For some 18 years now, Eastman’s acoustic guitars and mandolins have earned plaudits from players who have been impressed by their level of construction and relatively low price. As it happens, guitarists have been equally thrilled by Eastman’s electric guitars, in particular with the feel, tone and overall “wow” factor.
Although the Eastman T484’s origins clearly lie with the seminal Gibson ES-335, upon closer inspection its closer to the ES-339, which has proved popular as a more compact alternative semi-acoustic. At 14 inches across the lower bout and 1 3/4 inches deep, the body is a tad smaller than the big-bodied 335, providing a more comfortable ride without losing the magical semi-acoustic voice that players love. The T484’s top, back and sides are made from laminated flamed maple, with a solid center-block sandwiched between them to combat feedback and enhance sustain. The glued-in neck is a three-piece mahogany construction with no volute, and is topped with a bound ebony fingerboard with pearl dot-position markers. Buffed to a high gloss, the Classic nitrocellulose finish beautifully reveals the impressive flame on this example.
From the bone nut to the immaculately polished frets to the neat multi-ply body binding, the T484 is a first-class effort that begs to be played. The traditional hardware complement of Tune-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece continues the impression of solidity. The Kluson-style tuners are smooth and accurate, and the Seymour Duncan Jazz Humbucker in the neck position and 59 Classic Humbucker in the bridge promise great tones when the guitar is plugged in.
Although I’m not a big fan of the thin-taper style of neck that this profile resembles (Eastman calls it their “traditional even ‘C’”), it’s comfortably rounded and feels great in the hand. Played acoustically, it exhibits a lively, rich, clear tone, with a certain snarl at its core when hit it hard.
Tested through a tweed Deluxe-style 1x12 combo and a Friedman Small Box head and 2x12 cab, all of this effort in construction, finish and setup revealed a versatile instrument that excelled at just about anything I asked of it. Clean amp settings elicited warm, yet articulate jazz tones from the neck pickup and surprisingly chimey, snappy sounds from the bridge position, all with excellent clarity and balance. With the Marshall-inspired Friedman head cranked up on the lead channel, the T484 leaned even further toward SG and Les Paul territory than traditional larger-bodied members of the family. The Duncan pickups keep us in PAF-inspired territory, and the T484 rocks large as a result, with a juicy, vintage-leaning harmonic edge, great dynamics and enough aggression to cut it for heavier styles. There’s still hovering feedback to be had when you play your positioning right, but I found it all easily controllable. Ultimately, the guitar proved a fun and expressive instrument through and through.
In short, the T484 offers the kind of quality and performance you’d expect to get in a mid-high-end guitar costing twice as much, an achievement that earns it Guitar Player’s Editors’ Pick Award.
PRICE $1,399 list
NUT Bone, 1.75" wide
NECK Maple, traditional “even C” profile
FRETBOARD Ebony, 24.75" scale, 12" radius
FRETS 22 medium-jumbo (Jescar 47104-P)
TUNERS Pingwell RM1239-N (Kluson style)
BODY Semi-hollow archtop body made from laminated flamed maple, solid center block
BRIDGE Gotoh Tune-o-matic-style bridge with stopbar tailpiece
PICKUPS Seymour Duncan Jazz Humbucker neck, Classic 59 Humbucker bridge
CONTROLS Independent volume and tone for each pickup, three-way selector switch
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario NYXL .010–.049
WEIGHT 7.7 lbs
KUDOS An extremely well-built compact semi-hollow electric offering great value for the price, great playability and excellent clean-to-mean tones