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Thread: Thoughts on an Eastman MD-515 Mandolin as a first scroll

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
    Moose Jaw Sk Canada

    Default Thoughts on an Eastman MD-515 Mandolin as a first scroll

    Hello all
    I would appreciate any thoughts you may have on the Eastman MD-515 instrument. I have been playing around with a few A type instruments but I am curious about the Scroll.

    Big Muddy MM-8 , Kentucky 256,
    Red Valley EM, Beaver Tail.

  2. #2
    Playing on the porch
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    A Hilltop in Central Texas

    Default Re: Thoughts on an Eastman MD-515 Mandolin as a first scroll

    I can only comment on how it sounds and how it feels to play. My Eastman 515 was my first mandolin, and it was a great instrument for me to initially play. I now have a new primary, but I learned to love the mandolin by playing my Eastman. I'm an old violinist and found the Eastman 515 to produce good tone throughout the spectrum and to feel good on my lap and in my hands. There are a ton of good instruments out there and the Eastman 515 is one of them.
    2021 Ellis F5 Special #564 mandolin
    1928 Roth (Amati) violin
    2017 Eastman MD515 mandolin
    1907 Foltz (Strad) violin

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Tangent OR

    Default Re: Thoughts on an Eastman MD-515 Mandolin as a first scroll

    I have a 515/V that I love the sound of - it's my main instrument and I perform with it regularly. I played a standard 515 at a music store first - I was surprised how much I liked it. I was ready to buy that, but they had sold it as I wallowed in indecisiveness. I found the 515/V used-like-new here in the classifieds. I say go for it.
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    Listen to original tune "When You Fly" by my old band The Kindreds

  4. #4

    Default Re: Thoughts on an Eastman MD-515 Mandolin as a first scroll

    A scroll is handy to hang a strap on. That”s really the only functional difference from a carved-top A-style body with f-holes.

    And I guess it provides some comfort and security to Monroe-style purists and anyone who wants to have the general public recognize the instrument as a mandolin.(an uphill struggle in any case.)

    The physics minded like to point out that the slightly larger air chamber created by the scroll theoretically creates a very slight increase in sonic volume.

    Always nice to see a new Canadian dans Le Cafe de Mandoline. Bonjour!
    2009 Eastman 505
    2011 Collings MTO GT
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    Stihl MS261C

    Mandoline or Mandolin: Similar to the lute, but much less artistically valuable....for people who wish to play simple music without much trouble —The Oxford Companion to Music

  5. #5
    Registered User dwc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Charleston, SC

    Default Re: Thoughts on an Eastman MD-515 Mandolin as a first scroll

    My experience is that Eastman are good mandolins. A lot of people recommend the 315, and it is fine, but the 515 gets you better tuners and (debatably) a better tailpiece. I think it should also get you an upgrade to a hard case.

    Also, FWIW, I think wanting a scroll is a perfectly reasonable sentiment. Even if the 505 would sound just as good, if the 515 makes someone happier, then, IMO, it’s worth the money.
    Northfield Artist Series F5 (2 bar, Adirondack)

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Default Re: Thoughts on an Eastman MD-515 Mandolin as a first scroll

    I have a lot of respect for Eastman instruments. Prior to a downsize move in 2018 I had a 315 that I got for a great clearance price at a big box store. It was one they got right. I used to joke that it was 85% of the tone of a Collings MT I had at the time at a fraction of the cost (I think I paid $429 for it not too long before they jumped to their current listings). I always got compliments on it (admittedly in fun environments like the beach, lake dock, camping, etc) from people, and not infrequently from friends and family who heard me
    play on my better instruments but couldn’t really tell the difference. One of the girls in our youth praise band at church (for which I’ve been the adult supervision for over a decade) has an Eastman 6 string that sounds like it should be 3 times what she paid for it.

    So, if a scroll you must have, a 515 is a very good (and potentially excellent) entry point. If you’re looking to take that next big step in tone, though, an A style in the $1500 +/- range is the way to go. My first pro-level carved mandolin was a Silverangel Econo I bought in 2009 or 2010 (best instrument bargain I’ve ever scored at $900 used…even better than the Eastman because of what it had in the tone department). I couldn’t believe what a step up it was compared to the Kentucky 675S that was my main instrument prior to the SA’s arrival. It kept MAS at bay until 2018 when I turned the SA, Eastman, a Flatiron 1N, and a Taylor guitar into my Kelley A-5 (remember, I was downsizing and going for fewer but better).

    But, yeah, the 515 is a solid line of instruments. If you need electronics the 615 comes with a pickup and may be worth a look as well. Happy hunting!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Thoughts on an Eastman MD-515 Mandolin as a first scroll

    I recently got a varnish 515 and it's really quite good. It probably actually sounds better than my Northfield Big Mon, which is not a knock on the Northfield. But that said, I played the 515 and a 615 side by side, and I was unimpressed by the 615 but recognized immediately how good this 515 was. So definitely try to play a couple of them if you can.

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