Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB review

The new all-original solidbody from Eastman has old-world charm but all the thrill of the new

  • £1499
  • $1875
Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

MusicRadar Verdict

Eye-catching, well-balanced and superb-sounding, Juliet gives the Eastman lineup a solidbody that’s classy and original, and a genuine alternative to the usual shapes and designs.

Pros

  • +

    Credible new design, playable and well-balanced.

  • +

    Convincing tones to rock, blues, pop, and more.

  • +

    Quality build with high-end components.

  • +

    Great value.

Cons

  • -

    Not much, but you are limited to one finish option per variant.

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Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB: What is it?

When Eastman Guitars first introduced itself it was with box office replicas of classic high-end electric guitar designs, ideas and shapes and sounds that were already out there hanging in the ether, ready to be improved upon the best they could. 

Craft elevated the endeavour above Eastman being another mere copycat brand. This was the Chinese guitar brand players could take seriously. In-house techniques such as its violin finishing gave its line-up of electrics the allure of an antique… ‘Look here at this box-fresh vintage guitar, and would you look at the price?’ 

They were not cheap but were not in the realms of big brand Custom Shops or, indeed, an overheated vintage market. 

That the specs were tip-top helped, too. The electric guitar pickups were always well-chosen and perfectly voiced for the guitar at hand. The hardware betrayed a serious guitar maker. But there is an argument that says to be truly serious something truly original has to leap off the blueprints, and so it did in the shape of the Romeo, a handsome thinline electric that was an all-new shape. 

Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Far from being an ES-alike, the Romeo, designed by Otto D’Ambrosio, had a silhouette that suggested there was some Telecaster DNA in the gene coding too. The Romeo LA followed shortly after, more glitzy, similarly lightweight and playable, and in Celestine Blue it really was something to behold.

Having designed Romeo, you need a Juliet to match – and it better be a looker. Well, on that score, the Juliet, a solid-body electric guitar with an all-okoume build, is on the money, and arrives in three different finishes, each with a slightly different spec. The Pomona Blonde you see here has a pair of Bare Knuckle Old Guard humbuckers and a Gotoh tune-o-matic bridge and stud tailpiece. 

The Vintage Red model shares its blonde sibling’s hardware choice but ships with Bare Knuckle P-90s, while a Bigsby B5-equipped model in Antique Black Varnish has a pair of Bare Knuckle humbuckers.

Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

All are finished in Truetone gloss. All share this new singlecut body shape that is not a million miles away from the seductive geography of its star-crossed lover, the Romeo. The deep treble-side cutaway exposes almost all of the 12” radius fingerboard.

The body’s raised centre step recalls the Gibson Firebird but you take these guitars out the case and there is really nothing quite like them. They nail the vintage vibe – details and qualities you make have seen before – without covering well-worn ground.

Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The quality of the materials and components is beyond reproach, with the Gotoh hardware reprised on the six-in-line tuners, a handsome piece of synthetic tortoiseshell is recessed in the Pomona Blonde model as pickguard and plate for the shoulder-mounted pickup selector switch. The Vintage Red model does something similar but has a black ‘guard and plate. 

Eastman has used medium-jumbo Jescar fretwire here, so you’ll have that gliding feel when you fret a note and bend it, and the presence of CTS pots, Switchcraft jacks, Sprague caps and a Schaller pickup selector switch all speak to the attention to detail here. 

The set neck construction suggests Nashville but the scale lengths are more California and billed as 25.5”, though they run a little shorter at 25.35”. The balance and weight are bang-on. for us, hovering at 7kg for the P-90 model with the Pomona Blonde just under. The knurled metal knobs – both with individual volume controls, and with a single tone pot for the bridge pickup – complete the look. Oh, yes, these are classy.

Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB: Performance and verdict

They feel classy, too. The balance and weight are one thing, but the neck profile, a slinky medium C, is very easy to get on with. Build-wise, the necks are one-piece okoume. The body, too, is one piece. That step-like design is a red herring for anyone thinking this had a centre block and wings.

One of the most difficult things to get right on any new guitar is the headstock. This six-in-line design works well, adapting the step motif of the body, a slight art deco look. These are 21st-century guitars and yet they have an old-world aesthetic. The sounds, similarly, are classic.

Also consider...

Eastman Romeo LA

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

• Eastman Romeo LA
An Eastman original reimagined with a bold finish and tones to match. The Romeo LA's Saturday night aesthetic might just make it the pick of the litter.

• Eastman Romeo
Lightweight and beautifully constructed, the Romeo is a dreamboat archtop of incredible playability with a pickup pairing that's hard to beat at any price.

