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Thread: Eastman MD 614

  1. #1

    Default Eastman MD 614

    I am looking at the Eastman 614MD. Currently playing an MK Dragonfly 11 for bar gigs. I have Webers that I only play at home and at safer gigs than bar gigs.

    Want to go to an oval F style. We play a lot of old time, and only a little bluegrass. We do not have a banjo in the group. Looking at the 614 MD because of the pickup being already installed and the higher trim level.

    Asking if anyone has had experience with the Eastman oval f styles and what recommendations might be had.

  2. #2
    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    I played one at Dusty Strings here in Seattle a while ago. As I recall, when compared to the much more expensive mandolins (Weber, Collins, Northfield) it sounded thin, which I imagine is to be expected. The Mandolin felt and played solid though! I always wonder what that mandolin might sound like if I were in a shop with only it and a bunch of Rogues 😂

    My only other recollection is the neck felt "sticky". It probably just needed some of the gloss worn off from some playing time.

    Hope that helps 😁
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    Quote Originally Posted by Zach Wilson View Post
    I played one at Dusty Strings here in Seattle a while ago. As I recall, when compared to the much more expensive mandolins (Weber, Collins, Northfield) it sounded thin, which I imagine is to be expected. The Mandolin felt and played solid though! I always wonder what that mandolin might sound like if I were in a shop with only it and a bunch of Rogues 😂

    My only other recollection is the neck felt "sticky". It probably just needed some of the gloss worn off from some playing time.

    Hope that helps 😁
    That helps. I have played a few different models and have been underwhelmed with the sound. I would be using it plugged in. I have 3 Bruce Weber signed Webers and that would be my benchmark for anything.

  5. #4
    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    Oddly enough, I'm looking at purchasing a MD604 (the A shape equivalent) for playing at church and camps. I too have a Bruce Weber signed Yellowstone that is my keeper.
    Bottles and cans just clap your hands.

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  6. #5

    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    I’m enjoying my recently-acquired 314. It’s the matte-finished version and the neck feels nice and slick, likely since there’s no gloss. It’s all solid wood and priced low. I think the build quality, looks, and sound are better than the price tag. I’m still getting used to the radiused fretboard since my others are flat. Otherwise, at the price of a 314 you don’t have to worry about gig travel and getting character marks as much. The only down side is it doesn’t come with a pickup, so you’d need to add one if you got the 314.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    Quote Originally Posted by Seasterl View Post
    Iím enjoying my recently-acquired 314. Itís the matte-finished version and the neck feels nice and slick, likely since thereís no gloss. Itís all solid wood and priced low. I think the build quality, looks, and sound are better than the price tag. Iím still getting used to the radiused fretboard since my others are flat. Otherwise, at the price of a 314 you donít have to worry about gig travel and getting character marks as much. The only down side is it doesnít come with a pickup, so youíd need to add one if you got the 314.
    That is good info. I am looking at the Eastmans because of the radiused fretboard. Gotten quite comfortable with the MK neck, and the Eastman seems to be quite similar.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    With Eastmans, you just plain want to go with the highest number—the first number in the model designation—that you can find or afford. 6 is a good one.

    Then you play it a lot, a lot, a lot, and some more. The sound grows.
    2009 Eastman 505
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    Mandoline or Mandolin: Similar to the lute, but much less artistically valuable....for people who wish to play simple music without much trouble óThe Oxford Companion to Music

  9. #8

    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    My primary mandolin is a Bruce Weber Bitterroot. It's a great mandolin, but I was needing something a little more budget friendly for jam sessions, so I just purchased a 2018 MD315. I've had several Eastmans in the past, and I have to say that the new spec Eastmans sound and play a LOT better (IMO) than the older ones I have owned. The new neck profile is much more comfortable, and they aren't nearly as bright sounding as the older models. If I was looking for another Eastman I would stick to the newer ones. I actually sold a 2012 MD615 a few months ago because of how bright it sounded. It was probably the loudest mandolin that I have ever owned, and the action on it was very low, but it was also painfully bright and harsh sounding. My new 315 is pretty well balanced, a little bright, but with a very nice woody tone. I agree that Eastman mandolins are hard to beat for the money.

  10. #9
    Registered User Scott Rucker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    I like my my Eastman 504 pretty well. It's my only oval hole mandolin right now and is also the mandolin I don't worry about traveling with as much as my others. I think the short neck, non-elevated fingerboard configuration of the Eastman oval hole models gives them a different sound than most modern oval hole mandolins. The trend seems to be X bracing, elevated fingerboards, and longer necks on most in the market right now. I'm glad that Eastman is doing something that pays homage to the classic Gibson oval hole mandolins. I do not like the smaller, more traditional frets though. They already broke tradition with the radiused fingerboard, bigger frets would have been nice too. A friend has a 2 point 800 series oval hole (not currently being produced) and there isn't a lot of difference in tone and feel between his and mine. We both agree that his is a bit louder but the tone of mine is more complex. I'm unsure if the 800 series ones had Adirondack tops then or not but that may be part of the difference. I'm sure there are plenty of other variables, too. Neither is a 1920s F4, that's for sure, but both are nice oval hole mandolins.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    I think Eastman F-hole mandolins are great value for money. I'bve had several and hard to beat. I've had two of the top Model F4 style and both were very thin sound indeed. Overbuilt I reckon so play before buying I would say.

  12. #11
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    I like Eastman mandolins but I donít get why people donít just use the nice mandolins they have for live work. Thile (et al) uses a Loar live which is like using a Stradivarius in the violin world. I buy nice stuff to use it, plus itís more fun to use.
    ďNever laugh at live dragons.Ē -Bilbo Baggins

  13. #12
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Cameron View Post
    With Eastmans, you just plain want to go with the highest number—the first number in the model designation—that you can find or afford. 6 is a good one.

