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

CharlieO

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Due to my lack of care when moving to arid Colorado the top of my acoustic split. I humidified for a month then took to luthier at local guitar shop and was quoted 2-1/2 weeks for repair. I call today, 3-1/2 weeks, and I am not surprised in the least that he tells me nothing started, trying to catch up. When asked what timeframe he just won't say. Absolutely will not commit to any time.

I have never had any guitar repair person ever 1) come close to the original time & 2)come close to the rescheduled time. Ever. I will probably go pick it up tomorrow and take to another place to sit for two months without action. I'm online now looking to just buy a new guitar which I can't afford, is 10x the repair price. But my personalty just can't take it.
I have very little experience with guitar repair people, but I had an extremely negative experience with a well known and respected luthier in Milwaukee in the early 1990s. Any serious guitarist who lives in in the metro Milwaukee area is very likely to be familiar with him. I won't name him, but his initials are D.R.

I own a rare 1961 Martin 00-18E. The top had a small crack. On the recommendation of one of the musicians who I used to book, I took the guitar to D.R. for repair. When I dropped it off, he told me that it would be ready in "two or three weeks," and that he would give me a call. After a month without receiving a call, I called him. He told me that he had been very busy, and that it would probably take a few more weeks before he could get to it. I let it slide for more than a few weeks because it was the middle of winter and I didn't feel like taking my newly-repaired guitar out in zero degrees anyway.

After about four months I called D.R. to check on the progress of my guitar and ask when it would be ready. His response was: "I'll get to it when I get to it. I have more important customers to deal with." Yes, that is a direct quote. He was too stupid to know that I had been the booking agent for probably more than 50 percent of his working customers. You had better believe that whenever anyone mentions taking their guitar to D.R. for repair, I am certain to tell this story and to mention that there are other qualified guitar repair people in Milwaukee.

After his comment, I should have just picked up the guitar and taken it somewhere else, but I didn't. I think it took six months for him to complete the job. Unfortunately, he is still in business and apparently supported by his "important" customers. I wonder how many unimportant customers have been disappointed by him over the past 30 years.
 
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Fenderdad1950

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I hear you man, went thru this a few times. This why we buy a back-up guitar, so that when we bring #1 in for repair, we have #2 to play.
 

Nogoodnamesleft

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I’d take it as a sign he does great work and is, as a result, overworked.

Not an excuse. But not necessarily a disadvantage if you can tolerate his organization skills.
 

Bob Womack

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I'm sorry about the OPs difficulties. By contrast, I've been extremely blessed. The first time I needed a re-fret done back in the '90s I went around to all my session player friends and asked who to go to. They all said to go to the fellow who became my luthier/tech. This is a person who is absolutely always in demand. He rarely has fewer than twenty instruments in line for work. His professional resume' is a mile long, even though we don't live in a big music city. Kenny is in his mid-sixties and has no plans to retire. He has excellent customer service skills. He does a consultation each time you take in work.

He has worked out a system where he scales his price based upon the turn-around time. He'll take an instrument with no delivery time demand and charge less that he does for fast turn around jobs of the same type. There are regional bands that drop instruments with him and ask him to get them back to them whenever he gets done, and this is up to and including months. It cuts the cost to them and allows him to keep jobs that can be dropped in during slack times. I have always worked things out so that I didn't rush him, figuring that I wanted quality more than speed. He also will work with you as far as timing is concerned. He'll look at his backlog and make an appointment in a couple of weeks for you to bring in your work right when the work begins so it is out of your hands for the minimum amount of time.

Right now he has five of my guitars in for work, four for comprehensive setups and one for a re-fret. I had let some work creep up on me. :rolleyes: He had me wait a couple of weeks to bring them in. At the consultation he spent two and a half hours going over the guitars with me. He'll have the guitars for two weeks and he'll do a great job. He has every time he's taken one in.

Bob
 

rand z

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I've had some shaky and costly experiences with guitar tech's.

It caused me to learn how to do a lot of my own work, on my guitars.

I considered it to be a challenge and took my time reading and watching tutorials, before grabbing my OM21 and drilling a hole to enlarge the endpin (1998) for a 1/4 inch jack.

But, after that bold move... I was off and running.

I do most of my work setting up and modding electrics.

I'm more restrained with acoustics as I am not a luthier.

It is very rewarding, and I feel that I learned a lot about guitars in the process.

imo.
 

fenderchamp

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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.
I saw that when I reread your original post
 

Toto'sDad

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Luthiers are up against it, if they charge enough to make a living wage it's probably going to be more than you like. If they charge less than a living wage, they won't be in business very long. There's no such thing as a labor of love thing anymore what with rent, and overhead expenses being what they are today. I've done no research, but I'm pretty sure the turnover rate for luthier businesses is probably pretty high.
 

PhoenixBill

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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.

