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  1. #1

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    Hi all,

    I'm looking to get into an archtop and have been looking at the Eastman AR810CE. If anyone has experience playing this model, or even Eastmans in general. I'm wondering:

    -Have you been happy with the sound, fit and finish? Has it held up well?

    -Any recent problems with the tailpiece? I know there was a thread on the forum a little while ago and a couple of members had had issues, I'm hoping Eastman has fixed this.

    I've been playing jazz guitar for 15 years, but this would be my first archtop (I'm settled on getting an archtop, just narrowing it down now). Thanks for any input from members who've played this box.

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  3. #2

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    In my opinion, the Eastmans varied quite a bit from one to the next for the first year+, both in terms of fit/finish and sound. But after that (say later '06 and after) things smoothed out quite a bit.

    I like the AR810 and 805 quite a bit.

    The lacquer is traditional nitro without a lot of additives to make it more flexible. So you might have some checking around the neck joint after a season or two - just like on any other lacquer finished instrument.

    The tailpiece is old stuff from when they first got into the guitar business. I have not heard that it is a current issue at all.

    I suggest giving the 805 a good ride as well. Great sound from this very comfortable 16" size.

  4. #3

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    I'm a fan of Eastmans and think they're exceptional guitars for the money. Below is a link of a 'for sale' video I made with an 810. The video may give you some impression of the instrument. The first part is consists of its acoustic sound and the second part is a recording of it amplified using a ZT Lunchbox and an RV3 reverb pedal.



    The reason it was for sale was that I was trying to get the cash to buy a Dupont gypsy guitar. Subsequently I decided I wasn't a gypsy stylist and decided to keep the Eastman. I still enjoy its unique sound today.

  5. #4

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    Hey, thanks for the replies guys.

  6. #5

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    I own two Eastmans, an 805 as well as a Thinline. I've had the 805 for several years now, have played it almost daily during that time, and it has held up very well.

    Acoustically it's very mellow, with that distinctive archtop sound. Plugged in, it sounds great: full of resonance that one gets from a solid body guitar, particularly with a spruce top.

    The only caveat is that you should make sure you want an archtop that plays well acoustically, which means that it will still have some of that acoustic sound even when plugged in.

    I started a thread elsewhere in this section about "looking for a certain sound" in which I noted that sometimes the 805 sounded more acoustic than I wanted when plugged in to my Polytone, a solid state amp.

    Moving to a tube amp helped, as did getting the Thinline, which has built-in humbuckers (as opposed to floating). One isn't better than another, but they are clearly different, and you want to figure out which one you want before dropping between $1,000-1500 on a guitar.
    Eastman AR 805CE
    Eastman T146 SMD
    Hoffman OM
    Taylor 355 12-string

    Polytone Mini Brute II
    Fender Princeton Reverb

  7. #6

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    Eastmans are great! My local store, Parkway Music just got in a John Pisano Model with the Maple back. Plays great. They are selling it for $1999. It has a couple of dings. 2007, IIRC. Blond with nice figuring. They seem to retail new for between 2600-2800. But the mahogany backed ones can be had for under $2000. Anyway, a top end Eastman at a relatively good price if anyone is interested. Other than I shop there a lot, no relationship.
    Best regards,
    Matt

  8. #7

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    I have a 2007 El Rey, and it's my main guitar. I'm not a professional and I don't gig, but the guitar is played everyday and hauled to my teacher's studio on a regular basis. No issues at all with the tailpiece or anything else. The finish, as mentioned, is thin, so you need to exercise a bit of care or you will get dings and other marks.

  9. #8

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    Hi Chyro,
    I purchased an Eastman 905ce 7 string in October 2010. Spruce top highly flamed maple back and sides. I play it quite a bit, gig with it all the time, and am very happy with it. It is exactly what I was looking for. The sound is very " woody" and the fit and finish is superb. I am glad I went with the 16" as it is very comfortable to play and there has been no feedback isues. Recently I began using D'Addario .013 flatwounds on it and I like it even more. I have been playing a Gibson 335 for the past 25 years and would compare the quality very favorably so far.

  10. #9

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  11. #10

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    I have a Eastman 810 non-cutaway, year 2006. I got a floating single coil installed hooked to a floating pick gard. I got the single coild from archtop.com and as the poles are fully ajustable I use it with bronze string and the amplified tone is just great.

