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Thread: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

  1. #1

    Default New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Hi guys,

    New to the world of mandolin but seasoned violinist/fiddler, with a good bit of experience in acoustic guitar and bass. I just bought a really beautiful MD515 Eastman mandolin a few weeks ago and I'm IN LOVE. Super excited. The one issue I've found is that the thing holds its tuning far worse than I expected. In ambient conditions it'll be less than half a step out of tune after a day, but in a warm car it could be much more than a full step out after sitting there for a morning.

    I know that temperature changes can definitely screw with the tuning for any stringed instrument (and not great for the body either, my bad!), but I've never had an instrument that detunes that fast, and even after leaving my Taylor guitar or electric bass or violin unplayed for weeks at a time it's still less than half a step out.

    No cracks/warping/wood issues that I can see with the body - could shoddy pegs cause this problem? I still have the Eastman warranty so I'm hoping if I can identify the problem I can get it sent back for repair, but I'm not sure what to be looking for!

    Oh, and I noticed right off the bat that the D strings need probably 3x the peg rotation as the other pegs before the pitch begins to change, which I marked up to strings sticking to the nut, and resolved to pencil in some graphite the first time I did a string change. Perhaps this is related?

    Thanks a bunch!

  2. #2
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Question Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Not Necessarily .. being made of wood, and only finish applied on the outside , it swells in warm humidity & contracts when cooler & dryer..

    next string change spin the tuners with a tiny bit of oil (tri-flow dry has been suggested) a few dozen times ,
    & see if wearing them in a bit helps ..

    + because it's so short a string, you notice a few cents difference you would hear less of in a longer string ..


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    Registered User meow-n-dolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    "The one issue I've found is that the thing holds its tuning far worse than I expected. In ambient conditions it'll be less than half a step out of tune after a day, but in a warm car it could be much more than a full step out after sitting there for a morning."

    Depending on the difference between "ambient" conditions and how "warm" the car, this does not seem out-of-line. It also seems to me that new mandolins are more prone than older ones -- in other words, it will probably be less of a problem in a few months or a year or so.

    The "sticky" tuners are just that -- sticky. Yes, carbon in the string slots is always recommended, and that may mitigate the problem. The Gotoh tuners which come on most Eastman mandos can go from pretty good to pretty bad. Having five sets of them (2 mandos, an OM, a 'cello, and a mandola) allows me to say that with some confidence.

    Schallers and Grovers are a distinct improvement.
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    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    After playing mandolin for over fifty years. I check the tuning every time I pick it up. The great Jethro Burns said "I spend half of the time tuning my mandolin and the other half playing it out of tune."

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Question Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Q: Why do Mandolins have 8 strings ?

    A: It increases the odds that one of them are in tune..

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  8. #6

    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    Next string change spin the tuners with a tiny bit of oil (tri-flow dry has been suggested) a few dozen times ,
    & see if wearing them in a bit helps ..

    + because it's so short a string, you notice a few cents difference you would hear less of in a longer string ..
    Thanks for the suggestion, and very good point. This is my first post on Mandolin Cafe and I'm so excited to see how helpful everyone is! Cheers to all you wonderful people

  9. #7
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Mandolins go out of tune all the time, for whatever reason it chooses.
    Having matched pairs of stings make it really obvious when they are slightly out.
    Best you can do is have it set up correctly, so that you are less likely to have an issue.
    Then you just have to check the tuning whenever you play.
    Part of the deal.

    By the way, I would caution against leaving it in a warm car.
    All kinds of mischief can happen.
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    Every day is a gift. Sheila Lagrand's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    You Guys!! I took the Collings (Phoebe) out yesterday to play and three of the strings were in tune! I nearly had a coronary.
    Now, what was I after when I wandered in here?

    Phoebe, my 2021 Collings MT mandolin
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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Change those strings my friend!

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    Registered User meow-n-dolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheila Lagrand View Post
    You Guys!! I took the Collings (Phoebe) out yesterday to play and three of the strings were in tune! I nearly had a coronary.
    Now THAT is a red-letter day!!!!

    Al
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    Registered User TheMandoKit's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Combination of the short scale and unison strings means that there is twice the chance that something will go out of tune, and/or sound out of tune. Your violin may go out of tune as frequently (or more, if you have gut strings), but you may notice it less, particularly because you can adjust your finger position for intonation as you play. Nothing is more frustrating than two strings on the mandolin that don't play in unison as you move up the neck.

    As they say:

    • How long does a mandolin stay in tune? Until you play it or someone opens a door.

    • "Mandolin" is Italian for "out of tune."


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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    As everyone has said, mandolins go out of tune. You may also want to check that the strings are properly installed and not slipping on the posts.

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheila Lagrand View Post
    You Guys!! I took the Collings (Phoebe) out yesterday to play and three of the strings were in tune! I nearly had a coronary.
    Last summer my Strad-O-Lin stayed in tune for days at a time. This year, with all the July rain (please can we send some out west), not so much. My house has brick walls, and I've been running either an air conditioner or a dehumidifier almost 24/7 since the Fourth.

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    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    If you are used to synthetic violin strings and nylon guitar strings you'll notice that the steel mandolin strings react quickly and dramatically to smallish changes in temperature.

