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  1. #1

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    Does anyone own or has played an Eastman AR371CE?
    (Kind of looks like Gibson ES175)

    All opinions welcome.

    Doug
    Last edited by Doug B; 08-02-2019 at 12:09 PM.

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  3. #2

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    I got one recently. Only because it was offered for 200CAD (150 USD). I also have an ES 175. AR371 is very light. It has an OK acoustic sound. A bit bright. Electric sound is noticeably thinner and brighter than the ES 175. My ES 175 is a modern one. I don't know how it compares with vintage, lighter build ones. I'm not a big fan of it's electric sound.
    Never play anything that's hard. If it's hard, don't play it. -- Joe Pass

  4. #3

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    I had one - very nice guitar for the price. I put a Bare Knuckle Blue Note P90 in place of the stock pickup. Sounds pretty good to me.



    Here I play it unplugged, fingerstyle, my own arrangement of Stella by Starlight:




    It's not a 175. It's its own thing. And that thing is pretty good. Depends what you are looking for.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    I had one - very nice guitar for the price. I put a Bare Knuckle Blue Note P90 in place of the stock pickup. Sounds pretty good to me.
    Sounds real nice to me as well! :-)

    Here I play it unplugged, fingerstyle, my own arrangement of Stella by Starlight:
    Nothing wrong with that, in fact quite nice. I really don't understand why some think that it is overly bright. I mean your tone is hardly "Tele-icepick bright"! Have you turned the tone knob down at all?


    It's not a 175. It's its own thing. And that thing is pretty good. Depends what you are looking for.
    Sorry for the confusion-I just refered to the ES175's appearance, not necessarily it's sound.

    Doug

  6. #5

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    Doug, the fingerstyle Stella was unplugged, so, no, I didn't turn the tone knob down But when plugged in I probably set it about 6 or 7. The amp was just a Yamaha THR5. But the Bare Knuckle is a great pickup, certainly a good upgrade. I think I sold it because I was moving more towards pure acoustic playing, but if I were to play electric again, I'd certainly consider getting another.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    the Bare Knuckle is a great pickup, certainly a good upgrade. I think I sold it because I was moving more towards pure acoustic playing, but if I were to play electric again, I'd certainly consider getting another.
    The "Bare Knuckle" name used to make me think that they were heavy metal pickups until I actually heard them a few times.

    Doug

  8. #7

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    I have one with a Seth Lover pickup at the neck and it's a great workhorse guitar!


    Doug Martin
    www.dougmartinguitar.com

    "Live life and play music like it's your last day on earth. One day you'll be right" - Russel Malone

  9. #8

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    Just tried one again recently...I dunno...not my bag at all. Generic feeling neck, anemic pickup, sharp fret ends...honestly, it was crap. An Ibanez or Epiphone in the same price range is 10 times better.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
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  10. #9

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    Recently considered one as a 175 substitute, as it was offered at a great price. Played it acoustically only, and found very little difference to the maple-necked Ibanez I already have. Thin and bright vs. my ES-175 1959 VOS.

  11. #10

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    I have the two pickup version (AR372) and it's an excellent insrument. Nothing left to be desired regarding fit and finish and overall quality. How it compares to more pricey archtops of the same style is beyond my knowledge, though.
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  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitterbug View Post
    Recently considered one as a 175 substitute, as it was offered at a great price. Played it acoustically only, and found very little difference to the maple-necked Ibanez I already have. Thin and bright vs. my ES-175 1959 VOS.


    Which Ibanez would that be Gitterbug?

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    I had one - very nice guitar for the price. I put a Bare Knuckle Blue Note P90 in place of the stock pickup. Sounds pretty good to me.



    Here I play it unplugged, fingerstyle, my own arrangement of Stella by Starlight:




    It's not a 175. It's its own thing. And that thing is pretty good. Depends what you are looking for.
    Are you sure the guitar in the second video is an AR371? It has different fingerboard inlays from the 371/175

    John

  14. #13

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    I had one briefly. I don't think I kept it 6 months.
    Lots of other members here have flipped them too.
    Mine was pretty and well constructed, but that bright thin sound just didn't inspire.