    I always tought that the tone was a bit on the brassy side and too ''flat top sounding'' but my tailpiece broke and I replaced it with a Benedetto style tailpiece that I bought online. WOW!! what a difference in tone, now I have a warmer tone, loud with plenty of sustain, no brassiness. I use Thomastick Plectrum 12-59 strings. I doubt that I could find such a good sounding archtop at twice the price. It sounds like a old school archtop now. The amplified tone is also very nice with this pick-up. The pickup has a switch to change the impedance (8K vs 13K) and get a warmer hotter tone.

    My tail piece broke twice at the hinge with 13-56 gage strings. Their tail piece with 13-56 strings last about 2 years, use a Benedetto instead. Beenedeto use a loop made of a steel string covered with nylon and it is suggested to put a piece of bone in your binding to protect your guitar. My luthier left in place the brass plate that was part of the broken tailpiece and it worked well. No bone is needded then. On my guitar the nitro finish is fragile.

    Overall I have a terrific guitar, good sounding and good looking. Only thing is that floating pickgard are prone to produce some noise or buzz. it has to be well installed. Maybe If I had to do it again I would choose a pick-up that attach only at the neck.

    This is a summary of my experience with Eastman. Hope that it helps.

  12. #11

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    I had one - here I'm playing Round Midnight on it acoustically:



    But I sold it as it didn't quite have the sound I was looking for. But it's a very good guitar.

  13. #12

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    Eastman ar371 here. Great fit, finish, tuning and intonation. Even better playability!!!

  14. #13

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    I've owned 4 Eastmans over the years (805ce, El Rey, AR403, T386). I have the ar403 and t386 still and LOVE them.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanTheMan View Post
    I have a Eastman 810 non-cutaway, year 2006. I got a floating single coil installed hooked to a floating pick gard. I got the single coild from archtop.com and as the poles are fully ajustable I use it with bronze string and the amplified tone is just great.

    I always tought that the tone was a bit on the brassy side and too ''flat top sounding'' but my tailpiece broke and I replaced it with a Benedetto style tailpiece that I bought online. WOW!! what a difference in tone, now I have a warmer tone, loud with plenty of sustain, no brassiness. I use Thomastick Plectrum 12-59 strings. I doubt that I could find such a good sounding archtop at twice the price. It sounds like a old school archtop now. The amplified tone is also very nice with this pick-up. The pickup has a switch to change the impedance (8K vs 13K) and get a warmer hotter tone.

    My tail piece broke twice at the hinge with 13-56 gage strings. Their tail piece with 13-56 strings last about 2 years, use a Benedetto instead. Beenedeto use a loop made of a steel string covered with nylon and it is suggested to put a piece of bone in your binding to protect your guitar. My luthier left in place the brass plate that was part of the broken tailpiece and it worked well. No bone is needded then. On my guitar the nitro finish is fragile.

    Overall I have a terrific guitar, good sounding and good looking. Only thing is that floating pickgard are prone to produce some noise or buzz. it has to be well installed. Maybe If I had to do it again I would choose a pick-up that attach only at the neck.

    This is a summary of my experience with Eastman. Hope that it helps.
    This may be the first testimonial I've read where the claim is made that the tailpiece significantly influenced the final tone produced. Were there any other changes made besides the tailpiece?

    As for the tailpiece hinge breaking, I had one break on an El Rey from around the same year as yours (2006 or 2007). I bought a replacement from Jeff Hale a few years back and haven't had any problems since. At the time, Mr. Hale explained to me that the metals that Eastman were using at the time were particularly brittle and that the issue has been addressed since.

    I actually really like the Eastman tailpiece concept where a metal skeleton is used to house an Ebony exterior. I feel that it provides the elegant look of wood while adding stability and electrical grounding properties of metal. My Hofner guitars sport tailpieces with the same design, and I think they also function and look wonderful.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    I had one - here I'm playing Round Midnight on it acoustically:



    But I sold it as it didn't quite have the sound I was looking for. But it's a very good guitar.
    What was it about the Eastman tone that left you wanting? What would you consider to be an ideal acoustic or electric archtop tone?

    By the way, I always enjoy your clips.

  17. #16

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    Agreed, Rob is getting a delicious acoustic tone out of that 810. I guess they're 80/20 strings... and it's all about the pick attack and sensitivity to dynamics. Brilliant.
    Permanent favorites: 2016 Gibson L-5 WesMo, 1999 Gibson L-5CESN, 1928 Gibson L-5
    Play more, buy less

  18. #17

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    I've owned the low end (AR371) and the high end (AR910) and greatly enjoyed them both. Acoustically, the 910--as expected--blew the entry level Eastman away, but, plugged in, it was basically a wash. I actually preferred the amplified sound of the 371 (I switched from the stock PU to a Seymour Duncan) in the 371 to the floating PU in the 910. I greatly enjoyed both instruments, which were both well made and, in my opinion, incredible values. However, one thing you might consider is the Eastman neck... it's a beast. I loved it at first but, over time, really found that I was not enjoying grappling with that neck as much as I originally had. So, if possible, make sure to play one to see if it feels good to you. I owned a Peerless Manhattan that I thought, frankly, did not compare favorably to the 910 in terms of tone at that price point. Eastman guitars are, as everyone is saying, durable as well.

