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  1. #1

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    I am searching to buy a new guitar with great articulation. I like notes that jump out ofthe fretboard.

    For now i am playing a korean Epiphone Joe Pass. Sweet tone, but a find it a litte muddy.

    I had a chance to play with an Eastman ER2, and the tone was clear articulate and big in contrast to the small 14 body.
    My only complain was that 14 body. I am 6.2 and I can't play seated with that thing. It's too low. Standing is a joy because the dimensions and the VERY light weight, but i play also seated.

    I think the body of the Ibanez GB10 is bigger (15) but I haven't tried it yet.

    How do these two guitars compare in sound?

    I read the GB10 has thick top and needs heavy strings, but i don't like exta heavy stings, 12 is my limit.

    If you have another suggestion I am all ears.

    I live in europe and my budget is 1500 Euros.


    Eastman El Ray 2-eastman-el-rey-2-jpg

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  3. #2

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    I think you'll find any archtop w/ a std bridge and tailpeice design need at least 12-53 strings. Any lighter and they dont feel right, to rubbery.The ER2 I owned awhile back was avery nice instrument. The down sides for me were neck was a bit on thin side, for an archtop the top was carved a bit too thick to resonate well. I suppose this was to be able to play at higher volumes. I would opt for a ER 3 or the newer ER 4 if I were to buy one again. Hope this helps!

  4. #3

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    i found the ER series uncomfortably neck heavy. I'm 5'7 and I found the body to be a bit uncomfortably small

  5. #4

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    Thats the way i feel as well. For some people small bodies are super comfy, but for me a 17 body is even better from 16 when i am sitting. But i dont like thickness bigger than 3',and shalower is even better

  6. #5

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  7. #6

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    I might be the dissenting opinion in this thread as I think the El Rey is an outstanding guitar. To me, it sounds more like a full size jazz box than any other semi-hollowbody I've played. If I were given a guitar for free and weren't able to ever sell it, I'd take the El Rey 2 over many guitars over twice the price.

    One of the benefits of the classic 335 style semi hollowbody design is that once you've played one, you have a baseline as to what to expect from variants. On the other hand, the El Rey is so unique that there is nothing to compare it to.

    From what I gather, your concerns include the size, balance, and neck. I feel just as comfortable playing a Les Paul, Strat, 175, or Super 400, so size doesn't concern me. The balance is a bit neck heavy, but since I rest my arm on the upper bout when I play, it's never been a problem to me. Finally, the neck is wider than the usual at 1 3/4 and thinner than the Gibson neck carve. It is very similar to other Eastman necks, so you can get a feel for it if you get a chance to sample any of the other Eastman models.

  8. #7

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    i don't rest my arm on it. If i had one again, i'd use fishing weights inside the body like jeff hale did.

  9. #8

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    I played the elray2 and i liked the tone very much.Very personal, articulate, full for such small size, super tone for me.I dont like biger eastmans because they are archtops but the tone reminds me flatop.That elray had punch
    sadly, i cant play a lespaul, its the most uncomfortably desing for me.

    Neck was o.k. and action suberb because frets were leveled, but to tell you the truth i prefer my joe pass neck.I had an ibanez as200 in the past, that was ??? neck for me

  10. #9

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    i agree that the eastman archtops sound like flattops with a mag pickup, lol. I wish the el rey were made in a 15" body for balance purposes.

    Neck is fine, IMO. Too much is made by people who are super finicky about necks and to me , it just doesn't matter so much. i've owned boat necks, super slim heritage necks and everything in between and if you play them a couple hours a day you get used to them and there's no issue going back and forth between them. My 175 has a pretty big neck and my metheny and eastman T386 have slim necks and I have zero issue going between them.

  11. #10

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    Has anyone tried the El Rey 4, with the 16" body?

  12. #11

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    hey jzucker..
    I think you had an ibanez gb10, and you dont like it.I found that at your sheets of sound semihollow page.
    Can you please tell me why?because the gb10 is always in my mind.Many people rate this guitar very high.

    I had a 1990 ibanez as200 and dont like it either...but i am after full hollow tone

  13. #12

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    I wouldn't say I didn't like it. What I said in my mini review stands.


    • Ibanez GB-10 - I've owned at least 10 of these. I have a love/hate relationship with them. Not a good blues or fusion guitar due to lack of sustain and feedback problems. It has a block of wood glued to the top but not extended through the body to the back like a traditional semi. These have a bright and clear jazz tone and the impeccable Ibanez setups and are very easy to play but IMO never quite make it unless Benson is playing it. A couple additional points. The pickups are EXTREMELY hot. They are much hotter than the Gibson mini humbuckers. Also, the neck pickup is mounted to the end of the fingerboard and cannot be height adjusted and it's too close to the strings so your pick will "click" alot on it since it's microphonic. The bridge pickup is mounted to the pickguard in a weird arrangement where you have to adjust the pickguard height in order to adjust the bridge pickup height. Due to this, you can never get a fully balanced mix unless your pickguard is raised really high and at that point, the pickguard is almost higher than the strings.