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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Welcome to the Cafe!

    I might think the strings were old and see how well it holds tune with a fresh set in a stable environment. For mandolins, this is my preferred way to string them.

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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    I, too, am an old violinist who fell in love with the mandolin and bought the Eastman 515. And, I also wondered why I could not keep the darned thing in tune. With my violins, I seldom had to do much more than tweak a fine tuner and I was good to go. With my mandolin, I used to feel like an old joke: I spend half of my time tuning, and half playing out of tune.

    a few things happened. Like violin strings, it took a while for the mandolin strings to stretch out. And, when I later put on a new set of strings, I had help winding them extremely well. I can now depend on my 515 being nearly in tune whenever I take it out of its case. Even so, I have found that mandolin tuning, for my 515 and my campfire mandolin do take more regular tuning attention. I suspect all of the plucking pressure versus bow action pulls the poor strings more quickly out of tune. And temperatures and humidity will also impact you. However, what a delightful instrument once you get used to the minor differences between it and your fiddle.

    I also worried a bit about the Eastman tuning hardware, but finally decided that more frequent tuning was just a new part of my mandolin life. So, the original tuning hardware is still in place and doing fine.

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  22. #17

    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Unless the tuning machines are absolutely worn out or broken there is little to slip or move in the machines, even fairly cheap ones. A more expensive set may turn more smoothly while you are tuning them. But it will not lock any tighter or be less prone to slip. An extremely precision set may actually be a drawback as it requires such close tolerances on the holes in the wood that they will bind as the wood swells or shrinks.

    The gear is locked against the worm and is not going anywhere unless the knob is bumped or the machines totally worn out.

    Mandolins, having a shorter scale than guitar or bass, are more sensitive to environmental changes. It does not take as much overall change in the size of the instrument with humidity to change the tension enough to affect tuning.

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    I have too many stringed instruments. They all hang out in my temperature and humidity controlled basement music room. The five fiddles (4 with normal pegs/fine tuners and one with geared Perfection Pegs) stay in tune much better than all my mandolins, guitars, banjos etc using various brands of tuning machines.

    Even the original machines on my 1930's resonator mandolin and banjolin or the dreadful cheapass Chinese knock-offs originally on a couple instruments were ok - they didn't frequently slip. I found the crappy tuning machines are just harder to turn. Whenever I've upgraded to better machines I mainly find smoother operation is a greater benefit than staying in tune longer.

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    Registered User TheMandoKit's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    I have too many stringed instruments. They all hang out in my temperature and humidity controlled basement music room. The five fiddles (4 with normal pegs/fine tuners and one with geared Perfection Pegs) stay in tune much better than all my mandolins, guitars, banjos etc using various brands of tuning machines.

    Even the original machines on my 1930's resonator mandolin and banjolin or the dreadful cheapass Chinese knock-offs originally on a couple instruments were ok - they didn't frequently slip. I found the crappy tuning machines are just harder to turn. Whenever I've upgraded to better machines I mainly find smoother operation is a greater benefit than staying in tune longer.
    First of all, "too may stringed instruments?" Not sure that's possible. Maybe too many to play at one time . . .

    Maybe I've just been lucky, but even on less expensive instruments, I have never really had tuning machine problems. I do keep them clean and lubricated, and try not to knock them on anything hard, but so far so good. OTOH, I haven't had any really cheapie tuners, so there's that. Or maybe I just have low standards?
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    My Eastman 305 is a good buy for the price, but the tuners aren't great, they're very tight. Other things to check though - are the strings wound smoothly and evenly on the machine pegs, or do the string ends cross themselves? If they do, you might be getting points where the wound end can compact down where it crosses itself?

  26. #21

    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    I just bought an Eastman MD 505. It generally stays in tune one day to the next but each string gradually becomes a little flat. Nothing out of the ordinary. My Washburn M1SD has the same pattern with the tuning. I keep them in their cases in my room set at 76 degrees. It could be that temperature changes could be affecting your tuning.

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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    On any given day in the entire universe only three mandolins are in tune and David Grisman owns two of them.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Quote Originally Posted by dryuhyr View Post
    In ambient conditions it'll be less than half a step out of tune after a day, but in a warm car it could be much more than a full step out after sitting there for a morning.
    Don't leave your mandolin or any other stringed instrument in a car for hours on a warm day. Do you do the same thing with your violin? Or your dog?

    I found a web page that says this:
    On a sunny 70 degree day, it only takes about a half hour for the temperature inside a car take reach 104 degrees! It you think that’s fast, after one hour, it can reach 113 degrees. When temperatures outside climb range from 80 degrees to 100 degrees, the internal temperature of your car can reach a scorching 130 to 172.
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    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    Perhaps the string is slipping and not the tuner.
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  32. #25

    Default Re: New Eastman won't stay in tune - bad pegs?

    My Eastman 505 (and my Collings for that matter) tend to go sharp while idle for a few days. Flat while playing gigs. Per Eastman website, tuners are Pingwell, not Gotoh until you get to the 800 and 900 series. Grover 309s are a big improvement and easy to switch in. You still need to tune frequently, but a little less, and they just feel better.
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