  19. #18

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    Iv'e owned the 810CE,805CE.El Rey 2,JP880, 803CE Eastmans. All different from each other, and all excellent instruments. The best acoustically was the 810CE, changed the p/up to a real Kent Armstrong Alnico 12 pole suspended (Big Improvement). Favorite is the 803CE w/ single built in Humbucker Sunburst w/ wood binding (most beautiful).

  20. #19

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    Thanks, guys. The reason I sold it was I was an idiot. No, it was a good guitar, but too bright for my liking. I had to work hard to get my preferred mellow tones out of it. Also, it really did not sound great when amplified. But these are tonal subjective points. I do say that it is a fantastic guitar, just not quite what I was after. Oh, and it was blue...

  21. #20

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    I'd say save your $$ and get a Gibson or Campellone which have thicker tops and less bright response.

  22. #21

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    Klatu,

    My tail piece broke at the hinge in 2009 and I got a replacement from Eastman then the replacement part broke a couple of years later, again at the hinge. I decided to buy a a Benedetto style tailpiece from Stewart-McDonald hoping that it could better resist the tension of the 13-56 gage strings. When I received my tailpiece I noticed that the Benedetto was very light compared to the stock tailpiece. I figured out that a lighter tailpiece would be better because the tailpiece somehow must vibrate with top and bridge, it is a ''floating tailpiece'' right? At least it is waht Bob Benedetto claims. Before changing the tailpiece, in my opinion, the tone was bright and too brassy. I was using Dunlop 207 thick pick that helps taming the brighness and brassiness but not completely.

    I was expecting some improvement but not to that extent. It was a big surprise to me. I have to confess that I also changed my string to Thomastick Plectrum 12-59. It is my first experience with these strings. These strings likely contribute to the improved tone but as I tried almost all the existing brands (always bronze) in the past I doubt that the strings are the only factor. Maybe having no metal in the tailpiece filters the brassy tones? Could it be the case?

    Today I tried a Dunlop tortoise medium thickness pick. It was not bad with the new set-up on the guitar. I remember on another forum, someone told me that a several years ago he met a guy responsible for the development of EASTMAN archtops at NAMM. They played some prototypes with different tailpieces and according to him a lighther all wood tail piece provided the best tone but the guy from EASTAM told him that they choose to mass produce the guitar with the brass-ebony tail-piece because it looks better. And yes the brass-ebony standard tailpiece looks much better and provide a convenient ground...

  23. #22

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    Thank you for your informative post.

    Last night I decided to work out with my El Rey I, a fine guitar, and found the tailpiece had snapped apart while in the case. Devistating!

    I immediately sent off an e-mail to Eastman and expect a response appropriate for a quality guitar manufacturer.

    Your experience with a replacement tailpiece (Eastman) will likely save me time and angst---I will order the Benedetto tailpiece and accept the non-original look of my
    beautiful El Rey.

    I can't get over the fact that Eastman put a third-rate tailpiece on a fine guitar. Go figure. Caveat Emptor!

    Ron Vitarelli
    Connecticut USA

  24. #23

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    I still have the original hinged tailpiece on my 2005 AR805CE. (It's living on borrowed time?)

  25. #24

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    It may well be a borrowed-time situation.

    Incidentally, I own a number of fine Ibanez jazz guitars. One of their best is the AFJ 91. It, too, had one of those wood-appearing tailpieces, which, in reality was a piece of rosewood stuck on a brass hinge-like apparatus. It broke. Ibanez gave me a song and dance in response to my inquiry (I had registered the guitar) so I simply replaced it with a trapeze style that enhances the appearance and sound of the guitar.

    Cutting corners is easy to do in areas not accessible to careful inspection.

    Thanks for your response.

    Ron
    CT

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanielleOM View Post
    I still have the original hinged tailpiece on my 2005 AR805CE. (It's living on borrowed time?)
    The tailpiece on my 2006 AR810CE snapped at the hinge in 2016.

    I called Eastman’s customer support line. They acknowledged that early tailpieces tended to fail. The sent me a new tailpiece at no charge with no hassle. The new design has a bend in the metal rather than a hinge. It works fine.

