Eastman AR905SCE Uptown Deluxe
Price: $3,650 retail
Over the past few years the negative stigma attached to guitars manufactured overseas has been altered greatly. Many builders from abroad have upped their games significantly, rising from mere copycats to top contenders. One such builder that consistently proves its commitment to quality is Eastman Guitars, and a shining example is the AR905SCE Uptown Deluxe.
The Uptown Deluxe is an upscale hollowbody with a carved maple back and sides displaying plenty of quality figure from Eastman’s private reserve wood stock. The solid carved spruce top with classic f-hole construction sports equally high quality, while the Venetian cutaway lends added class that hollowbody fans will truly love. The Uptown Deluxe, with its 16″ lower bout, is also expertly adorned with figured maple binding, a five-piece maple neck, and an ebony fingerboard, and is available in Sunburst and Blonde. The three-per-side headstock continues the traditional look, with the gold Schaller tuners with ebony buttons adding further elegance. The ebony theme continues to the hand-carved trapeze tailpiece, compensating bridge, and even the pickguard.
Electronics and controls are kept to a minimum. The Kent Armstrong floating pickup is the perfect choice, and the single Volume and Tone controls are cleverly located beneath the pickguard to help make this 25″-scale, 22-fret beauty an attractive option for any number of players.
As always, the proof is in the pudding, and this is where the pudding sometimes gets sticky for overseas manufacturers. With hollowbodies there is no place to skimp; for the Uptown Deluxe, skimping was never an option. From the moment the case is opened, the guitar’s quality is evident – the finish, the construction, and the playability are all exceptional. And the Uptown Deluxe sounds as great as it looks and feels. Though jazz players will relish in its classic warmth and depth, there are other possibilities as well. Strung with acoustic strings, for example, the Uptown Deluxe takes on a whole new spectrum that is just as pleasing. Such versatility underscores the fact that the Eastman Uptown Deluxe is comparable to some of the best hand-built hollowbodies on the market.
This article originally appeared in VG September 2013 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.