General weirdness at my local shop

fenderchamp

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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.
I'm hoping you/or anybody else, doesn't expect him to be doing fret work etc, etc on your guitars for that one payment.
 

Toto'sDad

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This thread has convinced me to get over my fear of touching the truss rod. I can adjust saddle height and intonation now, but I've always been afraid of dealing with the neck.

I have the Erlewine book out of the library and am digging through it.
A man such as yourself decided to adjust the neck on his Telecaster after years of being afraid to do so. Investigators believe his action caused the resulting explosion.

 

rand z

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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.

I've been working on my guitars/basses for over 40 years.

And, some friends/acquaintances, too.

Mostly, setups and aftermarket pu's, wiring, pots, tuners, switches installations... and fret leveling/crowning etc.

Also, custom made nuts and bridge saddles.

On acoustic and electric guitars.

I'm pretty confident working on them; but I also know my limitations.

I'm at the borderline on refretting (although I have all the tools).

And, I would not try to do a neck reset on an acoustic guitar.

With all of the files, screwdrivers, soldering irons, vices, etc. that I acquired, I really could team up with a guitar shop to help work on their "over-flow" during busy periods.

I've been considering it for years.

I'll soon be returning home from a continuous year of traveling (RV) around the country.

(Actually, 10+ years with a few breaks)

I wouldn't want to get too crazy with it, but...

If there's a lack of guitar techs out there, I just might pursue it.

imo.
 

RhythmFender

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This thread has convinced me to get over my fear of touching the truss rod. I can adjust saddle height and intonation now, but I've always been afraid of dealing with the neck.

I have the Erlewine book out of the library and am digging through it.
That’s awesome. After watching a few videos, I think I feel confident enough to make a few final adjustments to these setups myself and then buy that book for future use.
 

RhythmFender

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Update:

Both guitars were better, but not perfect, the tenor’s G string intonation wasn’t quite right, and the tele had fret buzz on low strings when fretting high again and both low E and A strings intonation wasn’t right. So watched this very YouTube video and used my crappy clip on tuner and a screw driver and carefully fixed them both. No more fret buzz, intonation way better, all perfect except the low E just edging slightly high, but it shares a saddle with A and my understanding is tele’s are finicky that way, but my ear can’t tell anymore, whereas it could before… so feeling pretty good about finally letting go of my Old tele (hadn’t yet because I wanted to make sure I could get this new one just about perfect first, because that’s why I bought it in the first place, it felt perfect)

Also gonna guy that book from Stewmac and learn a little more, as I don’t feel comfortable messing with the truss rod or anything yet. But maybe soon…

Thanks everyone!
 

Jakedog

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Back to your original questions:

Including a setup in the purchase of a guitar is standard-ish, emphasis on the ish. Few stores have a really good setup person. And the only proprietors that are regularly flakier and more dishonest than music store owners are bar owners. So getting what was agreed to and what you want can be a challenge. (Just like bars, there are great establishments with great owners who follow through. But they are not the norm.)

So, whether you actually get a good setup done in a reasonable time when you buy a guitar is kind of a crap shoot. It's not worth investing any emotional energy over it.

If it's a new guitar with high or low frets, it's really a manufacturing defect or warranty issue. A shop may want to treat it that way instead of just giving you a fret job for free. It's not unreasonable of them, though they *should* be open about it. But see the 1st paragraph.

Intonation is an entirely different bag of worms, and is far more complex than simply making the 12th fret note be exactly one octave above the open string. Most techs (and internet pundits) get that wrong. There's a reason why pro piano tuners don't use electronic devices to help and why the octave notes are not exactly an octave apart. Hopefully, the setup will include intonation to the point that chords up and down the neck sound equally out of tune :)
Then again, warranty issues aren’t always warranty issues. I experienced this myself. In 2016 I bought a brand new Nashville Deluxe Tele. About a year into ownership it developed a neck twist, making the low strings fret out in the first position. The low E, A, and to a lesser degree the D were not really useable below the fourth fret. The high strings were, well, screwed up in the other direction.

Knowing guitars, I could see the issue. But being that it was basically new and under warranty, I took it to the “Factory Authorized Warranty Dealer”.

That guy had the guitar for three weeks. And when he called me to pick it up and said it was done, he wanted $95. I said no, we discussed this, it’s got a twist, it’s a warranty issue, it needs a new neck.

He said no, according to Fender it doesnt. Because it will set up and play correctly “within factory tolerances”.

I played the guitar, the action was ridiculously high. To the point of being comical. But it didn’t buzz or fret out. And apparently it was “within factory tolerances”. Which I guess are wide enough for them to avoid actually dealing with any issues.

I chucked the neck in the garbage. The body is still in basement. Someday I’ll make something out of it. Maybe a partscaster. Maybe a clock. Lol. I hope that guy enjoyed his $95, because neither he nor that shop will ever get another penny from me or anyone I ever meet. Not too jazzed about Fender either, after that experience.
 

Toto'sDad

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Then again, warranty issues aren’t always warranty issues. I experienced this myself. In 2016 I bought a brand new Nashville Deluxe Tele. About a year into ownership it developed a neck twist, making the low strings fret out in the first position. The low E, A, and to a lesser degree the D were not really useable below the fourth fret. The high strings were, well, screwed up in the other direction.

