Eastman Acoustics: An Overview
Eastman Guitars. There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of them, and even if you have you may not know much about them. In this blog we’re going to give you an overview of the range, and try to give you a general feel for the brand, but first of all, let’s talk history.
History of the Brand
Eastman was established in 1992 by Qian Ni, a flutist of all things! The story goes that when Qian Ni was studying at Boston University School of Music, he noticed that many of his fellow students were either having to pay money they did not have for quality instruments, or battle it out with sub par offerings that fit their budget. This did not sit well with Qian Ni, and when he set up Eastman there was one word in his mind: “craftsmanship”. Eastman instruments are not manufactured by workers in a factory. They are hand-crafted by luthiers in a workshop. It’s a subtle distinction, but it really does make all the difference, and because of this Eastman produces truly high quality guitars at a fraction of the cost you would expect to pay for similar products from some of their more well established competitors.
The PCH Series
The PCH or Pacific Coast Highway series is Eastman’s most affordable range, featuring only the solid sitka spruce top with laminated back and sides, as opposed to the all solid guitars found elsewhere throughout the Eastman range. The PCH is available in Dreadnought, Parlor and Grand Auditorium body, which is the only one that comes with a Fishman designed pick up installed. All the guitars come in either natural or classic finish (a kind of aged burst) except the PCH-3GACE which is also available in a transparent black. These guitars also come with a high quality Eastman gig bag.
The Traditional Series
That heading covers a whole manner of sins, so let’s break it down a little further. First we’ll talk about the 1, 2 and 3 traditional series, then we’ll look at their big brothers.The 1, 2 and 3 series come in a Dreadnought shape and Orchestral shape. The 1 and 2 series both feature solid sapele back and sides, but where the 1 series has a solid sitka spruce top, the 2 features solid cedar tops instead. The 3 varies slightly again; it has the sitka top featured on the 1 series, but replaces the sapele back and sides with Ovangkol, and has the addition of a Fishman Sonitone pick up. Once again, these guitars come with a high quality gig bag.As with the previous ranges, the difference on the 6, 8, 10, 20 and 40 series comes down to tone woods. This could easily get quite convoluted, so I’m going to try to keep this as simple as possible. All of these guitars feature a hard case and with the exception of the 40 series, are available with a thermo cured, torrefied top. All guitars are once again available as Dreadnought or Orchestral models, with the addition of OO and OO SS shapes to the 10 and 20 series. With me so far? The wood compositions of these series are as follows. The 6 series features a sitka spruce top with mahogany back and sides. The 8 series has the same top with rosewood back and sides. The 10 series features an adirondack spruce top with mahogany back and sides. True to form, the 20 has the same adirondack top, but with rosewood back and sides, and the 40 series has the same configuration as the 20 series, but the adirondack spruce top is triple grade timber, which simply means it’s of a significantly higher quality. The 40 series also featured abalone inlays not found elsewhere in the range.
The AC Series
One more series to cover and, to simplify matters for us, they are all the same shape: Grand Auditoriums. Once again we’ll break this up slightly, but as with the traditional series, what it comes down to is the quality of the tonewoods.The 1 and 2 series follow the same format as with the traditional acoustics. Both come with a gig bag, rather than a hard case. There are 2 different models of the 1 series, the AC122-1ce and the AC122-2ce. Both feature sapele back and sides and Fishman Sonitone pickups, but have a solid sitka spruce top and cedar top respectively. The 2 series features the same pick up, but had a sitka spruce top with ovangkol back and sides.Now in a complete departure from form, we have the 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 series. As you would probably expect at this point, these all come with an Eastman hard case, and the Fishman Sonitone has been replaced by an LR Baggs Element system. Once again, the difference between these ranges is down to tonewood. The 3 and 4 series both have sitka spruce tops with mahogany back and sides on the 3 series, and rosewood on the 4.The 5, 6 and 7 series guitars all feature European spruce tops and arm bevels for improved playability and comfort. The 5 series also features mahogany back and sides and “hurricane” fretboard inlays. The 6 series features maple back and sides with tree of life inlays, and the 7 series features rosewoods back and sides with the hurricane fretboard inlays again.
Tone woods. That’s what distinguishes each tier of Eastman’s ranges from the last. I’m aware that what’s written above is quite content heavy, but in essence the difference between the E1D, and the E40D is the way those woods are going to sound and age over time. The really remarkable thing about Eastman guitars is the price point. The E1D retails for around £550. It’s handcrafted and an all solid instrument. That’s kind of ridiculous, and the same tracks throughout the range. Pick any of the series I’ve mentioned above, have a look at the materials, look at the equivalent models from competitors and then look at the price difference. You probably haven’t heard of Eastman. And because of that, they’re an absolute steal.