1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Repair query: Gearing up for a possible argument (guitar setup content)

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by IPYF, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    Straight up I'll get this out of the way so I don't get any quick/glib responses. I'm not a hand's on guy. I've been playing guitar for 12 years and any time I've tried to fix something on an instrument myself I've botched it. This is why I get other people to look after my instruments, really good professional people (usually).

    I have a problem with a guitar service I had done on my electric. I've neglected my Maton MS503 and for the last 2 years its gone unplayed. It's been sitting in the corner, strung up in a low tuning enduring dust and heatwaves while I've been using my other guitars. It's no surprise that over this period the neck became entirely shot.

    Last week I took the Maton into my usual shop, who did a magnificent job on my Stratocaster last time so I had no qualms going to see those guys again. I asked them to do a full service to get the old girl shipshape again, and they agreed. Now I've picked it up, I've given it a couple of days playing and I've decided I'm unsatisfied with the job they've done. The neck feels gummy, the guitar simply won't stay in tune and the intonation on the G and B string is obviously out. I'm also suspicious that the pickup heights are wrong because I'm getting a muddy suck-tone with any configuration I try.

    Long story short it's got to go back, and I'm going to have to complain. I'm just concerned that I'll get told a response like 'because you neglected it this is as good as we can get it' and because I'm not a hands on person I don't know if that's true or not. Is it possible that due to a couple of years on the shelf the neck is permanently bowed? I feel like they should have told me if it was in such bad shape rather than simply just letting me take it and taking my money.

    Does anyone have any advice? Sorry for the rant.
  2. Robus


    Aug 25, 2013
    Chicago Area
    I doubt the neck is ruined from what you describe. Sounds like you are a regular customer. Tell them you would like them to have another look and describe the problem. Chances are they'll make it right.

    A gap gauge, tuner, capo, and wrench or two is all you need to do your own setup. All the info is free online. Just saying.
  3. Just because it's a good shop, that doesn't mean every individual tech there is good. You may find that whoever is in charge agrees completely with your assessment. Don't assume the worst until you've talked to them. If it doesn't go well, you can get back to us.
  4. MothBox


    Oct 25, 2010
    Given what some people resurrect from the dead a little bit of neck bow shouldn't be unfixable.

    I've sat down with guitar techs in the past and described exactly what I've wanted or taken a bass in that I've considered to be how I want the other one setup. Showed them the pickup distance, string to neck spacing etc, and discussed what I play and how I play it.

    I've found most places I use tell me to bring it back in a few days if I have any issues. Some have even called me to check everythings okay after a day or two.

    I'd have no second thoughts about taking it back if I had a problem. We're paying for a service.
  5. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Exactly what do you mean by "The neck feels gummy"?
  6. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Are the strings new?
  7. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    This is what I am thinking as well. If they did a set up with the old strings, that would explain the lack of intonation and dull sound
  8. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Don't complain, instead discuss your concerns with the tech. When you complain you set the person on the defensive and that's when you are likely to get the response you describe.

    It seems that you have been a regular customer of these folks, so use that to your advantage. Just go in and say that you have been happy with the other work they have done for you but you are not entirely happy with the way this instrument is now. Explain what it is that's making you unhappy. I think you will get a much more positive response.
  9. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    If you go in gearing up for an argument, that's probably what you'll get. If you go in and ask them to have another look at it - nicely - and express how pleased you've been with their work in the past, I doubt they'll give you any trouble at all. You've already demonstrated yourself as a repeat customer. Any shop worth it's salt knows the value in that and will want to ensure that you leave satisfied.
  10. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
  11. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    ABSOLUTELY. You get much farther with a pleasant approach. When you tell them you loved their work last time but are having problems this time, that should set the stage properly.
  12. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    +1 more; this should be no big deal, bring it back and say you're still having some trouble.

    hopefully they can just tweak it while you wait and then watch you try it out, to see how you play and adjust accordingly.

    now if they can show you specifically where the guitar has issues that can't be fixed without more significant work, be prepared to listen. things like a neck that needs fret leveling or a refret to really be straight, or wiring issues not covered by regular "setup" stuff.
  13. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    Thanks for the assistance but this one's gotten away from me. I took it back and they were very good about it. The guy worked on the bridge for another half an hour and agreed that it was strange that it wasn't intonated properly. He did admit that he hadn't stretched the strings last time which I thought was a bit lame.

