Eastman-made stringed instruments are affordable and higher quality ... just don't go looking for the Eastman Family who crafts them.
Whether your search for a new violin has taken you to a local brick and mortar violin shop or to the Internet seeking to purchase a new violin at an online violin store, you’ve probably encountered the brand name Eastman. Eastman Music Company, formerly known as Eastman Strings, is one of the largest manufactures and suppliers of new violins in the world, creating high quality student violins, intermediate violins and violins for advanced players and professionals.
Though the company is called “Eastman” and violins are named after “Samuel Eastman” and “Andreas Eastman”, the company is not named after a violinmaking family named “Eastman” and there are no brothers or cousins named Andreas or Samuel. Instead, the fascinating story of Eastman Music starts with a young graduate of Boston University’s music department named Qian Ni, an accomplished flute player.
Ni was supporting himself by becoming a violin broker, importing violins into the United States from noted Chinese makers and driving from city to city selling them to various violin shops and music stores for a profit. In 1994, recognizing the need for better quality student and beginner violins, the enterprising Ni set up a workshop outside of Beijing to begin hand crafting Eastman instruments. Eastman sells their violins directly to their dedicated network of shops and stores.
Today, Eastman manufactures affordable violins, violas, cellos, basses and even bows. These are hand crafted by talented luthiers using the same techniques and hand tools as the famous European workshops did two hundred years ago. While most of the violins from Eastman are made in China, there are several models that are made in Romania and Germany.
All of the instruments are hand varnished and many of them are antiqued to look like old Italian master violins. Eastman violins are all modeled after Guarneri and Stradivari patterns and come in various sizes, such as 4/4 and ½. All newly purchased Eastman instruments come with an impressive limited lifetime warranty. Many are sold as violin outfits, which include a violin bow and a violin case and some basic violin accessories, such as rosin and extra strings. These outfits are usually assembled by the individual shops selling them, so be sure to compare the quality of the cases, bows and accessories when comparing one to another.
Eastman violins are priced between $575 for a quality, reliable student instrument that holds its resale value to about $4,000 for the highest quality violin for professionals that include high quality finishes, such as chin rests, pegs, varnish, end pieces and fingerboards. Though these violins are affordable, it is advised to visit a local violin shop that sells Eastman instruments and the violin for a test drive. Many violin shops offer home trial opportunities, as do online violin stores.