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  1. #1
    Hello Everyone,

    I've recently become an Eastman guitar dealer and I'm going to be placing an order for their archtop/jazz guitars.

    I'd really like to get the models that people like the most, have a particular sound that people like, etc. Would love input on that, I'd really like to get the models that people have had good experiences with.

    Thanks for all your help!


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    I recently acquired an Eastman AR605CE (aka Jim Fisch model) made in 2006.

    I absolutely love it and have been smitten with it ever since I got it. I don't really have the money for a top notch jazz amp, just use the roland cube which works fine for me. i love the sound of the floating pickup, it brings out more of the acoustic properties, and i especially love the sound when i really dig in and slide into a bluesy double-stop. Couldn't ask for a better accompaniment instrument IMHO. oh and btw I'm using thomastik-infeld flatwound strings. (.013-.053)

    Eastman Jazz Guitar Recommendations-eastman-ar605ce-jpg

  4. #3

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    Somebody posted recently about some new models, including a deep bodied les paul sized archtop tha was the bees knees, in my opinion.

    Be sure to nab a few seven strings too. I'm thinking I'm a few months away from a 7 string, and Eastman's likely gonna be the route I take.

  5. #4

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    I vote for the Uptown series. I have an Eastman AR805 and love it. I also just bought a very used Jim Fisch from ebay and will receive it next week.

    Being about an hour away from you in New Hampshire, I would love the opportunity to drive down and try a few before I make my next purchase, which I fairly certain will be an Eastman.

    Eastman Jazz Guitar Recommendations-eastman-ar805-jpg

  6. #5

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    I really love my EL REY 2.

    Eastman Jazz Guitar Recommendations-eastman-el-rey-2-jpg

  7. #6

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    I really like the Eastman El Rey and both versions of the John Pisano.

  8. #7

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    Yeah, those 13" six strings advertised in Japan look incredible. sort of like an old ES-140, but a little bigger (read--PLAYABLE ).

    I think the EL Reys are their most distivtive product lines--small, compact and light, but with Johnny Smith scale lengths. These are the ones that don't look like Benedettos. Distintive in every way. I own an El Rey ER1 7 string-I actually preferred that to a used Benedetto Bucky P. I tried--also helped that the Bucky was 2.5 times the price!

  9. #8

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    see if you can get some with the set-in pickups but parallel bracing.

  10. #9

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    I recently acquired an Eastman 805 no cutaway, no pickup,) in sunburst from Bernunzio. Even with the import duty, etc, it was incredible value. Beautifully made, resonant and louder than any L5s I've played, but still sweet sounding, and the neck angle was just right! The last L5 and Le Grande I tried had highish actions with the bridge adjusted as low as it would go, which to me denotes poor neck angle - on a new Gibson. Very pleased with it, and I shall not worry about it getting the odd ding as it didn't cost the £XXXX a Gibson would have.

  11. #10

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    I really like the John Pisano 680 / 880s. I would love to have a blonde 880, hopefully I'll get one by fall.

    Eastman Jazz Guitar Recommendations-eastman-john-pisano-ar880ce-jpg

  12. #11

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    I got a 2008 Eastman AR905CE off Ebay a few months ago. The best guitar I have ever played in my 66 years.Quality of workmanship is wonderful as of course is the most important thing,the sound. Highly recommended. Good luck with the dealership.

    Eastman Jazz Guitar Recommendations-eastman-ar905ce-jpg

  13. #12

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    I really like the Eastman T146SM. It's unique. This is guitar that somebody should of made before, slim and easy to manage on stage, but with the sound of a carved top. Love it.

    Eastman Jazz Guitar Recommendations-eastman-t146sm-jpg

  14. #13

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    The Uptown Series With Fixed Humbuckers

  15. #14

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    I really, *really* love my blonde Pisano 880 model; it's my favorite archtop, without a doubt. Having said that, I also have a beautiful J. Hale custom El Rey (which has one pickup like the ER1 but the maple body of the ER2—plus some other customizations); I've tried other stock El Reys, and I'd recommend those also. IMO, Eastman makes some really fine instruments at a cost (relatively and comparatively) within reach.

