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Eastman Guitars’ AR371CE

An affordable jazz box that’s hard to beat

It’s been a pleasure over the past decade or so to watch Eastman grab a share of the guitar market. The company, which also manufactures orchestral string instruments and horns, first came to the table with a classic jazz ax, the AR810CE archtop, in the early 2000s, later expanded with the successfully experimental El Rey by Otto D’Ambrosio, and even introduced a line of fine flat-top acoustics. More to the point, the pleasure has been playing these instruments, all made in China with much attention paid to detail and “getting it right.”

Until the AR371CE archtop’s introduction in 2012, Eastman’s guitar line lacked an option for jazz players with less than a grand to spend. Like the company’s more premium-priced options, the instrument that fills that hole, listing at $975, doesn’t disappoint.

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