T386, 486 and 59 advice
#1
Hi all,

I am a relatively new guitarist having started older in life. At best, I am in the overlap between advanced beginner/ low intermediate and have been playing a Gretsch G5220 (Broadtron pick-ups) since I started around 4 years ago. It's a great budget guitar and has a nice sound but I am looking to add something different with a fuller darker sound.

I have a milestone birthday and am looking to treat myself to a thinline semi-hollow guitar. I love the deep mellow sound I hear (admittedly through budget computer speakers) from YouTube videos from the Gibson 335 but at £3- £3.5k in the UK, it is out of my league price-wise. My budget is about half that. I have admired the Eastman brand for a while and have looked at comparison videos of the T386, 486, 486B and T59.

To my ears (and I know from my hi-fi hobby how subjective this is) via poor PC speakers, the T386 sounds more mellow with the more budget Kent Armstrong pick-ups. I really love the Goldburst finish on the T486 and the look of the fretboard with parallelograms but sonically it sounds brighter than what I'm looking for. The T-59 sounds much warmer but I am not a fan of the worn-look varnishing or aged Lollar antiquity pick-ups and it doesn't look like Eastman make it available in the Goldburst without the worn-look.

Of course, I realise that the answer is to try all 3 back-to-back but there is nowhere in the UK that holds that kind of stock of Eastman after checking online. In any case, I think I'd be convincing myself to go with the 486 just for the appearance. I originally liked the idea of the 486B with the Bigsby versatility but, to my ears, that sounds brighter still. I have considered getting the T486 and then thinking of changing the neck pick-up (mostly where I play) to something more Gibson-esque but I've heard a variety of expert opinions as to whether it's the pick-up choice or the wood that make the most difference to sound.

Sorry for the lengthy post but I just wondered if anyone else gets where I am coming from on how the guitar sounds to me and had any advice. I'm lucky enough to live near a good guitar tech and was wondering whether adjusting the height of pick-ups might also be a fix. My head tells me to listen to all 3 "blindfolded" and go with my ears. My heart tells me that the 486 Gold burst is so beautiful that it would be worth spending some more on modifying if I can get that idefinable sound I'm looking for.

Any thoughts?
Thanks
#2
Welcome to the club Robbo! I have not had hands on any of the guitars you are interested in - but I know the feeling. We who love guitars are like kids in a candy store. Good luck!
robbo400 likes this post
Alan
''Bad company done got me here …'' - Rev Gary Davis
#3
Greetings Robbo! I'm glad you've joined us. I own an Eastman T386 and enjoy playing it very much. The build quality is exceptionally good. I wouldn't dismiss the T386 if you come across one you like. I haven't tried a T486 so I can't directly compare the two, but I agree the inlays and flame tops many of them have look great. Please keep us updated on your search ...
robbo400 likes this post
#4
(02-02-2024, 07:50 AM)robbo400 Wrote: Hi all,

I am a relatively new guitarist having started older in life. At best, I am in the overlap between advanced beginner/ low intermediate and have been playing a Gretsch G5220 (Broadtron pick-ups) since I started around 4 years ago. It's a great budget guitar and has a nice sound but I am looking to add something different with a fuller darker sound.

I have a milestone birthday and am looking to treat myself to a thinline semi-hollow guitar. I love the deep mellow sound I hear (admittedly through budget computer speakers) from YouTube videos from the Gibson 335 but at £3- £3.5k in the UK, it is out of my league price-wise. My budget is about half that. I have admired the Eastman brand for a while and have looked at comparison videos of the T386, 486, 486B and T59.

To my ears (and I know from my hi-fi hobby how subjective this is) via poor PC speakers, the T386 sounds more mellow with the more budget Kent Armstrong pick-ups. I really love the Goldburst finish on the T486 and the look of the fretboard with parallelograms but sonically it sounds brighter than what I'm looking for. The T-59 sounds much warmer but I am not a fan of the worn-look varnishing or aged Lollar antiquity pick-ups and it doesn't look like Eastman make it available in the Goldburst without the worn-look.