    I recently noticed that even though that metal would seem to make a convenient grounding point for the strings, Eastman didn’t run a ground wire to it. That makes the instrument slightly more subject to EMI (electromagnetic interference). That’s only been a problem for me at one friend’s house, apparently due to a very noisy high voltage transformer on the street. I’ve been meaning to add a ground wire, but in the meantime I manage it by sitting at an angle that minimizes the noise and cutting the volume when I’m not playing
    Last edited by KirkP; 06-22-2019 at 11:28 AM.

  27. #26

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    My AR 605 tailpiece snapped also. The dealer sent me a replacement no charge. I don't know how the replacement is holding up. It is sitting in evidence at the police department. Stolen, recovered within hours, 3 years ago.

  28. #27
    Can't help noticing that most people that owned Eastmans liked them, but moved on at some point. Haven't owned one but have played a few. I think they are good value when bought used. Mostly acoustic archtop type sound and not so much electric.

  29. #28

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    About 20 years ago, I started noticing that many modern archtops were being voiced with a quite different tonal response than their counterparts from the 20s-70s. As I examined the carves of the top plates I noticed that the tops were considerably thinner near the f-holes than was the case with old Epiphone, Gibson, and D'Angelico instruments.

    The result seemed to be that the guitars I played in the 90s-00s (Andersen, Collins, Heritage, Eastman, Benedetto, etc.) all had brighter voices than the archtops of the 30s-40s. I thought about this and chalked it up to maybe the effort to grab new players whose experiences with acoustic guitars were formed exclusively around flattop Martin, Taylor, etc., guitars. It would make sense that someone raised on, say, a Martin D-18 would pick up an Andersen or an Eastman with bronze strings and think, "yeah, that's a nice guitar."

    By comparison, a Gibson L-5C still sounds roughly in the older archtop camp, even if it is of recent manufacture. (I do detect, however, a bit of the "new sound" in the Bozeman L-7C, FWIW.)

    I am not suggesting that one type of archtop is better than the other...only that there appears to have been a shift in the target sound that archtops are being carved for.

    Am I just hearing things, or do others sense what I am suggesting?

  30. #29

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    Hey Chyro,

    I've got an AR810CE that I just put on consignment last week at a local shop.
    I believe it will be listed on Reverb next week. I'll PM you some details.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Longways to Go View Post
    Hey Chyro,

    I've got an AR810CE that I just put on consignment last week at a local shop.
    I believe it will be listed on Reverb next week. I'll PM you some details.
    Oh crap! I didn't realize this was a zombie thread !!!

  32. #31

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    Nothing wrong with a good zombie thread, I have had great luck with the Eastman acoustics I have bought on the used market. Good bang for the buck. And their customer service is very good as already stated here.

    I look forward to trying some of their arch tops in the future.

  33. #32

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    So I have owned several Eastman Archtop guitars over the years, including an 810CE,805CE,880JP,803CE, etc. I made the move to an Elferink Tonemaster which I love.
    But I just tried a non cutaway 810 mahogany model and was suitably impressed with both it's playability and warmth in sound. I do believe they keep improving their builds every year.And would definitely recommend them to those of us musicians on a limited budget.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanielleOM View Post
    I still have the original hinged tailpiece on my 2005 AR805CE. (It's living on borrowed time?)
    My 2005 had 13’s on it for 12 years without a problem. I wouldn’t worry about it. Fwiw, Jimmy D’Aquisto designed and made a bunch of tailpieces that failed.
    Last edited by whiskey02; 06-23-2019 at 12:55 AM.
    Ignorance is agony.



  35. #34

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    I have a T145 that still has the original tailpiece, holding fine, and it has had relatively heavy strings for a long time. It is bright sounding, but it's a thinline, only 1.75" at the rims, so that's no surprise. I suspect Bob Benedetto had an influence on the top thickness of guitars beginning in the 80s and continuing. He was successful, and wrote the book, so that's no surprise. Top thickness is a subjective subject, and while it does make a difference in the sound, whether thinner or thicker is better is not universally agreed upon. There is a variety available, so one can buy whichever is preferred. Personally, I like the Benedetto pattern, and the thinner tops, particularly for acoustic playing. I think Eastmans sound pretty good amplified, but my taste is not the same as anyone else's. Eastmans certainly don't sound identical to L5s. Doh!

  36. #35

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    I play an ES175 and an Eastman AR910ce, two very different guitars, love them both. I do prefer the thin top and light weight of the Eastman, I play it more often. It does not "thunk" like my 175 but I would not describe it as brite, great tone acoustically and amplified imo.