View attachment 986840

View attachment 986841
Contact the guy that runs this site: https://yamahavintagefg.boards.net/ He does neck resets on these old Yamahas. The traditional way is to use steam to get them off, but there is an alternative in which a thin saw is used to cut the neck off and then bolt it on. Though it sounds rough, the finished result does look okay and it works. The option you may want to try first is installing a JD Bridge Doctor. I’ve used a few and have had some success with them; they don’t always work miracles but between the Bridge Doctor, trimming down the saddle, and setting the neck relief almost flat I’ve gotten an old FG playable again. There’s a trick to getting the most benefit out of the Bridge Doctor which isn’t talked about (because many folks don’t think about the physics involved), let me know if you’re interested.
 

kookaburra

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Oddly, the guys I use here in Phoenix seem to be able to accurately define when work will be done….so they do exist.
Who are you going to? I’m in Phoenix also.

I know Guitar Pickers has a guy that is said to be good, but so far I’ve been able to handle the work myself.
 

PhoenixBill

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Who are you going to? I’m in Phoenix also.

I know Guitar Pickers has a guy that is said to be good, but so far I’ve been able to handle the work myself.
Not a fan of Guitar Pickers here, they constantly flood Craigslist and OfferUp with their ads, swamping out individual sellers.
 

telemnemonics

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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'm not saying youre wrong, but your same basic complaint was lodged against Bill M when he (I believe) had cancer, against Don Mare when he got swamped and struggled unable to meet hus new estimated schedule, against muchXs when he had whatever it was happen that turned him from loved to hated.

At work we have a contractor rebuilding the front deck while tourists swarm in and we had been telling them a finish date of Apr 15 which kept getting moved up a week then another week and is still not done.

All across every business this seems to be happening.
Maybe trades people should stop giving date estimates?
But customers would have to stop requesting estimated done dates.
 

scooteraz

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Who are you going to? I’m in Phoenix also.

I know Guitar Pickers has a guy that is said to be good, but so far I’ve been able to handle the work myself.
As I noted above, I use Atomic on the west side (91st avenue between Olive and Northern).

I have been in guitar pickers, and it is a cool store. OTOH, I have no experience with them as a repair shop. The other two east side shops I know about, and have heard decent things about, are Bronson Guitar works over on 5th ave in Old Scottsdale and B&D Guitar Repair over near Deer Valley Airport (I-17 and the 101). I have heard good things about both, but again having a great experience with Atomic (which is closer to my house in any event) I have never used personally. They both have websites
 

kookaburra

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As I noted above, I use Atomic on the west side (91st avenue between Olive and Northern).

I have been in guitar pickers, and it is a cool store. OTOH, I have no experience with them as a repair shop. The other two east side shops I know about, and have heard decent things about, are Bronson Guitar works over on 5th ave in Old Scottsdale and B&D Guitar Repair over near Deer Valley Airport (I-17 and the 101). I have heard good things about both, but again having a great experience with Atomic (which is closer to my house in any event) I have never used personally. They both have websites
Thanks scooteraz!
 

Tommy Biggs

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Due to my lack of care when moving to arid Colorado the top of my acoustic split. I humidified for a month then took to luthier at local guitar shop and was quoted 2-1/2 weeks for repair. I call today, 3-1/2 weeks, and I am not surprised in the least that he tells me nothing started, trying to catch up. When asked what timeframe he just won't say. Absolutely will not commit to any time.

I have never had any guitar repair person ever 1) come close to the original time & 2)come close to the rescheduled time. Ever. I will probably go pick it up tomorrow and take to another place to sit for two months without action. I'm online now looking to just buy a new guitar which I can't afford, is 10x the repair price. But my personalty just can't take it.
My .02, good repeat customers get priority service. You’re new to the area. Pick a good service place and use it. Be nice. It pays off, IMO.
I’ve needed emergency things done, and got help because I’ve been a good customer for 30 years. I had a Tele refret that took ‘too long’ but I was cool about it.

Don’t ‘start over’ and spite only yourself.
 

Kiwi_Neil

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Contact the guy that runs this site: https://yamahavintagefg.boards.net/ He does neck resets on these old Yamahas. The traditional way is to use steam to get them off, but there is an alternative in which a thin saw is used to cut the neck off and then bolt it on. Though it sounds rough, the finished result does look okay and it works. The option you may want to try first is installing a JD Bridge Doctor. I’ve used a few and have had some success with them; they don’t always work miracles but between the Bridge Doctor, trimming down the saddle, and setting the neck relief almost flat I’ve gotten an old FG playable again. There’s a trick to getting the most benefit out of the Bridge Doctor which isn’t talked about (because many folks don’t think about the physics involved), let me know if you’re interested.

Thank you for the link...I'll definitely be delving into all the information that I can find there. From my research so far, it seems that these FG 12's of the late '70's to early '80's used some kind of propriety epoxy to not only glue the neck on, but also the fingerboard, and this epoxy is resistant to heat. In short, Yamaha never intended the neck to come off...ever!! That said, your guy seems to have a way so there is still much for me to learn. I've dismissed the Bridge Doc because although there is some bellying behind the bridge, there is no dipping in front of the bridge, so I don't think that the bridge doc would help to the degree I would need it to, to get this instrument playable. I have a lot on for the next 6 months so there is no hurry to tackle this job, which is good because there's a lot to learn and much to consider before take the Yamaha to the workshop. Thank you very much for your help, it's greatly appreciated. This Yamaha WILL sing again...for sure!!
 

unfamous

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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....
Simple but not easy.
 




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