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WARNING: Darrin Huff Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Fuzzbass, Jun 16, 2006.

  1. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I knew I was taking a chance with Darrin. When I spoke to him on the phone, he sounded like an earnest up-and-coming builder, willing to provide a discount on his product in order to establish his name and reputation. He had only built a few basses, but the pictures on his website showed amazing work. I contacted one of the owners who said that the pictures didn't lie. The rest is history, but I knew I was taking a chance going in.

    Darrin's lack of delivery didn't stop me from buying customs. I stayed with well-established shops (e.g. Sadowsky) at first. The biggest chance I've taken was with a luthier named Martin Keith, essentially a one-man shop, but he had built many instruments and I got a great reference from Marshall Perry who owns four of them. My experience with Martin turned out to be the most pleasant I've had ordering a custom, partly because of the quick turnaround of just four months. I should add that the Sadowsky experience is also excellent: build time is at least twice as long because of high demand, but this is known up front, and the shop remains communicative throughout the process.

    Nothing wrong with buying off the rack, the advantages are obvious. But it's not like the custom market is fraught with danger (it isn't).
    RickyT, Rob Martinez, Trabeen and 4 others like this.
  2. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    When I do the rough math, and imagine there are more orders unfilled and unknown, from the outside he looks like a scammer more than a luthier. He made a good amount of money, not working, and he continued to sell orders for things he clearly had no intentions to fabricate.

    I suspect he may be a sociopath or have a substance abuse problem. I have no evidence of this, be he seems to have no real excuses for what has happened and doesn't seem to be showing real remorse. Instead he just moves on. This is a dangerous type of person, and I think I'm very glad he's not a soldier, or a policeman, or any person in a post of great authority.

    He is indeed a black sheep in the custom world. I have heard stories where the instrument is not as good as the buyer expected, or took longer than expected, but I have never seen misbehavior on this scale anywhere else in the custom building world.
    It's an anomaly.
    Rob Martinez and ajkula66 like this.
  3. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Can I ask a question about suing the guy without getting anyone upset? Okay, here goes, it's been said that suing him for money won't get anywhere because he has none, but what about the legality of what he's done? Hasn't he very publicly stolen thousands of dollars from many people? Shouldn't he be charged with a crime?
    Apolicious and StayLow like this.
  4. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Darrin claims that all orders will be fulfilled. There were no written guarantees on when the orders would be delivered. I'm no lawyer, but I'm not sure that falls under theft.

    It was, at least by those who favored action. One reason I never really did is that I live 2,000 miles away. Another is that winning a judgment would not be easy even if I lived next door (some statutes of limitations are long expired, etc etc). Yet another is that winning doesn't guarantee payment. On that note:

    The estimate is 20 basses owed. My 50% down payment amounted to $1250, so if that's the average then he collected roughly $25k up front, which does not include the fact that some eventually paid in full based on claims that their bass would be delivered soon. It's highly unlikely that Darrin has that much in assets.
    AltGrendel and Bassbeater like this.
  5. Medford Bassman

    Medford Bassman Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Medford, Wisconsin
    That's why garnishment of property seems like the way to go. From his FB pics he easily has over $1250 work of equipment. So, after a judgment is rendered, the court could order the sheriff to seize Mr. Huff's equipment and if Mr. Huff doesn't satisfy the judgment the seized equipment would be sold to the highest bidder to satisfy the judgment.

    A couple caveats:
    1. you're correct, whatever the statute of limitations are in Huff's particular state might prevent recovery of damages on some of the older claims.
    2. whether Mr. huff owes over $25K in total to all customers and doesn't have $25K in assets isn't relevant. Whoever got to the courthouse first with their suit and got a judgment could file their garnishment. After seizure and sale of his equipment, if there isn't enough $$ left over for future litigants wouldn't affect the first one who actually took the action. "First in line" kind of theory.
    3. Written guarantees on delivery. While sure, it would have been nice to have that, courts tend to look at the reasonable of the merchant's actions when compared to other merchants in the same field, (other luthiers). Plus, since if was for a sale of goods over $500, the UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) is in effect. (all 50 states). There's a whole provision about unconscionable behavior by merchants. I doubt very few courts would toss the case solely on the grounds there was not a written delivery date.
    4. It's not theft, it's a breach of contract case. Yes, contracts can be formed without being in writing.

    Anyway, this is academic really unless there is any customers left within the statutes of limitations (which in Wisconsin would be three years).

    But I appreciate the discussion and feedback. Thanks.
    Mind Eroded and StayLow like this.
  6. ajkula66


    Sep 23, 2016
    Another caveat - which I'm going to classify as "possible" since I don't know for a fact what the laws are in WA where Mr. Huff resides AFAIK, of what the "local practices" are - would be that he could claim that his equipment amounts to "tools of the trade" needed for him to provide for himself and his family (presuming he has any) and that the Court could very well be unwilling to seize those assets. I've seen that card played elsewhere, and successfully so.

    The problem with any type of legal action is that there's a "legal reaction" available to the other side. When one is seeking justice thousands of miles away, it can prove to be a very costly affair.

    I don't have a horse in this race so I'm just going to wish everyone waiting for their bass the absolute best of luck in dealing with this unfortunate matter.
    pcake, Fuzzbass and Bassbeater like this.
  7. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Same here, thanks.

    P.S. My recollection from either TB or private discussions (or both) is the possibility that statutes of limitations might be different for avenues such as interstate or internet fraud. I have no idea whether this was anything more than speculation (again: moot point for me because I'm not following up).
  8. Medford Bassman

    Medford Bassman Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Medford, Wisconsin

    Oh sure, it's a possibility no doubt. However, based on his rate of untimely delivery, that might be a tough one for Mr. Huff to convince a court he needs them to provide for himself or a family. That analysis requires a court to obtain a financial disclosure from Mr. Huff before making that determination.

