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Thoughts advice on how to handle

Schumijr

New member
Joined
Apr 23, 2024
Messages
15
Always been a very hands on person.

Recently bought a new Epi Les Paul and I went thru and replaced everything. New Seymours, hand wired in 50's fashion (all knew braided wire/scrapped all the Radio-shack wiring), new pots/knobs, new Switchcraft toggle and new Switchcraft input jack.

I put new strings on it and proceeded to do the setup on it. I did the neck adjustment, T-o-M bridge height adjustment, intonation, bolted the bridge tailpiece to the body and did a wrap-around string setup, and finally adjusted the pickup height and played with the poles to get everything sounding and playing just right.

After it was all said and done, I decided I wanted to put a new nut in the guitar and so I took it to my old guitar shop to have them do it. I would have done it myself, but I didn't have the files needed to do this work. They "custom made" a new bone nut and it looks really nice, no complaints. It even had very noticeable improvement in sustain. But here's the thing. All I wanted them to do was replace the nut and fix the radius of the strings at the bridge because they were a little all over the place. They had a hard time figuring out how to code/bill the work for the saddle adjustments and asked if I would be willing to just do the full setup. I went ahead and agreed to it because I thought, well as handy as I am I'm still an amateur and maybe they'll notice something I didn't.

I finally go to pick my guitar up, was in a rush so didn't really inspect too much and was kind of impressed with the shine on it. The obvious change that I missed due to the distracting shine, was they had raised the bridge up completely and done a string thru instead of the wrap around that I had. Then, the guitar was out of tune pretty quickly once I started playing it (new strings I suppose), so I tuned it. When I set it up, the intonation was perfect. I even had to remove a couple of the saddles and flip them to get the adjustment needed to make them that way. Again, it was perfect. Now I have 2 strings that are bad out of spec. but they are nowhere near perfect.

Also, this then made me move on to the string radius at the bridge. I put my under-string gauge on them and immediately bridge the high and low E's with about a 1/16" gap on all the other strings with a 12" radius gauge. I kept using flatter and gauges and never could get the gauge to where it touched all the strings.

Lastly, I had my pickup heights set per Seymour Duncan's specs initially but then played around with them until I got them to sound how I wanted them to. I haven't gauged the height on them but they look noticeably lower than what I had set them. The guitar did sound darker/muddier when I plugged it in to play. Makes me think they tinkered with them as well.

I was charged $80 for the nut, and $100 for the setup (which I agreed to). But then they charged me for the replacement strings. Not a huge gripe and nothing I would say to the shop on it's own but really? I paid nearly $200 for the real work and they couldn't throw in a set of strings? Isn't it normal to do so?

And, while the guitar plays really well now, I'm the one that has to go back and set the intonation, and possibly lower the tailpiece and restring at my expense again. And have the string radius fixed like I asked to begin with.

What are everyone's thoughts?


Thanks for the read and the advice.
 
Last edited:

MarcB

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 1, 2023
Messages
1,025
If it were me.. I’d let them know with exactly what you’ve written above.. not to piss them off.. but to educate them in their ways of service..
I honestly believe some people get away with shit service because no one is telling them they’re shit.
You’re completely entitled to air your opinion and concerns as you’ve paid them money for a service which wasn’t worth the asking price.

(And get a part refund as you’ll take it to someone else to do the work)
 

Wilko

All Access/Backstage Pass
Joined
Mar 11, 2002
Messages
20,903
Did they ask any question before the setup? Even so, you had it top-wrapped, they should have left that.

I ask all my clients how they want it set up. How hard do they play? Is there anything about their setup that they like or don't? DO they like lower action, etc.
 

latestarter

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 9, 2009
Messages
4,188
Same as Wilko, I always ask first and usually via email so I have a good record pathway. Especially for big work.

They should have done the same. Do as Marc suggests. Best wishes.
 

Schumijr

New member
Joined
Apr 23, 2024
Messages
15
Thanks all for your responses.

