In 1992, Qian Ni, who had come to the United States from China to study music, founded Eastman Strings. In the beginning, he and his two musician colleagues bought instruments from Western-trained violin makers from their home town in China, but before long, they saw that a different approach was needed.
Mr. Ni hired a group of established master violinmakers, and with their help, he established a large master violin workshop devoted to the handcrafting of instruments—one of the first the world had known since the first half of the 20th century. In the short time since this workshop was founded, the reputation of Eastman Strings’ instruments for tonal quality and craftsmanship excellence has become a worldwide standard.
After establishing the instrument making workshop, Qian Ni went on to found a bow making workshop based on the same principals. In both workshops, master makers train and oversee talented woodworkers to create some of the world’s finest student, step-up, and professional instruments and bows.
Today, the instrument and bow making workshops of Eastman Strings operate in precisely the same manner as late 19th century European workshops. They have virtually no power tools aside from the band saws used to cut out the necks and the outlines of the tops and backs of instruments. Chisels, knives, gouges, and scrapers, in the hands of outstandingly gifted craftspeople, are the primary tools used to create these modern instruments and bows, using methods centuries old.
Thanks to Eastman Strings, string players today have advantages unknown to earlier generations: quality instruments, bows, and cases available world-wide at affordable prices.
Eastman Strings had been accepted as high quality handcrafted instruments, so Mr. Ni identified the need for hand crafted arch top guitars at an affordable price. Following the same good practices established by the violin shop, a studied approach was applied to the arch top guitar. Numerous vintage models were studied and the first guitars were built by the most gifted staff of the shop.
The results exceeded expectations and became an immediate hit among players of all levels. Rapidly Eastman was established as an extremely high quality- high value, affordable arch top guitar manufacturer. It was only logical that Eastman continued to branch out into the mandolin family of instruments, various electric guitars and flat top acoustic guitars. All products have been highly regarded by players and used everywhere from homes to major concert stages internationally.
The story of Eastman does not stop with stringed instruments. In addition to fine violins, stringed instruments, guitars and mandolins, Eastman has become a major name in the band instrument business. Eastman builds woodwind and brass instruments and has continued the tradition of high quality at a low cost.
Most recently, Eastman became the owner of Haynes flutes, one of the most regarded brands ever and continues to operate that company in the tradition of Haynes. In the future you can be sure that Eastman will continue its fine tradition of craftsmanship and exceptional value in every Eastman instrument produced.