Eastman SB55/v
Inspired by the Junior but inspiring in its own way, the Eastman SB55/v is a meticulously crafted slice of old-school wood that wears its minimalist appointments with confidence. It's a keeper.

Plugging in the P-90 Juliet and playing a chord is a rewarding experience in which all the notes sing. Bare Knuckle describes these are being low-output soapbars with a little tell-tale growl to them, and sure enough. Like any good P-90, they are dynamic. That open-chord ring is complemented with a solid punch when you play a powerchord.

We could envisage the Juliet P-90 being used in a variety of contexts but at heart, it is a rock ’n’ roll machine, an overdriven guitar amp the only invitation you need for classic rock riffs. Engaging both pickups and adjusting the tone on the bridge pickup offers a wide range of sounds, and this is true of the dual-humbucker-equipped Pomona Blonde model.

Like the P-90s, the Old Guard humbuckers are low output winds, with an Alnico 2 magnet design that Bare Knuckle recommends for ‘blues, rock, country and pop and alternative’ styles. No argument here. There is a dynamism to the humbucker voicing that echoes the clarity of the P-90s. The sound part of the same family of sounds, and would cover the same styles with ease. Of course, if you’re running some drive or fuzz pedals and operating at high volume, perhaps the humbuckers are going to be more your speed. That said, just try to put the P-90-equipped Juliet down once you get started on it. It ain’t easy.

Both guitars are addictive. Both speak to a creative partnership between Eastman’s Pepijn ’t Hart and head designer Otto D’Ambrosio that is onto something good, a guitar that is original and yet will not alienate those players weaned on the classics. 

Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The Truetone gloss finish gives them a luxurious look and we’d bet good money that they’ll look even better in the decades to come – how that Pomona Blonde will change over the years is a tantalising prospect, even if most venues are non-smoking.

So yes, new guitars, and a creative victory for Eastman. Likewise for guitarists with real-world budgets. At a grand-and-a-half, there is a lot of value here; a lot of guitar for the money.

MusicRadar verdict: Eye-catching, well-balanced and superb-sounding, Juliet gives the Eastman lineup a solidbody that’s classy and original, and a genuine alternative to the usual shapes and designs.

Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB: The web says

"The use of sustainable okoume rather than mahogany and the nitro-alike Truetone finish must also be applauded. Then there’s those super and original-sounding Bare Knuckle pickups that, when all the other elements come together, lend a distinct and interesting voice to both models. And at under a grand and a half, what’s not to like?"
Guitarist

Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB: Hands-on demos

Guitarist 

Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB: Specifications

Eastman Juliet P-90-VR

Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
  • ORIGIN: China
  • TYPE: Offset solidbody electric
  • BODY: Solid okoume
  • NECK: Okoume, set
  • SCALE LENGTH: 644mm (25.35”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Bone/43mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Ebony, cream dot inlays, 305mm (12”) radius
  • FRETS: 22, medium-jumbo (Jescar)
  • HARDWARE: Gotoh 6-a-side tuners, Gotoh tune-o-matic bridge and stud tailpiece, recessed faux tortoiseshell pickguard
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 51.5mm
  • ELECTRICS: 2x Bare Knuckle BC Old Guard low-wind P-90s, 3-way pickup selector switch, individual pickup volume controls and one tone control (bridge pickup only)
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.2/7.04
  • OPTIONS: Black tweed Juliet case (£129)
  • RANGE OPTIONS: Eastman Juliet/v Bigsby (£1,899) with black Antique Varnish finish; Eastman Juliet PB (as reviewed)
  • LEFT-HANDERS: Not yet
  • FINISH: Vintage Red – Truetone gloss

Eastman Juliet PB

Eastman Juliet P-90-VR and PB

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
  • ORIGIN: China
  • TYPE: Offset solid body electric
  • BODY: Solid okoume
  • NECK: Okoume, set
  • SCALE LENGTH: 644mm (25.35”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Bone/43.09mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Ebony, cream dot inlays, 305mm (12”) radius
  • FRETS: 22, medium-jumbo (Jescar)
  • HARDWARE: Gotoh 6-a-side tuners, Gotoh tune-o-matic bridge and stud tailpiece, recessed faux tortoise pickguard
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 51.5mm
  • ELECTRICS: 2x Bare Knuckle BC Old Guard humbuckers, 3-way pickup selector switch, individual pickup volume controls and one tone control (bridge pickup only)
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.04/6.7
  • OPTIONS: Black tweed Juliet case (£129)
  • RANGE OPTIONS: See Juliet P-90
  • LEFT-HANDERS: Not yet
  • FINISH: Pomona Blonde – Truetone gloss
  • CONTACT: Eastman Guitars
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