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Thread: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

  1. #1
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    I had ZERO interest in a mandola. Bigger body, longer fretboard, tone more in the voice range of the guitars, transposed chords and music... The mandolin's bright high piercing sound is one of the reasons I play mandolin. I have small hands, so a bigger fretboard wasn't a positive feature.

    Yesterday I made the mistake of grabbing an MDA315 off the wall at the music store. In just a few notes I was smitten! Deep, dark rich resonant tone! All my chord structures worked perfectly fine (just had to remember I was "over a string"). No big issue with the slight change in fretboard size.

    A mandola probably wouldn't displace my mandolin for my group music sessions, but for around the house and for solo stuff or for accompanying a singer, WONDERFUL!

    Yes, I know I'd probably love some higher-priced mandolas, but I like my MD315 and the price for the MDA315 is right for me for an "extra" piece of kit.

    SO, guess what my wife is getting me for Christmas? (Too bad I just missed the slightly lower prices. Looks like everybody is up to $850 now, if you can find a model, anyway.)
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Eastman MDA315, 2019 Silverangel Econo A
    Pisgah Wonder, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Reviving this thread, because I had a similar experience yesterday at my local mom and pop store. Of which, maybe it's just a pop store, because I've never seen the mom there - but I digress.

    They have a used Weber Gallatin, not in the best shape, but with a beautiful tone. It's the A-style offering. They want $1700 for it used, and it's both out of my range and more expensive than I think it's worth, but I enjoy playing it... anyway, I picked it up yesterday, and sure enough, it was fun.

    Right next to it is the Eastman Mandola, so I picked that up too and played it for a while. I could totally see using it live as a backing, chording instrument and I had a good time with it. I already have an octave mandola on its way to me, so it probably would be redundant in my current setup, which is why I didn't purchase it. But I sure was tempted!

    It's an F-style body and is visually really cool. After all, we're on stage to entertain folks, and any little bit helps... especially when you play like me! :D

    The neck profile is fuller than that of a mandolin, of course, and for this guitar player, it's a welcome change. The finish is as lovely in person as it is in pictures... I could totally see one in my arsenal at some point. But I need to spend some time with the octave mando first and see how it integrates into what I do live and in the studio before I can ascertain if I have a need for the mandola. All in all, a solid offering at an attractive price.

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  5. #3
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    MDA315 update: Yes, my wife bought this for me as a Christmas present. I expected for her to put it in the closet and make me wait to unwrap it at Christmas, but she didn't, so I've been discreetly playing it some (ready to relinquish it to wrap if she decides to do that, lol. Well, she wanted a self-threading serger for Christmas and she's using it already, so she might not make me give up the mandola). I even took the mandola along with my mandolin to a jam on Tuesday night and played the mandola on a couple of songs.

    SO, I am liking the Eastman mandola, but it's going to take more work to make it very usable for me. Basic I, IV, V, and vi chords in keys of G and C are easy, but as soon as an F#m chord comes along (or most any other chord outside the basic I, IV, V, vi chords in G or C), I'm momentarily lost and have to start thinking which string is which and where notes are up and down the neck.

    Yes, the movable chords have the same shapes, but adding the mandola to my arsenal hasn't been as easy as I had envisioned. (Also must note that a lot of my attention lately has gone to ANOTHER instrument - I'm learning to clawhammer on an open-back banjo I got a few months ago.)

    I've also been surprised at the apparent lack of hard shell mandola cases and Tone-Gards.
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Eastman MDA315, 2019 Silverangel Econo A
    Pisgah Wonder, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

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    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Brock View Post
    I've also been surprised at the apparent lack of hard shell mandola cases and Tone-Gards.
    They/he (sorry, bad with names..) will make you a Tone-Gard to the dimensions of you mandola. That's how I got mine.

    The cases, however, are pretty hard to find.
    Chris Cravens

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  9. #5

    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    How protective is the gig bag? Is it pretty good, or one of those flimsy $2 jobs?

