Repair shops LIE, or, Why I learned to work on my own gear

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by rojo412, Dec 10, 2012.


  1. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2000
    Location:
    Cleveland, OH.
    Disclosures:
    Proprietor, ACF Custom
    I don't know what it is, maybe it's my area, maybe it's my luck. Or maybe these people just have it in their character to flat out lie to people...

    All I can say for sure is, every time I've brought gear in to be fixed, I get an estimate for time that is 100% wrong, 100% of the time.

    Currently, I'm stewing about a bass that I brought in for repair and was quoted a week for a due date. I even told myself "Bank on 2 weeks, they are never right."
    It's 2.5 weeks thus far and not so much as an update. When I talked to the guy last week, he said it was still being worked on, and that's all I could get out of him.

    I've never used these guys for a repair before, they are a newer shop, so I figured that maybe they could be different than the rest. I'd heard good things!
    But no, they aren't. It's as if it's in the nature of gear-repair shops to over-promise and under-deliver.
    Every place I've taken basses, amps, etc, will tell me some time, then take drastically longer. And it really ticks me off!

    Has anyone else experienced this on the regular? Or is it just me?

    Me, I work at a bike shop. We quote for a due date and either hit it or beat it a day early, 99.7% of the time. And if there's a delay, we call the customer and explain why, what it is, what it will take, and when it will be done.
    If we did what these places do, we would be out of business. So I don't understand why they can't do the same. Or at least similar!

    Let's say I'm quoted a week and it takes 13 days... I'm LIVID! :mad:
    But if I'm quoted 2 weeks and it's 13 days... I'm ELATED!!! :hyper:
    Same time for the repair, but if they were to under-promise, over-deliver, the mood would be completely different.

    Good help... where are you?!?!
  2. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2000
    Sorry to hear that you have had bad luck with techs. I have a tech that I've used for years. I've taken everything to him from power amps to basses to tube amps. It's always fixed right and at a very fair price. The only downside is because he's so good, he's very much in demand. Therefore, it may take a few weeks before he gets to a piece. So if you need something fixed yesterday, he isn't the guy. But if you can live without that piece of gear for three weeks, he's The Man.
  3. hover

    hover

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    I would have shown up after 1 week and collected my bass and brought it elsewhere.
  4. Richland123

    Richland123

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Myself and my friends deal with several extremely reliable and honest repair people in the Johnstown, Altoona, and Pittsburgh, PA areas. My friend just took his guitar to a place in Pittsburgh last week and I went with him. Outstanding service, great prices, and some of the nicest people.
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  6. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2000
    Location:
    Cleveland, OH.
    Disclosures:
    Proprietor, ACF Custom
    Don't get me wrong, I'll wait for the right guy... but they should tell me the proper wait time.

    If I could swing by and grab it, I would. But they farm this kind of work (neck finish) to another guy, so a) I'm not sure where it is, and b) it may be mid-repair as we speak.
  7. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2008
    Location:
    Central Illinois, USA
    Hmm... my experience when I ran a shop was that we tended to under-promise and over-deliver- like the OP's example of quoting two weeks and getting it done in 13 days is much better than promising five days and actually taking 10 days. While it's still three days earlier, the expectation for the customer is better. Something I learned from reading Tom Peters' books on management, I think.

    It's especially frustrating if they can't give you a progress report.

    John
  8. Richland123

    Richland123

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    I have a 1st year issue Steinberger bass and I don't feel good about anybody around here working on it because they don't know what to do with it. I do my own repairs on it.

    The guy at the shop in Pittsburgh my friend went to last week knows that it is about a 4 hour drive round trip to get there and back and they gave my friend a day and time to bring his guitar. The repair guy said it would be about 2 hours. We went to several music stores in Monroeville, PA for awhile and went back and his guitar was fixed.
  9. skychief

    skychief Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Location:
    South Bay

    I think because they can. At your bike shop, an unsatisfied customer will likely just go the next bike shop a mile down the street.

    Depending on where you live, a musical repair shop might be the only game in town. So if they provide substandard service, their business doesnt suffer, and they have no motivation to improve their service.

    If its any consolation, the tech I go to took THREE MONTHS to repair a SS bass head. But, I have to admit, he told me the day I brought it in that he was backlogged, and his only employee had quit the prior week. The guy does good work tho, and he has very reasonable prices, so I go back to him.
  10. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2010
    Location:
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
    Oh god yes... it is kind of reassuring to know not just my local repair place is full of ***clowns.

    On more than one occasion I would bring something down to get repaired or looked at, they would give me a quote for time, I usually indicate I am on a schedule with it due to gigs or whatever.

    When I call in on said date, not only has it not even been looked at, they laugh at you for suggesting it would get done in the originally quoted time frame, and tell you they will get to it as soon as they can...

    Yeah, what other business runs like this? If I ran my business like that it would go tits up, I guess since they don't have much competition that is just how it goes.
  11. hover

    hover

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    I guess I am not ok with them farming the work out and my bass leaving the premises / or in the "care" of others than I contracted to work out to either.... phew, thank God I do my own repairs...

