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Thread: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

  1. #1

    Default Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Anybody own or played a newer Eastman mandolin? Curious about opinions on this finish. Mainly thickness vs nitrocellulose finished.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Hmmm... Haven't played any newer ones. I really like the woody tone of the satin finish.. I own two 300 series (MD305 - 7-8 years old & a MD314 - purchased June 2020).. and a friend has a 10+ years old 815V (varnish) that sounds outstanding. I really hope the new poly doesn't do to Eastman's tone what it did to most imported Guild (for example) acoustic guitars I've played. I make that reference as a long time owner of two nitro USA Guilds from the 70s and 80s.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Well . . . .
    Nitro is a great finish.
    It's also toxic, flammable, unfriendly to the environment, etc, etc, etc.
    Regulations concerning its manufacture and use began a long time ago, and increase every year.
    The number of manufacturers is decreasing.
    Many instrument manufacturers phased it out a long time ago, and others continue to join the club.
    A time will come when nitro will be special order only, if available at all.
    Welcome to the 21st century.
    Many other traditional instrument making materials are going away. Celluloid. Ebony. Rosewoods. Mahogany. Alkyd based oil varnish. And so on.
    100 years from now, new instruments will be built with few of the materials that are familiar today. Hopefully good spruce will still be available.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Well . . . .
    Nitro is a great finish.
    It's also toxic, flammable, unfriendly to the environment, etc, etc, etc.
    Regulations concerning its manufacture and use began a long time ago, and increase every year.
    The number of manufacturers is decreasing.
    Many instrument manufacturers phased it out a long time ago, and others continue to join the club.
    A time will come when nitro will be special order only, if available at all.
    Welcome to the 21st century.
    Many other traditional instrument making materials are going away. Celluloid. Ebony. Rosewoods. Mahogany. Alkyd based oil varnish. And so on.
    100 years from now, new instruments will be built with few of the materials that are familiar today. Hopefully good spruce will still be available.
    That why tort pickguards are so dang expensive? I think poly has itís virtues if done well, like on my 95 Taylor 410. However when laid on thick, I believe it hurts tone severely.

  5. #5
    Registered User TheMandoKit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    I am old enough to remember when pretty much any decent fretted instrument that you looked at was finished with nitrocellulose. Most of mine are, even the relatively recent ones. However, a few years ago when I played a Huss & Dalton guitar for the first time, the finish was so unobtrusive and thin, I didn't even think to ask what it was, just assumed it was nitro. I was surprised to learn (after I had agreed to buy it) that it was catalyzed urethane, as are all of their guitars. I now have two H&D guitars, so the finish is obviously not of concern to me. 🤷🏻

    So, as Parmejohn notes above, if done well, the catalyzed finishes can be quite nice and, at least to my ears, do not adversely affect the sound. Poorly done, pretty much anything can turn out badly.
    Kit
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    There's been a lot of discussion on this topic (naturally) over on the Eastman Guitar Fans forum. It turns out there was confusion on when Eastman switched over and some buyers got the new finish without realizing it. They couldn't tell the difference soundwise. It's the same finish Dana Bourgeois has been using for awhile and his tone doesn't appear to be suffering. The biggest difference/advantage is that catalyzed finishes cure so much faster and are more durable than nitro.

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  8. #7

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheMandoKit View Post
    I am old enough to remember when pretty much any decent fretted instrument that you looked at was finished with nitrocellulose. Most of mine are, even the relatively recent ones. However, a few years ago when I played a Huss & Dalton guitar for the first time, the finish was so unobtrusive and thin, I didn't even think to ask what it was, just assumed it was nitro. I was surprised to learn (after I had agreed to buy it) that it was catalyzed urethane, as are all of their guitars. I now have two H&D guitars, so the finish is obviously not of concern to me. ����

    So, as Parmejohn notes above, if done well, the catalyzed finishes can be quite nice and, at least to my ears, do not adversely affect the sound. Poorly done, pretty much anything can turn out badly.
    Yes. The catalyzation, as distinct from evaporation or other hardening processes for water-based paints and finishes, makes a huge difference. There are makers offering remarkably thin, hard (non-rubbery) catalyzed finishes using a water base. It's a terrific development, IMO. I like nitro finishes, but find nitro itself to be a creepy, repulsive substance until it's hardened and shrunk over the years. It's probably time for us all to let it go.I use shellac (French polish) myself.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Roy View Post
    There's been a lot of discussion on this topic (naturally) over on the Eastman Guitar Fans forum. It turns out there was confusion on when Eastman switched over and some buyers got the new finish without realizing it. They couldn't tell the difference soundwise. It's the same finish Dana Bourgeois has been using for awhile and his tone doesn't appear to be suffering. The biggest difference/advantage is that catalyzed finishes cure so much faster and are more durable than nitro.
    I am in this group. I purchased my instrument under the spec list that stated nitrocellulose and noticing the plastic like appearance of my mandolin, contacted Eastman and surprise, it is poly. I donít know enough about mandolins to know how much thick, soft poly will hurt tone. Iím hoping this Trutone will truly mimic the thickness and hardness of nitrocellulose. I just have to grieve that it wonít wear and check like nitrocellulose, which I find to be beautiful on vintage instruments.

