I Am So Frustrated With Guitar Repair People - Just A Rant

Kiwi_Neil

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An elderly lady, a good friend has given me a beautiful Yamaha FG 412 SB that she has no use for. I believe that it stems from the late 1970's to very early 1980's. In the pic it's only strung with 6 strings, but everything is there. The pity of it is that it needs a neck reset. You could drive a bus under the 15th fret....a double decker at that! There is no one here that I know of that could tackle this job and even if I could find someone to do it, I'm guessing that $1,000 would be the cost. I know that Yamaha's are difficult beasts to reset the necks on, even Ted Woodford shuns them for this reason and also from an economic standpoint.

So, no one I know can tackle this and after talking to Freeman, I've decided to keep this beautiful instrument in it's case until I have the time (which is in short supply this year for me!), to slowly and methodically do it myself.

There are local 'techs' around of course, but no bona fide luthiers. It seems that they're a rare breed in this neck of the woods.

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Smokin OP

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I totally understand the OP feelings. I was fortunate enough to find a guy, Brody, who's about an hour drive from me and does excellent work. For setups, he'll do it while you wait. All others that need more work, I take it on Saturday and pick it up the next Saturday. I do realize how fortunate I am to have someone like Brody Cobb.
 

Wound_Up

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Yep!

I had one luthier tell me he would charge me $100 to call the guitar maker to find out what glue they used on a lifting bridge! I said I'll call them and...nope he had to call and it takes an hour! I called anyways...guess what? Titebond! Who'da guessed! Took me 2 minutes to call and ask! I did the work myself!

I had a real cool "lawsuit" Takamine that the solid top had split at the seam. Took it to another highly rated repair shop and you would have thought I dropped a dead rat on the counter! They didn't want to touch it! I never figured that one out. Simplest of repairs and charge me what you want and they were like snobs....

What's a lawsuit Takamine? They weren't ever in a lawsuit scuffle with anyone.

Being made during that time doesn't automatically make it a lawsuit guitar. Just FYI.
 

sax4blues

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I found the guy!!!!! Established, thorough, is familiar with a calendar, located ten minutes from my house.

Let's recap:
-First guy from recommendation berated me on the phone for calling him when he's dealing with family issues.
-Second guy, old hippie in local guitar/music store stuck in 1977, takes one look at guitar, quotes $175 - 2-1/2 weeks. Sounds good. 3-1/2 weeks later hasn't touched it, berates me on the phone for calling while he's trying to catch up, absolutely will not commit to new date. I go pick up guitar and feel like he's happy to see it go.
-Third guy says he's going to lunch from 2pm to 3pm come after that. I go at 3:10, music store says guy is at lunch be back 10 minutes. I wait for an hour 4:10 then leave.

So onto THE GUY. Makes the appointment, asks me to be courteous if I'm gonna flake. He's waiting for me. Takes a long thorough inspection inside and out. Explains everything he's looking at/for. Explains how the construction of my Tacoma has several unorthodox aspects which may enhance sound but will make repairs challenging. Estimates possible $500 and can't guarantee that because of so many unknowns with bridge design and bracing. We both decide the known of a new guitar far outweighs the unknown of many hours spent on my guitar.

Today I ordered the Yamaha FG3 and I will take care of this one.
 

brookdalebill

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I feel yer pain.
It’s not a new phenomenon, either.
Decades ago, it was just as bad.
It’s skilled, high demand work.
I’ve used dozens of luthiers/repair people over the decades.
Only one did what he said he would do, in the time he said it would be done by.
That guy is Bill Giebitz, who made my avatar guitar.
Now I just mentally double the time when given a delivery date.
Good luthiers are indeed, uh, not cheap.
Luckily, they’re worth it.
 
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Texicaster

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What's a lawsuit Takamine? They weren't ever in a lawsuit scuffle with anyone.

Being made during that time doesn't automatically make it a lawsuit guitar. Just FYI.

Most people in the guitar world are familiar with the term "Lawsuit Tak" that has the "Takamine" script in the same style and color as Martin which they copied pretty much exactly. As with Fender and Gretch over the "broadkaster" name it was settled with a cease-and-desist letter.

A "cease-and-desist Tak" doesn't sound as good!
 

drewg

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I feel yer pain.
It’s not a new phenomenon, either.
Decades ago, it was just as bad.
It’s skilled, high demand work.
I’ve used dozens of luthiers/repair people over the decades.
Only one did what he said he would do, in the time he said it would be done by.
That guy is Bill Giebitz, who made my avatar guitar.
Now I just mentally double the time when given a delivery date.
Good luthiers are indeed, uh, not cheap.
Luckily, they’re worth it.