    After the extra work we did some testing and it seemed fine so I took it home, woodshedded some songs for an hour and was really happy. I put the guitar down, went about other business for about 4 hours, came back to it and it's shot again. It won't stay in tune and the intonation appears to still be out. If it's in tune to play an eMajor chord or bar up to A then the B and G are off chop on and above the 7th fret. If I dial in the tuning for the double stops above 7th all chords are chumpy. I've had enough of it.

    I won't be taking it back again and I don't have the disposable income to have someone else look at it. It can sit on the shelf again for a couple of years until I can be bothered either having someone else look at it or otherwise I'll probably put it up for sale.

    Thanks again for the help.
  14. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Try putting on new strings. Strings could be the culprit. I can't imagine the entire guitar going out of wack! Is the neck stable? Are the saddles on the bridge moving? Does it have a tremolo? I'm curious.
  15. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I don't understand this mindset.

    You've paid for a service; they have provided that service and shown that they're willing to make it right.

    You are simply abandoning the project and a valuable instrument when you could work with them to further resolve the issue.

    If you park it and walk away, please be very clear that you are the one who is not following through. There is no fault on the part of the person who did the work on it. They would still work on the instrument if you bothered to follow up.
  16. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    Sorry. That looked like a dummy spit, but its more complex than that. I work a high stress job and I've been taking time out of the office to try and fix this axe. People are starting to frown. I simply cant afford the frustration of going and forward to the store trying to get it right.

    I also reckon that the shop has done its due diligence by this point. It's also a guitar of great sentimental value and the thought of it being ugly to play just burns me.

    The strings are brand new elixir 10 to 46s which are now worn in. I've never known strings to be an issue but I'm open to anything.

    I could have a go at this myself but as I said at the start I'm ham-fisted and I wouldn't even know where to start. It's fine to chuck up links to tools, very funny, but it's like asking a pig to ballroom dance. I'm aware of my strengths and repairing things is not amongst them.
  17. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    Here is what I would do: I would tune the guitar to pitch and maintain that tuning for a month or two, then take it back in. You let it sit in a low tension state (low tuning) for a couple years. There's a chance that the neck needs to settle under regular tension before it becomes reliably stable.
    I bought a neck from an un-named FleaBay seller who sells a lot of parted out Fender B and lower stock. It was just unusable. And the idiot sent it with the truss cranked down tight. Even after leveling the frets and filing some falloff onto the upper frets, it still required required action so high that it was unplayable. I had the sense that the neck hadn't been under tension in some time, while the truss remained cranked. So after a week+ of wrestling with it, I gave up and moved on. Then after 8 - 10 weeks, I pulled it down from the hanger to have another go at it. I lowered the action and all was fine. It's still not the greatest J neck, but it's now more than acceptable, where for the first couple weeks it was unplayable. All that I can chalk that up to is the neck settling under the tension, over time.
  18. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    Well, there appears to be (for lack of a better word) some creaking going on with the neck. If I apply gentle pressure in an anti-clockwise rotational motion I can hear what I'm perceiving as a woody creak. I'm wondering if that's an indication of a warp or loose bolt? Once again I'm guessing because I don't know squat.

    The neck is Queensland Maple if that's any assistance, and the guitar is probably an 06 model so it's had about 7 years of playing life. It's only in the last year or two that I've treated it poorly, which I'm very much regretting now.

    So perhaps just letting it sit for a month or two might help?
  19. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    i got a really lazy setup on a jazz bass once and i just sent the guy a polite email, he still got kind of defensive about their custom shop experienced luthier, that was when i was somewhat confused, did that mean he got fired from the custom shop or does that mean that guys at the custom shop can't do basic setups, anyway i just let it go, because i have close friends that i should have taken it to anyway who know how and what i play