  15. #14

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    Wow-quite a variety of opinions! I know it's not a Bennedetto or Sadowsky, but then neither is the price. All I need to do is find one to try out.

    What do others think of one of the D'angelicos for around the same price as the AR371? Or the Godin 5th Avenue?

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug B View Post
    Wow-quite a variety of opinions! I know it's not a Bennedetto or Sadowsky, but then neither is the price. All I need to do is find one to try out.

    What do others think of one of the D'angelicos for around the same price as the AR371?
    Not that much variety if you think about it. The people who liked it had different pickups on it. The only other person who liked it actually had the two pickup version. Nobody so far said they liked the stock AR371. Well, I can only assume those installed different pickups also didn't like the stock version
    Never play anything that's hard. If it's hard, don't play it. -- Joe Pass

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    Not that much variety if you think about it. The people who liked it had different pickups on it. The only other person who liked it actually had the two pickup version. Nobody so far said they liked the stock AR371. Well, I can only assume those installed different pickups also didn't like the stock version
    Hardly overwhelming, is it? :-) Adding a couple of Benedetto pickups or similar would add $200-400 more to the price.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug B View Post
    Wow-quite a variety of opinions! I know it's not a Bennedetto or Sadowsky, but then neither is the price. All I need to do is find one to try out.

    What do others think of one of the D'angelicos for around the same price as the AR371? Or the Godin 5th Avenue?
    I think both of those sound better than the 371. The Eastman John Pisano models sound good, but cost more $$.
    Also worthy of consideration are the Epiphone Premium 175 or an Ibanez Jazz hollowbody (not sure the model).

  19. #18

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    A friend who plays a peerless gigmaster brought one over. Sounded much better (warmer acoustically) than any 371 I've played. Not a fan of poly finish though.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by omphalopsychos View Post
    A friend who plays a peerless gigmaster brought one over. Sounded much better (warmer acoustically) than any 371 I've played. Not a fan of poly finish though.
    Poly finish would put me off as well. Too plastic looking.

  21. #20

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    I’ve been through two, actually. The first, either with the stock licensed Kent Armstrong pickup or a Classic 57 wasn’t very inspiring. The second was improved mightily with a BG Pure90. When I first got my ES-125, which is my main axe now, I was a little embarrassed at how close the Eastman *sound* was to the Gibson when both were strung with TI 12 flats. I still have the Gibson but not the Eastman, that tells you something, but on a budget with the right set-up, I think they are pretty great guitars.

  22. #21

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    The Godins are highly regarded and you can find several threads about that on the forum here. I have not had a chance to play one. I did have a chance to play a couple different modern day D'Angelicos and while I find the name off putting (a long rant behind that) they were well made guitars of the usual Asian/Chinese mold and sounded pretty good. I have not had a chance to play one myself but the Epiphone ES-175 Premium seems to be highly regarded; IIRC those come with Gibson USA Classic 57 pickups and a nitro finish.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    ...it was offered for 200CAD (150 USD)...
    Bwahahahahahahaha!
    Someone needed $$ for meth? Oxy?
    Did you need to wear insulated gloves when you picked it up?
    Or was the seller simply a moron?
    "Somebody get me out of this chair." - BOB WILLS
    Hammertone is a registered Hofnerologist.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone View Post
    Bwahahahahahahaha!
    Someone needed $$ for meth? Oxy?
    Did you need to wear insulated gloves when you picked it up?
    Or was the seller simply a moron?
    I found it on kijiji. I was lucky, it was just posted when I saw the ad. I wasn't even looking for an Eastman. Jumped on it, luckily the seller lived near by. The seller seemed to be a very legit dude living in a very good neighbourhood. He said he was a rock player but got this guitar for some Dixiland gigs he was doing some years ago. It seems like he got it cheap for 700 dollars new (7 years ago). He also said there were other buyers interested after me and told him that the guitar is now 1400 new. But he didn't care. He just wanted to sell it without hassle. Guitar wasn't super clean. Dings and chips here and there. Dusty with rusty strings. It had a bent bridge but it was easy to fix. Later found out that that's a common problem with this model.
    Never play anything that's hard. If it's hard, don't play it. -- Joe Pass