My thought for the nut was exactly like Charliechitlins said; the files would have cost less and I most probably could have done it (I'm that confident in my skills) and I would have had another set of tools (more tools is always better right?).

I let them do it because while I am confident, I also kind of wanted the assurance that it was done correctly since I hadn't done it before. It might have ended up fine as far as I knew but I wanted it to be the best it could be as I was really building a solid player. But now I wonder could it have been even better than what it is now.

The bad thing is the store manager is a nice guy I've known for a long time, we aren't friends but we are friendly for 20ish years? I just have been out of the game for the last 5 years, I don't want to walk into the shop and seem like I'm nit picking. At the same time, the manager isn't the one doing the work, he's just managing his employees. Maybe he'd like an honest, harsh but polite feedback; if I were him I would like to know.

Thanks again.
 

charliechitlins

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 16, 2021
Messages
1,115
The thing about making nuts is, if you ruin it, you jyst make another.
I saw a guy make a beautiful nut from a blank in about 15 minutes while I stood there.
It still takes me up to 90 minutes to get it to my satisfaction .
 

roaddawgie

Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2019
Messages
30
Hey Bro I feel your pain I have been thru similar experiences with a couple my guitars.

The hard truth is this, you are gonna br playing a long time and there is no way around it you must be able to set and adjust your Guitars. At best your shop set the guitar up to their own taste (I might be wrong here but it docent seem they asked you how to do it on a full set up) I am not saying they were wrong, but it wasn't how you liked your guitar to look and feel. At worst they may not have known what they were doing . But there are people out there that should not be left alone & unattended with a guitar much less yours. For what you paid for this failed set up you could have gotten some nut files, It sounds as if you can do a passable setup and at least one that works for you. So I say chalk this up to experience invest in the tools and you will Fish for a life time rather than eat a fish to day. Good Luck
Always been a very hands on person.

Recently bought a new Epi Les Paul and I went thru and replaced everything. New Seymours, hand wired in 50's fashion (all knew braided wire/scrapped all the Radio-shack wiring), new pots/knobs, new Switchcraft toggle and new Switchcraft input jack.

I put new strings on it and proceeded to do the setup on it. I did the neck adjustment, T-o-M bridge height adjustment, intonation, bolted the bridge tailpiece to the body and did a wrap-around string setup, and finally adjusted the pickup height and played with the poles to get everything sounding and playing just right.

After it was all said and done, I decided I wanted to put a new nut in the guitar and so I took it to my old guitar shop to have them do it. I would have done it myself, but I didn't have the files needed to do this work. They "custom made" a new bone nut and it looks really nice, no complaints. It even had very noticeable improvement in sustain. But here's the thing. All I wanted them to do was replace the nut and fix the radius of the strings at the bridge because they were a little all over the place. They had a hard time figuring out how to code/bill the work for the saddle adjustments and asked if I would be willing to just do the full setup. I went ahead and agreed to it because I thought, well as handy as I am I'm still an amateur and maybe they'll notice something I didn't.

I finally go to pick my guitar up, was in a rush so didn't really inspect too much and was kind of impressed with the shine on it. The obvious change that I missed due to the distracting shine, was they had raised the bridge up completely and done a string thru instead of the wrap around that I had. Then, the guitar was out of tune pretty quickly once I started playing it (new strings I suppose), so I tuned it. When I set it up, the intonation was perfect. I even had to remove a couple of the saddles and flip them to get the adjustment needed to make them that way. Again, it was perfect. Now I have 2 strings that are bad out of spec. but they are nowhere near perfect.

Also, this then made me move on to the string radius at the bridge. I put my under-string gauge on them and immediately bridge the high and low E's with about a 1/16" gap on all the other strings with a 12" radius gauge. I kept using flatter and gauges and never could get the gauge to where it touched all the strings.

Lastly, I had my pickup heights set per Seymour Duncan's specs initially but then played around with them until I got them to sound how I wanted them to. I haven't gauged the height on them but they look noticeably lower than what I had set them. The guitar did sound darker/muddier when I plugged it in to play. Makes me think they tinkered with them as well.

