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Thread: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

  1. #1

    Default Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    I'm growing out on my Rogue El Cheapo mandolin , and looking to upgrade to either an Eastman 315 MD ($699.00), or a Loar LM-520 ($599.00).

    Instead of asking the proverbial "Which one is better?" I simply want to ask if any of you good people have had experience with either of these two models, and your thoughts on them?

    I'll probably be purchasing it from The Mandolin Store.


    Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    Registered User Willem's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    I have played them both and owned a 520 for a while. While plenty will disagree, I much preferred The Loar 520. It was more traditional sounding which I like. Maybe I got a good one, but it only required minimal set up work right out of the box.

  3. #3
    Registered User cc7's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    The MD315 is my first and only mandolin. I don't have much experience with mandolin, but a lot of experience with guitar.
    Using that experience, I find the Eastman to be well built with a brilliant sound. The tuners could be better.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Not 315’s and 520’s - but I had an Eastman 505 for about 3 years, one of my sons has has a killer 305, and my wife had a The Loar 400 for a couple of months. In my opinion, the build quality, attention to detail, and sound of the Eastmans (Eastmen?) win hands down.

    In my experience the The Loars have very chunky necks, and a flat board. The Eastman necks are more slender and have a radius.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Quote Originally Posted by Willem View Post
    I have played them both and owned a 520 for a while. While plenty will disagree, I much preferred The Loar 520. It was more traditional sounding which I like. Maybe I got a good one, but it only required minimal set up work right out of the box.
    Willem,

    Thank you for your insights! Very helpful!

    I've listened to YouTube clips of both of these. Since the Eastman only has a light satin finish, it's sound is a bit more woody and subdued (And I mean this in a good way!). I love the satin finish, as it gives it a more worn look.


    The Loar on the other hand had a more lacquered finish, which I think, at least in part, gives it a brighter sound. Aesthetically, it looks amazing!


    -Sven

  6. #6

    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Quote Originally Posted by cc7 View Post
    The MD315 is my first and only mandolin. I don't have much experience with mandolin, but a lot of experience with guitar.
    Using that experience, I find the Eastman to be well built with a brilliant sound. The tuners could be better.
    cc7,


    I've read where others say similar things as you about the very good build quality of the Eastman's, and their sound! To my ears, the Eastman (at least the 315) has a very beautiful, slightly subdued sound. kind of woody! definitely not as bright as some others. To me this is a huge plus in considering the 315!


    Are you planning on switching out the tuners for better ones? I've switched out tuners on guitars before...fairly simple.


    Thank you for your observations!



    -Sven

  7. #7
    Registered User cc7's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Quote Originally Posted by SvenLo View Post
    cc7,


    I've read where others say similar things as you about the very good build quality of the Eastman's, and their sound! To my ears, the Eastman (at least the 315) has a very beautiful, slightly subdued sound. kind of woody! definitely not as bright as some others. To me this is a huge plus in considering the 315!


    Are you planning on switching out the tuners for better ones? I've switched out tuners on guitars before...fairly simple.


    Thank you for your observations!



    -Sven
    I will deal with the tuners as they are for now. If I ever catch fire on the instrument, I will change them. Good luck in your search!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny60 View Post
    Not 315’s and 520’s - but I had an Eastman 505 for about 3 years, one of my sons has has a killer 305, and my wife had a The Loar 400 for a couple of months. In my opinion, the build quality, attention to detail, and sound of the Eastmans (Eastmen?) win hands down.



    In my experience the The Loars have very chunky necks, and a flat board. The Eastman necks are more slender and have a radius.
    Johnny,

    I wasn't aware of the chunky necks and flat fretboards on the Loars. Good to know! Both you and cc7 noted to excellent build quality of the Eastman mandolins!


    Thanks for your very helpful response!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Quote Originally Posted by cc7 View Post
    I will deal with the tuners as they are for now. If I ever catch fire on the instrument, I will change them. Good luck in your search!
    Yeah, I hear you! Whether I get the 315 or 520, switching out the tuners is definitely not a big priority, if at all!

    Thanks again for your insights!

