General weirdness at my local shop

RhythmFender

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Wondering if I can get some advice about what is normal and what to expect in most quality guitar shops?

Gotta say, aside from finding the perfect amazing telecaster for me recently, the entire experience of buying that guitar and getting it setup properly from my local shop has been wonky and extremely frustrating. (I first picked it up on Oct 28 and it’s still not in my hands and setup after bringing it back twice)

When I picked it up after first putting it on hold, I asked the guy (manager type) if a setup was included or If I needed to pay for one, and he said the setup should be fine as is, but I could bring it in in the first 30 days if not, and get it “playing right for ya”, which didn’t answer my question, but I figured ok, fine. So right away at home I noticed a bunch of fret buzz on two strings and called and the guy who answered said to just bring it in and drop it off, the tech guy could raise them some in between his normal work and fix it that day, so I said ok, even though it sounded not like an actual setup, dropped it off, the tech called me an hour later, said it was all kinds of messed up but should be good now. So I picked it up.

Over the next week I played it and it’s not buzzing, but it’s also not correct with intonation, on every string except the high E, the same note on the 12th fret was showing sharp, so it’s off; and just needs a damn setup. So this past Sunday the 13th I brought it in, along with my little Warren Ellis tenor guitar, which I’ve never had setup and also I noticed was having intonation issues, and told the guy at the counter how I wanted that one setup, and explained that I’d just bought the tele there, there’d been some back and forth as to whether it needed a setup, I said it does, I was willing to pay for one and explained how the intonation was off. The guy at the counter then said “we’ll if it’s in the first 30 days, the setup is free.” Which was the answer to my original question when I first went in to pay it off on October 28th (it had been on hold a few days). Why the first guy didn’t just give me a setup when I asked, if it was included (I even offered to pay!) I do not know. But I said great, let’s do it.

The guy said the wait for a setup for the tele and tenor was 3-5 days. On Wednesday a tech called with a string gauge suggestion and I took it and I appreciated that, because I wasn’t sure about string gauge on a tenor. He said the tele was being worked on by someone else, and I said I’d wait and pick them up when they were both ready.

So yesterday’s Saturday. Been several days since Wednesday, and given how communication has gone so far, I figure I’ll call and check in because maybe they forgot to call. The guy on the phone says the tenor is done, tele is “still being worked on” and will “probably be done in the next day or two”

So I’m gonna wait a couple of more days or 3 and maybe call again.

1. Is this normal for most shops? Are they all like this? I really my shop, but I don’t really want to bring things in to get worked on for awhile after this experience (not that that I’m going to need a setup anytime soon, but eventually my strat will need one, and I’ve brought my amp there twice, pedals, etc…)

2. If that tele isn’t ready in a few days I’m just going to go pick it up and pay to get it setup somewhere else. What’s the etiquette for that? Should I tell them why?

3. I have never been more motivated than I am now to learn how to do my own proper setups.
 

kuch

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Hey RF,

1) I don't understand why you took your "tenor" for a setup there considering the "service" you were getting on your new tele.
2) this is not standard service from a good outlet
3) this is the reason I've been doing all of my own set ups for the last 20+ years.

setting up a guitar is pretty easy with a couple of tools. never watched one but I'm sure there's a lot of related stuff on U tube.
take a look at this set up guide to get started. If there's something you don't quite feel comfortable with, ask here on this forum or look it up online.

good luck
 

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sax4blues

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I'm kind of a tinkerer figgiter so I do all the screw type adjustments(intonation/string height/pickup height/truss rod) myself. Although a brand new guitar I would want in good shape out the door.

As for stores in my area, the rock n roll stores seem flaky at best, I've taken back guitars which have sat in repair with delay/delay/delay. I finally found a work from home guy who is fantastic. Explains everything, does meticulous work, and best for me, gives a delivery date and......wait for it.......delivers on that day(or before!).

Long winded way of saying I loathe most guitar/amp repair business
 

Jakedog

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Unfortunately, in my experience, you’re doing better there than with a lot of “pro” shops. Like, the majority of them.

So many people in the music retail and repair businesses are just not business people. It’s so rare.

This is why nobody but me works on my guitars in 99% of cases. I have a couple people I trust if it’s something really beyond my skills, like a MAJOR structural repair or something. Other than that, it’s just me.

I can’t tell you how many stories I hear on a weekly basis about someone having their guitar in for a “setup”, and getting it back either worse, or with no discernible difference. Or stories about how the customer lined out everything they were having an issue with, and the “tech” either didn’t listen, or didn’t address it. Or stories (like my bass player currently) who just related to me this week that one of the most reputable shops around here has apparently had one of his basses since December of last year and can’t give him a definitive answer on when it will be done. He’d love to just pick it up and take it somewhere else, but it’s in for a fingerboard replacement, it’s a phenolic fingerboard, and they’re apparently the only shop around here that can do the work.