    Then you play it a lot, a lot, a lot, and some more. The sound grows.
    I used to own a 505 that sounded small and thin compared to some of the 300 series mandolins I tried in stores, so my experience is that the series number is almost meaningless in the Eastman world when it comes to tone. The higher number models look better but don’t always sound better.
    ďNever laugh at live dragons.Ē -Bilbo Baggins

  14. #13
    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    The MD5/5 is a much better mandolin these days.

    Check out this video:

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    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    I started out with an Eastman and it was a fine instrument but NO comparison to my now Girouard and Ellis mandolins !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  17. #15
    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    I like Eastman mandolins but I donít get why people donít just use the nice mandolins they have for live work. Thile (et al) uses a Loar live which is like using a Stradivarius in the violin world. I buy nice stuff to use it, plus itís more fun to use.
    Because of the threat of theft or damage. Although my "nice" mandolin isn't a Loar or even a $10,000 instrument, if something was to happen I wouldn't be able to replace my "nicer" mandolin. But a 604 (with a pickup already) puts my mind at ease a little. My church meets in a mall store front and we always have to be aware of folks wondering in a "checking" out our equipment.

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  19. #16

    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    I like Eastman mandolins but I don’t get why people don’t just use the nice mandolins they have for live work. Thile (et al) uses a Loar live which is like using a Stradivarius in the violin world. I buy nice stuff to use it, plus it’s more fun to use.
    Thile gets paid a lot more than most of do.

  20. #17

    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    I used to own a 505 that sounded small and thin compared to some of the 300 series mandolins I tried in stores, so my experience is that the series number is almost meaningless in the Eastman world when it comes to tone. The higher number models look better but don’t always sound better.
    Different strokes I guess. I have found 3xx’s to have a sound that I would call more open but kind of flabby...I prefer the more focused sound of my 2009 505 which was my #1 instrument for 10 years and has had the fretjobs to prove it. Not that I’ve played it much since I got the Collings this past summer...but I’ll be keeping it for the proverbial backup (just in case the world ever starts happening again.) Just curious, what was the year and finish of your small thin 505? I think the Classic finish both looks and sounds better than the sunburst usually does, from recent examples I’ve tried. Again that’s just me. Cheers.
    2009 Eastman 505
    2011 Collings MTO GT
    2008 Toyota Sienna
    Stihl MS261C

    Mandoline or Mandolin: Similar to the lute, but much less artistically valuable....for people who wish to play simple music without much trouble óThe Oxford Companion to Music

  21. #18
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    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    I play old time and for the last 10 or so years I have put my old Gibson down and been using an ff hole mandolin. Works great and with the pickup I can play plugged in and play other types of music, which I do. If you are going to plug it in anyway I would simply stick with what you have, the ones I have heard sound good as long it plays well. Plenty of people play old time music on an ff hole instrument. By the way I play a Brentrup for all gigs, it shows, but I don't feel like playing something that doesn't sound as good for any gig. Yes it has plenty of marks on it, but Hans told me he built them to play and was happier seeing my mandolin with plenty of play wear than someone who brings their mandolin in for a tune up and looks like they don't play it. Play your Weber and enjoy it. I love it when I play out and folks tell me, "that is a really nice sounding mandolin", it happens a lot, and I would rather be playing it that it sitting at home. Just me tho.
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  23. #19
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    Would also recommend using a Weber for the bar gigs. It's taken me a long time to get used to playing good instruments in less than perfect conditions. Went through a few Collings guitars because of not feeling comfortable with them at festivals. Now, I just take whichever instrument works best for the situation.

    FWIW, I did buy a mandolin with a pickup for plugged in duty. But it dovetailed in to my search for wanting a Flatiron.
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  24. #20
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Cameron View Post
    Different strokes I guess. I have found 3xxís to have a sound that I would call more open but kind of flabby...I prefer the more focused sound of my 2009 505 which was my #1 instrument for 10 years and has had the fretjobs to prove it. Not that Iíve played it much since I got the Collings this past summer...but Iíll be keeping it for the proverbial backup (just in case the world ever starts happening again.) Just curious, what was the year and finish of your small thin 505? I think the Classic finish both looks and sounds better than the sunburst usually does, from recent examples Iíve tried. Again thatís just me. Cheers.
    Mine was a 2006 and was a sort of burgundy wine color. It had a gloss finish, but I actually sanded it off with green scotchbrite and polished it to a nice matte. It looked really cool, and it sounded a lot better after the gloss was off. I also had a full-contact CA bridge put on that made some difference in volume, but I still ended up with a Collings because there was just no comparison in tone/volume, etc. I will also add that I think mine was a bit of a dud, tone-wise, but I've heard other Eastmans that were fantastic. I know a guy who has an old (one of the very early batches) 515 that sounds about as good as any mandolin I've ever heard.
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  26. #21

    Default Re: Eastman MD 614

    Hi Caleb, that’s very similar to mine, both the original finish and the older style peghead (they switched to snakeheads about 2011). I picked it from a wallful of them at 12th Fret, cause it just seemed to sound the best. You can really drive it and the low end is great. For all I know reducing the finish might open up the sound even more, but I would never... I got the Collings MTO recently because I wanted a high-quality oval-hole archtop so one can’t really compare the sound, it’s an addition to the palette. (A very satisfactory one = )

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    2009 Eastman 505
    2011 Collings MTO GT
    2008 Toyota Sienna
    Stihl MS261C

    Mandoline or Mandolin: Similar to the lute, but much less artistically valuable....for people who wish to play simple music without much trouble óThe Oxford Companion to Music

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