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    ... The seller seemed very legit dude living in a very good neighbourhood. ...he got it cheap for 700 dollars new (7 years ago). ... after me and told him that the guitar is now 1400 new. But he didn't care. He just wanted to sell it without hassle....
    OK, so he was a rich moron. Got it.
    "Somebody get me out of this chair." - BOB WILLS
    Hammertone is a registered Hofnerologist.

  26. #25

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    I've owned the '371, John Pisano(s), the Epi Premium '175 which was good right out of the box, and a plethora of Peerless Cremona's.

    But if I'd owned a '371 that sounded as sweet as Rob's I'd still own it! Nice demo Rob!
    "You've got to be in the sun to feel the sun. It's that way with music too." - Sidney Bechet

  27. #26

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    I played it again this morning. One thing remarkable about this guitar is, how acoustically responsive it is to touch. It plays almost like a nylon string guitar with Thomastik 12's!!! You can have a lot of fun playing fingerstyle on this guitar. Electrically it can use a pickup upgrade. It's just too bright and thin for most peoples expectations from a jazz guitar IMO.
    It has wider neck (1 3/4) and thin profile. Again also good for fingerstyle.
    Never play anything that's hard. If it's hard, don't play it. -- Joe Pass

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug B View Post
    Which Ibanez would that be Gitterbug?
    I had to go and look up, the IBZ nomenclature is so confusing. It's a 2014 AFJ91 (blue), to which I have changed a Byrdland-style tailpiece and a MOP pickguard. The original tailpiece was prone to breakage, and the pickguard looked like a piece of Formica kitchen top. Of course, on closer inspection the AFJ91 body is not all maple, as the inside veneer is mahogany-like and the top has a spruce surface. The original Super 58 is ok for the price category. Yet, I preferred my '99 Emperor Regent for an outdoor gig yesterday.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitterbug View Post
    I had to go and look up, the IBZ nomenclature is so confusing. It's a 2014 AFJ91 (blue), to which I have changed a Byrdland-style tailpiece and a MOP pickguard. The original tailpiece was prone to breakage, and the pickguard looked like a piece of Formica kitchen top. Of course, on closer inspection the AFJ91 body is not all maple, as the inside veneer is mahogany-like and the top has a spruce surface. The original Super 58 is ok for the price category. Yet, I preferred my '99 Emperor Regent for an outdoor gig yesterday.

    Thanks for the info.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    I played it again this morning. One thing remarkable about this guitar is, how acoustically responsive it is to touch. It plays almost like a nylon string guitar with Thomastik 12's!!! You can have a lot of fun playing fingerstyle on this guitar. Electrically it can use a pickup upgrade. It's just too bright and thin for most peoples expectations from a jazz guitar IMO.
    It has wider neck (1 3/4) and thin profile. Again also good for fingerstyle.

    Interesting, I started playing mine again after changing strings to the TI Swing JS112 string set. I found the guitar became much more alive with that string set. About a year ago I had put the La Bella 12 set on that guitar, and I think that set was too heavy for that guitar.

    I suspect when you have a light acoustically responsive top that string selection maybe even more critical than it is with heavier guitar tops. Although heavier strings played with real gusto may put more energy into the guitar top and produce initial volume, I think they may also choke the top and absorb energy from the top.

    I played my AR371CE and no other guitar for almost a year when I first bought it. A year later I bought my AR503CE and that's the guitar I have primarily used for the past 4 years. For the past week I have kept my AR371CE in my living room separate from my normal practice area. I do find myself picking it up rather frequently late in the evening when relaxing.

