E10D-TC vs E20D-TC Review
#1
Since you guys have been asking, these are my initial thoughts concerning these two torrefied Eastman dreadnaught models.

I apologize up front for the picture quality. I had to take pictures of these two at night in a room with terrible lighting. I’ll post better pictures sometime in the near future.

Strings:

Both guitars are strung with Martin Phosphor Bronze treated Medium gauge strings. I like these strings as they seem to give long life without sounding overly coated.

Overall Tone:

The overall tone of these two guitar are quite similar. They are both loud, clear, and have almost a bell like quality. And much to my surprise, they actually sound much more similar than they sound differently. Because of this I am beginning to realize that guitar brands and makers may have a larger contribution on the tone than b/s tone woods.

Again, to my ear, they seem to have that balanced Eastman voice. Neither is too boomy or woofy. Though, much to my surprise, the E10 has a slight bit more bass than the E20. Tonally they both are voiced more like a Collings than a Martin. I kinda expect the E20 to sound more like a vintage Martin D-28, but it wasn’t so.

I would describe both guitars as having bell like clarity and great overtones. They both have volume to spare without being harsh.

The E10 seems to have the classic mahogany bumped mid range with a very pronounced quick decay bass and strong highs.

The E20 has that slight smiley face EQ with a focus on the bass and highs while still retaining a great amount of balance. The E20 is quite clear and has a fair amount of bass without being boomy.

The E10 sounds glorious, dare I say majestic. So many overtones happening at one time. The E20 sounds sweet and musical. It rings with the chimes of the guitar gods!

In the overall tone department, both guitars are very good examples of modern takes on the classic dreadnaught.

Volume:

The Adirondack top seems to add more volume and clarity to the tone when compared to Sitka counterparts. The E10D-TC seems to have the edge over the E20D-TC here. It might be that the guitar is two years older, but I don’t think this is the only factor at play.

I distinctly remember the day I first played the E10D-TC. I was blown away by its volume and bass response. It was as loud as some of the pre-war Martins that I’ve played. I now attribute this to its very large full C shape neck. For this reason the E10 seems to be slightly louder than the E20.

Neck:

Speaking of necks, this is where the two guitars begin to differ. Both are said to have mahogany 1 3/4 inch necks but the feel of the two are not the same.

The E10 has a much larger, full size mahogany neck. It’s as large as some of the Martin authentics I’ve played. Think “baseball bat” neck. It’s big, but not uncomfortable. I have medium size hands and find it very easy to play when set up with low action. It also takes medium strings very well.

By comparison, the E20 has a smaller, thinner neck. I haven’t measured them, but the E20 feels like a 1.725 or 1.7 inch wide neck. It’s not the full C that the E10 is either. My E20 feels more like some of the necks on the reimagined D-28’s that I’ve played which have the high performance taper.

Out of the two, the E10 seems to provide more volume with its mass, and the E20 provides a sleeker and slightly more comfortable feel with its thinner profile. I like them both but I had to choose just one I would go with my E20.

If this is a large factor for you I would suggest playing one in the store. These necks feel completely different even with similar set ups.

Playability:

Both guitars come from the factory with high nut slots and high saddles. After filing the nut slots deeper and reshaping the saddles both guitars now play as good, if not better, than my two USA Martins.

I partly attribute their great playability with Eastman’s impeccable fret job. These guitars came with the best dressed frets I’ve seen in any guitar under the $4000 price range. Both guitars play great up and down the neck without any buzz or fretting out. Both play great with a capo and have nearly perfect intonation.


My E10 has been one of the most stable guitars I’ve ever owned and I’m hoping the E20 will be the same. If you gig a lot stability can be a life saver.

Aesthetics:

Both guitars are very elegant and beautiful, but both had a few fit and finish issues. Where the neck joint meets the body of the guitar there was some leftover glue on the E10 and the same place on the E20 has uneven stain. There were other small cosmetic issues like hazing in the nitro finish, but overall these were not deal breakers for me. The tone and value make up for slight cosmetic imperfections.

It might also be worth noting that my E10 came in a little bit better fit and finish than my E20. This may be because it was one of the first 5 E10D-TC’s that Eastman ever made. I’m thinking they paid very close attention to detail on that first run. I hope they keep up the good work as the demand for these models goes up as the years go on.


As far as aesthetic features go, I tend to prefer the more traditional rosewood head plate and herringbone binding on the E20. The E20 looks like more of a pre-war D-28 than the E10 looks like a D-18. The E10 has an ebony head plate and a tortis binding that is quite beautiful, but not found on D-18’s from the golden era (if my Martin history serves me correctly)

Both guitars have beautiful tone woods that are on par with many of the boutique guitars I’ve played. The mahogany on the E10 appears to almost have a blistering effect to it. The EIR on the E20 is lighter and grayer in color than my D-28. Eastman is using some very good East Indian Rosewood. My wife really liked the color of it too!

Build Quality:

Both guitars seem to be very well built and have very little to no structural issues. ( I can’t say the same has been true for all my Martins costing 2 to 3 times the price.) I feel like the value to quality ratio is very high on these Eastman guitars.