I was charged $80 for the nut, and $100 for the setup (which I agreed to). But then they charged me for the replacement strings. Not a huge grip and nothing I would say to the shop on it's own but really? I paid nearly $200 for the real work and they couldn't throw in a set of strings? Isn't it normal to do so?

And, while the guitar plays really well now, I'm the one that has to go back and set the intonation, and possibly lower the tailpiece and restring at my expense again. And have the string radius fixed like I asked to begin with.

What are everyone's thoughts?


Thanks for the read and the advice.
 

MarcB

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 1, 2023
Messages
1,025
To add to the discussion of “setting up your own guitar” .. this is a natural but imperative step in guitar ownership.. I had to because of the ongoing issues with so called “professionals” doing shoddy work..and having to call them out.. which is not my intention.. but .. “if the milk turns sour, I’m not the kind of pussy that drinks it”

I’m not at the point of doing my own nuts and frets.. yet.. but this will happen soon enough (when I need to) there is a wealth of information and videos out there to help.. and it’s very satisfying doing it yourself.
 

charliechitlins

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 16, 2021
Messages
1,115
There is a range of aptitude for hand tools.
I have seen people who hold a screwdriver for the first time and it looks like a part of their hand, and others who have held one dozens of times and they look like they're handling a turd.
I think, if one is are anywhere from average up, on the hand tool spectrum, one can learn to do very effective electronic work, set-ups, cut nuts and do fret work and refrets...all the basic "tech" stuff.
I think the woodworking part is quite different.
I have been a very competent tech for a number of years, and I am self taught, but I feel like something like a neck reset or anything involving deep wood, would be vest learned from a teacher.
 

Schumijr

New member
Joined
Apr 23, 2024
Messages
15
Hey Bro I feel your pain I have been thru similar experiences with a couple my guitars.

The hard truth is this, you are gonna br playing a long time and there is no way around it you must be able to set and adjust your Guitars. At best your shop set the guitar up to their own taste (I might be wrong here but it docent seem they asked you how to do it on a full set up) I am not saying they were wrong, but it wasn't how you liked your guitar to look and feel. At worst they may not have known what they were doing . But there are people out there that should not be left alone & unattended with a guitar much less yours. For what you paid for this failed set up you could have gotten some nut files, It sounds as if you can do a passable setup and at least one that works for you. So I say chalk this up to experience invest in the tools and you will Fish for a life time rather than eat a fish to day. Good Luck
Thanks for the words.

I believe I will purchase said tools.
 

Schumijr

New member
Joined
Apr 23, 2024
Messages
15
There is a range of aptitude for hand tools.
I have seen people who hold a screwdriver for the first time and it looks like a part of their hand, and others who have held one dozens of times and they look like they're handling a turd.
I think, if one is are anywhere from average up, on the hand tool spectrum, one can learn to do very effective electronic work, set-ups, cut nuts and do fret work and refrets...all the basic "tech" stuff.
I think the woodworking part is quite different.
I have been a very competent tech for a number of years, and I am self taught, but I feel like something like a neck reset or anything involving deep wood, would be vest learned from a teacher.
Agreed 100%.

I've done woodworking, I've done detailed finish work, I've done ground up restoration of classic cars, It's just one of those things that my dad taught me that "I can probably do a better job than the guy I'd pay to do it". I like the feeling of accomplishment. I like having the knowledge to help others. I like being able to learn something either thru reading or watching a video and then be able to say, "yep I learned a lot from this but also what I just watched and read skipped this bit of info that could be improved on to better help others".