    I play these through either a Tone King Meteor 1x12 or a Yamaha G100 1x12 (both are yummy). I also use an AI Corus+ but seem to prefer that more for my acoustic guitars rather than the archtops, generally finding it a bit too nasal compared to the other amps. I also use a Roland Cube 30 for smaller things, and that works very nicely, too. Effects are pretty much just a small touch of onboard amp reverb (although I have better outboard stuff if need be).

    Best of luck with the Eastmans at your store.


  16. #15
    Hi, thanks so much for your replies. It helps a lot, although its also making me realize that I need to carry more models than I was originally planning.

    jazzphan, djelly, bananafist: I see you guys have the 605ce and 805ce. I was thinking that these would be great to have around, but I was wondering if you and others that have chosen the 605 vs the 805 mainly because of money or if there's anything in particular about it that you like better. For example, in the mandolins, personally I like the 500 series better than the 600 mainly because of the wood binding vs the ivoroid and the sound seemed pretty much the same. I'm trying to figure out what to carry at the shop but also looking for aguitar for myself and leaning toward the 605ce or 805ce. I get these guitars for really good prices so I'd like to mainly pick one based on the quality and tone. In terms of what would sell better, its hard, because my online advertising is limited by MAP pricing but when people walk into the shop or contact me I can sell them for lower, but its hard to predict when that will happen so I have to be careful. I'm so excited just to have the archtops around.

    djelly and bmw2002: I'd love to have you down/up to the shop. I don't have any of the archtops yet. Shoot me an email if you like and I'll keep you posted.

    mr. beaumont.. which 7 string do you like the most.. the only one I see in the catalog is the AR810CE7 but I may be overlooking others

    El Rey lovers: I played one a little acoustically but never plugged in. Do many of you play it strictly acoustically or does it really need to be plugged in to get the big sound out of it.

    John Pisano lovers: what is it that you like so much about the Pisano vs the others

    passfan: I'm going to pretend I didn't read your comment about the 905ce being the best guitar you've played in 66 years because you're making me want one and even at wholesale I can't afford it.

    azanshin: what is it you like about the fixed humbuckers vs the floating pickup. My personal electric is a T185MX and the humbuckers sound great, I'm just curious how they sound in a jazz guitar and why you like them better than the floating one.

    ooglybong: I've been hearing good things about the ToneKing amps. sounds like you've had a good experience as well. I'm not a dealer for them but it sounds like something worth looking into.

    Any thoughts on 17" vs 16" bodies? Seems almost everyone plays a 16". I was wondering if the 17s sounded a little too big and open, dark sounding, etc.

    Thanks again for all your comments. I'm reaching out to eastman to see what's actually available.. if they don't have them it often takes a while to get things. So excited to be getting these guitars in. Thanks again

  17. #16

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    I actually have the 805 and will be getting my 605 tomorrow.

    The next two guitars that I plan to purchase are an Eastman 910ce (probably in a year or so) and a Benedetto Americana (probably in about six years due to the expense - that is my dream guitar).

    I personally prefer the 17" body, but have no problem with 16". I'm a very big guy, so the larger size suits me well.

    Good luck - I look forward to visiting your store!

  18. #17

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    acoustically, my elrey is louder than expected but its still not loud enough for any performance. It's my favorite guitar for gigs. Never had feedback problem, ever. A big, tight, focused sound from any of my amps (SS, tube and even PA).

    I bought it 4 years ago. After a month, forgot about that neck-heavy issue.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by clem_gael
    I bought it 4 years ago. After a month, forgot about that neck-heavy issue.
    J Hale puts a small weight in the bridge pickup cavity to better balance the El Rey.

  20. #19

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    I have the 805 (not C or E) just the basic non cut archtop. I have other cutaway archtops but for just acoustic I prefer no cutaway. I also prefer the plastic binding to the body as takes knocks better, doesnt discolour when the lacquer gets worn, and fits my, admittedly traditional Gibson influenced, view of how an archtop should look.
    I chose the 16" body as I prefer smaller guitars as I have some shoulder/back issues. Other factors in choosing the make were the 25" scale, 1 3/4" nut, ebony f/board, solid woods used and the great acoustic sound.
    Good luck with the store.

  21. #20

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    The El Rey: It can be played acoustically, but I prefer it (and pretty much any guitar) plugged in—even if at a very low volume. But that's just me. My main intended use for the El Rey is for louder gigs where a normal archtop would be giving me trouble with possibly feeding back.

