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Official Zon Club Part 5

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by smperry, Jan 10, 2014.


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  1. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    zero. in my case, delivery was not much beyond quoted, but even if i had to suffer a much longer build time, i'd just plan accordingly. i think as long as my expectation was properly set and managed, i'd be fine.

    IMHO, nobody should ever order a custom with a sense of urgency, critical timing, and need, with no backup already in place. i think that's just foolish. ordering a custom should always go in PARALLEL with using what you already have and rely on, and are already generally happy with.

    i totally get the kid on xmas eve excitement, but we have to be realistic based on the combo of what we want and what that means we have to deal with due to the nature of the source. none of this is brand new discovery here.
     
  2. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Fortunately for me (extremely fortunately, all things considered) my custom Zon arrived just one month after the default 8 month ETA. I would not have been dissuaded if I'd been told 10 or even 12 months. As Vic says below, delays often happen when ordering a custom. I'd rather be given a more accurate estimate up front.


    As noted, I agree that delays should be expected, especially with custom builds. However as pointed out by others, communication and transparency are key to customer satisfaction. I've had delays and errors happen with custom builds by other manufacturers, but as long as I was kept in the loop I didn't mind (note: these delays were only a couple-few months). This would not have been the case if I'd been given the runaround, or worse, radio silence.

    It also needs to be mentioned that some here have experienced delays of a year or longer. In that case, I'd be unhappy at best even with regular communication. If I ever experienced a delay of that magnitude with little or no worthwhile communication... well, let's just say I can't blame anyone for being outraged.
     
  3. There's been so much negativity prevalent in some of the preceding pages of comments, I would like to clarify it has not changed my opinion on the quality of Zon products of which a Vinny VB6 remains on my wishlist. If/when an opportunity presents itself, I will not hesitate to place an order. I will simply take the initial projected completion date with a grain of salt. And if it happens to be completed beforehand, I'll consider that a pleasant bonus.
     
    Fuzzbass likes this.
  4. gwangi

    gwangi Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2009
    Forbidden Valley
    Well I just got the word today, it look's like eta on my 2nd Legacy Elite 6 will be Dec. 2019.
     
    TolerancEJ likes this.
  5. Darren02

    Darren02 Never stop the groove in order to find a note

    Apr 6, 2016
    Sparks, NV
    Hey everyone!
    I dont post much on Talkbass, but im not new here. I love looking through threads and seeing the community, but regarding Zon i feel like I should pitch in just a bit! :)
    I’m really good friends with MaidenBass personally. We hang out all the time and talk about bass stuff. We both have owned Zons, and i currently own 2, one Sonus, one standard that was hand picked by Joe and i blieve he put a Zon specific preamp in it vs the normal aguilar.
    Anyways, onto the point. I do believe Joe is a great person. Every time we have talked he has always been very respectful and helpful. I gave him the specs of my bass i wanted and he gave me some tips to improve it. He is very knowledgable and i can easily say that my Zon Sonus 5 is the absolute best bass ive ever played... period. Joe’s attention to detail is absolutely superb and i cant say enough good things about the quality of his instruments.... now, that said. Joe’s customer service needs a lot of work. On multiple occasions he hasnt replied to emails or calls, and i get that. Hes busy! But when Maidenbass had serious questions for Joe that he needed answers to, there was never a reply. After being quoted 8 months and having to wait nearly 18, i can understand his frustration for sure. Especially since he trusted Joe so much in the past, and Joe simply stopped replying to him. Maidenbass has ordered probably 8 basses from Joe and hadnt ever had Joe stop replying for months, so he felt as if Joe had said forget it and just stopped. I totally understand that and this whole issue could have been avoided if Joe had someone to take care of his emails for him and take his calls. Im sure theres a reason behind Joe not hiring someone for this purpose, but at this point with the volume of instruments he makes, it may be a good idea. Maidenbass also told me that being quoted 8 months and being told one more month for nearly 10 more months, he couldnt take it anymore. Hes not an impatient person but he has been through the process of getting ripped off before, and so he took action upon it.
    To clarify, I do respect Joe Zon a great deal. Id love to meet him one day. But if I had one tip for him and his shop, Id say make emails and customer service a VERY high priority, especially when theres this much money involved in a bass. 4000+ from however many people and you cant keep up with some of them is a recipe for disaster, IMO. I do like Joe, but a lot of work needs to be done for his shop to run smoother with customers!
    Heres a picture of my Sonus from Joe
    49B36CD6-3CFD-4E31-822C-C44B990211C1.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
    FlatwoundFunk and Fuzzbass like this.
  6. basschanges

    basschanges Unconditionally Loving Member Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    Or just be honest with your lead times. "Hey, it could take 8 months, it could take 4 years...but we will get it to you." That's honest. He'd probably lose some business, but the moral onus would be off of him and his shop.
     
