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Thread: My Gibson F4 and Eastman MD515v

  1. #1
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default My Gibson F4 and Eastman MD515v

    I finally got around to making a video comparison of my two recent acquisitions - a 1921 Gibson F4 and an Eastman MD515v.

    They sound wildly different to me. As a guitar/banjo player of 40+ years, mandolin playing is less than a year old for me, and living in an obscure country, these two mandolins are two of about four mandolins I've ever played in my life. All I know about them is I like them, and they sound completely different.

    I don't need ANY comments about my novice mandolin chops, but would be interested to hear what y'all think about the sound of these two

    Same strings - D'Addario XS Medium. Same pick.



    Thanks,
    Bazz.

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  3. #2
    Registered User gspiess's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Gibson F4 and Eastman MD515v

    'just proves the fact that everyone needs two mandolins.
    Being right is overrated. Doing right is what matters.

    Eastman 815v
    Pono MND-20H
    1960 Silvertone Archtop

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  5. #3

    Default Re: My Gibson F4 and Eastman MD515v

    They both sound very nice, congrats. As you can see from my avatar, I too very much subscribe to "everyone needs two (or more) mandolins", oval hole and f holes. After years of using the same D'Addario EFT-74 strings on both the F-4 and F-12, I changed to the D'A EFW-74 strings on the F-4. My motivation was that they both sounded very similar. After the string change, the F-4 took on a sound that very much favors classical and jazz music, reminds me of the TI mittels I used for a while in the 1990's only at a much more reasonable price point.

    Again, congrats on your acquisitions of these two keepers. btw - what obscure country do you live in Bazz?

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

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  7. #4
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Gibson F4 and Eastman MD515v

    Quote Originally Posted by gspiess View Post
    'just proves the fact that everyone needs two mandolins.
    Only two?

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  9. #5
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    Default Re: My Gibson F4 and Eastman MD515v

    You are in NZ, right?

    Did you get your Gibson F4 there?
    Bren

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  11. #6
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Gibson F4 and Eastman MD515v

    Quote Originally Posted by Bren View Post
    You are in NZ, right?

    Did you get your Gibson F4 there?
    Yes, New Zealand. Not an obscure country for rugby or yachting fans, but obscure when it comes to the mandolin market!

    The only F4 I've ever encountered here was purchased by my best mate and band member back in 97 - we were 20 somethings with a faux-bluegrass band. I was playing five string banjo back then.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    His was a mid-teens blackface. I wasn't into mandolins at all then. I doubt I ever picked it up. My friend's been Australia the past 20 years, so I haven't seen it since then.

    When I decided to buy an F4 this year (50th birthday present to self) I just had to rely on the internet, and reputable USA shops to find something. This one had just enough issues to be affordable, and not enough issues to put me off. Came in about half the price of top condition examples from the same year.

    In a perfect, non Covid world I would have perhaps done a road trip to the US and looked around for the perfect mandolin. Maybe when my 60th rolls around...

  12. #7
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Gibson F4 and Eastman MD515v

    To my ears these both sound superb. The F4 has that rich, unmistakable Gibson oval-hole sound and the Eastman sound equally rich and complex... but with all the qualities we want from an F-hole mandolin. When Eastman nails it they really nail it! For the money they charge the Eastman line just cannot be equalled. Their 504 and 604 models (oval holes) are just superior to every other round hole in that price range and I played an A model, F-hole 605 the other day that had tonal and volume qualities way beyond its price point.

    I believe the two instruments you have there can get you anywhere you need to go as a musician... play on brother, play on!

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  14. #8

    Default Re: My Gibson F4 and Eastman MD515v

    I think you have two really good mandolins and whatever maybe have been wrong with the F4 to make it half price doesn't seem to have had any great impact. The F4 has the warmer mellow sound, which I like for solo playing. The Eastman will be ideal for any situation needing cut.
    I think the Eastman F-hole mandolins are great value. I've had three over the years. I tried 3 separate F4 style Eastmans about 10 years ago. They all looked really good but very poor sound. Overbuilt I thought. Maybe they have changed things because there's not many lower priced F4 copies.

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  16. #9
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Gibson F4 and Eastman MD515v

    Quote Originally Posted by jimmy powells View Post
    I think you have two really good mandolins and whatever maybe have been wrong with the F4 to make it half price doesn't seem to have had any great impact. The F4 has the warmer mellow sound, which I like for solo playing. The Eastman will be ideal for any situation needing cut.
    I think the Eastman F-hole mandolins are great value. I've had three over the years. I tried 3 separate F4 style Eastmans about 10 years ago. They all looked really good but very poor sound. Overbuilt I thought. Maybe they have changed things because there's not many lower priced F4 copies.
    things have definitely changed with Eastman mandolins from 10 years ago... although I do miss the thinner, rounded V neck profile they seemed to be doing back then.

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  18. #10
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    Default Re: My Gibson F4 and Eastman MD515v

    Quote Originally Posted by Bazz Jass View Post
    Yes, New Zealand. Not an obscure country for rugby or yachting fans, but obscure when it comes to the mandolin market!
    True, but you have Davy Stuart, although I believe he's not making any more.
    Also, I first saw Andy Irvine live solo in New Plymouth in late 90s early 00s, and again in Auckland when he was with Rens van der Zalm.

    In a perfect, non Covid world I would have perhaps done a road trip to the US and looked around for the perfect mandolin. Maybe when my 60th rolls around...
    Sigh. Maybe when my 70th ...
    Good luck on your quest.
    Bren

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