Ask a big-box store guitar tech....

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by cwinn, Dec 9, 2017.

  1. cwinn

    cwinn TDPRI Member

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    Hey -

    I used to be a regular here a couple years ago, and recently returned in the last 6 months. Love the forum and the people here.

    Anyway, I just finished my (possibly) last stint working with stringed instruments. Starting a new job in a week, and leaving behind my job as a repair tech at a big-box music store. Whichever one you're thinking of is correct - I worked at both the major stores.

    I also apprenticed for 2 luthiers & worked for Gibson for 7 years.

    I read some funny and fascinating threads on here with people questioning/trying to understand how & why people who work at these stores and this brand do what they do. Since I'm no longer employed by any of them & any non-disclosure has expired, figured I'd throw this thread out there.

    I'm easy going, and often find things more funny than offensive. I won't take anything said in this thread personally, as I don't know you.

    Just thought, with the amount of time customers spent hanging around my workshop chatting, a bunch of people on a guitar forum would have something interesting to ask/say.


    Also, for those of you who still make a living working as a repair tech........how do you do it? I couldn't make ends meet........


    Thanks -
     
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  2. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Are they really throwing away Gibson Goldtops? If so I need one.
     
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  3. keithb7

    keithb7 Friend of Leo's

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    When you worked for Guitar Centre how did you deal with all the “Smoke On The Water” and “Stairway To Heaven” licks?
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
  4. cwinn

    cwinn TDPRI Member

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    Never saw that, but I did see some pretty great guitars go to waste at Gibson. Always a shame.
     
  5. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Please reconsider going back to work & tipping me off when I can go collect my Goldtop.
     
  6. cwinn

    cwinn TDPRI Member

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    I've heard so many classic rock riffs played in the most wrong of wrong ways, it's amazing.

    I don't speak Italian or French, but I can generally hear when someone is faking it. How these people wailing on 9 in a guitar store playing "Thunderstruck" COMPLETELY wrong is mind blowing - they've clearly heard the song! It is a perfect example of how some people hear what is in their head, and not what is coming from the guitar.
     
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  7. cwinn

    cwinn TDPRI Member

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    Yeah, that video is funny. The righteous indignation of that video kind of blows me away. Without a doubt guitar manufacturers could do something different, but also restaurants waste incredible amounts of food, golf courses waste water, a taxi staying warm at the airport wastes gas, etc.

    If that guy actually knew how many functional instruments are destroyed regularly, I fear his head would explode.

    In the meantime, check out MIRC:

    http://mircweb.com

    They purchase factory seconds in bundles, turn them around quickly, and then distribute them to retailers. Pretty cool.
     
  8. Boblets

    Boblets Friend of Leo's

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    Hello cwinn, have you any ideas on how to wire a lefty so that the tone pots actually work?
     
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  9. ScribbleSomething

    ScribbleSomething Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

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    Were you ever encouraged to help people upgrade to a new guitar rather the fix the one brought to you?
     
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  10. cwinn

    cwinn TDPRI Member

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    :lol:Ha ha ha! If I could, I would. I did dismantle instruments that came in to the big-box stores if they arrived damaged. Mostly house brands, or very inexpensive guitars.

    If a Squier Bullet shows up at a store with a malfunctioning pickup, Fender doesn't pay to have that pickup repaired in warrantee work. Either the Bullet is shipped back to Fender, shipped to a 3rd party vendor (like MIRC) or destroyed. It costs less.

    Gibson is protecting their brand integrity (trust me, I appreciate how ridiculous this statement is as I type it). But they don't want people dumpster diving guitars that are just wrong. It's a waste and a shame, but not all incorrect guitars are wasted.

    I received a LP Standard when I earned employee of the month. It couldn't be shipped from the factory; it was a Heritage Cherry burst that an employee installed a pick guard on. The 'guards should have shipped in the case, but not installed. Now, Gibson couldn't sell it, because it was "wrong". I lucked out and got to take it home. Other guitars with wrong finishes or wood checks go to employees, artists, vendor gifts, etc. It's tricky to get a guitar as an employee unless it's for EOM or your 20 year anniversary.
     
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  11. cwinn

    cwinn TDPRI Member

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    Yup.
     
  12. cwinn

    cwinn TDPRI Member

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    No, I wasn't. Keep in mind that repair techs make a commission on their repairs. If someone brings me a guitar to work on, I want to do as much work as possible to make the most money. If you're upgrading your tuners on an acoustic, I'm going to encourage you to upgrade you nut & saddle as well. If you want a string change, I may suggest a setup instead.

    That being said, I never tried to cheat people. The only way I could work was under my mantra - "Do not lie, cheat or steal." If I stick to that, I rarely have to apologize to anyone.

    I frequently had people bring me instruments that were very inexpensive, and needed more work than they were worth. When that was the case, I let them know they'd be in for the repair more than the instrument was worth. Most often, they'd still have the repair done - either the instrument was sentimental or they just really liked it. I was happy to work on those instruments.
     
  13. NashvilleDeluxe

    NashvilleDeluxe Tele-Holic

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    Thank you for generously offering your considerable experience. I expect some eye-opening conversations will come out of it. I have about 5 burning questions...but I'll share your time with others.

    My question: if a close friend had a budget of $1500 or less to buy a new electric guitar, which one(s) would you feel confident in recommending?
     
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  14. cwinn

    cwinn TDPRI Member

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    Nothing generous here, man - just killing some down time.

    I honestly wouldn’t recommend a guitar to someone. That’s a salesman’s job, and I’m not in sales. They know more than me on new products, what is available in the store or the chain, and what guitars are good values.

    They will also ABSOLUTELY steer you toward instruments/brands that offer a higher commission. They have to - they need to get paid, too.

    I never recommended guitars or pickups. I gave helpful suggestions, encouraged people to know what was really important to them, and what to look for in a quality instrument. I gave suggestions, but never definitive answers. That’s up to the customer - a house painter shouldn’t tell you what colors to paint your house.
     
  15. cwinn

    cwinn TDPRI Member

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    Let’s hear the other 4......
     
  16. RLee77

    RLee77 Friend of Leo's

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    I imagine you had many occasions where a customer brought you a guitar that they had obviously attempted to either fix something or do a mod, and had royally messed it up... what was the most shocking example of this? And what was your response?
     
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  17. troy2003

    troy2003 Friend of Leo's

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    Rosewood or maple? J/K!
     
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  18. NashvilleDeluxe

    NashvilleDeluxe Tele-Holic

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    That's a very humble attitude. You're a rare bird!
     
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  19. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Don't they always put righty wiring harnesses in the lefty's? ... Solution you want is something like swapping the wire sets/grounds soldered to the outer two lugs.

    .
     
  20. cwinn

    cwinn TDPRI Member

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    I’ve seen a ton of home repairs gone bad, but nothing really shocking. My buddies have some great stories about crazy stuff they’ve seen, but the worst one that springs to mind was a working guy on Broadway. He was the kind of dude who would work 6 hours on Broadway (like, 6-2 or something) changing gigs every two hours. His Taylor output jack caved in on him between gigs, so while he was on the street on Broadway in Nashville he tried to super glue the endpin in place.

    He cross-threaded it, and couldn’t get a solid connection to his cable. Had to play his last gig in a frozen stance so his jack wouldn’t short.

    It was his only guitar.

    Took me 2 weeks to get a replacement part from Taylor, but they sent it for free.

    That sucked for him. He had to borrow a guitar to play his gigs...
     
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