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  #1  
Old 05-15-2020, 01:59 PM
blue blue is offline
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Default Eastman 805: Poor man/woman's Gibson L5?

Strictly speaking in terms of basic timbre. Not getting into nuances and such like "it doesn't decay the same".

Just curious as I will likely never get the chance to A/B, and I'll never spring for an L5. I like the idea of the mahogany 605, as I'm much more "thud" oriented. But I'm still early in the process and hoping I can mind the wisdom here.
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Old 05-15-2020, 04:33 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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I'm no expert on the current L5. I played one unplugged a few years back at a GC in Seattle and was not impressed. Old 40's Gibson arch tops are a different story....

I own an Eastman MDC 805 mandocello which I converted to an AR 805. I string it with Martin Retro Monel .013's. I love the sound and playability. I prefer it to the one newer L5 I've played.
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Old 05-15-2020, 06:59 PM
blue blue is offline
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Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
I'm no expert on the current L5. I played one unplugged a few years back at a GC in Seattle and was not impressed. Old 40's Gibson arch tops are a different story....

I own an Eastman MDC 805 mandocello which I converted to an AR 805. I string it with Martin Retro Monel .013's. I love the sound and playability. I prefer it to the one newer L5 I've played.
Well that's the freakin' coolest story I've heard today! Was it just Nut, saddle, and Tailpiece work?
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Old 05-15-2020, 07:40 PM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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If we are comparing to a 16" non cutaway L5 of the 1930's, the Loar 600/700 are much, much closer.
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Old 05-15-2020, 07:52 PM
MCDEMO1 MCDEMO1 is offline
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Another person here with an interest in the L5, but never played one. Almost bought a custom re-issue off one of the forums sometime in the last 10 years, but it was a good chunk of cash and based on my little experience playing an archtop I bowed out.

A few years ago I did end up buying a new "B" stock Eastman John Pisano AR880CE model, which has a 16" wide x 2-3/4" deep maple body and neck, ebony fret board with an 1-3/4" nut, and a spruce top. 25" scale length. The only things that make it a "B" stock instrument to my eyes and ears is a non-book matched back (still not bad looking) and some thick finish over-run on the F-holes that sort of looks like pooled maple syrup. Great playing neck/frets. Everything else well put together with an excellent finish. The contact at Bernunzio said it was a good guitar and he wasn't wrong - for $1600 I am very happy with it.

Tone-wise I love it. Even sounds good unamplified. I normally do not keep an instrument with less than 2-5/16" string spacing at the bridge/saddle, but I really enjoy playing this guitar even though it measures just a hair over 2-1/8".

In my research back then there was mention of Eastman having finsh problems on their guitars. Mine is not played out or get heavy use, but still after a few years it is in great shape. No cracks, flaking, or crazing.
The AR680CE is the mahogany version of the guitar.

Tne Eastman Pisano models do not have the body dimensions of the L-5, but based on how mine sounds I would look at the larger/deeper Eastman models among others if I was going that route.

Good luck in your search.
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Old 05-15-2020, 10:48 PM
blue blue is offline
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Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
If we are comparing to a 16" non cutaway L5 of the 1930's, the Loar 600/700 are much, much closer.
I've only played an Es-150 type Loar, and it was pretty rough. Are the 600/700s in the same class as the Eastmans?
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Old 05-15-2020, 11:11 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue View Post
Well that's the freakin' coolest story I've heard today! Was it just Nut, saddle, and Tailpiece work?
I made a new bone nut, bought a two piece tune-a-matic bridge with brass saddle from Stew Mac and fit it to the top. Kept the tailpiece, just using the six inner slots. Two "extra" tuners on the headstock now. Eastman told me the 'cello is heavier braced for 8 strings, so I have no worries. I only did this because I had a custom 10 string F4 26" mandocello built and I always wanted an archtop guitar.

Can be totally returned to a mandocello by putting the original nut and bridge and new strings on. I've suggested to Eastman they start selling them with a spare guitar nut and bridge saddle and market it as a convertible.
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Old 05-16-2020, 12:23 AM
tdq tdq is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue View Post
I've only played an Es-150 type Loar, and it was pretty rough. Are the 600/700s in the same class as the Eastmans?
I've played both, and have a LH-700 - I've never played a real L-5 - I think the Eastman 805 is a superior guitar in many aspects - but the L700 has the mid-range snap that I imagine the L-5 has. The Eastman is more modern sounding and has a more mellow tone.
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:24 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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I have an Eastman AR05, and a Gibson L-4 ('35 model with f- holes)

They are both great instruments. The Eastman has a much more "modern" sound - almost like a flat top - and the Gibo sounds exactly as a '30s archtop should.

