Other Guitars

Pretty Much Finished Now

1

A couple of months ago I started modding this Eastman John Pisano model to make it a little more rockabilly-friendly. When I saw it for sale, its striking orange color and beautiful flame made me think it would be a real looker, while being a practical player, with its 1.75” nut and ebony fingerboard (I didn’t notice at first that it’s only a 20-fret neck, but I can live with that). And when I got it, I concluded I was right, because it is indeed gorgeous. So much so that I couldn’t bring myself to muck around with it or drill new holes in it. And that lasted a while, but as usual, I got over it.

First I added a gold B-3 in place of the stock tailpiece, then a stainless Tru Arc, and some gold Dunlop Straploks. But the pickups, while good sounding as jazz humbuckers go, didn’t get the sound I wanted. So when I think of tonal versatility in pickups, I think Mel Waldorf’s Alameda Off Kiltertrons. These, along with his clever wiring of a 6-position rotary switch, provide more options than I’ll likely need in any single gig, and plenty of possibilities.

So I had Mel make me a pair with gold covers, and got the pickups in a couple days ago. One thing I discovered after mounting the Bigsby was that it made reaching the pickup selector, which was down by the tone controls, a little tough to get to quickly while playing. So when I installed the pickups, I put the rotary switch in that hole and moved the pickup selector up to the upper bass bout, and it’s very convenient there. Here are a few pics of the process.

5

Dang so there is an eastman with a full 1 3/4" nut-- now I'm interested. I have no prob w/ non reversible mods to Chinese stuff.

6

Must say as someone not crazy about Venetian cut aways,it looks quite handsome on that guitar. Must be the lovely color. How's it play?

7

There are a lot of Eastmans with 1.75” nuts. The most common is the AR372, which is essentially an ES-175 wannabe. I got one for $650 not long ago. As far as looks go on this guitar, like the flame wasn’t enough, the wood binding just makes it pop. The ebony tuner buttons are a nice touch, too, along with the magnetically attached ebony truss rod cover.

This one sounds great now. I mean, it did before, as a jazz box, and I used it for that successfully for a few gigs. But I wanted it to do more, and it does. I shot a demo video yesterday and will get it up to YouTube as soon as I can get near a computer long enough to do that. When that happens, I’ll share it here.

9

Its a beauty, Frank.

10

The hole

– giffenf

This one gave me cold sweats.

11

Don’t worry, Bob, there was a happy ending. It was a nice, sharp, brand new drill bit. But yeah, I sweated that one, too.

12

Are there sound posts or trestles in these from the factory, or did you have to do anything to inhibit feedback?

Boy, that top looks thin! From an acoustic standpoint, that’s awesome. From a feedback standpoint, danger Will Robinson!

13

I’m not familiar with this model... how wide and deep is the body? Is the B3 the right Bigsby for that? (I suppose it is since that’s what your using!)

14

Yep, that’s a concern, no soundpost, no trestles, just a pair of parallel braces up the top and that feedback-absorbing plywood. No time to do feedback-resistance tests yet. Maybe tomorrow. I have had it somewhat loud and close to the amp with no hint of feeding back but not a thorough test by any means. We’ll see.

15

Hi, Ed. The Eastman AR380CE is a slightly smaller-feeling archtop with a body about the depth of a 6120. It's 16" across and 2.75" deep. I hemmed and hawed when deciding on which Bigsby to use, and I could have gone with a B-6, but after measuring it, I concluded the handle would be too far up for my comfort while playing, and the B-3 would still be easy for me to reach, and wouldn't get in the way. But I really didn't know for sure until I got it on the guitar. I told myself "If the B-3 doesn't work, I'll sell it and get a B-6." So far, I haven't had any issues with it, it feels natural and works correctly for my needs, so I think it's the right one. I can grab the end of the handle and wiggle it all I want with ease.

I put a B-6 on my AR-372, which isn't much bigger than this one, and it feels right, and my t58/v came with a B-6, too, and it feels fine. I think a B-6 would have got in the way on this guitar.

16

As threatened, here is the demo video I shot yesterday:

17

That hole looks like it’s about 1/2” off. (Hah)

Great playing as always Frank. It looks and sounds great. Love the pickups.

Happy Holidays.

18

It may well be in an imperfect location. I looked at a bunch of pictures of tone-pot 6120s and their switch locations, and eyeballed it similarly. Over the years, I’ve learned to be less rushed on projects like these, but I won’t claim to be especially patient once I get going.

Thanks, and see you at Viva Las Vegas in April. We’ll be playing in the Bienville room on Saturday afternoon.

19

OK, now I've done a few feedback-induction (a.k.a., ear-damaging) tests to see how susceptible the non-trestled, non-soundposted Eastman fares at high volume. And I found that in a small, closed room, 4 feet away from the amp, facing it directly, at 120 db or more, I can make it feed back reliably when playing a low C on the 5th or 6th strings, and to a lesser degree, a B. But all of the other notes just come out...loud. At 8 feet away at the same or slightly greater volume, those notes sustain longer if they're held, but they don't get into full-on feedback. This is true with either or both pickups on. So I think I'm safe for stage work, because I don't ever get up that loud in any situations where I'd use that guitar. Though sure, room conditions could cause that to change, I can probably make adjustments as needed.

20

It may well be in an imperfect location. I looked at a bunch of pictures of tone-pot 6120s and their switch locations, and eyeballed it similarly. Over the years, I’ve learned to be less rushed on projects like these, but I won’t claim to be especially patient once I get going.

Thanks, and see you at Viva Las Vegas in April. We’ll be playing in the Bienville room on Saturday afternoon.

– giffenf

I was just kidding (the “hah”). Jovial sarcasm was never my strength. Just trying to impress the hours of OCD sweating I would have gone thru before drilling into such a beautiful top.

21

No worries, Ethan, I got your sarcasm, I was continuing it a little, and apparently not well.

I’ve botched enough critical hole-boring and finish piercing tasks in my time to be both extra careful, and resigned to the likelihood that I’m going go smurf it up. If it goes the way it’s supposed to, I feel like an overachiever. The hard part is getting the hole to come out cleanly on the inside. Thankfully, no one sees that, and I won’t be taking pictures.

On the plus side, the gold-plated chicken-head knob arrived today, so now I can say the project is officially “done.”

22

Great demo Frank. Clear, straightforward, succinct and very useful. Well done sir!

I'm thinking of Off-Kilter'trons for my new Duo Jet...your demo has been quite helpful (even though in an entirely different guitar).

I was wondering how you would know what position you were in with the round knob...yay chicken head!


Register Sign in to join the conversation