    The Pisano: A great, complex, rich acoustic tone (although I also prefer it plugged in) which translates into an especially warm and full plugged-in tone, a fantastic neck that plays like buttah (albeit after a superb setup by my local shop), a wonderful physical balance when playing it, and the overall styling (not so crucial but so nice to have it, right?). I have three other quality archtops and this is easily my favorite. In answer to your other size question, I guess it's also a 16" body, but I wouldn't want it any larger.

    I originally bought my Tone King Meteor for more of a rock-based sound after seeing some impressive Lance Keltner demos online, but after auditioning my Pisano at the store through an impressive Deluxe Reverb (after a few years of using the AI Corus+), I realized that the tube-based Meteor might be able to sound similar to the DR in its clean channel. Nope. Waaay better. (IMO. And I've since gone back to recheck my memory, too!) The Meteor is out of production, but there are certainly other Tone King models out there. Contact Mark Bartel at Tone King, but frankly, I don't know how the guy keeps up with the demand for these amps because, as far as I know, he runs a purely one-man-operation.

    PS - FWIW, I had already tried a couple of other El Reys locally, thought they were nice, but found my J. Hale custom on eBay (thru Jeff), got it for a great deal, and frankly, it was clearly superior to the other local "stock" models. Also, and even though I had tried a few other Eastman archtop models locally, none ever pressed me towards a purchase like my Pisano. That one was love at first listen/play/sight. The other Eastmans were definitely nice, but none ever made me think that I had to have it and increase my collection; with this Pisano (the only one I've ever tried, but I'd hope they were consistent), there was no doubt.

    Hope this helps.

    Last edited by Dirk; 03-14-2020 at 08:18 AM.

  22. #21

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    Larry. You said "My personal electric is a T185MX and the humbuckers sound great"
    I am considering buying one of these, and even thogh they are relatively inexpensive compared to a Gibson ES335, they are still a lot of money for me. I have never even seen one, other than a picture, and never played one. Yet the reviews are great. I play mostly oldies with some country and standards and jazz. Do you recommend this as a highly playable great sounding guitar? Can you tell me the tonal differences in the 14", 15" & 16" mopdels? Are size and tone the only differences in the 3 models? How is the feedback on these? Is the Epiphone Sheraton 2 even worth considering instead?

  23. #22
    Hi. I'm not sure if your were intending your comment for someone other than me, but my name is Glenn (Harvest Music) and I'll answer it the best I can.

    The thing that got me started with Eastman guitars was when around 2 years ago I was currently playing a really nice Heritage H-555 with maple back and sides in vinage orange color. It was a great guitar that I bought because I loved the feel of it even more than the Gibson, although all the Gibson's I played had all been broken in thoroughly and the Heritage was brand new, but still, I loved that guitar and figured it would be my lifetime semi-hollowbody. I then played a friend's 16" Eastman (T186mx) and was blown away. It had a little bigger, maybe a little darker sound than the T185mx that I eventually got, but it still had a tonal characteristic that none of the other makers' guitars had. Almost a perfectness, or instantaneousness (is that a word), wholenessto the sound. Its like after playing a solid top, carved guitar I could hear the plywood in the 335. I also like the fact that since it is hand carved, they are able to take a little more wood out of the main body, leaving just enough to make sure there aren't any feedback issues but give it a big and warm a sound as possible. The 16" Eastman was nice but it was a little bigger than I wanted and had a bit more of a jazz tone than the 15" and 14", and I was more looking for the classic 335 sound.

    I really liked the 14" T184MX, mainly because the size made me feel like i was playing a semi-hollow les paul or something, but the 15" was more what I was looking for. It has been my main guitar ever since (I don't play out, so its been mainly for my own enjoyment) and I've never looked back. I bought mine on ebay ( I wasn't a dealer at the time) for somewhere around $1400 or a little less. When I recently became a dealer and realized that I can sell all these guitars new for prices we pay for used ones (although I can't advertise it) it made me realize that I need to make them a major part of my small business. I have a very small shop, and no employees, so I keep the overhead down. I've picked a couple brands to focus on, mainly Eastman guitars and mandolins and Deering/Vega banjos, as well as a few violin companies and more locally based consignments of whatever comes in the door.