I was also very impressed by the quality of Adirondack spruce Eastman is using on these two models. I believe it to be on par with most boutique builders in the $5,000 price range. They are very straight grain and uniform in spacing. They have no runout and very little streaking, which sadly I’ve seen on boutique guitars costing into the 5 figures.

Comparison to Non TC models:

I don’t own a non TC model Eastman, but from those that I’ve played in the store the Thermo-Curing process seems to add a bit of snap to the attack, right out of the box, without being too harsh. These sound like Eastman’s on steroids that have been lovingly played for years.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great non TC models out there. I’ve played several of them, but I just like the darker looking tops on these guitars and I believe TC process adds stiffness and stability as well. Plus, it’s only a couple hundred dollar upgrade.

Value:

10/10. These are comparable to guitars costing 2, and 3 times as much.

Overall Impressions:

I’ve owned many high end Martins and Taylors and I think these Eastmans are on par with guitars at least twice their price point. These aren’t just good guitars for the money. The are good guitars period!

Both are winners in my book. Both are loud and powerful dreadnoughts. Both have similar voices with slight nuances.

Both guitars sound absolutely amazing and are still very new. I’m excited to see how both guitars will age over the decades. If you can get your hands on either one of these models, do it! I wholeheartedly recommend both of them.

I hope this was helpful. I’ll do more updates to this post as the weeks, months, and years go on.

Cheers!
AlanSam, TomC, eastmanschool, RoyBoy, Bert, Meathead, sagebrush tom, Zissou Intern, Rip VanWinkle, Pura Vida, sleigh, Guzzi Fan like this post

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#2
That was an awesome comparison, and your analysis seems so detailed and completely fair to each guitar (and to Eastman).  It's interesting that you describe how the sound is similar between these two models, but yet they retain some of the classic characteristics from a Rosewood or Mahogany dread.  Sometimes a guitar builder can shape the instrument to fit their desired sound.  Also, I'm no expert on vintage guitars, but someone once said that older Mahogany guitars can take on more overtones and sound closer to Rosewood, and likewise, Rosewood guitars can mellow out and take on a more Mahogany-like tone.

Finally, it may be TMI, but I think I drooled just a little bit, as I read your dual review.  Eastman is at the top of its game, and we are fortunate to be playing and caring for these fine instruments.
AlanSam, Bert, sleigh like this post
"It's only castles burning." -- Neil Young
#3
Thanks for such a well thought out review, great day for EGF when you joined. 

Handmade guitars run circles around mostly-cnc made models, dare say CFM or Taylor (quantity vs quality).  The slight diff in neck carvings etc are minor issues when compared to the poly finished/tusq Taylors and loose bindings/neck resets of CFM.

I've had the E20OM-TC since Nov 2017 and the setup hasn't budged a nano, same for the 2014 AC630.  My 2015 D-18 needed a neck reset after 18mos, it and CFM are no longer residents here.  Like someone said 'music is not based on the brand name of the instrument'.

I'm so very happy for you, as you know from the E10, the E20 is just going to get better as time goes along.  Nothing but good will to you Joshua.  bert
Meathead, Pura Vida, sleigh like this post
#4
I loved your comparison of the two, especially since I wouldn't mind acquiring an E20D (torrified or not) somewhere down the road. Thanks for the review, Joshua!
Best, Steve

6 string acoustics: 2018 Eastman E10D (Red Spruce/Mahogany); 2021 Eastman E6D-TC (Alpine Spruce/Mahogany); 2021 AC522CE - GB (European Spruce/Mahogany)
Electric guitar: 1964 Guild Starfire V semi-hollow electric
Acoustic Bass: Epiphone El Capitan 5 String Acoustic/Electric Fretless (Year ?)
Website: http://www.stephenleigh.com 
YouTube: sleighwriter
#5
Excellent comparison, and thanks for posting, Joshua!  I enjoyed reading it.  Sounds like both guitars are outstanding.

I do find it fascinating that you discern a noticeable difference between the neck shape of the two guitars.  I was under the impression that Eastman has in recent years developed a very consistent standard carve, but as Bert made note of, perhaps the hand made aspect still lends to variability.  I admit I am still a little surprised to hear of the differences between your two guitars of the same model in factory year 2019.  That said - glad you like both of them!  Thanks again for the review.

Tim
#6
Update: I’ve had the E10D-TC for two years now and the E20D-TC for 5 months so I figured it was time for an update!

Not a whole lot has changed since my initial review, but there have been a few minor developments.

First with the E10D-TC. After owning this guitar for two years it still blows me away. It is the best sounding acoustic I’ve owned to date. It has it all. Bass to spare, warm mids, and cutting highs. It’s loud, resonate and warm. It honestly sounds like a 50 year old guitar right now. I’ve really never played another Eastman acoustic that could rival it, even others of a same model. (I wish I could compare it to others I’ve read amazing things about on this forum) Anyway, after a couple years it just keeps getting better and better. It might truly be “the one.”

