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I have a craving. A burning desire, a yearning. It can defy logic and reason. I know I’m not alone. I’ve got it. It’s almost a physical ache. Call 911.

The name for this condition, which frequently affects collectors, players and enthusiasts, regardless of age, musical ability or financial status is Guitar Acquisition Syndrome, or G.A.S. — as in “I saw a guitar that gave me G.A.S”… 

Eastman El Rey - 0, hand carved, oval hole archtop

photo from Sound Pure

The other day I was Googling around and ran across a way cool, new Eastman El Rey 0 at Bernunzio Uptown Music shop in Rochester, NY. My first thought: wow. My second thought: odd. Odd because Eastman stopped making this model in 2010.  I Googled some more and saw another at Sound Pure


photo from Sound Pure

It has all the G.A.S. producing qualities. At 14 1/2″ it’s a small, modern looking acoustic archtop with an oval sound hole, designed by luthier Otto D’Ambrosio. The top is hand-carved spruce and the arched back is hand-carved mahogany. It has maple binding and a gorgeous sunburst finish. Curiously, the neck joins the body at the 16th fret. I’ve been intrigued by this model since the first time I saw one. It just looked cool — sort of old-fashioned like an old Orville Gibson body but with an updated — very modern — shape. Every so often one will turn up on E-Bay, usually with a ding or a scratch. I even asked a local Eastman dealer to see if he could unearth one for me a few months back. I imagined him calling sterile climate controlled warehouses and dark underground storage vaults. Or at least calling a guy who knows a guy.

But even though his extensive resources couldn’t shine a light on one of these unique beauties, it turns out there are still a few NOS ER0s out there for some lucky jazz players. And just like the magic bus  — I. Want. One.

Now, on the Otto D’Ambrosio blog posted 1-25-2013, there is a picture of Eastman’s newest El Rey, the ER4 … announced at the 2013 winter NAMM show. It has a single humbucker pickup and at 16″ it’s a little larger than the prior ER 0, 1, 2 & 3 models. The 2013 Eastman catalog doesn’t picture the face of this guitar – only the back.  I guess the design was not ready to announce when the catalog went to print …

photo from Otto D’Ambrosio

By now, anyone interested in affordable archtops knows the Eastman Music Company story … a Chinese violin manufacturer turned guitar factory — crafting well made, modestly priced, solid wood, hand-carved archtops to rave reviews. Their flat-top guitars are usually described as the best, great-sounding value you can find and their mandolins are famously regarded as well. Eastman guitars usually come with a really sharp-looking, colorful fiberglass case (cases can be purchased separately, too). By the way, Eastman still makes and sells violins and other woodwind and brass band instruments too.


photo from Sound Pure

About a year ago I bought an Eastman AR805 CE on E-Bay for a really good price and I’ve been a fan ever since. I think I’ll go practice with it now and see if that doesn’t give me some G.A.S. relief.