    You're right in that although the T185mx and other Eastmans are a great deal compared to the 335, etc, they're still an expensive guitars, which means that unless you're a professional or have a hefty supply of cash ready to spend on guitars at any moment, its a major decision figuring out which one to get. Thats the main reason I'm asking all these questions of you guys on this forum..I don't have the luxury of a fat bank account to stock up on all these models like some other dealers do, so the decisions I make in terms of purchasing feel pretty major as well. Whichever way you go in terms of 14, 15 or 16" semi-hollowbodies, I'm sure you will love your guitar. Every person that comes into my shop that plays the 185, or even looks at it for that matter, loves it. Thanks again for all the input. Its good to be around people that appreciate these instruments as much as I do. Take care, Glenn

  24. #23

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    Thanks Glen. I appreciatte the input. Unfortunately I just let one get away on Ebay that was a used one for $1049. Excellent condition. Oh well. I will have to trek the 200 miles up to New jersey and try one. I do gig 3 to 4 nights a week, and currently use a PRS semi Hollow SE, which I like a lot. However, I have some ballroom dance clubs I play for and wanted a nicer Jazz style guitar for those customers. I think the 185 will fill the bill, I was also considering an Epiphone Sheraton 2, which is 1/3rd the price. Tempting.

  25. #24

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    Hey Fellas

    I got a notice from this BB that I hadn't posted in a long time and yeah I hadn't. I have lots to say about Eastmans. I bought my first Eastman back in 2009 (I think) a guy was running an ad on eBay for a remarkable guitar - looked incredibly like a Benedetto Manhattan, the woods used on it were sick - some of the best flame maple I ever saw in my life (natural finish). It had no name on the headstock and no label. I contacted the seller and he told me he believed it was a very early Eastman AR810ce prototype, it had the Benedetto headstock shape of the very early ones. I bought it and had an old handwound Kent Armstrong floater installed. Boy a real beauty. While I was waiting for my monthly Social Security checks to roll in to pay the guy (I paid $1500.00 for guitar, pickup and shipping) I hung out lurking on a now defunct Yahoo Groups Eastman forum, reading about how Eastman got started (it was moderated by Eastman employees).

    A while later I bought an Eastman T146smd that Jeff Hale Music had tweaked with Seymour Duncan Seth Lovers and push/pull pots - the T146smd is the skinny body regular scale Byrdland in Eastman's arsenal and is an incredible guitar - great for rock, soul, gospel, blues and jazz. I'm a big guy and that skinny body is VERY comfortable. If you can find one to try out DO SO...

    Fast forward a couple months and I found another Eastman on eBay without a name on the headstock, an 810ce 5th Anniversary in brown stain. Got it for less than $800.00. Talked about it on the Ibanez Collector's World Forum and found out from a fellow member that he had one remarkably like it he also found on eBay super cheap. Turns out it's a YUNZHI, they are right in Beijing and will custom build anything you want and they are very reasonably priced. In their range of gutiars they build every model that Eastman has in it's catalog. I was really reluctant to do business with "strangers" online in China but decided to take the plunge. I ordered what they call a YZ23 model - it's a dead wringer for a John Pisano AR880 (all maple back and sides). I put down a hefty deposit and a week later sent the remaining funds. It took 10 weeks from the time I paid my deposit to the day it was delivered. Ms Lora at Yunzhi was very easy to work with, kept me in the loop with emails and photo progress of my guitar being built. I asked for it to have block MOP inlays on the neck and a floating pickup, I also asked for the very best flamed maple they had in house... I was told $1100.00 with EMS shipping.

    So about 5 weeks into the build process I find and buy a JP880 on CL for a remarkable $1350.00 !! I could not get the money to the seller fast enough. Gorgeous blond, turns out it was made for the '06 NAMM show and given to relatives of Mel Bay, who is the label John's current cd is on. To make the deal happen and keep bills paid and my wife in some new clothes I sold the Yunzhi 810ce 5th Anniversary clone and my T146smd... But I really wanted both the JP880 and the Yunzhi. The Yunzhi arrived two weeks ago and I will post some photos side by side tho the glare of the morning sun washed out the great detail evident in person. The Yunzhi is the same in every respect except the neck is rounder and beefier in the back like an older Les Paul - the JP880 is really got a flatter neck in the back. I like the tone each has and gotta say the JP880 is as comfortable as the few Ibanez GB10s I've had when playing for extended periods of time.