The guitar is also rock solid. It hasn’t moved at all since the day I bought it, and it plays mediums like they are lights. It’s seriously one of the easiest acoustics to play and for that reason alone I’ll probably never get rid of it. Awhile back I thought I wanted a D-18 and I played a few at a couple different shops (even the new Modern Deluxe) but those had nothing in my E10D-TC! They sounded quiet and somewhat dull. My E10 is loud and lively!

Next is the E20D-TC. It’s a great guitar, but not exactly what I expected when I bought it new online. There might be some wisdom here of trying in person before buying. It’s not that it’s a bad guitar, but it just hasn’t been what I expected. I thought (based on my 10) that it would have more of a vintage D-28 tone with the TC Adi top. Sadly it does not. In fact, it sounds almost the opposite of what I expected. It’s very bright and somewhat new/green sounding. (It hasn’t quite opened up to where I’d like it) Don’t get me wrong, it sounds great in its own right! It’s very bell like with clarity and trebles to spare. But to my surprise it’s actually has less bass than the E10D (which is somewhat strange) but overall it’s not bad. It’s got decent bass, good mids, and exceptional highs. And it’s surprisingly balanced. I use it a lot live (to lead worship) because it cuts right though the mix.

Tonally it’s much different than my D-28 live. The D-28 sounds boxy and muddy at times, (plugged in) even with the LR Baggs Anthem. On the other hand, the E20D is clear and bright live. And that has its major perks in this settings. (I also have an anthem in the E20).

Acoustically the E20 is not my favorite guitar. I prefer the warmth of Martin’s and my E10D-TC. But like I said, in a live setting it works like a charm. The playability is also great, and when it’s capo’d it provides some great harmonics up the neck! Now that I think of it it reminds me of a Taylor V class slope shoulder dread that I recently played.

In all, I hope the 20 will open up over time. But even with the TC top I think it’s going to take a couple years to mellow out.

I’m keeping both for now. They offer something my Martin’s do not.

Anyway, thanks for reading. This is the first time I’ve owned the same guitar models but with different tone woods. It’s a fun journey. I hope you’re enjoying your Eastmans!

P.S. I’ve found that the tonal qualities of Eastmans range quite a bit from guitar to guitar. I know I’m hearing the difference in tonewoods between my guitars, but I also feel like I’m just listening to two distinct voices, and that’s okay. Smile
TomC, Meathead, Shishigashira, Pura Vida like this post
#7
Hey, Joshua!  Happy anniversary on the E10D-TC and thanks for the in-depth update.  Some really great insight, especially your last point about how each guitar has its own voice.  I own two E40D guitars --- exactly the same tonewoods, specs, appointments, etc. --- and they sound completely different.  The 2016 is extremely lush, and anytime I change strings, it's very bright, so I can barely play it for a week until it settles down.  Meanwhile, the 2017 is much more focused with more bottom end.  My expectation was to keep them both for a year and then sell the one I liked better, but truth be told, it's been about two years, and I can't decide b/c they are so different.

I'm glad that your E10D-TC is everything you wanted.  Just curious... what strings are you using for each?  I'm wondering if some different strings could help settle down the bright tone.  For example, in the 2016 E40D above, I've been using GHS Vintage Bronze to reduce the overall brightness and tone it down a bit.  Perhaps your E20D-TC could benefit from the same?
"It's only castles burning." -- Neil Young
#8
PV, it’s good to hear that you’ve had a similar experience with your two E40D’s. (As far as individuality goes). And those are good questions.

As far as strings go, I’ve noticed that they can make a world of difference. I started with the the factory strings which I believe were light D’addario PB. They were okay but when I first go the guitar it wasn’t set up to my liking so I did a setup and put on Martin Medium PB (Authentic Acoustic 2.0 treated) These are my go to strings.

I also recently put on a set of Elixir Nanoweb PB mediums on the E20D-TC so maybe that’s contributing to the brightness some. These tend to be bright at the beginning then then warm up as they age.

But I’ve found that every guitar likes different strings. So I’m on a search to find the match for my 20.

I would love to try the strings you suggested and also some Martin Retro Monels. That might also warm up the tone a bit

I’ve never used GHS strings. How do you like their vintage bronze? How long do they normally last you? Smile
#9
I like GHS strings a lot, and after experimenting with a lot of different strings, that's where I landed.  They have really good volume and tone, and I think they last a good while.  On average, I change my strings every two months, but could probably go longer (I like them to sound fresh).

I play their standard PB (buy the 6-pk) for most guitars, but use the Vintage Bronze on my Mahogany bodies and the 2016 E40D, which benefits from being tamed a little.  The VB strings sound played in after a few days (in a good way) and then stay that way (they're not worn out).  They're an 85/15 copper-zinc alloy, so they're warm and bring out the wood tones of the guitar (which is why I like them on the Mahogany bodies; you might like them on your E10D-TC too).

GHS makes the VB in light (which I use), medium, and bluegrass (light top/medium bottom).

https://www.ghsstrings.com/products?categories=acoustic
"It's only castles burning." -- Neil Young
#10
I’m going to try couple sets of vintage bronze medium strings for my two Eastmans and then a light set for my D-28. I’m really curious in these! Thanks for the recommendation!!
Pura Vida likes this post


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