS.

  13. #10

    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    Quote Originally Posted by jefflester View Post
    I'm not talking about adjusting the whole pickup up or down, just one end of it. Either moving the E-end up, or the G-end down. But it's not clear to me from internet photos whether those are actually adjustment screws though they seem to be. Purpose being to improve "weak E" problem.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I got that but I guess I didn't qualify my comment well enough. Those screws will move one end up/down but then you still have to deal with the uneven D course which will have a smaller core than the A and E.

    It's easy enough to add screws to the pole pieces to give users the ability to adjust the pups to their taste. Perhaps if enough people make a fuss it will happen.

    Since Lollar won't be selling customs that leaves the field open to other makers to fill the void. But I agree with others that, given the price point, it's a bit silly to think of this as a project that requires after-market pieces to make it into a pro unit.

    The comments on the tuning machines in Alex's review also give pause as pickups and machines are the 2 most common aftermarket upgrades done to cheaply made instruments.
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    Americana in France? Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankdolin View Post
    I can't wrap my head around why a major manufacturer would release a product with a problem with pick-ups on an electric mandolin, that already has an image problem. To say that's just the way it is, is RIDICULOUS.
    The e string issue is endemic. It cannot be avoided.
    Nothing will make an electric mandolin have the same output as an electric guitar. Electric mandolins have shorter scale lengths, and therefore the strings' arcs through the magnetic field -which creates the current- are smaller. So less power is generated.

    This is most glaringly illustrated in the e course. But the output of the mandolin as a whole is less powerful than an electric guitar.

    Lots can be done to ameliorate the e string issue. Jeff Cowherd of JBovier and Pete Malinson of Almuse have tackled this issue head on with their pick-up designs. Pole pieces in Kent Armstrong humbuckers can be raised and lowered to good effect. But until someone builds amps and effects for electric mandolins, this will all be in the general realm of compensation.

    I'll reserve judgement on the Eastman's Lollars until I play one for myself. Though I am certainly not noticing any issues with weak treble output on Alex's video.

    Daniel

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  16. #12
    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    I always respect your opinion Daniel, but in mine the only thing "endemic" is their ,"Eastmans" ,excuses. I do agree with,"Lots can be done to ameliorate the e string issue". It's not rocket science. Use adjustable pole pieces for one. Find out why my strap on Dearmond pick-up from 50 years ago had no problems with string balance, it just sounded like crap. Oh, and Eastman might figure out that for an investment of probably only 20 bucks per set of tuners, their price in bulk, per mandolin they wouldn't lose sales because of crappy tuners. They had a chance to get it right. When did buying something new and having it be great out of the box become so damn rare. With all the bad press today, I don't get it. It looks pretty.

  17. #13
    Registered User Jim DeSalvio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    Nice review, and thanks for the information. Would have been nice if you played it a bit more, so we could hear what it sounds like!!
    Jim D

  18. #14

    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    I have a ton of respect for the folks at Eastman. IME they generally care about their customers and are very open to suggestions.

    This appears to be a new venture for them and I would suspect they had to make some bulk purchases for things like pickups, so if changes are coming they may take a while to make it through to us. I think this is a great start and look forward to seeing how it develops over time.
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    Thanks for the review--very informative!

    I know it's silly, but I'm particularly interested in this e-mando given your description of it as playing like an acoustic, but with no real volume when it's not plugged in. Is that true? Is the volume pretty low if you're just playing it acoustically? I live in a small house with little kids, and playing after bedtime is sometimes difficult. I'd love to find a great-playing instrument that approximates an acoustic but doesn't have much acoustic output.

    (I have a solid-body, four-string electric, but I pretty much never play it--it barely feels like a mandolin to me.)

  20. #16
    Registered User alexheflin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    I'm going to jump back in real quick and answer a few more things.

    First of all Jim DeSalvo: Here's a longer video that just consists of the mandolin being played:



    Miltown: The mandolin definitely feels like an acoustic in my hands. It's still got that heft and satisfying feeling in the chop. There is very little volume when it's not plugged in, but I could definitely see practicing in a low volume environment with this.

    Frankdolin: I think you are over-estimating my issue with the tuners. I'm pretty sure that it was a small setup issue, not an issue with the tuners as a product. I'm always particular about my tuners; the tuners alone on my acoustic mandolin cost more than $500. The ones on the ER-M definitely work. I was only frustrated with the tightness/sensitivity. Pingwell/Grover are trusted brands that I have played on many other guitars and mandolins.

    And though I do agree that adjustable poles are a premium way to handle string volume inequity, I was mostly trying to say that the mandolin does a good job of having an even sound across the strings. I think if you played one you may have a better opinion!

    Cheers folks!

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  22. #17
    Registered User Lorenzo LaRue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    ....Yes, I'd love to try one of those darned things. It's too bad that I live in a remote area, my nearest mando shop is 3 hrs. away in Petaluma (Tall Toad). So I noted one discrepancy, you stated that the nut was "wider" than the normal 1 1/8", suggesting 1 3/32", when I think it should have been 1 3/16". Is that true? Thanx, and you did a great job of reviewing that sweet little number....
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  23. #18
    Registered User alexheflin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Lorenzo LaRue View Post
    ....Yes, I'd love to try one of those darned things. It's too bad that I live in a remote area, my nearest mando shop is 3 hrs. away in Petaluma (Tall Toad). So I noted one discrepancy, you stated that the nut was "wider" than the normal 1 1/8", suggesting 1 3/32", when I think it should have been 1 3/16". Is that true? Thanx, and you did a great job of reviewing that sweet little number....
    It seems I made an error there! It is listed as a 1 3/32 nut. I believe that makes it a little bit thinner than the standard 1 1/8th in. Strange considering how roomy the fret board feels. My bad on that one!

  24. #19
    Ross Thompson mandoross's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman El Rey Video Review

    I just got one of these from The Mandolin Store. I read Martin's review and it gave me pause, but Alex's review and playing on Douce Ambiance renewed my confidence. I don't notice the E being quieter. I love the feel and the range of tone on this thing. It is going to replace my recent version Fender mando strat as a main performing instrument. The E on the Fender was noticeably not as loud until I replaced the pickup with an Almuse.

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