    Why I wanted the Pisano ?? I want a slightly thinner body than a standard archtop and the 16 inch width still gives you that archtop feel without it seeming too small (my one complaint about the GB10) and it's got the breathy expression of a carved top/back archtop... Really punchy and warm when you want it - bright and jangly with just some tweaking of the tone pots (I use a Fuchs modded Fender Princeton Reverb amp, I do not play out).

    The one thing I can say about all the Eastmans - look at them in person, they are very understated instruments and may come across plain in photos but IN HAND are wonderful gutiars to play and look at. The finish is varnish and two thin coats of lacquer which is buff out really thinly. It's delicate, but that thin finish really lets the wood resonate - you have to be very gentle with them, it's not like an Ibanez that feels like it was soaked in the lacquer bucket overnight (those are some tough finishes).

    Ok here's some photos of the one's I've owned. The early Prototype is just remarkably pretty, got a thin fast neck and wonderful tone, that brown stain Yunzhi is a real hum dinger for the money as is the YZ23 model with the block inlays...

    JP880 and YZ23

    the Yunzhi 810 5th Anniv., Eastman Prototype, T146smd

    back shots

    I wanted to update my post, I was in a hurry to take my wife to the eye doctor (we're both glaucoma sufferers, me the worse).
    The Yunzhi built guitars are terrific values.
    What you get going with Eastman is they back up the product with a warranty and I've read and watched posts for years about their service and customer support, they are really very top notch. So you pay a little more but you have the assurance of someone right here in the States backing you all the way. Look around on Facebook and sign up for the Eastman Group there - and get John Pisano to friend you.
    I can't say enough good things about Eastman guitars. It's like they looked at a lot of the guitars musicians use and took the designs/shapes and "made them better" - for instance the 335 type and made 3 sized models but with CARVED TOPS AND BACKS, some with a tone block just under the bridge, some with one under the fixed bridge and tailpiece - but the expression these 335 types have is remarkable. These guitars are so affordable and gorgeous you can buy them and if you don't like the pickups have a tech drop in some Duncans or Gibsons or whatever and still come out saving more than half for what you would have paid for a G brand or a Heritage.

    The AR Uptown series: the ones I have seen man they are so stinking nice. They are so gorgeous stock and you can get one of the dealers to "custom shop" it with the pickups of your choice, inlays, whatever you want. You're still going to come out thousands cheaper than if you went with more established American brands.

    If you deal with Jeff Hale or Lou DelRosso of Guitars n Jazz in Summit both guys are very reliable. And now we'll have the new dealer Harvest Music who posted in this thread too. You can't go wrong.
    Last edited by BigMikeinNJ; 06-28-2011 at 10:47 AM.

  26. #25

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    Thanks for sharing all that Big Mike. They are drrop dead Georgeous. I plan on being in New Jersey in 4 or 5 weeks and want to take a trip to a music store in Summit, that carries Eastmans, to check them out myself. I have a line on a used T185MX in immaculate condition, for $1150 including tax and shipping and I may decide on that in the next day or 2.

  27. #26
    dang..that blonde body is beautiful. I'm wondering if Eastman picks out particularly nicely flamed wood for their blonde models or if you happened to just get one that's really nice. Nice pictures, thanks for sharing. I've got an 805ce on the way to me in classic, curious how it will look as from my experience with Eastman mandolins, some "classic" finish models show up with more of a mild sunburst like glow than others. Very nice. Anyone else want to get their Eastman's to pose for the camera? I'd love to see those Pisanos everyone keeps bragging about, as well as sunburst models in general. I love the sunburst on my T185mx but I'm not usually a big fan. I think when there's a little flaming in the top it makes the sunburst really stand out. In the mandolins with the spruce top, it didn't stand out nearly as well as in the semi-hollowbody.

  28. #27

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    Well that big 810ce prototype with the Benedetto style headstock was probably made to show off at NAMM or to be given to an artist as a promotion. I saw a kid on eBay last year selling another that was a dead wringer for mine in every respect, it had the really early curly-que metal tailpiece on it that they used at first before switching to the ebony (and then later brass w/ebony overlay). I wrote this young man, he is some kind of artist (not jazz mind you) and got it from Eastman as an artist promo model. The wood on it was just a hair less stunning than mine, he listed it on CL in L.A. and eBay a couple times, and it sold for less than 1k...