  7. Darren02

    Darren02 Never stop the groove in order to find a note

    Apr 6, 2016
    Sparks, NV
    Absolutely!!
    Especially when people like MaidenBass pay in FULL upfront!
    Its the least that us as customers deserve. Especially when you consider we are shelling out 4000+ sometimes for an instrument.
     
    FlatwoundFunk likes this.
  8. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    Paid in full upfront? Why? I’m not familiar with any shop that requires more than a percentage deposit with the remainder being due by delivery. That is far and away the standard.

    I’m not saying Joe required payment in full upfront, and I’m not saying that him being paid the entirety before the build started had anything to do with the delays and leadtimes, but that certainly sets the stage for all kinds of unfortunate outcomes.
     
  9. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    At least with me, it was a downpayment (I think half) and the rest when the bass was ready to be delivered.

    And yes, I agree with all that's been said here.
    Joe needs someone to answer emails and phone calls, and he needs to be straight with his dates. For myself, I would much rather know (and ask for) the "probable date" rather than the "optimistic date".

    I suspect that Joe, like many other builders (a certain cabinet maker comes immediately to mind):
    1. Is optimistic. "If everything goes just right it could be ready on X date!"
    2. Wants to please people and avoid confrontation - so a "soon" date feels good to say and to hear. (And if everything goes just right I can meet that date!)
    3. Next part of "wants to avoid confrontation" is "when I'm behind, I don't want to talk about it - hearing an upset customer feels bad". Plus (as an optimist) he genuinely (I believe) thinks that it will be done "soon" and then there will be no need for bad feelings - or that the bad feelings will be overcome by the joy of getting a great instrument.
     
    andrew likes this.
  10. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Yes. Have not had a lot of playing time on it, but seems like it might need a battery. Sounds good as long as I don’t crank the volume. Feels great, great basic tone. Drop D is so solid.
     
    bigsnack likes this.
  11. I wonder if Mr Zon would have the same casual attitude about communication if he had to chase people around for 6 months to get his payment AFTER the bass had been delivered. "Yes Joe, I've definitely put a cheque in the post - it'll be with you next week. Sorry but I've been too busy with work to take 5 minutes and get to the letterbox. BTW i love the bass.....)

    Same situation but reversed.....

    just sayin' ;)
     
    Luigir, Guiseppe, Lesfunk and 7 others like this.
  12. Darren02

    Darren02 Never stop the groove in order to find a note

    Apr 6, 2016
    Sparks, NV
    MaidenBass wasnt required to pay in full upfront, but he trusted Joe.
    I personally dont believe Joe is a bad guy. He has always been respectful towards me and even though i am a minor, has taken my inquirys seriously as if i was an adult. Im still blown away by the quality of my Sonus and my Legacy Standard. Absolutely fantastic instruments. I dont believe Ill be straying far from Zon in the future. His attention to detail is outstanding.
    With that said though, as countless others have mentioned, better customer service could totally be of use for Joe. Maybe just set aside 30 minutes in the beginning of a work day to reply to customer emails. Thatd be perfect. He could knock out a bunch in 30 mins, and extend it a bit too if needed. I do understand hes a very busy guy though, so maybe that approach isnt currently a possibility. Not sure.
    I dont believe MaidenBass would not have recieved his instruments. Im sure he would have within a few months. But i do understand his frustration. Joe isnt a criminal, but he does need some work in order to keep loyal customers happy. All in all, Joe is a very respectful, kind person and an EXCELLENT luthier, and he will be getting my business in the future, but i will definitely be doing the half down route to avoid any possible issues.
    Anyways, Id like to introduce myself to the Zon club! I own 2 Zons and eventually will own more as time goes by. Looking forward to chatting with you all when i have the chance!!
     
  13. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    At the cost of minimum $20-30k/year. It is not easy for shops to hire staff like that, even if it is the obvious solution.
     
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  14. Darren02

    Darren02 Never stop the groove in order to find a note

    Apr 6, 2016
    Sparks, NV
    Here is a photo of me last year playing my Zon Sonus 5 at the Reno Aces Ballpark.
    Before the set: F690CB02-3D62-4578-BD60-0717E3B6D526.
    After the set! You can see my old GK rig in the background. Towel was on top to prevent direct sunlight from overheating it
    5B5FB6A9-DDBD-409D-BDAB-C8DC6224B49A.
     
