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Thread: Road Trip

  1. #1
    small instrument, big fun
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    Default Road Trip

    So yesterday I took a day trip into Massachusetts to visit a couple of shops there. First was Johnson Strings in Newton, as according to their web site they had an Eastman 404, A-body with a gloss black finish, oval sound hole, spruce top with mahogany back and sides.

    They did have one, and I had to wait a bit while they got it out of their warehouse for me. I spent the time waiting by playing an Eastman 315, F-body with a satin finish, spruce top and maple back & sides.

    The 315 had a nice feel & tone. It was really a joy to play. The 404 played well, but honestly my ears I couldn't detect any huge difference in tone versus a maple body f-hole mandolin. I'll be the first to grant that my ears aren't all that sophisticated, but I can for sure detect a difference in tone between my Guild mahogany body dreadnought and my Eastman rosewood body auditorium guitar. But with the Eastman 404, no so much.

    Johnson also had an Eastman 515 CC, that's the unbound F-body with a satin finish and "Comfort Contours." I gave that a go, and it also had a nice feel & tone. Of the three I played at Johnson Strings, I definitely felt that the 315 was both the nicest and best value.

    One thing I did learn, but should have expected - Eastman hard instrument cases are form fitting nearly down to the millimeter. I already knew this from my Eastman AC422CE guitar, and it was true again in the 404 mandolin.

    I keep my D'Addario microtuner, strap, arm rest, and Tone-Gard attached to my Kentucky KM-250 all the time. The 250 came with a gig bag, and when I put away or transport it, I just stash the whole assembly into the gig bag, accessories and all still attached.

    I could probably fit the Eastman 404 into its hard case with the tuner attached. The arm rest is a doubtful maybe, and the strap & Tone-Gard is a hard no.

    From there I took a drive over to Lexington and poked my head in The Music Emporium. They had around 15 or so mandolins on the wall, mostly Northfield and Collins but also a few Eastman. I took down an Eastman 515 CB and had a good go on it. I also took down a $5000 Northfield and gave it a try. Without a doubt, I do not play a $5000 mandolin any better than I play my $500 mandolin.

    So as a result of this day trip my desire for the 404 has diminished greatly, while my desire for a F-body mandolin has diminished not at all. At the same time I clearly still have a long way to go before I "outgrow" my current Kentucky KM-250.

    I'm still saving my nickels & dimes & bottle caps & breakfast cereal box tops, and still looking hard at an Eastman 515/v, but now I'm thinking that an Eastman 315 might not be a bad stop along the way.

    Then again, "Skip your 2nd mandolin and go straight to your third mandolin." I would have to save longer. Presumably I would be a better player once I finally got it.




    But then the dirty little secret about MAS that most of us don't ever admit is that the wanting is better than the having.
    Eastman MD-514 (F body, Sitka & maple, oval hole)
    Kentucky KM-250 (A body, spruce & maple, f holes)

    And still saving my nickles & dimes & bottle caps & breakfast cereal box tops for my lifetime mandolin.

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  3. #2
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan in NH View Post
    ... But then the dirty little secret about MAS that most of us don't ever admit is that the wanting is better than the having.
    I don't know, Dan, I can honestly say I enjoy both.

    It's the missing out on certain opportunities that ain't so awesome
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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  5. #3

    Default Re: Road Trip

    There was a used 315 at the Boston Guitar Center last week. Keep an eye out.
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

  6. #4
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Strings and Things up in Concord has a few 315s on their wall right now. Iím kicking around the idea of saving up a few hundred, and then trading my KM-250 plus a pile of cash for a 315. And if I buy in New Hampshire then I donít pay sales tax.

    Or I could save for twice as long and get a 515/v, which is the one I REALLY want.

  7. #5
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    One of my problems is that all of the arguments in favor of waiting & saving for a 515/v also apply to waiting & saving even LONGER for an 815/v.

  8. #6
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    We do not visit the Music Emporium to save money. We go there to drool.
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa1...SV2qtug/videos

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  10. #7
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan in NH View Post
    .........Or I could save for twice as long and get a 515/v, which is the one I REALLY want.
    Get the one you really want.
    Not all the clams are at the beach

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  12. #8

    Default Re: Road Trip

    Take some lessons. Then decide

  13. #9
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    Take some lessons. Then decide
    Spoken like someone who has heard me play.
    Eastman MD-514 (F body, Sitka & maple, oval hole)
    Kentucky KM-250 (A body, spruce & maple, f holes)

    And still saving my nickles & dimes & bottle caps & breakfast cereal box tops for my lifetime mandolin.

  14. #10

    Default Re: Road Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan in NH View Post
    Spoken like someone who has heard me play.
    Actually, it’s easier to take the next step instrument wise if you have some confidence in your playing and feel like you have made some real progress
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

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  16. #11
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    Take some lessons. Then decide
    Best advice. Watch your skills skyrocket compared to any self-directed learning. You will then easily see if and why your current instrument is not satisfactory. Then get one good mandolin.
    too many strings

  17. #12
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Get the last mandolin you will ever want. Every single time.

    I have done that a few times now.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

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  19. #13
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    I stopped by the store I used to teach in just to say howdy and look around. I played 4 or 5 mandolins. The young man who worked there was setting some up when I got there. We both agreed that the 315 Eastman was the best Eastman they had. Go figure. I sold the one I used to teach on to a kid who has managed to leave it in his car too often and the dovetail joint has come apart a couple of times. Oh well, that was a sweet mandolin.