I'm the same way. I also, "just mentally double the time." Since I have a few other acoustics, I just use the time to get reacquainted with these, and I'm not worried about the 'when' I get it back as long as they do good work. (But it sounds like the OP didn't have another acoustic, and the first luthier was flaky, didn't even contact him, so I understand.)

I'm like this with ordering things, too. Unless I really need something by a certain date, I won't ever pay to "overnight" it. I figure I've lived my whole life without it and somehow survived, so I can wait a few extra days.

Examples–
–I took a Gibson acoustic to a self-taught, unlicensed luthier located 6 blocks from my house, recommended by a friend. He's an old timer whose specialty is stand up basses and is even hired for bass repairs by the school of music at the university here. He has an assistant who specialized in guitars who wound up getting... c.... and was laid up for a couple weeks. At the same time his father was ill and wound up passing, so made a trip out east. Anyways, it took me about 5 weeks to get the Gibson back, but the luthier kept me up to date with everything and apologized. But when it was finished I was very satisfied, you could barely tell the crack on the top was there. (Visiting his shop is like visiting an old European instrument builder's shop. I love going in there.)

– Also took an amp to another place, the most reputable amp place around. It was about a week late but again, he did excellent work. Only charged me $75 to look over my '73 Traynor and install a 3-prong. I tested everything but changed nothing but the plug, because he said it was all original – tubes, caps, everything – and nothing needed swapping. He could have made up anything, charged me a lot more and I wouldn't have known the difference. He was a little eccentric, but honest.

– I also brought a 1930's Kalamazoo to a younger, licensed luthier, and while he was punctual and transparent with the receipt, etc, I wasn't quite happy with a few details, like swapping the saddle with newer style (instead of using the vintage style), and leaving behind a bunch of wood shavings inside that were rattling around in there. Shouldn't be that big of deal but that bothered me. He was a nice guy, and punctual, and I enjoyed talking to him, but I liked the work of the first guy, better.

I'm glad the OP seemed to find a guy he could trust!
 

drewg

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I found the guy!!!!! Established, thorough, is familiar with a calendar, located ten minutes from my house.

Let's recap:
-First guy from recommendation berated me on the phone for calling him when he's dealing with family issues.
-Second guy, old hippie in local guitar/music store stuck in 1977, takes one look at guitar, quotes $175 - 2-1/2 weeks. Sounds good. 3-1/2 weeks later hasn't touched it, berates me on the phone for calling while he's trying to catch up, absolutely will not commit to new date. I go pick up guitar and feel like he's happy to see it go.
-Third guy says he's going to lunch from 2pm to 3pm come after that. I go at 3:10, music store says guy is at lunch be back 10 minutes. I wait for an hour 4:10 then leave.

So onto THE GUY. Makes the appointment, asks me to be courteous if I'm gonna flake. He's waiting for me. Takes a long thorough inspection inside and out. Explains everything he's looking at/for. Explains how the construction of my Tacoma has several unorthodox aspects which may enhance sound but will make repairs challenging. Estimates possible $500 and can't guarantee that because of so many unknowns with bridge design and bracing. We both decide the known of a new guitar far outweighs the unknown of many hours spent on my guitar.

Today I ordered the Yamaha FG3 and I will take care of this one.

Sounds like you found someone you can work with in the future, if need be. I guess having a good luthier is like having a good mechanic!

A Tacoma, huh? I like Tacoma's and have a Papoose. What model do you have? Are you going to sell it with the crack?
 

sax4blues

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A Tacoma, huh? I like Tacoma's and have a Papoose. What model do you have? Are you going to sell it with the crack?
This is the DR38 dreadnought, sitka/rosewood. I really love this guitar and I'm so mad at myself for not heeding the advice of care required for living in Colorado arid high plains.

To get in the weeds the significant problem is the lifted bridge, a result from the top sinking when dried out and cracking. The DR38 bridge is a very sculpted shape and very thin at the tail. The challenge for reattaching is 1) removal without damage, 2) clamping when gluing. This is where the luthier said he can't guarantee any result, but of course I would need to pay for the hours spent trying. Also even if the bridge is refitted well, the height will be lower so new saddle will need to be made, again additional $$.

There are two cracks which are rather conventional, but because of the unique Tacoma bracing design will take extra work/hours/$$ to do right.

With this knowledge I don't see why someone would want to buy it, Reverb listings for supposedly good DR38 are $700+. I'm not sure where it will end up, probably a wall hanger decoration.
 