    Best of luck to you with this issue.
  12. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2000
    Location:
    Cleveland, OH.
    Disclosures:
    Proprietor, ACF Custom
    Sounds like we are in a similar boat. The bass in question is a Status Graphite. The guy who looked at it initially said "Well, this could re-appear because it looks like where the rosewood and carbon are glued together..."

    Is it an immediate red-flag when a tech doesn't recognize what PHENOLIC fingerboards look like? Or that I have to tell him that is what it's made of?

    Personally, I can do just about any work on a bass that isn't routing, painting, or fretting. And those are 3 things I want to learn to do, especially after this venture.
    However, as it stands, I still require the services of professionals in situations like this.

    As for available guys, there's no shortage in this town. But all I ever hear of most of them is, they are unreliable. From overcharging, to bad time estimates, to flat out not doing the job, there are a lot of stories.
    And even the guy who's across town and used to be the best guy I've ever heard of has slipped over the years. So what was once great, is no longer.

    The best guy I ever had work on my stuff was a dude named Jay Pawar (Pawar Guitars). He was a master! And his prices were more than fair and he was a heck of a dude. But he up and vanished! And there isn't another "him" to go to.
  13. hover

    hover

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    Darn, that's a tough boat right there.
  14. michael_atw

    michael_atw Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    Location:
    Jamestown, NY
    Musicians aren't normally the most reliable folk.

    The only "expert" amp-tech in my hometown of 30,000 apparently is a guy who mains as an electrician. He builds amps, in fact.

    Metaphorically, who would you want to go to war for you - either a trained marksman, or a guy who spends the weekends shooting beer cans in his backyard?

    I visited one guy at a place one day; great guy to talk to...talked to him about tube-work on my Portaflex. He was all gung-ho, saying he had a pile of tubes in a box and he could get right on it. He had been screwing with radio and amp tubes for a generation. In any case, I didn't go back for a couple reasons but one was because I didn't know enough about tubes to trust the guy to be schlepping old raggedy tubes into my Ampeg.
  15. SolarMan

    SolarMan Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    Location:
    Marlborough, MA
    What makes this really outrageous is that it is happening in the home town of the Rock and ROll Hall of Fame!
  16. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2000
    Location:
    Cleveland, OH.
    Disclosures:
    Proprietor, ACF Custom
    The amp situations I've dealt with... holy jeez!!!

    There's a shop run by 2 old guys who are full of anger. But they were "the place to take stuff" in town. I took a Silverado 2x12 in to see if they could fix a buzzing noise. Got the "2 week" wait, that's fine.
    But 3 weeks go by before I call them.
    "We didn't get to it yet!"
    Then they call the day after, I pick it up, pay $60... and it's not fixed. :mad:

    And my friend sent an amp into a company to get fixed (won't say who, but sounds like "Alien Mooger"). They charged $290 to repair and "update" the thing. It comes back and doesn't get used. He falls on hard times, consigns the amp (at the shop where my bass is, funny enough), and they sell it for him. It gets played by the new owner for 40 minutes before it blows a cap.
    The shop fixed it and got the new owner on the road again, no charge, but they said it didn't appear that the $290 labor was done at all.

    When amps break for me, I buy new amps. I'm not into that game because I have NO WAY of repairing that on my own and no one to trust.
  17. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2000
    Location:
    Cleveland, OH.
    Disclosures:
    Proprietor, ACF Custom
    Damn good point! And that's why I was happy to hear that they were farming it to a guy who makes instruments for a living.

    I think the good techs left Cleveland at probably the same time that Autotune became part of "music" :D
  18. VintageBoutique

    VintageBoutique Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2012
    If anyone is going to be working on my Alembic bass, it has to be the actual Alembic company. Thing is, I would never EVER send it through the mail. Good thing I can set up a bass like it's nobody's business!
  19. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I automatically double the time estimates I get, and pretend that's what they told me. A few years ago I put together some custom parts for a project bass. I needed someone to do some routing, and install the bridge. I took it to a very reputable, experienced luthier to the stars, in Venice California. They quoted me three weeks. I left the shop planning on a six week wait. When they hadn't started in 10 weeks, I showed up and retrieved all my parts. The looks on their faces was as if I had just killed their dog.

    I found another local guy, less famous. He did an awesome job and has become my go-to guy for anything fret, fingerboard or nut related. (Askenguitars.com) for those of you in L.A. He quoted me 3 weeks and was done in 4, two weeks ahead of schedule :)
  20. SolarMan

    SolarMan Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    Location:
    Marlborough, MA
    I think that the OP has set the underlying theme here:

    I don't, and wouldn't even think of treating MY customers that way. I respect them and give them accurate times, prices, and up to the day communication. I deliver quality work that I am proud of and will back it up if it does not stand up over time - even if the fault is not mine per-se.

    ---and it isn't just the specialty things like guitar repair...

    Out of the last dozen or so contractor jobs on my home, (from $500 furnace repair to $10,000 deck) - exactly ONE has been done on time, on budget, and to my satasfaction.

    That is a disgrace!
  21. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2002
    Location:
    Reims, Champagne, France
    I have been a customer for many luthiers, had 5 custom instruments built.
    None of them ever was on time. It goes with the job I'm afraid.

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