Knowing guitars, I could see the issue. But being that it was basically new and under warranty, I took it to the “Factory Authorized Warranty Dealer”.

That guy had the guitar for three weeks. And when he called me to pick it up and said it was done, he wanted $95. I said no, we discussed this, it’s got a twist, it’s a warranty issue, it needs a new neck.

He said no, according to Fender it doesnt. Because it will set up and play correctly “within factory tolerances”.

I played the guitar, the action was ridiculously high. To the point of being comical. But it didn’t buzz or fret out. And apparently it was “within factory tolerances”. Which I guess are wide enough for them to avoid actually dealing with any issues.

I chucked the neck in the garbage. The body is still in basement. Someday I’ll make something out of it. Maybe a partscaster. Maybe a clock. Lol. I hope that guy enjoyed his $95, because neither he nor that shop will ever get another penny from me or anyone I ever meet. Not too jazzed about Fender either, after that experience.

Fender's warranty, now that's a name I haven't heard in a long, long time. I have a DRRI that shows just how patient, or perhaps stupid I can be, because I went through four of them before finally getting one that would run all day or didn't whistle like a freight train going up the Tehachapi loop.

The fifth one ran for about three or four months, maybe longer I've forgotten then went beep de beep beep beep. I took it in for "Fender Warranty Repair." They fixed it, and said, that'll be $85 please. I said this thing is still in warranty. Yes it is the guy said with a big smile, but what it had wasn't in warranty. I asked how much would it have been if it wasn't in warranty? $85 he said.

I can be thankful for one thing, the DRRI and the AV 72 have completely cured me of GAS, unless something happens that hasn't happened for the last nine years, I will NEVER buy another Fender product again.
 

Fiesta Red

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Update:

Both guitars were better, but not perfect, the tenor’s G string intonation wasn’t quite right, and the tele had fret buzz on low strings when fretting high again and both low E and A strings intonation wasn’t right. So watched this very YouTube video and used my crappy clip on tuner and a screw driver and carefully fixed them both. No more fret buzz, intonation way better, all perfect except the low E just edging slightly high, but it shares a saddle with A and my understanding is tele’s are finicky that way, but my ear can’t tell anymore, whereas it could before… so feeling pretty good about finally letting go of my Old tele (hadn’t yet because I wanted to make sure I could get this new one just about perfect first, because that’s why I bought it in the first place, it felt perfect)

Also gonna guy that book from Stewmac and learn a little more, as I don’t feel comfortable messing with the truss rod or anything yet. But maybe soon…

Thanks everyone!
I hope you told them of the problem and asked them for at least a partial refund…start by asking for a complete refund and the agree to 50%.

Unfortunately…The only way certain businesses will get better is if you hit them in their pocketbook.

Of course, by doing this you’re giving up any bargaining power you will have there until there’s a complete rotation of staff.
 

Festofish

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I dropped off my cracked Gibby in July. Still don’t have it back. The worst part is that a luthier has it and I have no idea who and the store guys can only prod. Ive relegated it to “maybe someday I’ll get a call”.
 

nojazzhere

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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.
There are many things I can do to "set up" a guitar......but to me, a SET UP is more than just setting intonation, string height, or pickup height. On a new guitar, it may involve adjusting truss rod, leveling ALL the frets, leveling selected frets, etc. I have a trusted tech that can do EVERYTHING very inexpensively. He does all this on a daily basis, and KNOWS what he's doing. (and does it quickly) It's worth not getting aggravated to me to have him do everything. Once it's all done, I can then tweak a truss rod two years on, or adjust string height if my playing style changes or anything like that.
INHO, that shop you used has done you a disservice. I'd leave negative (but honest) feedback online to warn others of their lack of skills. That's about the only recourse you have now. :(
 

Happy Enchilada

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There is a wealth of info out there (YouTube, etc.) on how to do a setup.
It's really not "rocket surgery."
Most of it doesn't require special tools unless you have to level frets or file down fret ends.
And if you play guitar, you should learn this.
If not, you're like unto the dentist with the Harley who calls the dealership every time there's a hiccup with the bike.
Besides, there's the pride of accomplishment ...
 

nojazzhere

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There is a wealth of info out there (YouTube, etc.) on how to do a setup.
It's really not "rocket surgery."
Most of it doesn't require special tools unless you have to level frets or file down fret ends.
And if you play guitar, you should learn this.
If not, you're like unto the dentist with the Harley who calls the dealership every time there's a hiccup with the bike.
Besides, there's the pride of accomplishment ...
The comment about the dentist with a Harley makes a lot of sense......but what about doing your own dentistry then?
Sometimes it makes sense to go to a "professional" and get things done right the first time, efficiently, and without the "jaw strain" of trying to peer into your own mouth in the bathroom mirror. ;););)
 

KokoTele

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It's probably not worth debating whether or not it's worthwhile to do your own setups. Those that are inclined to do so will find the resources; there are millions of them out there, and most of them are pretty good. Will they do it as well as someone who does it full time? Almost certainly not. Will they notice a difference if they had a pro do it? Maybe. Probably.

Those who are not confident to do their own work will probably not be convinced to do them anyway.
 




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