Eastman Guitars

Discussion in 'Reviews of Electric Guitars' started by Premanand Giri, Oct 26, 2019.

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  1. Premanand Giri

    Premanand Giri Member

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    There is probably loads of other info on Eastman guitars here & elsewhere, but being the proud owner of three, this year, I thought some observations might be useful.
    All three were bought from Sound Unlimited, Plymouth UK, through Richard & John Turner.
    The first is an archtop ARC905 which was basically made to order as I wanted antique amber burst finish: blonde is standard in this 16" size. No problem, I had to wait a bit longer than the expected 16 weeks but boy! what a beautiful instrument, hand-carved solid maple, well tigery and with other luxurious appointments such as flame maple binding, ebony fretboard & Kent Armstrong JP pick-up (Made in Kent!). The flame grain on the maple is brought out beautifully by the hand carving, nothing like moulded laminate. Mr. D'Angelico would have been proud.
    Apart from the appearance, there is the tone of the thing. I sit at the feet of people who can do full justice to instruments of this calibre, but each note is distinct so that even runs or chords with a lot of notes close together, the individual ones are well articulated. Especially above the 12th fret it sounds just like a piano. Basically hand made, with first class tonewoods and luthiery, for less than the price of an ES175. A beautiful cello guitar, played through e.g. a Fender blues deluxe amp on clean (6L6's) with a bit of clean drive gives sparkly singing & lovely.
    Returning from an Indian trip and almost recovered from a r. hand operation, I was able to collect the sumptuous electro-acoustic grand auditorium-style AC440 Rich had saved for me whilst away/recovering. Solid sitka top/solid rosewood back & sides, ebony fretboard & mahogany neck, nitro-cellulose finish; bone nut and saddle and tasteful abalone dots & inlay. Absolutely beautiful spread of tones-mostly highs & lows at first, tinkly but with plenty of bass range and now after 6 months steady playing mids coming into play giving an aural rainbow of sparkly shimmery tones normally found on guitars twice the price. Comfortable & articulate, either playing chords or picking out single notes, the neck's a bit fat for me but doubtless adds to the tone and solid feel. Again, played through a clean amp channel with some clean drive for warmth (e.g. Hudson Broadcast) and a bit of reverb/delay, sounds gorgeous. Didn't think much of the rather plinky piezo Fishman so we changed this for an L. R. Baggs Element, which really brings out the timbre of the sitka top.
    Then I tried the SB59 single cut Rich had in the shop. This was fatal. I therefore had to order the SB59/v in amber burst which has the hand wound Lollar pickups, all mahogany one piece back and (glued in) neck, ebony fretboard like glass, CTS electrics/switchcraft pots etc. etc. Wow. This is definitely my desert island guitar (solar charged amp!) and I just love the way it vibrates when held close playing. The V stands for violin finish which is shellac and developed from Eastman's background in building violins & mandolins. Nice hand made feel and subtly relic'd (distressed?), in a well worn -rather than dragged behind a car and costing nearly £4 grand!- way, and not so new & shiny too frightened to scratch it. Better value than a Les Paul, I reckon, and less likely to fall apart, too. Mind you, never thought I'd find myself buying a ready-scratched guitar...
    Only gripes are 1) the set-ups which in all three cases I found rather stiff and unforgiving with high action and rather bright strings; however in all three cases easy to adjust, which Rich was happy for me to do or even use his premises for such, and now playing really comfortably, almost effortlessly. I also had to make a few little adjustments like the width of nut slots but being an inveterate fiddler/modder this was no problem. The archtop had grooves cut in the ebony bridge which makes me wince but again easily sorted.
    2) The tuners are truly dreadful: not so much the archtop, although the Schallers supplied are pretty stiff , with rather high gearing, but liveable with; the other two I replaced almost immediately. This was reported back to Eastman and they seem to be replacing the tuners. Only problem with the SB59 was as all the hardware is nickel aged the best matching replacements I could get (Gotoh) have a rather high ratio of 1:15 but at least they work properly.
    3)Certainly in the case (!) of the first two guitars the cases are dreadful, not to be trusted & rather flimsy. Eastman seem to have addressed this though and the one the one that came with the single-cut is fab with pleasant aged appearance, feel and nice snug furry protective lining, a kind of icing on the cake.
    Anyone thinking of investing in one of these guitars won't be disappointed either with workmanship, choice of materials or looks and should be provided with a beautiful hand crafted instrument that will give pleasure for years, and great value for money.
     
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  2. NotWesYet

    NotWesYet Supporting Member

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    I wholeheartedly agree.

    I have a T49/v which is simply exceptional. I changed the bridge to an aged Gotoh Tune-a-matic as a personal preference. The cap was ceramic so I changed that to an oil-in-foil, but I understand the new models have the Orange Drops. The next one will probably be a SB59/V.
     
  3. Premanand Giri

    Premanand Giri Member

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    You won't be disappointed, I can assure you. Yed I think electrics were upgraded..also i think relicing ? tho subtle is probly individual to guitars..it was rather smeary fake aged but soon got rid of most of that with polish
     
  4. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Supporting Member

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  5. Bertiman

    Bertiman Supporting Member

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    Had a t184mx... very well crafted instrument. Eastman's typically punch well above their price class.
     
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  6. Eric Rowland

    Eric Rowland Member

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  7. ToneProspector

    ToneProspector Supporting Member

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    Love Eastman guitars. Have enjoyed playing several of their OM body acoustics and I have played several SB59/V’s locally as well as their SB57 les Paul style electrics and they sing. I may own one someday but for now I am still enjoying my Eastman T185 sunburst -smaller body version of 336 with 15” lower bout, SD59 pups, full hollow except for under the bridge and tailpiece. Solid carved mahogany back and sides with maple top. Love the neck shape too. Medium C almost like Gibson but 1-3/4” nut width. Ebony board. The fit and finish is outstanding!
     
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