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Luthier Ethics question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Macrocosmcwh, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. I am posting here because I am looking for a quick response. Sorry... Happy Thanksgiving everyone....

    Ok so here is my question. I just got a call from my luthier. He just informed me that my D string broke while installing my new brass nut he was custom making me. He is telling me that he needs to put a new set (Rotosounds) on the bass for 30.00 and then charge me again to set it up. (I just had the bass less than a week ago there for a setup in the first place... and purchased new strings then SR2000s). My question is this:

    Should I have to purchase new strings and a new setup, or should the luthier pay for it. My bill for the new nut and fret polish is $80.00 and he is saying that I will need to pay another $60.00 for the new stings and setup.

    One other fact: He said the string broke between the new nut and the tuning screw. Logic says to me that is because the nut he installed was too tight of an opening for the string and the string could not freely move across the nut and the tension was too great between the nut and the tuning screw.

    Thanks in advance for your answers....

    Once again ..... Happy Turkey Day!
  2. pocketgroove


    Jun 28, 2010
    I'm not too sure...but it sounds like he should at least pick up part of the cost, as he broke the string. Also, if that's a four string, $30 for Rotos is steep...
  3. Pay for the new nut and fret polishing, get your bass minus the broken string, take it to a better repairer (sorry, I reserve the term "luthier" for actual builders), and never return. The nut must've had a rough edge or was too snug, his fault, should be no charge.

    Why a new setup? It's one string. Maybe the setup charge was happening prior to the string breaking.

    And learn how to do your own setup. Happy Thanksgiving!
  4. rocmonster


    Oct 31, 2011
    Ask him why he should charge you if he broke the string?

    For what it's worth, he should reset up the bass for free because it only costs him his time. As for new strings, if I were him, I would eat the cost of new strings - the same make and gauge you had. That would make him a saint in my book and worthy of high praise and referrals, especially if your bass was in his shop a week ago for a set up.

    If he doesn't want to eat any of the new charges, take you bass somewhere else for now on...
  5. bolophonic

    bolophonic SUSPENDED

    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Doesn't sound like a guy who is actively looking for repeat customers.
  6. I have to agree with you all. He is saying that there is a new setup because I am going from an Articulated string the SR2000 to the Rotosounds.

    It is a 5 sting lightwave bass.

    Immigrant.... I am with you... It has proven really hard to find a bass player and Luthier here in Phoenix. The last guy I took my bass to took about three weeks to do a setup. He was really busy... This guy was referred to me here on TB. as being THE MAN here in Phoenix...
  7. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    +1. There's so many red flags here.
  8. bassistjoe93

    bassistjoe93 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2011
    Get your bass back from him, buy a new set of SR2000's for $17 or Rotos for a little more, and never go back to this "repair man" again. Do your own setups in the future to save cash and not having to deal with this kinda stuff.
  9. UGH why is it so hard to find a good Bass luthier and technician here in Phoenix??!?!?!?!? I hope to get a positive response from all of this.... I will keep you all posted. However it turns out I will be sure to post his name and business.
  10. I have never, ever had someone set my bass up. I've learned what I like over the years, so why pay someone? I've just never understood a person's point of view that pays another person to cut their grass, change the oil in their car, or set their bass up. It just doesn't make sense giving someone your guitar, and they basically just guess as to how you like the action, neck relief, etc. My point of view on this is also probably due to the fact that I'm a constant tinkerer. I'm always takin' something apart just to see how it works. Whatever. But, I know I'd just take that cash & buy more strings, etc.
  11. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    A. "Luthier" is someone who builds instruments, and to me "build" doesn't mean "bolting together parts I bought". Other people are techs, including me.

    B. Because the nut affects the entire set-up, a set up is logically included in the price of a new nut. Me, I always told people to expect to buy a new set of strings if I had to take them off. Why? Because sometimes they'll break as you're winding them on due to the metal stress from putting them on and taking them off. Also it's a huge PIA to mess with strings on some instruments.

    C. Sounds expensive- $80 for a new nut and "fret polish", then another $60 for a new set of strings (well, they are Rotosounds that have been on for more than 24 hours so they're likely to be dead anyway :) ) and another set up? That's too much in my opinion. But I've not paid anyone for set up work since 1977.


    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    Get you bass back and don't deal with him any more.

    And if you're in or near Chicago contact me and I'll set your Lightwave up for you and show you how to do it your self (I own a 5 string LW and do my own setups on it) or once you get your bass back contact Chris Wilcox and ask him about setting your bass up.

    I just reread your post and see that your in Phoenix.

    Lightwave endorser.
  13. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Although switching from one kind of string to another may require minor adjustments, I'd replace the strings myself and play the bass. If the set-up needs to be adjusted, you should be able to do it yourself after reading some of the "sticky" threads here on TB.

    Changing strings ain't rocket surgery. ;)
  14. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    +1,000. It's an excuse to get to know your bass.

    If you use Roto steels you'll need fretwork fairly often . . . if you aren't prepared to do your own fret leveling and polishing (much trickier than a setup) you should definitely shop around. He broke the string, he should pick up the tab.

    If I borrowed or worked on a bass and broke a string, nut or screw I'd feel responsible - this tech is foisting the cost AND an additional setup cost onto you!.:meh:
  15. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    This is exactly why I always tell people to learn to DIY. A bunch of guitar techs seems to take advantage of people that don't know any better. Learn to do it yourself and you avoid that.

    There's a ton of setup guides and videos out there. Take an afternoon and do some research. If you have a cheaper beater bass, then you've got a test platform. Learn on the cheapie, then take that knowledge to your main bass.

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    I do all my set ups and have been for pretty much all the years I've been playing.
  17. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012

    I learned how to set up a bass with my first, very budget bass.
    The sad thing is it's harder to set up than my upgrade, a MIC fender whose neck is like a rock! They both work - and you can learn a lot about necks by seeing how they handle adjustment, different strings and tunings etc.

    I can't advise you on fretwork (I've yet to try any) but a basic setup (action, intonation and pickup height) is IMO as crucial a skill as tuning and stringing up correctly (knowing bridge and headstock quirks, eg. winding well down on the A tuner to get a decent nut break angle on most fender style headstocks).
  18. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    This makes sense.
    If you want to switch to a different brand with different wraps, it will absolutely need a different setup.

    I've been doing my own setups for decades.
    Easy to learn, and handy to know.
    I'll do it for friends, for free, if they watch and learn.

  19. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
  20. soulman969


    Oct 6, 2011
    I'd say you're right OP. If the strings are only a week old and the D string broke between the nut and the tuning peg then either the string was defective (doubtful) or he broke the string (likely) or the string never broke at all but he's telling you that it did so he can nick you $30 for a new set of strings and set up (even more likely).

    I've never broken a bass string in over 35 years of playing yet this guy is a pro luthier (doubt that too) and he breaks one after installing a new nut (yeah sure he did). Tell him you'll get him a single D string (get it from bassstringsonline) and he can install it and finish the setup. You'll cover the cost of one string, not a full set, and the rest is on him.

    If he doesn't want to accept that pick up your bass and either take it elsewhere or replace the string and do your own setup. It's not that hard to do and once you've done it you'll never be at the mercy of techs like him again. I think you're being taken lock, stock and barrel on the whole deal.