    That T146 and the Yunzhi 5th anniversary copy both had very nice wood - I know any guitar maker has to pick a nicer wood (free of defects) for their natural finished guitars, I know Guitars n Jazz has a 20% upcharge for one in Natural or Vintage Age finish. Here's a back shot of the 5th Anniversary copy and you can see this lighting and background bring out the lovely flame it has.

    These are just flat out really great deals, 40 years ago people were wary of buying from Japan, but look at the amazing gear that Ibanez, Burny, Greco and others produced - many Ibanez archtop (copies of G-brand models) are wonderful values. MADE IN CHINA is the new paradigm, people should get a look at them because they really do kick *ss.

    the Yunzhi 5th Anniversary copy

    the T146smd
    Last edited by BigMikeinNJ; 07-01-2011 at 10:08 AM.

  29. #28

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    I just want to say thanks to everyone for their input. I learned a lot and made my decision. I have a brand new Eastman T185MX-CS on it's way. I should have it in about a week. One thing I learned which you might want to know is that the T180 line has been revised. The newer models come with nickel hardware, instead of the gold, and Seymour Duncan Pups instead of the Kent Armstrongs. I was told by a dealer that the are a big improvement over the older models. That remains to be seen, I guess, but I opted for the older 2011 model because I got a great deal from a dealer who told me he had called the factory to see if they had any remaining T180 models that the company might want to get out of their inventory, at the right price. He got them real cheap and passed it on to his customers. Simce I have never even played an Eastman before, I figured it was a good gamble. The cheapest good condition used one I've seen go on Ebay was $1049 plus shipping. I got this new one for a little less than that. I'm a happy camper. Thanks again to all.

    Eastman Jazz Guitar Recommendations-eastman-t185mx-cs-jpg

  30. #29

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    I think you'll be quite happy with what you got - and later if you feel you want to change things get a set of Seth Lovers installed, they do make a difference. You get this one in the door and love it up for a while and later when your money is better maybe upgrade it... All these models are so screaming nice.

  31. #30

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    Just been having a look at heavyblues' thinline (T146?) with a Lollar CC pickup installed.

    Now that, I'd go for. If I had any money to spare right now, I'd really be looking seriously at that.

    Instead...I have a family holiday in Hilton Head Island, SC, coming up, and all my £££/$$$'s are spoken for. Shame, as it looks such a great guitar; but I couldn't afford both that and the divorce that would follow as surely as Night follows Day.

    Life's tricky when your wife and your lawyer are the same person.......

  32. #31
    guitarguy77 Guest
    I love my Lefthanded Eastman AR910 CE archtop, I was insistent on being a snob and wanting a very expensive archtop, until I came across this lefty in LA, it was dinged up and scratched, but I really was suprised by the quality of the guitar, and it straight through my Polytone Mini Brute is a pleasing tone to my ears. Please dont forget about us LEFTIES and at least have one And if you did have one, have the top of the line 910 CE, nothing was worse than going to guitar center as a kid and seeing the cheap Mexican Lefty Strat on the wall and nothing else.

    Eastman Jazz Guitar Recommendations-eastman-ar910ce-jpg

  33. #32

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    It would seem the former Eastman luthiers get around. I've heard of Yunzhi on here before, but haven't seen much. Looks like a solid instrument, and looks like the former Eastman employees brought the original Eastman plans with them I can't say I'm a fan of copyright infringement, but I'm sure it's a carbon copy in terms of feel and tone to the Eastman. At one point, I did see some copies of the Century instruments floating around, but I can't be sure if it was the same company or not.

    I was/am working with a few luthiers from Eastman as well. However, with any company, be sure you are on your toes.

    I've recently had to ramp down building custom instruments as a couple of builders have been "slacking." The first round of instruments I received was stunning....but I then started seeing a slight decline in the quality of the work. I immediately ceased operation and I'm addressing that right now. It would seem at first the luthiers I located and set up a small shop/agreement with to build instruments were excited and ready to put out quality work, but the more orders that came in the less incentive there was to keep it up.