  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by wikifishy
    well, i played the elray2 and i liked the tone very much.Very personal, articulate, full for such small size, super tone for me.I dont like biger eastmans because they are archtops but the tone reminds me flatop.That elray had punch
    sadly, i cant play a lespaul, its the most uncomfortably desing for me.
    Neck was o.k. and action suberb because frets were leveled, but to tell you the truth i prefer my joe pass neck.I had an ibanez as200 in the past, that was ΤΗΕ neck for me
    I'm surprised to hear that you and Jack think Eastman archtops sound like amplified flattops. My 810 and 805 sound absolutely nothing like any flattop I've ever heard. The 805 was similar to my Heritage Eagles in that it was bright with that traditional midrange bark. My 810 is less bright with a less aggressive midrange. Are there any examples on the web of Eastmans played acoustically that sound like flattops?

    I agree that the size may turn some people off if they are accustomed to larger instruments. From what I recall, Eastman may have released a 16" version of the El Rey, although I haven't handled one or read any reviews.

  15. #14

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    I've owned 2 803s and 805 and and 810. Not a single one sounded anything like a heritage eagle with parallel bracing. The X Bracing has a very distinctive tone and in conjunction with the way they are carving the tops, how they are fitting the neck and such, it just makes for a very honky sound IMO. You can hear it in every eastman 80x clip on youtube too. I'm told that they have made some parallel braced guitars and I'd be curious to hear those but point me to a clip on youtube that demonstrates an 803, 805 or 810 that has the Wes type of vibe that i got in this clip of my eagle...

    Lou from guitars'n'jazz said he wasn't crazy about the el rey 4 but i'm not sure until I try one personally. I just with they'd put a pickguard on it...


  16. #15

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    I didn't mean to write that it the 805 was the same as an acoustic Heritage Eagle, just that it had more in common with it than the 810. By the way, all my Heritages sound very different. It wouldn't be fair for me to consider any one of them to be indicative of the Heritage sound.

    By the way, I'm familiar with your Heritage Eagle video as I am with most of your videos. Both you and the guitar sound great!

  17. #16

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    heritage makes x braced guitars too like the sweet 16 and I never liked it as much although to me the sweet 16 has a better tone than the comparable eastman. Not sure why. All eastman floating pickup guitars sound like acoustic guitars with an added magnetic pickup. The eagle, whether it's the parallel bracing or something else sounds like an electric guitar to me...

  18. #17

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    That's where taste comes into play. I would never say that my Heritage Eagles sound better than my Eastman 810. Perhaps I got lucky with mine. When I bought it from Jay Wolfe, he had had it Plekked, so it plays and projects as well or better than any of my Eagles.

  19. #18

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    Here's where I'll get in big trouble! I have only played maybe 2 Heritages (out of well over 50) a floater Sweet 16, and a Johnny Smoth Rose, that I thought were exc. sounding unplugged. My Eastman 810CE w/ a hand made KA floater is head and shoulders above any Golden Eagle I have ever played. Now maybe I just lucky, or my tastes are way different than others here. But like the rest of you I love the trad Gibson archtops new and old as well.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by wikifishy
    I read the gb10 has thick top and needs heavy strings, but i dont like exta heavy stings, 12 is my limit.
    I have had my 1981 GB10 for 28 years and it is an excellent instrument- great for jazz but also much more versatile than my 17" Cushman carvetop with floater. I'm 6'4" and don't fine the Cushman uncomfortable to play standing; it takes me a few minutes to adjust to the smaller GB10 but it is very comfortable to play standing.

    As Jack says, the pickups are HOT. On the same amp settings as with my other guitars I have the neck volume on the GB10 at about 4 versus 8-10. Despite this the treble strings have a slightly pingy or zingy quality to them that I am not always wild about, perhaps when I am picking overzealously, but I tend to be looking for a darker Jim Hall-ish sound than a George Benson sound. I find the GB10 is good for fingerstyle playing as well as a pick; it doesn't get thin and plinky when using my nails.

    The neck is nothing short of superb, Ibanez makes the best necks in the archtop business IMHO. I can pull off stuff on this guitar that I sometimes struggle with on the chunkier Cushman neck.

    I had it strung with 12s until last year when I switched both it and the Cushman to Pyramid Gold 11s, which are a little sweeter and have better resonance than the D'Addario Chromes I have used for years. Both of the guitars sounds very good with those strings. I've never tried the TI Bensons strings on it. (Oddly enough, my Tele sounds much, much better for jazz with the D'Addarios than with the Pyramids. Ed Bickert got away with light strings on his Tele but I can't do it).