  10. #10
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Quote Originally Posted by SvenLo View Post
    I simply want to ask if any of you good people have had experience with either of these two models, and your thoughts on them?
    I have an Eastman MD315 and like it a lot. Nice woody tone, good playability. I experimented with different strings and picks and settled on D'Addario EXP74CM strings (for better balance between the bass and treble) and a Primetone 1.5mm pick.

    I have an MD505 with gloss finish that is definitely a lot tougher than the finish on the MD315. I'm pretty careful with my instruments, but the MD315 picked up little marks pretty quickly, while the MD505 looks pretty close to new after a few years of playing. Overall, I've had more compliments on the look of the MD315, though, than on any of my glossy-finish instruments!

    I've liked the MD315 enough to go ahead and sand down the back of the neck for a "speedneck," install K&K twin pickups, and replace the tuners (so can't sell it now, lol). For me, the MD315 has been a great instrument for the price. Highly recommended.
    Doug Brock
    Silverangel Econo A #446, Eastman MD315, MD505
    Pisgah Wonder, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

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    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Let's see. what it the Café Litany on this subject.

    1) You can get a lot better mandolin for your dollar with a A style.
    2) Play a bunch and pick the one you like the best. don't listen to any of us.
    3) Don't forget the Kentuckys!
    4) Lots of good deals on the Café Classifieds!

    I've only played one 520 and didn't like the flat board and thick neck either, but it sounded fine. Played lot's of 315's and like them, but bought a 515 because of better hardware and incrementally better wood. But don't listen to me. If you can get to the Mandolin Store do so and play a bunch! One will jump out, I guarantee!

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  13. #12

    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Brock View Post
    I have an Eastman MD315 and like it a lot. Nice woody tone, good playability. I experimented with different strings and picks and settled on D'Addario EXP74CM strings (for better balance between the bass and treble) and a Primetone 1.5mm pick.

    I have an MD505 with gloss finish that is definitely a lot tougher than the finish on the MD315. I'm pretty careful with my instruments, but the MD315 picked up little marks pretty quickly, while the MD505 looks pretty close to new after a few years of playing. Overall, I've had more compliments on the look of the MD315, though, than on any of my glossy-finish instruments!

    I've liked the MD315 enough to go ahead and sand down the back of the neck for a "speedneck," install K&K twin pickups, and replace the tuners (so can't sell it now, lol). For me, the MD315 has been a great instrument for the price. Highly recommended.
    Doug,

    Appreciate your thoughts and information about the 315! While I've never played one, I agree with what you said about the "woody tone" of this mandolin. Some of the YouTube comparison videos on the 315 and other mandos does show it's tone is not as bright as others. This may be due to it having a satin finish on it. I love the sound of the 315! BTW, I've been using Primetone 1.3mm grip picks and Golden Gates since taking up the mandolin, and love them both! I just ordered some of the PT 1.5 as per your positive comments about them.


    I appreciate your reminder that the 315's satin finish being more susceptible to getting marks and dings than a full gloss finish! For me, this wouldn't be a deal breaker as I love the antique vibe this satin finish gives off! Doesn't surprise me you've received lots of compliments on the 315!


    Do you mind me asking where you got your 315 from? Upon doing more research I came across a supplier called themandoshop.com. What I appreciate about this supplier is they provide actual pictures of the mandolin. You actually get to choose the specific grain that catches your eye! I believe they have about 6 or so 315's with 3 pics of each, and the serial number! Any information, good or bad on this supplier?


    Thank you so much for your insights! Very helpful indeed!


    Sven

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  15. #13

    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Quote Originally Posted by OlDanTucker View Post
    Let's see. what it the Café Litany on this subject.

    1) You can get a lot better mandolin for your dollar with a A style.
    2) Play a bunch and pick the one you like the best. don't listen to any of us.
    3) Don't forget the Kentuckys!
    4) Lots of good deals on the Café Classifieds!

    I've only played one 520 and didn't like the flat board and thick neck either, but it sounded fine. Played lot's of 315's and like them, but bought a 515 because of better hardware and incrementally better wood. But don't listen to me. If you can get to the Mandolin Store do so and play a bunch! One will jump out, I guarantee!
    Dan,


    Thanks for condensing this topics general thoughts down to main 4 points! Very helpful!

