Eastman have been earning a fine reputation for a few years now, by crafting a fine selection of solid body and semi acoustic models , that have taken influences from some of Gibson’s legendary models – I recall a comment from a very discerning customer of mine – He had recently purchased a new Eastman SB59 and brought it into the shop to show me – This customer has owned many fine guitars in the past, that have cost £5000 and more, so he has expensive taste buds, plus an impeccable product knowledge, for exquisite guitars – He said ‘get over the fact that it is built in China – Get over the fact that it doesn’t say Gibson on the headstock facia and you can buy a mighty fine guitar’ – I acquired this used, 2019 Eastman T59V with an aged amber Antique Varnish finish – Priced at £1299 and that includes a deluxe shaped Eastman case, along with an appropriate certificate – Might be worth you spending a few minutes reading a review, undertaken by Chris Vinnicombe and courtesy of Guitarist Magazine, so please click here – The whole guitar is highly spec’d and hand crafted in China so in no particular order let me update you with the following details :-
- Whole guitar weighs 7lbs and 15oz – So on a par with many similar 335 models
- 16″ Maple laminate body in the usual semi acoustic manner
- Ebony fingerboard + headstock facia + truss rod cover
- 12″ fingerboard radius
- 1 12/16″ nut width so effectively 1/16″ wider than a traditional Gibson 335
- 24.75″ scale length – So Gibson influenced
- Jescar FW47106 medium jumbo frets – .047″ / .104″ – nickel silver – NO nibs over fret ends
- Maple neck with a meaty neck profile with a hint of ‘slimmer shoulders’ so it doesn’t feel a handful – ’59’ influenced – Measures .884″ around the top nut end and .966″ around the 12th fret
- Aged patina finish – ‘French polished top coat’ satin vibe – Lengthy process and very much influenced by violin luthiers ‘Grained’
- Ivoroid binding – body, fingerboard plus headstock
- Top spec’d hardware and electronics – CTS pots, Switchcraft socket + selector switch
- Gotoh lightly aged hardware – including light weight aluminium tailpiece plus ABR style bridge
- Kluson vintage style machine heads with tulip buttons
- Seymour Duncan Antiquity paf flavoured humbuckers – Unpotted + alnico 2 magnets
- Orange Sprague tone caps
The whole feel of the guitar is very much old school – Chunky neck profile which certainly feels like many Gibson 59 style models inc the 59 LP replicas – The frets are on the chunkier side and close to Dunlop 6150’s – As such string bending is effortless and allows for a slick action without any choking out – The guitar has been on my bench for a new set of 10/46 gauge strings and set-up with a sensible slick action – Maybe somewhat different for a vintage Standard flavoured model, you’ll find an ebony fingerboard – I don’t see this as a positive or negative feature – Without being told about it and without looking too hard at the guitar itself, just play it, I’m not so sure you’ll notice it – Ebony does add a touch of clarity to the overall tone but again we are talking about marginal differences
Tonal character :- Very much old school – Not sure you are expecting me to say otherwise – For many the first evaluation is to judge it unplugged – Played acoustically, you’ll wish to check out how it feels, performs and sounds and in doing so, you’ll find there is no negative experience at this stage – You can both feel and hear it ring out loud as you play a few chosen open chords – A chunky neck assists with this vibrant character – But I dare say you’ll be in a hurry to hook it up to your amp – Initially, you’ll maybe rush through a few chosen licks, as you switch from clean to overdriven amp settings and again no complaints so far – So now a more thorough sound check is required and I start off with a clean amp setting – It possesses enough natural character to ensure that it does not sound bland whatsoever – Rich, smooth, fat and warm with almost a single coil clarity from both pick-ups – The Seymour Duncan Antiquity paf replicas are on the lower output side of life, certainly compared to modern contemporary humbuckers – As such the tone is lush and musical – Chilled out blues chords and licks, or country twang and it possess plenty of character, with good depth, body and articulation – I’m sure many will play such a guitar in some form of rock/blues environment, with a decent level of gain on the amp, yet it is nice to know that you can still experience such a lush clean tone to fall back on as and when required – The overall tone character is more refined, as against being a screamer, yet it can still bite, bark and growl when required
To me playing the Eastman T59/V, through an overdriven amp setting, is discovering how it will respond with subtle variations to the volume and indeed the tone pots – This is were you should find so much soul, emotion and expression and again it does not let you down – Lower gain amp settings with the 59/V turned up, or hi-gain amp levels with the volume pots rolled off, will produce distinctively different and useable voices, so instantly both options have there place, be it for chord work, riffs, shuffle patterns or lead licks – It is this expression that allows you to become fully infatuated with such a guitar – With everything on 10 you’ll experience a big tone, with clear lows, crisp highs and just enough fat mids, but not to the extent they overpower – Roll off the volume pots a touch, for subtle but effective variations and now you’ll experience a softer voice that is more sultry, but certainly not muddy, as the guitar retains its articulation and sparkling clarity – With the amp on moderate distortion levels, this approach allows you to morph from Pete Green style blues licks, with the volume pot around 6 or 7, through to Bonamassa rock blues licks with the volume pot now on 10 – On hi-gain amp settings, the same approach allows for subtle but effective levels of gain to be controlled by you and the volume pot – From full on ‘Still Got The Blues’ to a more tender approach as required – Hence so much emotion available to you – Try Less gain, along with a boost pedal and the guitar on 8 through to 10, or hi-gain and the guitar now around 6 and both produce different voices that are totally useable – As I said so much emotional control at your fingertips – Overall this 59/V always sounds more melodic and tender, so in control, as against pushed to its limits – The more you play it, the more you realise what it can deliver – The finer nuances of the guitar may not stand out on its first 2 minute test drive, but the more you play it, the more it will grow on you as you discover what it can deliver
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Guitars4You is not another corporate high street guitar store - My selection of premium grade guitars is about quality not quantity. Every guitar has been selected, inspected and approved by me, with particular attention to the set-up and playing performance. Every sale, phone call, email and mail order transaction is handled by me. A journey that is now over 40 years old, has fuelled my knowledge, experience, love, devotion and passion for exceptionally fine guitars.