In 1982 Qian Ni, an accomplished musician originating from Beijing graduated from the University of Boston’s music program with the intention of pursuing a career in music. Several decades later he began producing and selling his own instruments. Like most musicians, life for Qian Ni began on the road; in this case a car full of beautiful handmade Chinese violins which he sold to music stores in cities all across America. In 1994 after taking advice from his associates Qian Ni decided rather than distributing musical instruments he would open his first workshop on the outskirts of Beijing. Like a lot of those early pioneering guitar luthiers, Qian Ni (pictured right) began by building instruments from the violin family. With the successful growth of the company a decade later in 2004, Qian Ni exhibited at the winter NAMM trade show displaying a selection of quality archtop guitars which caused quite a buzz among the people in the trade. Under the name ‘Eastman’, his instruments were notable for their craftsmanship and acoustic qualities. Fast forward to 2017 and the company now offers a comprehensive range of beautifully hand-crafted acoustic flat tops and mandolins as well as over twenty different types of archtops.
Early guitar builders would have needed a diverse range of skills often turning their hand to cabinet making as well as other stringed instruments. Eastman guitars are one of the only companies today that keep the hands-on traditions alive. In fact the only machine you’ll find in the workshop is a band saw for rough cuts and a special saw for cutting out tops. Everything else is crafted by hand!
Eastman is very much a family affair too with some of the original luthiers still being employed today helping to oversee production and pass on their skills to other craftsmen and women employed at the workshop. The company is also proud to be a big part of the community employing a lot of local families with fair wages and employee rights. Drawing on the way that guitars from the ‘Golden Age’ of the 1930’s were built by some of the biggest companies (Gibson, Martin, etc.), Eastman recreate and old-world feel that hints at how great these guitars will become in 40-50 years time.
Eastman Guitars – Handcrafted Modern Instruments Traditionally Made….
After two decades, Eastman guitars have become a highly respected guitar manufacturer, offering over twenty archtops at present as well as a wide range of other stringed classical and folk instruments.
Our recent shipment included models like the Eastman T59/V, a thinline double cutaway semi-acoustic with twin humbuckers in a tastefully aged cherry finish.
Another favourite of mine is veteran jazz guitarist John Pisano’s signature model, the AR380CE (pictured) which is based on a Gibson ES-175 and finished in a stunning honey burst colour with maple binding. This features a practical magnetic truss rod cover – useful when you don’t want to lose the tiny screws!
Other models include the AR405E non-cutaway carved top jazz box featuring a single P-90 pickup producing a warm rich, creamy vintage tone.
So whether you want the versatility of a thinline or just a straight ahead jazz archtop Eastman guitars have something for everyone.