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Thread: Eastman MDA815 mandola is here...

  1. #1

    Default Eastman MDA815 mandola is here...

    ...and it needs new strings, badly! This said, I need better fingers and a brain that actually understands where notes are when the dang instrument is tuned in fifths, so who am I to blow against the wind and throw the first stone?

    Anyway, I was tempted by a 300 series mandola, but every time I picked it up at the local store, I was always left undecided as to whether I should purchase it or not. And I want to feel excited, you know? So I never went home with it.

    Then this used MDA815 popped up on my radar, and I sort of impulse-bought it. Sight unseen, off the internet, hoping for the best.

    Bottom line: it's not in as good a shape as I was told, but the price was right. The hardshell case is definitely a good thing. The quality of the build feel much sturdier than the 300 series. Of which, I don't want to knock the 3xx because it's not like I know what I'm talking about. I'm so new to the mandolin and mando family, I learn every time I pick one up. But this one feels like a pro instrument, where the other one felt like a novelty item.

    Long story short, I'm happy and I need to buy new strings

    Enough talking, let's hear it in action... if you can call what I do "action"!


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  3. #2

    Default Re: Eastman MDA815 mandola is here...

    That is a very nice rendition of a classic Prine song. Thanks.

    I owned an 815 (lost it in a fire) and was very happy with it. Given that the 315 is now available, I will probably go that route. I have owned several Eastman products, and currently own an MDA804 and MD415. I have never been disappointed in their products. But they all needed new strings

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  5. #3

    Default Re: Eastman MDA815 mandola is here...

    First of, thank you for the kind words. Secondly, so sorry you lost an instrument in a fire! Man alive, that's awful.

    I've owned a lot of Eastman guitars and mandolins in the past, and I still own a E10OM and an E1P-LTD, both of which are fantastic acoustic guitars. An AR-371 jazz box, an octave mandolin (MDO315) and this mandola complete the Eastman family at my house

  6. #4
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA815 mandola is here...

    I'm an Eastman fan as well, owned a MDA615 mandola for years, finally traded it in on an old Stahl attributed to the Larson brothers (another topic for another time).

    I would say, however, that the main difference between Eastman's "budget" 300 series and the higher-end models, is in binding, metal parts, satin vs. glossy finish, and the appearance of the wood -- highly figured instead of plainer graining. Construction-wise, not different, especially not in the range of "pro instrument" vs. "novelty item."

    I tell people who ask me for advice, that the 300-series Eastman mandolins are excellent for the money. Of course, you saved by buying a used 800-series instrument -- and are dealing with some condition issues, which is common buying used on-line. Luckily for you, you saved the money, got an excellent mandola, and I wish you lots of enjoyment playing it.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  7. #5

    Default Re: Eastman MDA815 mandola is here...

    Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I'd say we are in agreement for the most part, but for my use of the term "novelty item". Frankly, since English is my third language, you're probably more on the right side than I. This said, I see more difference between the 315 I tried at the store and the 815 I now own beyond just "appearance" issues. It's a different instrument with better quality components, yes, but it also sounds and plays differently. The neck profile for example is different - and thicker, fuller on the 815. Sure the neck is flamed, and it's gorgeous to look at, but the mandola also *sounds* better.

    The point was not for me to crap on the 300 series at all. There is a need for instruments at that price point that are also playable and giggable.

    However, in another thread dedicated to the 315 I was asked by a fellow forum member to compare the two when the 815 would arrive, and so I did to the best of my abilities. I am new to the mandolin, but I am not new to music. I do 300+ gigs a year as a guitar player, for example, and I've owned hundreds of guitars over the years. I know a few things about luthiery in general.

    Anyway, I did get a lovely instrument and for that I am grateful. But I was not trying to ruffle feathers. Thank you for your good wishes.

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  9. #6
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA815 mandola is here...

    Let me begin by saying, I really enjoyed your video! Your picking will progress as you practice. Your singing is a stand out to me. If I could sing like you, I wouldn’t stop.
    If I were you, I would support your voice with your instruments and be proud!

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  11. #7
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA815 mandola is here...

    Please clarify an issue for me. I thought an 800 series was 'better quality' than other model numbers of lower figures e.g. 400 and 300.
    From my very limited experience with Eastman instruments the 800 seemed to be lighter and has more finely carved top and backs and interior bracing. Not stuff you would see but certainly hear.


    Holy Smokes one of my all time favorite songs!
    Thanks
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  13. #8

    Default Re: Eastman MDA815 mandola is here...

    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Kelley View Post
    Let me begin by saying, I really enjoyed your video! Your picking will progress as you practice. Your singing is a stand out to me. If I could sing like you, I wouldn’t stop.
    If I were you, I would support your voice with your instruments and be proud!
    Thank you for the very kind words!

  14. #9
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA815 mandola is here...

    Congrats!
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
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    Free backing tracks:
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  16. #10
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MDA815 mandola is here...

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    Please clarify an issue for me. I thought an 800 series was 'better quality' than other model numbers of lower figures e.g. 400 and 300.
    From my very limited experience with Eastman instruments the 800 seemed to be lighter and has more finely carved top and backs and interior bracing. Not stuff you would see but certainly hear.Thanks
    My understanding, from discussions with two local Eastman dealers, and from my own experience, is that construction techniques are identical, but the higher-number series use better-grade tuning machines, more body binding, sunburst/glossy vs. brown "satin" finishes, and more highly figured woods. When I purchased my (since traded) MDA615 mandola, I played it against an MDA815 for comparison, and picked the 615 based on its sound, although the 815 was a more handsome instrument.

    The higher-end Eastmans are "better quality" in terms of more finish work, and better tuners (quite a few "300" series owners upgrade the tuners), but I haven't heard or experienced overall construction differences. Of course, as you point out, we make our judgments by comparing individual instruments, and no two instruments that I've encountered were identical. So my experience is only valid as far as it goes.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  17. #11

    Default Re: Eastman MDA815 mandola is here...

    I agree. I can detect no difference in build quality, playability, or anything else in the five Eastman products I have owned. The tone in the goldtop is different (maple vs mahogany back and sides), but that it all. For what I want, it does the job nearly as nicely as my Burtenshaw F5 and even my Givens A5 (also lost in the fire).

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