  10. #6
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    A few months ago I got very interested in the mandola. I have even spoke with a builder about a possible custom order, though I’ve still never seen a mandola in person or (obviously) played one. As in most things, time (and the thought of letting go of several hundred dollars) has somewhat cooled my enthusiasm, though I still want to try one someday to see what all the fuss is about.
    ...

  11. #7

    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    ...meanwhile, a MDO305 Eastman octave mandolin hit Reverb for a whole five minutes or so... and someone bought it. If you know what I mean.

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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    I have decided to become a "Mandolaist"
    "Mandolist"?
    " the guy that plays that thing that looks like a mandolin but he keeps maintaining is not a mandolin, a gondola or something"

    "Mandolas are beautiful" bumper stickers should be issued!

    makes me wonder about a "Mandola Cafe" .... Come one over to the CBOM section we are a gnarly bunch but mostly harmless
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

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  14. #9

    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Quote Originally Posted by mojocaster View Post
    How protective is the gig bag? Is it pretty good, or one of those flimsy $2 jobs?
    The gig bag is pretty sturdy but not sturdy enough to keep you satisfied. I definitely want a hard case and am toying with the idea of just making one myself.

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  16. #10
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Since buying my Stahl Larson-built mandola, I've found myself playing it more than any of my mandolins. First, it's a really top-quality instrument, shows a lot of wear and a few repairs (as you would too, if you make it to age 100), but sounds sweet and full over its entire range.

    Second, much of my informal playing is in situations where people are singing, and several have told me that they think mandola beats mandolin for backing up vocals. Not as shrill as mandolin can be, and with a bass range that overlaps the "guitar sound" they're used to.

    Third, I've gotten used, over the years, to "head transposing" mandolin chord shapes to mandola tuning -- yeah, we're playing in D, but I'm making "A chords" on the mandola. Plus, I use a capo frequently, unlike with mandolin.

    I heartily recommend any mandolinist to at least try a mandola and see what he/she thinks -- there are affordable ones around, both flat-top and carved-top, and it really isn't that hard to gain fluency on them. Relative tuning's the same -- all fifths -- and most picking and chording techniques are transferable. You may get funny looks at a bluegrass jam, but part of the fun is learning to use the different sound of the mandola, in a context where you know how a mandolin fits.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

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    There were a couple MDA315 ads in the classifieds a month or so ago. I waited a few days to think about responding to the first one, at which point it had already sold. I learned my lesson and jumped on the second ad as soon as I saw it. I'm having fun tinkering with it. I enjoy the different tone, and it's a fun challenge to play the tunes I know on mandolin with different fingerings to match the mandolin pitch. If my 6th-grade daughter sticks with viola, it will also give me a way of playing tunes with her. The photo is the MDA315 next to my Fylde Single Malt mandolin.

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  20. #12
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Quote Originally Posted by mojocaster View Post
    How protective is the gig bag? Is it pretty good, or one of those flimsy $2 jobs?
    The gig bag is good, but I'm just used to having hard cases for my instruments.
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Eastman MDA315, 2019 Silverangel Econo A
    Pisgah Wonder, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  21. #13
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Plus, I use a capo frequently, unlike with mandolin.
    After recently hearing and and reading a few other folks (including one pro) say that they use a capo on their mandola, I tried my banjo capo on my mandola. At least short term, a capo on the mandola gives me a quick way to play simple G, C, A, and D tunes using lots of open strings.
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Eastman MDA315, 2019 Silverangel Econo A
    Pisgah Wonder, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Collins View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	181783 The photo is the MDA315 next to my Fylde Single Malt mandolin.
    I know this thread is about mandolas but your photo of that beautiful Fylde Single Malt has me wanting one just like that. I'll be on the hunt for one of those.