    Perhaps it's why some of these luthiers are formerly of Eastman, but be sure you are very aware of their quality control.

    It's a very tough call. Eastman makes nice instruments (I own one,) but they are overpriced IMO. They carry a very high markup, and I was told by many dealers they would not risk cannibalizing that. If you were to buy direct from a company overseas, there is typically no guarantee with the instrument, customer service, and a host of other issues that hover on your mind.

    It'd be nice if someone could strike a balance (I'm attempting to,) but those involved have to be equally as dedicated and have equally good intentions.

    Anyway, that being said, my vote for Eastman instruments is the Fisch line. Easily the best bang for your buck. The uptowns are nice as well, and will likely sell the best, but the price difference is exaggerated with the change in wood. It certainly doesn't cost that much to make the switch from mahogany to maple and rosewood to ebony. The 900 series....well let's just say you're paying an extra grand for wood binding and ebony caps.
    Last edited by 82Benedetto; 07-03-2011 at 12:05 AM.

  34. #33

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    Great insight from your perspective 82B, thanks for all your input. I was lucky in that I first got a Yunzhi 810 5th Anniversary copy (that's what it is closest to in features) and had a chance to play it extensively. It had great acoustic tone, it came with a KK pickup inside it but I never tried it, it was a great guitar for sitting on the back steps and playing hymns with. So when I pulled the trigger for the YZ23 I knew there was no warranty but the guitar would be what I was expecting. You are right they did a remarkable job copying the JP880, the only difference is the neck is rounder and a little fatter on the YZ23, a lot like a 50's Les Paul actually. Fit and finish is really terrific.

    I looked at your website and guitars, I wish you all the best with that endeavor.

  35. #34

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    I have an AR 910ce blonde....I would describe the sound as being very "woody" in character...typical of a 17inch archtop with a floating pickup...I prefer a smoother velvet jazz sound that you would get from built in pickups...but, nevertheless, the guitar is beautiful and a real head turner.... I am also not a fan of Kent Armstrong pickups and switching them out for another pickup like Bartolini may be an option.

  36. #35

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    I went with an old handwound Kent Armstrong made Benedetto pickup - these handwound by Kent are waaaay nicer than most pickups on the market - you don't have the polepieces to worry about being JUST under the strings so you always get a consistent signal on every string... The difference in the sound was fantastic. On my Yunzhi YZ23 model I am having a Ibanez GB-10 neck floating pickup installed - it's about the best "Johnny Smith" pickup copy out there... Fabulous tone... As I stated before the Eastmans are a terrific value - you save so much money over most American brands you can afford to upgrade to better electronics and still buy another Eastman with the money you saved - at least that's what I told my wife (three times), lol.

  37. #36

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    Hi all,

    I just acquired my first Eastman, a T386.

    I absolutely LOVE the neck.
    I had it in my mind that I wasn't going to bond with it because of the 1 3/4" nut.
    Very small hands, doncha know.
    This guitar feels as comfortable, to me, as an old pair of slippers!

    The question... in your experience, how consistent are their guitars? If I was to get another, is it likely to have
    the same feel?

    Looking forward to any experience based opinions.

  38. #37

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    Don't know, but I also quickly became a fan of the 1 3/4" nut and the 25" scale - a new configuration to me - on my AR403. And I have fairly small hands as well.
    Last edited by Tom Karol; 04-21-2013 at 02:31 PM. Reason: Missing adjective!

  39. #38

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    I own 2 Eastmans (a 603 and a El Rey)

    Exact same neck/fell on both.

  40. #39

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    That's the "Eastman Feel" and it'd different from anything out there, and I've felt that way about all their guitars, each one has felt like coming home. It's one of the greatest differences between them and the Yunzi's I've tried. The consistently "fast" neck has been something I've felt on high end Ibanezes and some custom built guitars.
    But yes, I've played a lot, own one and they all have that feel, in my experience.

  41. #40

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    I have an AR803CE and a AR403CE. Both neck feel like home. I am an Eastman convert. I am looking at a 371 now.

  42. #41

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    It's funny but the one thing I don't like about my Eastman T186 is the neck profile. It's too thin for my taste. I can adjust to it but I'm much more comfortable on my guitars with chunkier necks.