  15. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    this.

    people may assume that just because a premium instrument is expensive, the luthier/builder is making major bank on it, when the truth is typically the opposite, and small shops run on a shoestring budget. Besides, I guarantee his shop could do better without having to hire anyway. Just has to be a priority, which it sadly isn't, hence the complaints here.
     
    bobunit likes this.
  16. Darren02

    Darren02 Never stop the groove in order to find a note

    Apr 6, 2016
    Sparks, NV
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
    bobunit likes this.
  17. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    whether its existing staff or additional people (I know its a very small shop of 2 or 3 and everyone is staying extremely busy with their tasks), making sure that communication gets handled is just part of the cost of doing business. If its 30 minutes a day for an existing employee or 20k a year for a part time office person, it needs to be addressed for the business to continue to thrive. Failure to invest in this need results in, well, this type of unfortunate situation. It's not really an extra cost, its a necessity, like paying rent or repairing shop tools. And in this day and age with sites like talkbass and other high ranking online resources, poor customer service reflects not only on existing customers, but prospective ones as well.

    All that is to say, the instruments are fantastic, and provide a unique set of features for bassists. I wish the shop could give the communication piece half the attention to detail that the instruments get.
     
  18. dhagopian

    dhagopian Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2014
    Los Angeles
    A company can have great communication, service, online presence, etc. but it all comes at a cost... Fodera works with a much larger staff but their customs also cost 2x a Zon on average. Would you still buy a custom Zon if it cost you $10,000?
     
  19. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    Don’t want to get in the weeds but I feel compelled to say that the cost of an instrument does not boil simply down to the cost of the businesses overhead. Certainly a big factor but by no means the only factor. there is a much larger matrix at play, including position in the market ie endorsing artists, marketing/branding etc.. and if were using Fodera as an example i can’t think of anyone who has placed themselves in a more advantageous position in the market based on those factors. And yes it’s expensive as hell to run a big shop in NYC with lots of staff and they have to crank out a lot of those $$ basses to make it work. My .02c
     
  20. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    you do remember this is talkbass, right? (jk) LOL!
     
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  21. dhagopian

    dhagopian Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2014
    Los Angeles
    I get that but it would certainly add cost to add staff...
     
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  22. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Sadowsky, Nordstrand and other boutique shops somehow find ways to be communicative. I don't believe this is because they have a full-time customer service guy: communication is often handled by the sales manager, or they spread the work around. Here's a description of the duties of one of the Sadowsky staff:

    JR is part of our pre-production team and his responsibilities include body sanding, shielding, and wiring. He splits his time with the front of the house where he heads up our social media, website, and marketing.​

    Hell, Roger Sadowsky himself has answered the phone a couple of times when I called the Sadowsky shop for general info, and has called me directly regarding builds-in-progress.

    When I was considering a custom Zon, I communicated with Martin Peters. He was immediately responsive before I pulled the trigger, but way less responsive after he collected my down payment. On the upside, he mailed me a work-in-progress pic on two separate occasions, but on the downside, he did not reply to two simple questions I asked him. That was a little annoying, but the questions were non-critical, and I decided to follow the recommendations given in this thread (and directly to me via PM): only contact Zon when absolutely necessary.

    Anyway: point is, Zon has Martin as point of contact. Seems to me that shop policy is to avoid communication re overdue orders (kind of what Vic said), and overdue orders seem to be common. So, I would argue that Zon doesn't need to hire a customer service rep -- they need to hire another builder, to speed production.



    No disrespect, but you're cherry picking. I've ordered customs from Sadowsky, Nordstrand, Martin Keith. All are in Zon's ballpark, price-wise. Unlike Zon, all are extremely communicative -- and Martin Keith is a one-man shop.
     
  23. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    that's actually not at all what i was saying. that is far more specific and accusatory than anything i said or would ever say. please re-read my post if you need to.
     
  24. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I agree with your point that communication isn't a priority with Zon. And if it isn't, where's it going to hurt most? Overdue orders.
     
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  25. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    I know, haha we live in the weeds here. :)
     
    andrew likes this.
  26. andrew

    andrew Supporting Member

    May 20, 2000
    Vancouver BC/Pacific Northwest
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification, Spector, Regenerate Guitar Works, Tech 21 NYC
    Fuzzbass beat me to it, I was going to mention Martin when the talk of Zon needing someone to help with communication came up. Is Martin no longer with Zon? the impression I had was his job was customer service, but is/was that only part of his job there?
     
  27. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    agreed, but your post read to me as much more than that. it seemed to indicate i made a shop policy accusation, which is not the case. just please be more careful when attributing commentary, especially negative commentary. that's all. thanks.
     
  28. HeavyJazz

    HeavyJazz Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2013
    Virginia
    Email is painfully easy though. There's no excuse for not popping off a quick email concerning a change in ETA or other concerns. It takes seconds.
     