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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Quote Originally Posted by Hudmister View Post
    I know this thread is about mandolas but your photo of that beautiful Fylde Single Malt has me wanting one just like that. I'll be on the hunt for one of those.
    Thanks. It's a lovely instrument. I was quite happy with my Eastman MD505 until I played this one on a visit Roger Bucknall's shop while living in the UK. My wife finally told me to buy it so that I would stop moping. It's got a nice open tone that works really well with melody lines and session tunes. Chords are trickier - mostly because my large hands are problematic. Hence interest in the mandola. I like the Eastman quality / price point intersection, so I was really glad when this one showed up.
    Fylde Single Malt Mandolin
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  26. #16

    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Well, your enthusiasm got me excited, so I acquired an Eastman MDA 815 mandola today. Can't wait for it to get here.

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  28. #17
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Quote Originally Posted by mojocaster View Post
    Well, your enthusiasm got me excited, so I acquired an Eastman MDA 815 mandola today. Can't wait for it to get here.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I'd like to try an 800 series mandola to see how it compares to the MDA315. I played an 800 series f-body Eastman mandolin this summer (MD815V) and loved it. The 815V was the best I've played of the Eastman series (and it was right next to the flagship MD915, which was a pretty but very quiet instrument).
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Eastman MDA315, 2019 Silverangel Econo A
    Pisgah Wonder, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  29. #18

    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Doug, I played the same one as the OP in a local store and was impressed - but not impressed enough to spend $850 on it without a case. The 815 popped up for sale used, with a case, so I took a flyer sight unseen. Praying for the best, and will report when it arrives, supposably a week from today according to UPS.

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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Brock View Post
    The gig bag is good, but I'm just used to having hard cases for my instruments.
    Here are a couple pictures of the Eastman padded gig bag that mine came in. I'm taking notes on the hard case comments for a "maybe someday" thought experiment.
    Fylde Single Malt Mandolin
    Fylde Touchstone Octave Mandolin
    Eastman MDA315 Mandola

  32. #20
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Collins View Post
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Name:	IOCg99pUTnGwqhjv93GnEw.jpg 
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ID:	181865 Here are a couple pictures of the Eastman padded gig bag that mine came in. I'm taking notes on the hard case comments for a "maybe someday" thought experiment.
    Yep, mine came in the same type of case.
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Eastman MDA315, 2019 Silverangel Econo A
    Pisgah Wonder, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Brock View Post
    I had ZERO interest in a mandola. Bigger body, longer fretboard, tone more in the voice range of the guitars, transposed chords and music... The mandolin's bright high piercing sound is one of the reasons I play mandolin. I have small hands, so a bigger fretboard wasn't a positive feature.

    Yesterday I made the mistake of grabbing an MDA315 off the wall at the music store. In just a few notes I was smitten! Deep, dark rich resonant tone! All my chord structures worked perfectly fine (just had to remember I was "over a string")...l

    Full disclosure - I've been playing mandolin, mandola, octave mandolin and mandocello for the past 10 years. I've been playing guitar for over 40 years.

    Why does everyone think of the mandola being in the "guitar range"? The mandolin and mandola completely overlap 3/4ths of their ranges. Does the absence of an E course and addition of a C course move the mandola down an entire octave into guitar range? I don't think so! Is a viola in the cello range?

    It's the C course some, but mostly the larger body and longer scale that makes the timbre of instrument more resonant and adds the beautiful sustain that makes the mandola (and viola) so much more satisfying than their smaller brothers.

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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

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    (By the way, this is the "case" that comes with my incoming 815. And no, despite FedEx assuring me it would arrive today, and needed for me to stay home since it required a signature, it was not delivered today, and won't be until Tuesday according to the latest information...)

  36. #23
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    ......... it was not delivered today, and won't be until Tuesday according to the latest information...)[/QUOTE]


    I hate when that happens....hang in there !!
    Eastman MD-305 Left Handed Version
    Pick....Dunlop JD Jazz Tone 207 (for today anyway)

    67.4 % of all statistics are made up !

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  38. #24

    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Ha ha, Right? Though I can't complain. I received two octave mandolins this week alone, including one that came one day early! So with that in mind, a few days won't kill me. Though it does suck :D

  39. #25
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA315 mandola! Yes!

    Regarding the hard case - don't know if this will fit the Eastman mandolas - this case on ebay was mentioned in another thread somewhere on the cafe:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Michael-Kel...w/202751235585

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