I am going to be very blunt in this review. I rarely say anything at all that's negative about companies or their products. I usually use the space to talk about things I do like. But since I have been posting pictures of the guitars I bought from Eastwood, I am getting lots of questions. People want to know what the experience was like. So I am going to tell you what happened to me.
The executive summary is - I have not had a good experience with Eastwood but they are also not the worst company I have dealt with. They aren't rip off artists or anything like that. But they are also not very competent, at least in my opinion and experience.
Let's cover the basics. I have purchased one six-string electric guitar from Eastwood and two short scale bass guitars from Eastwood.
During my research phase, I reached out to them via their online contact form (I cannot find an email address for anyone at the company) and I also contacted them via their Facebook page. I spent 10 days trying to reach them with no luck. Finally, I resorted to their online chat box and there finally, I spoke to someone named Lincoln who was reasonably attentive to my needs. I really would prefer to email, or phone but those options weren't available so I went with it.
I asked questions, specifically about setup and was assured that each guitar they sold came professionally set up by a luthier. I thought it was worth a try so here's the rest of the story.
The first guitar I bought was the Backlund Rockerbox DLX - LTD. First major problem. That was not the guitar they sent me. The reason I picked that specific guitar was they claimed it was a limited edition. I also wanted the Bigsby.
The guitar they actually sent me was a similar, but lesser model. They sent me a lesser guitar without the Bigsby. It was also not the limited edition. I contacted Lincoln via chat and he asked me to send him a photo of the guitar they shipped me. I jumped through that hoop and he agreed it was a mistake and offered me a $200 credit if I would take that guitar. I accepted but as I played the guitar I just wasn't impressed.
If the guitar had been professionally setup as they claim, whoever did the work was sloppy. The action was good but the intonation was off. The guitar came with a hard shell case, but it was filthy. It looked like it was pre-owned but no mention of the case being pre-owned occured on the website so maybe it was new but just in crappy condition. It took me 20 minutes to vacuum all the debris out of it. I had more than enough reason to ask for my money back, so I decided I didn't want to keep the guitar they sent me and asked for a refund. Eastwood offers a 45 day money-back guarantee regardless of reason. They agreed and sent me a label to return the guitar.
I had to go to the trouble of re-packing the guitar and then schlepping it to the UPS store to send back. That took me about 90 min.
Eastwood were prompt about returning my money and by all accounts, they have a good reputation in that regard.
Next up I saw that the Rockerbox 32" medium scale bass was on sale for several hundred dollars off the usual price. There aren't many medium scale basses around and certainly none designed by John Backlund, so I pulled the trigger on another bass, the Rockerbox in red and cream.
This guitar came with the same problems as the first. The setup was horrible. My luthier said that nothing above the 13th fret had the proper intonation. He said it was among the worst he'd seen since he opened his store in that location 14 years ago. He had to completely reset the bridge. He also did some fretwork on the instrument since it was a little uneven and oh yeah, the very, very, very cheap plastic knobs that Eastwood uses on this guitar for the tone controls fell off. One was stripped. Again I contacted Lincoln via chat and mentioned the problem. He said he would send me a new knob. It never happened. I never got the knob. I ended up spending money on replacement knobs. I bought good ones made of metal from Fender and they fit fine.
The case for this guitar was also very, very dirty and appeared to be used, just like the first one. I spent another 15 minutes cleaning this case.
I bought this bass on sale and it sounds great, looks great, and thanks to the extra $130 I spent fixing it up, plays and works great. My advice here is first, only buy from Eastwood when they have a sale. They have lots of sales and the prices can be reduced in a meaningful way. Never pay their full price because if you do, you're over-paying. Second, just expect you are going to have to either do your own setup, or hire someone to do it and plan to receive the guitar in the dirtiest case you have ever seen in your life. If you buy this guitar the way I did, on sale - it's a still a pretty good deal - had I paid anywhere near full price, I'd be sending it back.
My third go round with Eastwood was when I ordered their seafoam green, Airline MAP short scale bass.
This time they sent me the right guitar. But the same two problems persist. The setup was crap. (I have a hard time someone actually did a setup on this instrument) and the case looked like something a homeless person had slept in. I bought this particular bass as a novelty item so I am going to keep it. I was able to clean up the case and the guitar certainly looks good. It doesn't play very well but it makes a nice art piece in my studio. It wasn't all that expensive so I am cool with it. I had one more problem regarding the Airline bass.
I decided to pay for expedited shipping since I wanted to get the guitar quickly. I paid the $40 extra and the order processed right away.
A day or so later I got a shipping update and find out that they forgot to honor my request for expedited shipping. I again went online, found Lincoln and asked for a $40 refund and to his credit, he sent it right away. But while I got my money for the expedited shipping back, I didn't get the guitar when I wanted it or when they promised it.
You may have noticed a pattern here. Eastwood is either incompetent or just not paying attention.
I probably won't be buying any more Eastwood guitars. Which is a shame because they have some super cool instruments. They look cool anyway. I just don't feel like doing all the extra work required to get the guitar I want for the price I paid.
The CEO of the company sent me a nice email each time I bought a guitar, but in keeping with this company's approach, his email didn't contain any way to contact him and his email address had one of those do not reply markers on it. You cannot call them. You cannot email them. All you can do is chat with them. Many younger people may find this acceptable, I do not. I should have seen this limited ability to communicate with them as a warning flag and moved on. But sometimes, I am too optimistic.
I just do not have much faith in Eastwood since they sent me the wrong guitar on my first order. That's a pretty big mistake to make. Followed by the poor setups and dirty cases, plus the missed expedited shipping request and their failure to make good on the tone knob that failed, I cannot recommend Eastwood Guitars.
I am not saying they are evil or anything, but in my opinion and experience, they are noticeably incompetent or lacking in their ability to pay attention to detail.
I have had great experiences buying guitars online (and sight unseen) from Sweetwater and Butler Music as well as Danguitars.com. It is possible to get a great deal on a guitar and to get a great online shopping experience. Just don't count on it with Eastwood or at least go into the deal with your eyes open, knowing that you may have to go through some of the same nonsense that I did to get what you paid for. Your mileage may vary.