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Thread: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

  1. #1
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    Default Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Hi - with the help of the Forum (thanks guys!) I've decided that the new starter mandolin I need is an Eastman 305. The dealer I'm thinking of buying from has a reputation for good setups on new instruments. But, I'm keen to get this mando playing optimally - so how about upgrading the bridge right away?

    I read here that Eastman tops are domed in both directions, so a good bridge fit needs more work than some. Qs:

    1) What's your experience of the standard of Eastman bridge fits out of the box?

    2) Does the standard bridge benefit from upgrading on the 305, or is not neccessary?

    3) Would you upgrade to a solid bridge or an adjustable type? Coming from fiddle, it seems slightly odd to spend all that time precision fitting a bridge to the top, when adjustable bridges have all the sound transmitting through two narrow metal screws/pillars rather than solid wood all the way.

    4) Two feet and a gap type bridge or continuous base?

    Thanks. Max

  2. #2

    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    I’m interested to see recommendations on this. I just got an MD605 from TMS and am loving the playability of it, but noticed there’s a little daylight at the center of the bridge which surprised me a bit. The setup is nice and low but I’m getting an occasional buzz and I can’t tell if it’s just too low or if there’s a sympathetic vibration creeping in from somewhere. When it’s time for a string change I’ll try raising the height a tiny bit but I didn’t want to mess with it right away since the intonation is spot on right now and I just want to play it constantly. But I was thinking if I need to make adjustments at all, maybe I should fit a new bridge.

  3. #3
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    I have owned two Eastman 300 series, a 315 and a 314. They both benefited from installing new bridges from Cumberland Acoustic. The fit of the top is crucial for sound transmission. Steve at CA is a treat to deal with too.

    Here is a recent post by a Cafe member about his experience with a new CA bridge on his The Loar....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-to-eat-my-hat
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  4. #4
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    I put a Cumberland bridge on an American-made mandolin and it made a significant improvement. Based on that, I put a Cumberland bridge on my Eastman MD315, but couldn’t tell ANY improvement in that case. Yes, I fitted both carefully using the Cumberland jig.
    Doug Brock
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  6. #5

    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    I recently fitted a Cumberland bridge on my "The Loar" LM-520 and could not be happier. The bridge made a huge difference and really brought the instrument to life. I can definitely speak to the quality as well as the service from CA, although I can't comment on the stock quality of the Eastman bridges and wether or not it will make a difference for your new mandolin.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    I can't understand why someone would be thinking about changing the bridge on an instrument they have never played, seems odd to me.

    Dave H
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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hanson View Post
    I can't understand why someone would be thinking about changing the bridge on an instrument they have never played, seems odd to me.

    Dave H
    Well, I'm coming from fiddle - where a decent Chinese workshop instrument generally seems to benefit from a new top class setup with a new bridge. The way it generally worked for me (on 4 fiddles/violas out of 5 I bought) is: £350 Ebay fiddle from the right Chinese workshop + £250 top setup with bridge and good strings = £3-5000 equivalent sound once it's played in. It's still a £350 Chinese workshop fiddle, but as a player it's a great deal. I'm trying to get a fix for whether the same works for Chinese made mandos - so far the answer looks like 'sometimes'. Max

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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    My 2003 615 was noticeably improved by installation of a CA bridge. At the time, the experienced luthier told me it might or might not work out to my benefit. I won the coin toss.
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    Registered User Pappyrich's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    NDO. I bought an Eastman 305 from TMS a little over a year ago. I found the setup to be very good. I did do a very minor re-fitting of the bridge as there was a tiny sliver of light visible under one side. A couple of swipes with the sand paper took care of it. There is supposed to be light visible under the center of the bridge as there is a raised section in the middle of the bridge. The bridge is designed to rest on the two outer sections(feet). My biggest improvement was to replace the tuning machines with Grover 309's. Good luck with your mandolin journey.
    Richard

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  12. #10

    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Thanks Richard!

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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    The trouble with fitting an upgraded bridge on a new instrument is that you’ll never know whether the new bridge improved the sound or you could have got the same result by tweaking the original one. Spend a lot of money on it though and you’ll convince yourself that the new one is a vast improvement over the previous one!

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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Yes Ray, my cunning plan is that if I change the bridge right out of the box, I'll never know if I wasted my money

  15. #13
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    I had a full-contact CA bridge put on my old 505. It looked really cool, and improved tone and volume. But I still ended up selling it and upgrading. YMMV.
    “Never laugh at live dragons.” -Bilbo Baggins

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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    Yes Ray, my cunning plan is that if I change the bridge right out of the box, I'll never know if I wasted my money
    Why don’t you add a set of Waverley tuners and a James tailpiece whilst you’re at it?