  20. #14
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan in NH View Post
    But then the dirty little secret about MAS that most of us don't ever admit is that the wanting is better than the having.
    Spoken like a true Meyer-Briggs Perceiver. A Judge goes the other way.

    I'm another P — happy browsing, reluctant buying: Judging/Perceiving
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; Oct-03-2022 at 10:25am.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

  21. #15
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    I say…Go big, then deal with any regrets later…
    That is one way of having MAS
    Or dream big and deal with any regrets later
    That is another way of having MAS

    I’ve tried both methods, they both have their challenges
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  22. #16
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Get the last mandolin you will ever want. Every single time.

    I have done that a few times now.
    What is the last mandolin you will ever want? I can't imagine such a thing.
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

  23. #17
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    What is the last mandolin you will ever want? I can't imagine such a thing.
    For me itís an Eastman 815/v. But itís around $800 more than the 515/v. Iím having a hard time justifying to myself that itís actually $800 worth ďbetter.Ē The $500 jump from the 315 to the 515/v is a lot more palatable. Even ďreasonable.Ē

  24. #18
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    I was being a bit facetious, Dan, because there are so many out there to want. For me, it's usually been something different vs. better.

    I paid $275 for my Strad-O-Lin and it's a great instrument (except for the tight tuners, which I hope to get straightened out soon). My F2 was $1600 and the only reason I got it for that price is the hard times and troubles it's seen. It is also a wonderful fun mandolin, but for me, that was BIG bucks. For some folks, $1600 might be right on the edge of what they'd need to pay to get something they felt was "good enough", and it goes into the stratosphere from there. It's all relative, I think. What you like, what you want, and what you can afford.

    Do you have to have new?
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

  25. #19
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Iíd rather put the scratches in myself.

    515/v can be had new but they rarely come up used. And the 815/v is very nearly mythical. Iíd probably have to call several of the big players and have them e-mail me when one manifest out of the eather.

    $1450 for a 515/v is right on the edge of what I can justify spending on something for myself. But it is objectively a better instrument than a 315. Itís easy to make myself reach past the 315 to the 515/v.

    $2250 for an 815/v is very nearly out of the question. Iím having a hard time convincing myself that an 815/v is that much objectively better that a 515/v.

    The differences being:

    1) Upgraded tone wood - Adarondack spruce rather than Sitka

    2) Upgraded flame maple (I LOVE flame maple)

    3) Upgraded tuners - So many forum members hate the Eastman Pingwells. The 815/v comes with Gotoh tuners.

    4) Upgraded hard shell case.

    5) Fully bound headstock.


    Iím mulling it over. This purchase would be at least nine months off while I get some financial affairs in order. Maybe thatís enough time for some 815/vs to make their way over from China.

  26. #20
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Well, if money is an issue, this 315 in the classifieds might be the ticket and get you by until you can afford the 815...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/193550#193550

    And a 515...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/191373#191373

    NFI

    I have owned a few Eastmans in the past (314, 315 and a 514) and they were great mandolins. I only sold them to get my current mandolin.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  27. #21
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan in NH View Post
    Iíd rather put the scratches in myself...
    Even for a $1K savings? https://www.ebay.com/itm/26591194695...Bk9SR6rGqPPzYA
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

  28. #22
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan in NH View Post
    I’d rather put the scratches in myself.

    515/v can be had new but they rarely come up used. And the 815/v is very nearly mythical. I’d probably have to call several of the big players and have them e-mail me when one manifest out of the eather.

    $1450 for a 515/v is right on the edge of what I can justify spending on something for myself. But it is objectively a better instrument than a 315. It’s easy to make myself reach past the 315 to the 515/v.

    $2250 for an 815/v is very nearly out of the question. I’m having a hard time convincing myself that an 815/v is that much objectively better that a 515/v.

    The differences being:

    1) Upgraded tone wood - Adarondack spruce rather than Sitka

    2) Upgraded flame maple (I LOVE flame maple)

    3) Upgraded tuners - So many forum members hate the Eastman Pingwells. The 815/v comes with Gotoh tuners.

    4) Upgraded hard shell case.

    5) Fully bound headstock.


    I’m mulling it over. This purchase would be at least nine months off while I get some financial affairs in order. Maybe that’s enough time for some 815/vs to make their way over from China.
    Keep in mind that the Adirondack spruce is not necessarily an "upgrade" in everyone's mind - but a difference. You might do well to try out something with an Adi top and see what you think. I had one for a while, and it felt very stiff to me even after a couple of years of playing it.

    I have not had a chance to play a 315 yet, but I tried a standard 515 in a local music store and it wowed me. I did not buy it on the spot, and by the time I decided I wanted it they had sold it already. I took a chance and bought a lightly used 515V from a cafe sponsor ("sight unplayed") and it wowed me even more. It is now my main instrument and I regularly gig with it.

    Best of luck
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  29. #23
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    What is the last mandolin you will ever want? I can't imagine such a thing.
    Imagine no more: the Shmergel Devastator!

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  31. #24

    Default Re: Road Trip

    Not for everyone. Doesnít interest me at all and never has.

    As for the 715, GC has a used one for 1699.

    https://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Ea...n-118319432.gc
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

  32. #25
    Registered User Mando Esq's Avatar
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Good luck with the search, Dan!

    I’ve been very satisfied with my standard 515. The only upgrade that I’ve done was installing a Cumberland Acoustics bridge.

    Strings and Things is a great store. Don’t forget to check Reverb as well.
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