We’re not playing authentic anymore…
Thanks to Alex from Eastman Guitars for making this review possible!
Overview & Final Score: 8.9
As someone who has never been a fan of traditional Gibson Les Pauls, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed this Eastman SB59. This guitar is a vintage LP through and through and even felt surprisingly familiar the minute I picked it up. The Eastman SB59 is, as the name implies, a ’59 Les Paul remake with a vintage Nitrocellulose finish. A 1-piece Mahogany body is matched to a Flame Maple Top and 1-piece Mahogany neck as well. That’s matched to an Ebony fingerboard that holds gorgeous Pearl Crown inlays and Ivoroid binding around the body and neck.
When it comes to the engine that drives this beast, you’ve got two Seymour Duncan Classic 59 humbuckers that don’t disappoint. CTS 500K pots are matched to the stereotypical LP set up with a 3-way switch and two volume and two tone controls. When it comes to the tuners, Gotoh SD90 are responsible for keeping this 24.75″ scale length guitar in tune.
Eastman’s SB59 is closer to a vintage Gibson Les Paul in tone than a lot of the real Gibson’s I’ve played. The Seymour Duncan humbuckers are creamy, rich, and really PAF-like. I used to hear players like Joe Bonamassa say that they could get a huge variety of tones from just their volume and tone controls and never believed it. However, this SB59’s controls are incredibly sensitive and I was able to get a huge variety of sounds out of it. Everything from Led Zeppelin to Cream to The Clash in terms of rock tones and even plenty of crystal clean and clear tones for pop, jazz, and fusion.
The best sounds by far are the neck pickup with the volume and tone cranked. It’s bluesy, smooth, and sounds like the ’60s and ’70s to my ears. Usually LP clean sounds don’t do it for me, as I feel the miss the percussive and punchy sounds of a Fender guitars, but this guitar was different. The SB59 doesn’t have any of those percussive tones I love, but the clean sounds are incredibly rich, almost chimey, thanks to these Seymour Duncan’s and the guitar’s huge natural sustain. I have to stop asking companies to review guitars that are awesome, because it’s hard to find bad things to say about this SB59.
The feel of the neck is just phenomenal, slim as you approach the nut and getting just a bit bigger as you move to higher frets. It’s a far cry from the baseball bat necks that some people prefer on LP’s that I dislike. Now, it’s not a super slim, fast neck that will appease shredders, but it feels far more comfortable for any player’s hands than some of those old Gibson’s. The tuning stability was overall pretty good, it did not go out of tune until you really started bending the strings. Leaving it in the case overnight or out on my guitar rack didn’t have the strings slipping at all. Like a lot of Gibson’s though, the break angle of the string into the nut isn’t as bend/heavy pick attack friendly as some other classic guitar brands.
Finish & Construction: 10
The SB59 is wonderfully build, from a structural perspective, it’s flawless. The vintage Nitro finish is gorgeous, feels amazing, and arrived with no dings, dents, scratches, or smudges. All the hardware was adjusted wonderfully and the action was perfect out of the box. Anytime a guitar shows up from UPS feeling that nice out of the box and barely out of tune is a testament to the craftsmanship. This is a beautiful archtop with QA/QC that clearly has a step up on Gibson (even though they are improving). I see a lot of the appeal with this guitar, it’s essentially a Gibson copy with a few tweaks (slimmer neck, Seymour Duncans) and more trustworthy build quality.
Okay, time for a few critical statements. I love the SB59, it’s incredible sounding and beautifully built. BUT, for closer to $2000, I don’t see why most LP lovers wouldn’t go for a top end Gibson. As you move closer to that $2000 price point, you start to move away from some of the cheaper production model Gibson’s that have all those build quality issues in the first place. So while the guitar is phenomenal, I feel that as a buyer, you need to want an Eastman instead of a Gibson to buy this, as opposed to wanting the best LP you can find. For the $2000 price tag though, you are getting a hell of a guitar and it does not disappoint at all. It’s not overpriced based on quality and I cannot recommend trying one of these out enough. The SB59 is an excellent guitar, even if I’m unsure of the market share they are trying to attract.
Good for: Blues, Classic Rock, Les Paul Lovers
Ultimate-Guitar.com review on the way and some quick clips of this paired with the JHS PG-14 Distortion should be up today!