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Old 05-16-2020, 10:31 PM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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Quote:
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I've only played an Es-150 type Loar, and it was pretty rough. Are the 600/700s in the same class as the Eastmans?
Imho, yes. Theres a huge jump in quality between the 300 series and 600 series...and I mean "garbage" to "really good."

Eastman's are fine, but they're Benedetto copies...they're "polite" sounding. If you want an old school rhythm box, they are NOT the guitar.
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Old 05-17-2020, 01:51 AM
stevo58 stevo58 is offline
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Agreed - having played a real-deal 16” 20s L5, an Eastman, and a LH700 - the Loar is much closer to the L5 than the Eastman. Really, the Eastman has nothing to do with an L5, it’s constructed differently and sounds completely different. The Loar isn’t a 20s L5, but it’s playing in the same ballpark and you don’t have to be nervous about playing it in a bar. I bought mine used, so it had already been set up and tweaked. The maple is called AAA-grade, but that is shall we say optimistic. Still, it looks good, the build quality was astounding for the price, it sounds like it should, it plays well.

If you are used to a flat top, it will take some getting used to the pronounced midrange and short sustain. And it has a huge V-neck (like the originals) which may not be your cuppa. I have small hands but find the neck very comfortable - but I like big v-necks.

I added a Fox L5 pickguard, and the trapeze drove the OCD in me crazy with those huge nuts, so I replaced it with a nickel ABM, which then caused me nightmares because the Grovers - perfectly good tuners - were gold, so I put on nickel Waverlies. But none of those things was necessary. Although the bell-brass ABM did improve the bass response.

So do you want an inexpensive L5 or an inexpensive Benedetto? That’s the question.

Steven
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Old 05-18-2020, 05:31 PM
blue blue is offline
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Don't know that I'll find a Loar to test drive any time soon, quarantine or not. I guess if I'm going to be buying used, it'll probably be online. And Loar, or Eastman, it'll be unplayed! This is when the Guitar Center used website comes in handy for returns.
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:07 PM
buddyrama buddyrama is offline
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I have an AR 805 for about four months now and it is great, I don't know how it compares to an L-5. It is a great guitar at any price. I have owned SC and Martin guitars that cost much more and this is just as good or better. I consider it to be a modern guitar. I think it would do the old school rhythm box thing just fine with heavy strings. Mine will never be sold. I ordered mine from Acoustic Music Works, they are great to deal with.
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  #14  
Old 05-19-2020, 06:57 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
Imho, yes. Theres a huge jump in quality between the 300 series and 600 series...and I mean "garbage" to "really good."

Eastman's are fine, but they're Benedetto copies...they're "polite" sounding. If you want an old school rhythm box, they are NOT the guitar.
Hi Jeff, I'm interested in your comment for this, as I know it is your area of expertise.

When the "Loar" guitars came out, I jumped on , I think it was a 400. I sold it on shortly after getting it, then i went to a 700, which I bought from a large German box shifter. It arrived in a gig bag rather than the case, and it looked as if it had been handed round at a drunken beer soaked party. I sent it back, got another, same old gig bag, but so many build faults - sent it bavk again. Got a refund.

However I have heard of many who love them - and I agree that they are more like the old Gibson sound...slightly.

I agree that the Eastman (AR805) is much more "polite" with a more balanced tone and sustain like a flat top, but not like the percussive middly "rhythm box" sound of old Gibsons.

Didn't know they were "tributes" to Benedetto designs ! Zat so?
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  #15  
Old 05-19-2020, 12:14 PM
blue blue is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
Imho, yes. Theres a huge jump in quality between the 300 series and 600 series...and I mean "garbage" to "really good."

Eastman's are fine, but they're Benedetto copies...they're "polite" sounding. If you want an old school rhythm box, they are NOT the guitar.
I have to admit, I'm done with "polite". As an example, I've played so many boutique P90s that might as well be G&L MFD pickups... I definitely want the old school flavor for this purchase. I just want it at relatively bargain prices...
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