  29. mrgittleman

    mrgittleman

    Dec 23, 2003
    NYC
    For me the lack of communication is a less egregious offense then the constant lying. If someone communicates with you but they lie constantly then you can’t trust them. Trust is the foundation that all relationships are based on.
     
  30. HeavyJazz

    HeavyJazz Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2013
    Virginia
    I always tell my vendors "I can handle bad news. What I can't handle is no or false news."
     
  31. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I was not arguing that good communication cannot be done- of course it is. I'm just saying that that particular solution (hiring a secretarial position) is not easy.

    That is where the money already goes, I think.
     
  32. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    Good point, it seems impossible that in the bay area they couldn’t find somebody young and hungry who wanted to learn the craft and was willing to be a low paid or unpaid “intern“ who could help carry the load, and free up some time for communication to get handled. That’s still assumes that handling communication effectively is an important priority.
     
  33. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    interesting side point...

    noting their backlog remains full of orders, keeping them fully utilized making and selling instruments non-stop despite all this, i guess it just goes to show his instruments are so good they're still worth pursuing regardless of these difficulties for at least most of his customers.

    if nothing else, makes me happier as an owner to have a couple i'm thrilled with already in hand of these highly sought after and potentially very difficult to get instruments.
     
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  34. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    This. Internship, apprenticeship, whatever. Someone with very good communication skills, and enough shop skills to be trainable.
     
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  35. lowendmafia

    lowendmafia Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2007
    Sacramento, California
    The laws in CA wouldn’t allow something like that.

    You can’t do unpaid internships in California unless certain requirements are met, most notably it’s through a school or has trade school level training.

    Minimum wage in California is now $11.00 and rising. That’s an annual FT salary of $22,880.

    It is also a legal requirement that if a person works “mostly” for your business you must offer them health insurance and other benefits. Let’s says it’s 50% benefit cost. Now you are talking $34,320.

     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
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  36. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    10 hours a week would do it, IMO. When I worked for ZON in the office, I think I worked 20 hours a week at the very most. Mind you, it was 2003 or 4.
     
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  37. lowendmafia

    lowendmafia Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2007
    Sacramento, California
    I am not disputing that, but I am saying that the apprentice model probably wouldn't work... at least a "legal" apprentice model. Certainly companies pay people under the table, etc.

     
  38. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    I'm just saying they wouldn't require full time or even 20 hr/week support to achieve their communication goals and needs. So CA's regs on F/T employment dont necessarily apply. 10 hours of minimum wage a week seems like a reasonable investment in upholding the companies CS needs.

    what was that about getting in the weeds :)


    In the end, they'll either prioritize this situation, or they wont. And thankfully the basses will kick major butt either way.
     
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  39. lowendmafia

    lowendmafia Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2007
    Sacramento, California
    Well, that's not an apprenticeship then. That's a part-time shop helper.
     
  40. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    correct. I said unpaid or low paid intern, you said thats not legal in CA, so I clarified above to minimum wage "part time employee".
     
  41. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    My guess is Joe has more business than he needs and wants to spend his time obsessing over perfecting the instruments.
     
  42. It's not the wait that kills, it's the lack of communication. I've luckily never been in that situation myself but the perrenial complaint in situations like this where buyers are waiting on custom builds isn't so much the wait as the not knowing. It's even more frustrating to know that communication can be so simple and easy these days and doesn't even require a conversation. In fifteen years of chatting about basses on the internet, the main blood-boiler for aggrieved customers is not being kept informed as to what is happening. Most folk getting into the world of buying a custom do so knowing they can't expect build speeds that compete with off-the-rack production line basses. Some wait is expected but to fall down on communication must be incredibly irritating, particularly when the customer reaches the mindset of 'just tell me, is the bass going to be finished any time soon or could I just have my cash back to go elsewhere?'.

    Joe Zon, despite being the builder of some of my favourite basses (I am an ex-Zon owner), has had a longstanding reputation for being hard to get hold of and non-commital when he is reached. I can understand a lack of commitment to finish date in the luthiery business. I recall someone waiting several years for a Hyperbass to be finished. Some builders use a third party to manage the sales and customer contact side of things. Mike Pedulla does the work and builds and his wife Christine handles customer inquiries and service. Jerzy Drozd was roundly criticised a while back for being a poor communicator and so took on a staffer to handle this role, to his credit. On the other hand, some builders are just great with customers. The late Phil Kubicki was always on the end of a phone or email for customers and when I contacted him about restringing my Kubicki (before such info was widely available on the 'net), he emailed me through a detailed list of instructions and gave me his telephone number, asking me to call him if I needed to be walked through the instructions over the phone!

    I do intend on buying another Zon in future though I suspect I'll go used so I can secure the bass at the point of payment.
     
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