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Thread: Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

  1. #1

    Default Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

    Hey all. First post here at the Mandolin Cafe.

    The only mandolin I've owned is one of those $50 Rogue mandolins, which i quickly grew to hate. I play acoustic guitar and clawhammer banjo, and am blessed to work at a music store in Nashville where I'm surrounded by the best mandolins money can buy.

    I'm ready to buy a real mandolin, and have been very impressed with the Eastmans I've come across. Particularly the Eastman MD-515, which I thought sounded great. I've also come across a Flatiron Festival for sale online, and I know it's one of the import models, but it appears to be of pretty high quality. Carved top, all solid, etc. How do these compare? Are they at a pretty similar level quality-wise? Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

    Oops! Accidentally posted the same message twice. Mods feel free to delete this reply.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

    Try to find a 515 Varnish. They are wonderful. Also, try to get an upgraded bridge (Cumberland) - it improves it as well. A lot of mando for the money!

    Quote Originally Posted by rexsblues View Post
    Hey all. First post here at the Mandolin Cafe.

    The only mandolin I've owned is one of those $50 Rogue mandolins, which i quickly grew to hate. I play acoustic guitar and clawhammer banjo, and am blessed to work at a music store in Nashville where I'm surrounded by the best mandolins money can buy.

    I'm ready to buy a real mandolin, and have been very impressed with the Eastmans I've come across. Particularly the Eastman MD-515, which I thought sounded great. I've also come across a Flatiron Festival for sale online, and I know it's one of the import models, but it appears to be of pretty high quality. Carved top, all solid, etc. How do these compare? Are they at a pretty similar level quality-wise? Thanks!

  4. #4
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

    Personally, the Eastman should be a better instrument. They've been building and evolving for a number of years. An Eastman will also keep some of it's value if (or when) you decide to upgrade again and want to sell. An imported Flatiron is too much of an unknown.

    Besides the Eastman 515 in varnish, there is also the 515-CC which has no binding and rolled edges. I've played one and it is comfortable to hold. Although it might get more easily dinged than the others.

    If you do get an Eastman, try to buy from a dealer where you'll be able to get a good setup from the shop.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

    There are a lot of good looking mandolin shaped objects out there. Then there are instrument builders like Eastman.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  6. #6
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

    I can't speak to the new Flatties. I can tell you my 515 is a little over a year old. I am always taken by the great tone of this instrument. Fit and finish are also impressive. Mine also sports a Tone Gard and McClung arm rest.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Andrew Jerman Irwin-style 5 string electric "Stealie", Eastman 515, Eastman El Ray, Crafter M85E, Dillion 335 style, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
    Boards: Acoustic Electric
    Amps: Fishman Loudbox 100; Rivera Clubster Royale Recording Head; Laney Cub 10 & Cab, Peavey Studio Pro

  7. #7
    Registered User archerscreek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

    I traded a 16 series Martin guitar for a new Eastman 515 and think it was one of the best music related decisions I ever made.

    No, it isn't a Collings MF5 V (my newest object of MAS lust), but I have zero regrets. I can definite hear me improve when playing this mandolin. It's a joy to play everyday.

  8. #8
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

    While I'm sure that there are folks that love their imported Flatirons they've never been touted as great instruments.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

    Go with the Eastman...
    Chuck

  10. #10

    Default Re: Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

    Thanks for the replies everyone! Definitely leaning towards the Eastman. I know that the import flatties arenít on the same level as the USA made examples, but I wasnít sure where they stand in the import market.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

    Love it! There are a couple of MF5vís hanging on the wall in my shop and theyíre fantastic instruments.

    Surprisingly enough, a Red Diamond A is still the best mando in the shop in my opinion.

  12. #12
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

    That doesn't surprise me.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  13. #13
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Import Flatiron Festival vs Eastman MD515

    Eastman for sure. Red diamond A is my pipe dream....
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
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