    I wasn't aware about the 520's flat boards and chunky necks. Definitely an important consideration!


    Thanks again!

  16. #14
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Quote Originally Posted by SvenLo View Post
    Do you mind me asking where you got your 315 from? Upon doing more research I came across a supplier called themandoshop.com. What I appreciate about this supplier is they provide actual pictures of the mandolin. You actually get to choose the specific grain that catches your eye! I believe they have about 6 or so 315's with 3 pics of each, and the serial number! Any information, good or bad on this supplier? Sven
    I bought mine from The Mandolin Store. Great reputation and they included a hard case instead of the standard soft case. Cool about seeing pictures of the specific mandolin. I've seen some Eastmans with blotchy finish so I was relieved that mine didn't look that way!

    By the way, I preferred the triangle prime tone picks to the more rounded prime tone picks. Fun to try different styles though.
    Doug Brock
    Silverangel Econo A #446, Eastman MD315, MD505
    Pisgah Wonder, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  17. #15
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    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    I own both, does anyone want to buy a Loar LM-520? Not even close, my opinion. I'm playing the Eastman 315 and it's really starting to resonate and sounds the way I like. Not like my Flatiron, but it's almost 30 years old.
    Flatiron Performer F
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  18. #16
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Just played another Eastman 315 last night. They are good instruments. I started off with a Loar. Different model than what you're looking at. Ended up giving it away. The feel and the sound did not work for me.

    But am also going to suggest looking at an A style mandolin for better value. In fact, I'd go out on a limb and suggest buying a Kentucky KM-150 and paying for a good setup and a hardshell case. All of that should cost less than The Loar. And you will end up with something that will make you want to play and be happy owning for a long time. Not saying the others are not good. But investing in a good case and setup is critical. Especially on lower priced instruments.
    1935 Gibson A50, 2018 Collings MT, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 1941 Strad-O-Lin, 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 1950's Californian, 2015 Ashbury Style E OM
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  19. #17

    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    I have both. Started on the Loar then upgraded to the Eastman. The loar is a chunkier neck. My Eastman is by far a better sounding, playing mando. that said i played 8 new Eastmans in a store and of the 8 the sound varied a lot. 2 were kinda duds, 4-5 mid and 1 stood hands and feet above the rest, It went home with me. I played it for
    a couple years and just upgraded to a northfield. Bottom line, play as many of both that you can get your hands on or have sotres send you sound clips and then make your choice.

  20. #18

    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    I've always been impressed with the 315 for sheer value. Many have performed as well as the 515s hanging next to them. If you can handle the simplicity they will be an upgrade. On a whole other level, it's like buying a Gibson F 9 or a Collings MF, all the performance, none of the fancy.
    Silverangel A
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  22. #19

    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    I want to thank everyone for your input on my question about your thoughts on the Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520. Much appreciated!


    After doing a little more looking (MC Threads, YouTube videos and reviews, I've decided on the Kentucky KM-272! I guess this happens sometimes...you think you have a choice narrowed down, only to do a 180 turn towards something else!



    I literally just ordered my KM-272 from The Mandolin Store! After reading all of the positive reviews about the MS, and their excellent setups, I decided I would pull the trigger on my 272 from them! Prior to my order, I emailed them with a couple of questions and Dennis responded back to me both times very quickly with the information I needed! I'm already impressed with the MS's customer service!


    I'll post a separate thread after I receive it with a few pics!


    Thanks again for everyone's input! This is a great forum!


    SvenLo

  23. #20

    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Check out the Loar 590, as well. It's usually about the same price as the 520, but has a lighter finish on it, which I think makes it sound even better. When I first got mine, a friend who plays a vintage Gibson F-4 actually said "Wow" when I played a chord on it. She was impressed by the volume and richness of such a modestly priced instrument.
    Roger

    1920 Martin Style A
    Don MacRostie designed Stuart MacDonald A-style kit I built myself.
    2018 The Loar LM-590 Ms

  24. #21
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman 315 MD & Loar LM-520

    Eastman MD 315 was my first mandolin. Loved it until I advanced a bit and needed more.

    The 315 is a gateway drug...

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