    For the year when I did play my AR371CE, I had GHS 12-50 900 flatwound strings on that guitar. I might try those again. I started searching for alternative strings after a few hot humid outdoor gigs where my finger tips became rather irritated. I don't see that string set referenced here very often. I find them to be strong from a fundamental frequency point of view with a strong initial attack. They have a darker almost gun metal grey appearance. Wraps are not as fine as some other flat wound strings.

  31. #30

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    I often wonder what guitar Eastman used for reference when they designed the AR371CE. Many people have noted it does not sound like recent Gibson ES175 guitars.

    I do wonder if it sounds like some other, perhaps much older, laminate top guitar.

    Original poster should note the AR371CE we commonly see may be more difficult to find. In future they will only make the two pickup model (no rosewood). Perhaps we now need a thread on the new AR372CE?

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanielleOM View Post
    I often wonder what guitar Eastman used for reference when they designed the AR371CE. Many people have noted it does not sound like recent Gibson ES175 guitars.

    I do wonder if it sounds like some other, perhaps much older, laminate top guitar.

    Original poster should note the AR371CE we commonly see may be more difficult to find. In future they will only make the two pickup model (no rosewood). Perhaps we now need a thread on the new AR372CE?
    The one I have is definitely more lightly built than ES 175 1959 VOS's and 60's original models I played.
    Never play anything that's hard. If it's hard, don't play it. -- Joe Pass

  33. #32

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    Yes, mine is also more lightly built than any ES175 I've played, including a 60s one I had for a while.

    I got my AR371CE second hand and bought it mainly as a cheapish instrument to take to jams and open mics etc. It was initially fitted with roundwound strings and a TOM bridge, and was light in weight, bright in tone. It was also quite comfortable to play. When I got it home I thought I'd try fitting the original wooden bridge (it came with it in the case) and putting on some flatwounds (TI Swings 11's). I also tweaked the truss rod and lowered the action which made it even nicer to play.

    This all really transformed the guitar. Although still bright, it now has a lovely aliveness, articulation and touch sensitiveness. This is particularly good for me as I play with my thumb quite a bit and the brightness is a positive asset in that context. Sounds especially good to me with a bit of an almost-breakup setting on the amp that is only there when I dig in hard. Sounds a bit Charlie Christianesque.

    After playing it out a few times I found the pickup to be a bit muddy so I put in an Irongear Blues Machine humbucker. This made the guitar a good bit clearer and enhances the articulation.

    I really like the guitar now and play it possibly more than my fancier archtops. It sounds somehow "old" to me. As someone above said, it's very much it's own thing, but it's a good thing in my book.
    Last edited by geoff23; 08-05-2019 at 11:12 AM.

  34. #33

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    At the Melbourne guitar show last weekend Eastman had a single-pickup T49 on show. This was described to me as being essentially an updated 371 in an antique violin varnish finish and fitted with a Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickup in place of the Kent Armstrong humbucker.

    Strangely enough my 371 arrived with SD Antiquity packaging and docs in the case pocket, but a KA pickup installed!
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  35. #34

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    Danielle mentioned the AR503CE from Eastman which is a good alternative. It is similar to the 371 but with a carved top, with an inset humbucker. I've managed to pick one up at a good price, and it should be with me in a few days' time. I'll do a review of it shortly after.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    Are you sure the guitar in the second video is an AR371? It has different fingerboard inlays from the 371/175

    John
    Most certainly it is a 371 from five years or so ago. Perhaps they've changed the inlays since then?

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop View Post
    Most certainly it is a 371 from five years or so ago. Perhaps they've changed the inlays since then?
    Look again at your two videos -- "Ballad and Blues" is a clearly an Eastman AR 371. "Stella" is a different guitar, with split block inlays rather than dual parallelogram inlays (the headstock is not visible so I can't see what it is). I've never seen an AR371 with those inlays, so I assume it's something else.

    John

  38. #37

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    John, you are absolutely right! Doh! Mea culpa!