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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    Why don’t you add a set of Waverley tuners and a James tailpiece whilst you’re at it?
    Eastman now fit an alloy tailpiece to the 305, so that should be OK. I may get round to the tuners later The difference in cost here in UK between an Eastman 305 and a 505 is over USD300, and the difference appears to be somewhat more stripe in the wood, better tuners, and fingerboard binding which personally I'd rather not have. My (long) experience of better Chinese string instruments with a first rate setup vs individual luthier made American or European ones, is this: the luthier ones often sound and play about 10-15% better, and look 40% better, for about an 80% increase in end cost (which I don't have right now). Flamed wood looks great, but I'm not sure it adds much to tone of itself (fiddle makers debate about this). Guitars and fiddles seem to work that way anyhow, and I'd hate to have someone spill beer on my $6000 mando in one of the busy pubs I (usually) play in...

    Thanks All! Max

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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Max, In the end it is up to you what floats your boat. I bought an Eastman 505 with larger frets and could not be happier with the fit and finish of it. I had to tweak the truss rod a bit to straighten the neck. It is a cracker. Plays as well as my USA-made Breedlove FF. Plenty of bottom end above clear trebles. Fit and finish is almost as close as a Collings MT2. It just doesn't have the beautiful sunburst finish and other fineries.
    Nic Gellie

  19. #17

    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    The trouble with fitting an upgraded bridge on a new instrument is that you’ll never know whether the new bridge improved the sound or you could have got the same result by tweaking the original one.
    This is what I was going to say, it is a journey. I would pretty much bet money that a full contact CA bridge will improve any mandolin's response (that doesn't already have one) but in this case, you would never know. Not everyone is into it or has an aptitude for it, but carefully fitting and intonating your own bridge can be a very rewarding experience and even part of eventual mastery of the instrument. As far as the two metal screw posts goes, you are right, intuitively it doesn't make any sense, but after messing with solid maple bridges, full foot and two foot CA bridges, the fact is, it does work and works very well indeed.
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  20. #18
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    Why don’t you add a set of Waverley tuners and a James tailpiece whilst you’re at it?
    That would exceed the cost of the mandolin!
    Truth be told tho, When I had my 315, in addition to a CA bridge I upgraded the tuners to Grovers and installed an Allen tailpiece I had kicking around. I also did a speedneck and made an armrest for it. It was kind of a fun project mandolin. I was trying to squeeze every ounce of tone and playability out of it.
    Charley

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  21. #19
    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    That would exceed the cost of the mandolin!
    Truth be told tho, When I had my 315, in addition to a CA bridge I upgraded the tuners to Grovers and installed an Allen tailpiece I had kicking around. I also did a speedneck and made an armrest for it. It was kind of a fun project mandolin. I was trying to squeeze every ounce of tone and playability out of it.
    And in the end, after all that time, money and work you still ended up upgrading the mandolin?

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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    That would exceed the cost of the mandolin!
    I do realise that!

    As for taking a $6000 mandolin to a pub session, Max, I’ve no problem with that and I do so regularly (..... or I did until early last year!). In fact we once did a pub gig with £80,0000 worth of lighting but that’s another story.

    I’ve always gained the impression that the upper echelons of the Eastman lines have more bling and better hardware but sound no better.

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  24. #21
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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    You could get a Fishman bridge for the addition of a pickup.
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  25. #22
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zach Wilson View Post
    And in the end, after all that time, money and work you still ended up upgrading the mandolin?
    Zach, yes I did! A barley played Girouard F-5 came up at a great price so I sold off a few mandolins to make the purchase. The guy who bought the 315 was thrilled to get the upgrades at no additional cost. I had to make a quick deal and boy am I ever glad I did.
    Charley

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  26. #23
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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    Zach, yes I did! A barley played Girouard F-5 came up at a great price so I sold off a few mandolins to make the purchase. The guy who bought the 315 was thrilled to get the upgrades at no additional cost. I had to make a quick deal and boy am I ever glad I did.
    I bet he was glad! You put a lot of time into the Eastman. I guess what I was getting at, without being too confrontational, was that folks seem to like to upgrade their Eastman's, Loars, etc., sometimes putting a lot of money into them, but then move on and up anyway. MAS, upgrading is inevitable. Resistance is futile

    To the OP, you've been warned

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  28. #24
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    I'm not even playing my Kentucky 200S (first mandolin) much any more (though I might take it on vacation), yet reading this thread, I feel a strange compulsion to upgrade the bridge anyway. Both me and a darned good luthier have fiddled around with the existing bridge, but I keep wondering if it could be better....

    This is entirely separate from MAS, BTW

  29. #25
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Bridge upgrade on new Eastman mando?

    Zach, I did all the work myself, so not a whole lot into it. I also sold off an Eastman 314 that I tweaked a bit at the same time, they were good mandolins but the Girouard was calling my name. It's a keeper.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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