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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Roy View Post
    The biggest difference/advantage is that catalyzed finishes cure so much faster and are more durable than nitro.
    I've been playing Eastman guitars and mandolins for about 15 years now and I think it's a blessing that they've changed the finish. Over the years the nitro has gotten better, but it has always been so darn fragile. I think it's an improvement, especially if Dana had anything to do with it.
    " Give me some words I can dance to and a melody that rhymes" - Steve Goodman

  11. #10

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Quote Originally Posted by tjmangum View Post
    I've been playing Eastman guitars and mandolins for about 15 years now and I think it's a blessing that they've changed the finish. Over the years the nitro has gotten better, but it has always been so darn fragile. I think it's an improvement, especially if Dana had anything to do with it.
    My concern is thickness. I put acetone on a q-tip and wiped the overspray inside one of the f-holes(which initially led me to think it was nitro) and it exposed a good cross section of the finish and it looks rather thick, although that could be build up at the edge, but I donít think it is. Overall it looks thick and plastic-y. Iíve refinished a lot of Strats, and I couldnít have gotten a finish that thick if I tried.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Parmejohn View Post
    .... I don’t know enough about mandolins to know how much thick, soft poly will hurt tone....
    This is either inaccurate or a mischaracterization of the finish being used today on guitars and mandolins when done properly, such as shown by companies like Eastman, Taylor, Bourgeois, and, I'm sure, others.

    Yes, there have been some bad examples of those "dipped in plastic" looking instruments from decades ago, but a new, properly applied, catalyzed finish is harder, and possibly thinner, than a new nitro one.
    2009 Eastman MD815/V
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  14. #12

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    I hope you are right. I only have one instrument to go off of but my finish looks more like my Alvarez Masterworks acoustic with a poly coffin around it than it does my Taylor 410. It looks thick. Iím no expert, however.

  15. #13

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Quote Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
    This is either inaccurate or a mischaracterization of the finish being used today on guitars and mandolins when done properly, such as shown by companies like Eastman, Taylor, Bourgeois, and, I'm sure, others.

    Yes, there have been some bad examples of those "dipped in plastic" looking instruments from decades ago, but a new, properly applied, catalyzed finish is harder, and possibly thinner, than a new nitro one.
    And I will add possibly louder. I've refinished a few mandolins whose finishes weren't holding up or where structural work required addressing the finish. Some were varnish and one was 40 year old nitro. In all cases, the instruments were louder and had better projection, not what I was seeking or expected. Clarification, I used a post-catalyzed conversion varnish, NOT trutone.

  16. #14

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Does Eastman claim that Trutone is catalyzed? I donít recall reading that.

  17. #15

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Quote Originally Posted by Parmejohn View Post
    Does Eastman claim that Trutone is catalyzed? I don’t recall reading that.
    Why not use their contact form and ask Eastman directly? Maybe include your model and serial number to confirm the finish type of your own model (gold-top 415, right?)?

    Pure speculation, but the gold-top versions probably do have a bit more finish (of any type), simply because a true metallic is difficult to apply unless the surface is correct, likely sealed, and, of course, there's usually a clear-coat applied afterwards. I think Eastman may have wanted to evoke the "Goldrush" look, but it's several thousand $ less, so, some allowances probably had to be made.
    2009 Eastman MD815/V
    some home music videos

  18. #16

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    I did contact them to check the serial, and it likely falls under the Truetone cutoff. The rep just copied and pasted the official Truetone release. I asked them what was in it because I noticed that acetone was activating the overspray in the f homes, but not the finish on the back or under the tailpiece, and he just linked their standard care and cleaning page. So yeah they arenít really transparent about the finish. You are probably right about the paint requiring a little more finish. Donít get me wrong, I really like the mandolin. I could have sent it back but I chose to keep it, regardless of my misgivings about the finish. Ijust started the thread to hear opinions and maybe gather a little more info. Itís fun to talk about.

  19. #17
    Registered User Frankie D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Quote Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
    Why not use their contact form and ask Eastman directly? Maybe include your model and serial number to confirm the finish type of your own model (gold-top 415, right?)?

    Pure speculation, but the gold-top versions probably do have a bit more finish (of any type), simply because a true metallic is difficult to apply unless the surface is correct, likely sealed, and, of course, there's usually a clear-coat applied afterwards. I think Eastman may have wanted to evoke the "Goldrush" look, but it's several thousand $ less, so, some allowances probably had to be made.
    I did contact Eastman in regards to the finish on my new 305, and about all I got was it's the Satin Trutone Finish with no break down of what exactly it consists of, and of course it's great stuff.
    Eastman 515 Mando
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  20. #18

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Well, probably trade secret/work product kind of information; but, if it's not lacquer, varnish, or french polish (shellac), i.e., something which they'd clearly market, it's a modern finish with low VOCs and fairly quick dry time, so that doesn't leave much but some kind of [pre-] catalyzed finish. WAY too much concern about something that has probably been engineered and applied (by a company like Eastman) to protect the instrument without affecting tone, IMO. Just play the dang thing.
    2009 Eastman MD815/V
    some home music videos

  21. #19

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    If it bothers you so much, then just donít click on the thread. Problem solved. We are just discussing a new and interesting finish that we are curious about, in a discussion forum.

  22. #20

    Default Re: Any Thoughts on Eastman Trutone Finish?

    Sorry Keith. That was a little more bitey than I intended. Some of these topics are ludicrous to many, but these threads become amazing tools for researching new instruments and equipment, especially for newbies like myself who know very little at best.

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