The nightmare tales abound. And it’s not just here. I have pro friends all over the country who will be happy to tell you that in most places, even the best shops are sketchy.

I started learning setups when I was seventeen. Because I took my guitar to the local guru guitar dude, who was also a friend of my dads, and one of my early mentors. I had put heavy strings on my Strat and it wasn’t working right. Super high action, intonation all screwed up. Binding in the nut. It was a mess.

He told me straight up if I wanted him to work on it, it was gonna take him a month to get to it. But if I wanted to sit and watch him work, Id be able to do everything myself pretty quickly. He was right. That was over 30 years ago. Now I can eyeball a setup in a dark bar with minimal tools better than most “techs” can do on their best day.

The Earlwine book mentioned above is a great recommendation. Dive in, amigo.
 

Bourbon Burst

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I found a guy on Craigslist that does lifetime setups for just the first payment of $35. That has been great for me. I'm afraid that I'll damage the neck or something when adjusting the truss rod. He slso put strap buttons for me on my archtop. Peace of mind for me since this guy is a retired guitar tech.

Maybe you could find someone through a similar app? I trust Guitar Center or places like that. There is a mom and pop store that I have used in the past but their priced really went up.
 

1 21 gigawatts

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You're better off watching a couple of YouTube videos and doing it yourself. It doesn't sound like the shop is willing to perform the setup while you are there, so even when finished, it may not be to your liking. It isn't hard to do a basic setup (especially on a tele) and doesn't require any special tools.
 

BFcaster

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I much prefer to do my own setups, just as @Jakedog was talking about. See, here's the thing-
I'm in Iowa (you the OP are in Minnesota). We both have some extreme weather swings. Each Spring and each winter (usually January) there are some things that are just absolutely going to need to be adjusted...and why spend money on adjusting a trussrod and/or lowering the bridge saddles? Learn about it and do it yourself, to your own specifications/needs/desires.
As for a quality shop- a good question to ask the dude at the counter is how long he's worked there, maybe how long he's played guitar even, and (if he knows) how long the tech has worked there. That can tell you alot about what to expect, IMHO.
Another thing to consider- a tech at a shop may consider a 'setup' to be just factory-spec. Fender and Gibson and many other manufacturers' factory-spec at really NOT where I want my setup to be.
 

AAT65

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Just called to check in. Turns out both guitars have been finished since last Wednesday, but nobody called me! Yay

And the guy who told me it wasn’t done yesterday was looking at the wrong work order and is an imbecile. It’s all good! 🤪
Well that’s good to hear… but do they now play good??
 

old soul

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I have NEVER had a guitar set up to my liking at a store with a 'pro'. And I'm not a real stickler for specifics. When I was just relearning guitar, I was hesitant to mess up something, so I paid to have it done. Something was always wacky when I'd pick it up, intonation off, fret buzz, etc.
I just started with small adjustments and worked my way up.
YouTube, tdpri, strat talk, etc all have information that is valuable for the diyer.
 

MarkieMark

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First off, let me say that the kid (literally) I have seen at the most local guitar store here would make me anxious about letting him even play/examine a guitar I cared about.
Tweaking a setup to suit me doesn't take much skill. I can generally make the tweaks I need in less time than it would take to discuss it with a "tech"
A little trial and error...
Fixing the butchery I see on many nuts (including factory!) may be the most tedious part.
Emphasis on tedious. Not difficult, it just takes some patience.
Now don't get me wrong, I am aware that some people just simply don't have the patience or craftsmanship/skills, but still, it REALLY isn't that difficult either.
And besides, who knows your preference better than you?

Lastly- Sorry but if someone quoted me $35 I'd quickly move on. Seriously.
Yeah maybe the question is "define setup"
But you'd have to put a 1 in front of that to get my time, and I make no claim to being a guitar tech...
$35 isn't "setup" money, that is "minor adjustment" money IMO.
That comes across as arrogant, sorry. But I stand by it.
 

RhythmFender

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Minneapolis, Minnesota
I have NEVER had a guitar set up to my liking at a store with a 'pro'. And I'm not a real stickler for specifics. When I was just relearning guitar, I was hesitant to mess up something, so I paid to have it done. Something was always wacky when I'd pick it up, intonation off, fret buzz, etc.
I just started with small adjustments and worked my way up.
YouTube, tdpri, strat talk, etc all have information that is valuable for the diyer.
Yeah I’m hesitant to mess something up, which is why I haven’t attempted yet, but this may just be the impetus that gets me learning.
 




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