    As with any legal dilemma, you have to balance the pros/cons of initiating an action. I simply feel bad for those who have been scammed for so many years. Closure is always a good thing.
  9. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    The maturity, grace and reserve expressed by the victims here continues to inspired me. Thank you.
    Broke, Apolicious, lpcarter and 7 others like this.
  10. Tim Schnautz

    Tim Schnautz

    Jan 30, 2000
    And you sir, are most correct. There are several custom builders out there that deliver the goods properly and in fashion. Some are friends of mine as well. and I have no qualms of those who peruse the delights of a one-off custom built to the customers specs. I have never felt to go to those extremes, though, but have no qualms with those who do.

    What my intent was to make light of a bad situation, and with sympathy I closed my post with "good luck"

    BTW I've had lots of good conversations with builders such as Karl Hoyt, Rick Turner and I do own a one off Michael Dolan
  11. seventhson

    seventhson Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    Not that I ever wanted to sue Darrin, but to your point, winning a court decision is one thing; collecting is a completely different thing. My mom got hit by a drunk driver with police on scene. Drunk driver was driving a 99 Honda. First thing the lawyer does is a title search and perform discovery on the insurance coverage. He doesn't own a house. He's covered for CA minimum. Guess what? Mom is going to get the minimum insurance payout and that's that. It's not worth anybody's time to try and get more than 15k insurance payout by going to court and getting a bigger judgement that requires the asset-less defendant to pay the (judgement - 15k).

    I've been a lot more empathetic than most about the current situation. As I've stated elsewhere, this is not at all like buying a custom shop Fender, Sadowsky, et. al. or from a boutique shop like Fodera. Darrin is a ONE man operation. The better analogy would be Carl Thompson. If either individual hits a bad stretch (knock on wood), manufacturing grinds to a halt. As a matter of fact, I just received my Carl Thompson after waiting > 10 years. With these types of builders, you're dealing with a business entity in the loosest sense of the word...you're really commissioning a one-off work of art that comes with all of the headaches that commissioned works of art typically bring, such as missed schedules.

    You find these really talented, one man builders more frequently in the guitar world. There's a famous Les Paul builder named Roman Rist (built the "hunterburst" of Slash fame) who got royally screwed by a pickup winder and unfortunately it affected one of his customers. This is the kind of stuff that you sign up for when you put your money down (and, no, none of these builders will start work without a deposit). See the FIRST post in this thread on mylespaul board.

    An apology to Kevin

    Note, I am not saying: Darrin Huff == Carl Thompson == Roman Rist.

    I'm saying that there's a whole helluva lot more uncertainty that you have to account for both financially, mentally, and psychologically if you go down this path because it can be fraught with twists and turns (as we've all seen).

    And I know people mean well, but it gets tiresome to rehash the possible legal remedies. You'll always end up in the same place: root for Darrin to finish your bass.
  12. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Don’t follow that link. ^

    My iPhone got hammered with pop up ads
    cataract likes this.
  13. ajkula66


    Sep 23, 2016
    No problems here, reading it on a laptop with uBlock Origin installed. It's a legitimate post on a well-known forum.
  14. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Posted on Facebook today:

    D Huff Guitars

    So I took a leap of faith about two weeks ago and walked away from my bartending job to build basses and guitars full time.

    I knew the first month would be a challenge, for before I could make the backorders the top priority I had to make a few Guitars to sell to cover my shop and living expenses for the first few months of the transition.

    This will be happening for two more weeks. It was not an easy choice, but this short term decision I made is going to move everything forward in a much quicker manner.

    You can follow the designs and evolution of the production guitars and basses over at-

    Love me or hate me, this is the plan and I am sticking to it. You come on here to talk poopie or to give me hell I will block you. I don’t need that energy right now, and I have a zero tolerance policy in effect now. So don’t make yourself look like an ass, especially if you have nothing vested.

    Have a great day!
    pcake, Bassbeater and scottm like this.
  15. Trabeen

    Trabeen Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    For someone who has essentially stolen so much money from so many people he certainly seems to have a pretty substantial persecution complex.
    basschanges, pcake, Broke and 6 others like this.
  16. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    Man, a guy with eyes, hands, and mind to make basses so ridiculous,


    Speaking as someone who is also financially irresponsible, that he wasn't able to squirrel away enough money from filling and cleaning cups to not have to build "Guitars" to fund finishing started basses does not bode well.

    Speaking as someone who is also chronometrically irresponsible, that he only had one job and that was holding him back from finishing started basses also bodes poorly.

    I wish him the best and look forward to seeing new art from him.
    ajkula66 likes this.
  17. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    After I saw that post, I pinged Darrin for an ETA on my bass. He said it would be done before the end of the year.

    I'm not going to comment; just posting the update.
    pcake, Matthew_84, scuzzy and 7 others like this.
  18. Pbassmanca

    Pbassmanca In the pocket n' thumpy. So woody, so greasy...

    I sure hope that he has it to you "before the end of the year", @Fuzzbass...:unsure: This guy is just too much...:rollno:
  19. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    Did he say which year?
    basschanges, pcake, gln1955 and 12 others like this.
  20. did Kristjans bass ever make it out of Canada as of the posts in August it was in Canada with his friend. How long does fed ex take to fly from Canada to Iceland. Did his friend actually send it or did this Canadian friend screw him over. I’d be ashamed to be Canadian if the guy did that to Kristjan. It’s been 2 months now waiting to see unboxing pics.

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