Standing six feet and two inches tall, I need a smaller electric guitar like I need the person sitting in front of me on a longhaul flight to recline their seat. However, there are many players for whom the full 16-inch width of an ES-335 is too much of an armful, hence the popularity of scaled-down semi-hollow models such as Gibson’s ES-339.
From a guitar-maker’s perspective, there are two common ways to approach a small thinline build. One is to simply take the ES-335 formula (laminate top, back and sides, solid centre block) and shrink it. The other is to carve out the back and glue on the top. Gibson’s ES-339 opts for the former solution, while its CS-336 showcases the latter.
Back in 2018, we checked out Eastman’s T184MX, which, much like a CS-336, features a carved mahogany back. But instead of incorporating a full-length ‘centre block’, the T184MX has a mahogany block beneath the bridge and tailpiece that’s glued between raised sections of the top and back. Like the ES-339 and its ilk, Eastman’s T484 is a simpler laminate affair, hence the significant price differential between our review model (£1,239) and the T184MX (£1,999).
That’s not to say too many corners have been cut – the T484’s outer-body layers provide another symphony of fiddleback maple from a company that knows a thing or two about violins, while the build is the cleanest and most precise we’ve seen from the Eastman stable. The gloss nitrocellulose finish is free of distress and has been buffed to a mirror sheen, but the vibe is in no way sterile or inorganic.
Like the larger-bodied T59/V-RD we reviewed earlier this year, the T484 features a pickguard hand-bound in grained ivoroid to match its neck and body binding and the bridge studs are screwed into bushings rather than directly into the body, vintage-style.
Eastman’s new, slimmed-down headstock delivers an uninhibited string path behind the bone nut, while rather than the Gotoh machineheads we’re used to seeing on Eastman pegheads, the T484 features Kluson-style tulip-button 14:1 tuners from Ping Well. Happily, we don’t encounter any performance issues or indeed any unwanted pings.
Eastman’s neck profiles are always appealing and the T484’s ‘traditional even C’ easily passes the ‘can you see the binding from the back?’ test. This usually means there’s a soft-shouldered carve that simply gets out of the way of your fretting hand and provides a comfortable playing experience – that’s certainly the case here, although some will prefer the chunkier profiles elsewhere in the catalogue.
Its body may only be 14 inches wide, but the T484 projects like a cannon, with strummed acoustic chords eliciting a bold voice full of thinline ring and even, solidbody-like sustain. We’ve become accustomed to hearing Eastman guitars fitted with custom-voiced Lollar Imperials – and they do a great job of capturing that airiness we’ve all heard in great vintage-style humbucker tones – but the Seymour Duncans here are different animals.
Less complex and white-knuckle than some PAF-types, the Duncans offer a smoother ride, with cut-glass sophistication from the Jazz at the neck, and balanced compression from the ’59 at the bridge. Seymour Duncan might not be as fashionable as your favourite boutique brand on Instagram, but the hugely experienced pickup maker knows how to get the job done.
There’s plenty of versatility here, especially if you favour brighter Marshall/Vox/Blackface circuits over darker and more mid-rich tweeds, and the T484 makes an ideal transition model for solidbody players making their first leap through the f-hole.
- PRICE £1,239 (inc. hard case)
- DESCRIPTION Thinline semi-hollow electric guitar. Made in China
- BUILD Maple laminate body with maple centre-block, three-piece maple neck with 12-inch radius ebony fingerboard, 22 medium-jumbo Jescar 47104-P frets, bone nut. Ivoroid neck and body binding
- HARDWARE Ping Well RM1239-N vintage-style tuners with tulip buttons, tune-o-matic bridge and stop tailpiece
- ELECTRICS Seymour Duncan ’59 (bridge) and Jazz (neck) humbuckers, 3-way toggle pickup selector, 2x volume, 2x tone with Sky MC 223 0.022uf capacitors
- SCALE LENGTH 24.75”/629mm
- NECK WIDTH 44.5mm at nut, 53.6mm at 12th fret
- NECK DEPTH 20.1mm at first fret, 23.3mm at 12th fret
- STRING SPACING 37.2mm at nut, 51.7mm at bridge
- WEIGHT 6.8lb/3.1kg
- FINISH Classic gloss nitrocellulose
- CONTACT Eastman Music Company eastmanguitars.com
Like this? Try these
- Gibson ES-339 Gloss £1,699
- Ibanez Artstar Prestige AM200 £2,049
- Epiphone ES-339 Pro £369