  21. #20

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    I have an eastman el ray2. I just stripped the finish off(it was beat up) very nice wood underneath, and installed a stew-mac Parsons st. pickup in the neck pos. Tell me how you think it sounds now. some interesting observations. I also changed all the wiring to heavier pots, and wires. the original wiring had very thin wires, and teeny little pots. Also noticed that the top spruce was about 1/2" thick in the middle, and then thinned out at the sides. i.e. no trad. bracing. but this whole guitar weighs nothing. very nice figured wood in the headstock, and back, which was all covered in blue paint. also put an ebony bridge in. in this vid, only had the neck (stew-mac) on. Amp is a Roland cube xl80, clean channel. Mid, Bass cranked, and treble on 5. Just basically cleaned up the wood, and wiped on a coat of Watco Danish oil.
    Last edited by bob dullam; 05-06-2014 at 08:02 PM.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    I think you'll find any archtop w/ a std bridge and tailpeice design need at least 12-53 strings. Any lighter and they dont feel right, to rubbery.The ER2 I owned awhile back was avery nice instrument. The down sides for me were neck was a bit on thin side, for an archtop the top was carved a bit too thick to resonate well. I suppose this was to be able to play at higher volumes. I would opt for a ER 3 or the newer ER 4 if I were to buy one again. Hope this helps!
    i've used the thomastik 12-50 set for years and it's fine and feels very light. I can even play rock and fusion on it.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob dullam
    I have an eastman el ray2. I just stripped the finish off(it was beat up) very nice wood underneath, and installed a stew-mac Parsons st. pickup in the neck pos. Tell me how you think it sounds now. some interesting observations. I also changed all the wiring to heavier pots, and wires. the original wiring had very thin wires, and teeny little pots. Also noticed that the top spruce was about 1/2" thick in the middle, and then thinned out at the sides. i.e. no trad. bracing. but this whole guitar weighs nothing. very nice figured wood in the headstock, and back, which was all covered in blue paint. also put an ebony bridge in. in this vid, only had the neck (stew-mac) on. Amp is a Roland cube xl80, clean channel. Mid, Bass cranked, and treble on 5. Just basically cleaned up the wood, and wiped on a coat of Watco Danish oil.
    how did you strip the finish? The only thing I don't like about the El Rey is that it's neck heavy standing.

  24. #23

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    I work on custom cars, and I used a paint stripper called "por-15 strip", this stuff will take your skin off in a nano second. you MUST wear a respirator, and chem gloves. Taking the finish off was easy, but getting all that blue stain out took some oribital sanding ( porter-cable orbital sander). Strange why its neck heavy. First the neck is SO thin, and then the top has SO much thick wood. It doesn't bother me that much. What bugged me was the sound. It just sounds thin to me. i.e. no depth, but a nice tone. Far as I can tell not a real sought-after guitar. I myself pine for a Gibson L-5ces, or 175, but the prices on those boxes are so damn high. I think that this guitar sounds better now than it did. Thoughts on this?

  25. #24

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    thanks for the info bob. If you ever decide to sell it let me know. I'd just add a 1lb weight to the endpin inside the guitar...

  26. #25

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    Just before I stripped it, I had it up for sale. no takers. My other guitar, the joe pass sig. is busted so this guitar is the only one I've got for now. I've decided to build a copy of a gibson L-5. cause' for the cost of a real one, I could build quite a few, with more abalone, fancier trimings, and sell most of them. Once I get one built, I will let u know. Also... this guitar is INSANE to put anything in like pickups, pots etc.. cause there is no easy access. not sure how you would secure a weight inside. I think a good idea would be to put a cover plate over the back so you could get to the stuff inside easier. I mean it was a REAL pain getting everything back in. I only paid 600.00 for this guitar, which makes it a nice guitar for gigging, hence you don't have to worry about on site damage. carting an 8K gibson to a gig would be nerve-wracking. theft, damage, etc.

  27. #26

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    by the way, I heard that jeff hale was adding some type of lead weight to the endpin jack. Not sure how easy that was to do but that's how he solved the balance problem.

  28. #27

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    you could get a longer screw for the end strap button, and then put it through the button then the weight into the wood.

  29. #28

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    This might be outside of what the original poster is searching for, but he might consider checking out one of Bill Comins' designed-import built, GCS semi-hollows. The coil-tapped Kent Armstrong pickups in this chambered guitar sound amazing for jazz, fusion or other styles. It is one of my favorites of this type of instrument. I play mine more than my GB12 or Heritage archtops.

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  30. #29

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    Hello everyone,
    I bought a used El Rey 2 yesterday and I absolutely love it. However, I am not so sure about the bridge. It is currently strung with round wound 12s with a wound G, that is pretty much what it says on this page they come with from the factory https://www.eastmanguitars.com/er2
    so you would guess the bridge would be made exactly for this type of string, but when I did a setup yesterday after buying it to improve action and intonation, the G string on the 12th fret came out horribly flat, about a quarter tone, with all other strings perfectly intonated. I would expect this to happen if the bridge was made for a wound G and I strung it with a plain G, but that's not the case here. Am I overlooking something?
    I would really like to try a tune-o-matic. Will any of the regular brands like Gotoh, Schaller or Tonepros be a drop-in-replacement to use the same base without further modifications, or will I need to get a base custom made in order to accommodate a tune-o-matic?
    Best regards,
    Franz

  31. #30

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    If you want to stay with a wooden bridge you could try the Sadowsky bridge: True-Tone Bridge - Sadowsky Guitars

  32. #31

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    It says the post spacing is like a tune-o-matic, but I am not sure if a TOM will fit on the Eastman base, the spacing measured with a ruler looks more like 77mm instead of 74mm like a TOM