Of course, I realise that the answer is to try all 3 back-to-back but there is nowhere in the UK that holds that kind of stock of Eastman after checking online. In any case, I think I'd be convincing myself to go with the 486 just for the appearance. I originally liked the idea of the 486B with the Bigsby versatility but, to my ears, that sounds brighter still. I have considered getting the T486 and then thinking of changing the neck pick-up (mostly where I play) to something more Gibson-esque but I've heard a variety of expert opinions as to whether it's the pick-up choice or the wood that make the most difference to sound.

Sorry for the lengthy post but I just wondered if anyone else gets where I am coming from on how the guitar sounds to me and had any advice. I'm lucky enough to live near a good guitar tech and was wondering whether adjusting the height of pick-ups might also be a fix. My head tells me to listen to all 3 "blindfolded" and go with my ears. My heart tells me that the 486 Gold burst is so beautiful that it would be worth spending some more on modifying if I can get that idefinable sound I'm looking for.

Any thoughts?
Thanks

Hi
i have a T59 which I love. Initially I was put off buying it by the ageing and was going for the 486. But at the end of the day reviews of the Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickups steered me to the T59. The ageing is not to extreme and I now rather like it. Of course your amp will affect the sound a lo too so it’s the combination that counts.
I bought mine online from Maks Guitars in London. His photographs are amazing quality. Even if he doesn’t have particular model in stock you’ll still find accurate photos of sold items like the T59 which will give you a better idea of the ageing. 
But I don’t think you’ll go wrong with any of these and it may come down to what you bond with visually!
david
#5
Hi again
Maks guitars website currently shows all 3 in stock though not necessarily in colours you want. Maybe you need a trip to London to try them all! I think they’re all essentially the same body so differences in sound at least will be almost entirely down to pickups. Certainly t59 and 486 are identical material and construction as far as I know.
as for you tube reviews I doubt they’ll help you choose on sound even through hi-fi. Different reviewers will use different amps/direct recordings, microphones, strings, plectrums etc. 
I am playing my T59 (at home) through a Boss Katana mostly on clean settings. Sounded great too on a a Princeton Tonemaster which I’ve now sold but different from the Katana (which I now prefer, particularly for its flexibility)
You can go round in circles with YouTube reviews/demos but they only help so far!
david
#6
Thanks David for your advice.

Really useful and I have the Boss Katana too - the 50 model. Like you, I tend to play clean. As great as it is having all those functions on the amp, I find it too much of a pain to set up every time and remember all of the settings so I'm actually thinking of buying pedals so I can switch on or off what I need/want at a glance. I'm playing some late 70s/80s stuff that needs tremolo and phaser, and also thinking of a Delay for my painful attempts at 50s rock 'n roll.

Thanks for mentioning Mak's. I have actually been there once before to look at Eastman acoustics when I had been playing a few months. He was so helpful but in the end I didn't buy as I felt the E2 model I had planned on buying was similar to my guitar and the fantastic E6 and E8 models were beyond my budget. I will look at his website and go again. Cheers
#7
Hi,

I had a T59V and loved everything about it except for the size. The SD Antiquities are incredible, but you are correct about the finish/optics. I just picked up a T484 (size problem solved) with the same pickups as the T486. The SD 59 in the bridge is a little hotter in my opinion so it really depends on what sound you are after. I do not have any experience with the T386, but you cannot go wrong with the T486 or the T59. As somebody else mentioned it may come down to which one you like the looks of. Happy hunting!
robbo400 likes this post
#8
I've also just seen the T186MX is in stock on the website for the London shop David N mentioned.

It's a fair bit more expensive but I'm intrigued as to whether the solid mahogany back + sides will give it that same acoustic characteristics as it does to an acoustic guitar - that warmth that I love. (Most of you will cringe at this but it could also be less revealing of my mistakes and bum notes !)

In UK£, the price is £2.3k which versus £3.5k for a flame topped Gibson 335, made (I believe) of laminate, seems to represent good value. I wonder if the difference in tone between the T186 and T59 is night and day.

Thanks for all your advice. I will let you know once I have been and tried them out


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