Geoff738

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Ted Woodford looks good from his videos and an hour down the road. Never dealt with him personally though. Similarly Mark and the folks at Folkways seem highly regarded at an hour down the highway. Again, never used them for a repair but did recently buy a guitar from them.
Had the folks at 12th Fret do a bridge reglue and it turned out fine. Accessible via bus and subway.

Cheers,
Geoff
 

fenderchamp

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it takes time for the wood to expand and suck up moisture. that may or may not contribute to the wait time on your guitars?
 

sax4blues

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it takes time for the wood to expand and suck up moisture. that may or may not contribute to the wait time on your guitars?
I humidified for a month before taking into the shop and he did not say anything about additional humidify he was going to do. I had the feeling when I left it he wasn't going to work on it. When I picked it up 3-1/2 weeks later is was in the exact spot he set it down when I left it. And that spot was in front of a pedal effects display counter on the store sales floor.
 

telemnemonics

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I gotta say, us guitar forumites are big bad dudes on complaining about how long it takes to get our guitars repaired, but whiny little children when faced with the extreme challenges of running humidifiers. Not specifically the OP but the overall community has an endless supply of excuses for not taking care of guitar humidity needs. And IMO foam in the case is a half a$$ or travel solution, not a musician lifestyle solution.

At the same time there are some whiny little children fixing guitars but long waits dont mean the repair professional sucks.

Just thought this seemed like a good time to rant about humidifiers being basic needs for guitar players in colder dry climates!
 

sax4blues

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At the same time there are some whiny little children fixing guitars but long waits dont mean the repair professional sucks.
For me it’s not the wait or length of time. It’s the knowledge every time going in that what the person tells me will never happen and the second date they give me will probably not happen and the third date may happen only because they now hate me and don’t want me coming back anymore.
 

Kiwi_Neil

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For me it’s not the wait or length of time. It’s the knowledge every time going in that what the person tells me will never happen and the second date they give me will probably not happen and the third date may happen only because they now hate me and don’t want me coming back anymore.

I agree...if someone say's that the job will be ready to pick up in six weeks.....then they have set themselves a completion deadline and they must do their upmost to achieve the deadline which THEY set themselves! If there is a valid reason why this deadline is going to be missed, they need to have the common courtesy to let the customer know that there is a chance that they may not have the job done on time. A repeat customer is what every business should strive for. Fobbing off the customer is not going to achieve that, and in all likelihood will damage their business....and rightly so.
 

drewg

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This is the DR38 dreadnought, sitka/rosewood. I really love this guitar and I'm so mad at myself for not heeding the advice of care required for living in Colorado arid high plains.

To get in the weeds the significant problem is the lifted bridge, a result from the top sinking when dried out and cracking. The DR38 bridge is a very sculpted shape and very thin at the tail. The challenge for reattaching is 1) removal without damage, 2) clamping when gluing. This is where the luthier said he can't guarantee any result, but of course I would need to pay for the hours spent trying. Also even if the bridge is refitted well, the height will be lower so new saddle will need to be made, again additional $$.

There are two cracks which are rather conventional, but because of the unique Tacoma bracing design will take extra work/hours/$$ to do right.

With this knowledge I don't see why someone would want to buy it, Reverb listings for supposedly good DR38 are $700+. I'm not sure where it will end up, probably a wall hanger decoration.

Yeah, I know that model. Never played one, but people like them. Do you ever frequent the tacomaguitarforum? It's not as lively as it used to be, but they are good people there. Maybe someone would be interested, as is.

I wound up selling my Kalamazoo to my Luthier, because the first time I brought it in I could tell he liked it. Since I didn't have the skills or the money at the the time to fix it properly (neck reset) I sold it to him later at a lower price and he included the Gibson repair I referred to above. I was happy it was going to a good home, with someone who has the skills to fix it!
 

drewg

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I humidified for a month before taking into the shop and he did not say anything about additional humidify he was going to do. I had the feeling when I left it he wasn't going to work on it. When I picked it up 3-1/2 weeks later is was in the exact spot he set it down when I left it. And that spot was in front of a pedal effects display counter on the store sales floor.

Yeah, it definitely sounds like it was time to take it somewhere else. You gotta trust your instincts, as you did.
 

Bob M

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Just like a lot of repair guys-mechanics, plumbers, carpenters-the skill level (and business skills) of guitar repair guys are all over the map. I have had very good repairs done (a Martin repair shop in Southern NH) some not so good. I recently moved to RI and found a guy nearby who has been doing it for a while and did a good job on my SJ200. In this internet era we live in you can do a lot of research on the quality of repair guys. You can also figure out how to do much of the simple stuff yourself.
 




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