  43. #42

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    I've got a real early 810 prototype. Had a T146smd, a AR880 John Pisano and a couple of Yunzhis (an 810 5th Anniversary copy and my John Pisano copy with a floating pickup).
    They all have terrific necks, I'm shaking my head typing this because I wonder WHY I sold the T146, it had Seth Lover 4 wires in it with push/pull pots. WHAT a beast of tone. The only one that is a little different is my John Pisano copy Yunzhi, that neck is a little more Les Paul like. The others do have that high end Ibanez feel to them (like the neck on a GB10)...

    Welcome to the Believers Club.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabe
    It's funny but the one thing I don't like about my Eastman (T186) is the neck profile. It's too thin for my taste. I can adjust to it but I'm much more comfortable on my guitars with chunkier necks.

    I love the neck profile of my AR605, but passed up on a T186 for exactly the same reason as yours: the neck felt too thin!

  45. #44

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    I've not owned a T386, but I've owned several 910's, 810's, John Pisano's, a Jazz Elite. I'd not classify them as on the thinner side...I've owned Heritage archtops with thinner necks than Eastmans. Very middle of the road size wise, but each of them were comfortable to play...if you're thinking of an archtop I'd keep an eye out for a used JP-680, the mahogany version of the Pisano model.

  46. #45

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    Sorry I can't answer truly your question as I only play the one I own and love, but I thought I'd chime in to voice a bit of surprise (not disbelief) at the above statements about similarity of neck feel just because their necks are all hand carved. Maybe they follow general guidelines but there has to be a fair amount of variation (given that a few mm can feel so different) from neck to neck. I have an 805ce and I'd call the neck a perfect medium C.

  47. #46

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    I have two more Eastmans on order. An AR371 and the new AR380, both lefties!

    I'm hoping the necks will be similar to my T386.

  48. #47

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    Hmmm... What's the 380? I couldn't find it on the Eastman site. I googled and only found another comment of yours, here!

  49. #48

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    As shown in my avatar, I have an 880 Pisano model and a Jeff Hale custom El Rey (it's a nitro'ed maple-bodied ERII body but with the single Seth Lover PU of the ERI). I also recently got a (NOS) T145, a thin, but fully-hollow archtop with a single KA pickup. Each one is wonderfully built to very high standards, sounds great, and is very, very playable. Of course, due to their various body styles and sizes, they each do somehow have their own 'feel', but there's still an overall similarity to their necks. I'm not being contradictory there; they all still somehow feel like Eastmans—not Gibsons, or whatever—and I've since come to think of their slightly wider nut and string spacing as a preference for me now. (As has been mentioned here by many, the Pisanos have especially super necks and playability.)

    In fact, other Eastmans I've played in shops also have this same nice neck feel. Admittedly, they're each hand-carved (AFAIK), but, like it says up-thread, their luthiers must simply be master aces at consistency. Hope this helps.
    Last edited by ooglybong; 04-24-2013 at 10:57 AM.

  50. #49

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    I'm interested in the AR380 as well to compliment my AR880. In talking about the 380 with my Eastman dealer this week, I was a bit surprised to find out that Eastman refers to it as a 'student' model. Philosophically speaking though I guess we are all students . . . and me more than most!

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by StevieB
    I'm interested in the AR380 as well to compliment my AR880. In talking about the 380 with my Eastman dealer this week, I was a bit surprised to find out that Eastman refers to it as a 'student' model. Philosophically speaking though I guess we are all students . . . and me more than most!
    AR380? Ha, I was planning on the very same addition to my own AR880. Earlier, I had been looking for a perfect AR371 (non-"greenburst"!), although I did come across two or three that played and sounded great. (Now that I've seen Retroman's cool natural-finish AR371, I'm wondering...) But then news hit about the AR380, and I just decided to be patient.

    Anyway, I'd think that Eastman might just possibly be referring to the AR380 as a "student" model but only in comparison to the fully-carved Pisano 680 and 880 "pro" models. Really, though, from the specs posted back in the NAMM 2013 news, pretty much everything on the 380 looks to be a notch up from the AR371, including model-specific, newly-designed KA pickups (and, who knows, maybe even using upgraded laminate plates, too).

    Then again, it could also just be that Eastman thinks of ALL their laminate-bodied archtops as "student models".

    Whatever. I want one of those AR380s. Any more news on a street date besides "late summer"?