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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

Eastman_ER0_El_Rey_Oval_hole_Archtop-2

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.

Eastman_AR805CE_Sunburst_Archtop_Guitar-top3

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.

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