That said, I'm not at the point that I want to carve my own guitar body and shape a neck/fretboard but, I am ready to purchase a higher quality guitar kit and build something from the "ground up". Just an excuse to learn more and buy more tools. :)
 

Schumijr

New member
Joined
Apr 23, 2024
Messages
15
Update:

I called my shop last Monday May 20th. I didn't go into the nit-picky things like the string cost, but I politely told them I noticed the string intonation was out because the guitar was out of tune from travel and play after new strings. I then said I checked the string radius at the "tune-o-matic" and it seemed like nothing had been changed. He apologized and said he hoped I would bring it back to them and let them try it again. I agreed but this time I said for them to call me when it was ready to be worked on as I didn't want it to sit in a shop for 2 weeks before they were even able to get to it... he said he would.

On Friday, May 24th, they called and said if you'll bring it in on Tuesday, we'll have time to look at it. I had already made my mind up that if I didn't hear from them by Friday I would go in and just ask for a refund and be done with it. My thought being... I paid them $200 up front to do the work, they didn't do it, and they continue to take on more work instead of getting mine fixed like expected? That's just poor customer service; It makes me feel like they really don't care either way...."We got paid already so fuck 'em".

I took the guitar on to them on Tuesday at 11 their opening time. The night before I check all the intonation and string radius readings again so I would have a clear remembrance of what was what for before and after. On the string radius side both the D and G strings were sitting low so that the radius gauge buzzed on them from the underside of the strings while both E's, A and B strings would vibrate freely. From when I had previously set the guitar up and set the intonation the bridge saddles were in the following positions E, A, and D were all sloped towards the neck while G, B and e were all sloped towards the tailpiece. To get the intonation correct on the B string I ended up having to remove the saddle and flip it to be able to get the adjustment needed. That said everything was perfect and I knew what was what because I had done the work. Well, by about 1:30 the shop calls and says, "We got the guitar in the shop here and everything looks good. We didn't have to make any adjustments because nothing was out of spec. Why don't you come in and play it and we'll talk thru it before you take it home".

I get there and the first thing they say is "Here you go, play it and tell us what you think". I asked them instead what they did or didn't do.

Store mgr, "Well, we noticed someone had put 9's on the guitar and we felt this particular guitar really liked 10's better so we switched them out and the intonation was bang on".

Me, "I'm the one that asked to have 9's put on the guitar in the first place. It had 10's and I usually play those but, As I haven't played in a while and just getting back into it the 9's are a little easier for me to play right now"

Store mgr, " Yeah I guess we messed that up".

Me, "Tell me about the string radius, you said you didn't need to adjust it"

Store mgr, "We don't like to set the radius on a tune-o-matic because the radius is already set in the bridge itself, we don't like to file on the saddles unless you are breaking strings".

At this point I again try to stay polite, but I firmly ask him "If that is your policy, why did you take my business and money to begin with? I told you from the beginning I wanted the nut replaced and additionally the only work I wanted done was setting the string radius at the bridge".

He responded with well anytime you make an adjustment to guitar like a nut replacement we would do a full setup on the guitar. OK, so had I only bought the nut replacement and not the radius job, you would have done the setup included in the nut job cost? His answer, "yes". You're saying the radius job I requested, that was an additional $100, that you didn't do is actually a separate service? Again, a yes. So don't try and take my money for a service that is either included or that you can't/won't do.

I then politely told him I wasn't happy with the service they had provided up to this point, that they charged me for work they willingly took my money for but until full disclosure later they said "we really don't do that". I told them I wanted to stay friendly and respectful and that they should just refund me the money for the setup cost and I would be on my way. He wasn't happy and said that isn't something they normally do, to which I responded with a snarky, "that's one more thing I guess". He refunded my money and away I went.


The thing that makes me think I did the right thing and also makes me not regret the comment I made, (as I was driving home, I thought that wasn't called for really) is this.... I get home and start playing and the guitar is understandably out of tune a bit. I tune it up and check the intonation once again and guess what... it's closer but it's not perfect. I get my tools out and start to tinker to get it spot on. Remember when I described the saddle orientation early on? I go to adjust the saddles and I run out of adjustment, and I think that's weird. On further inspection, they flipped the saddles around where the slopes for all saddles are facing the neck.

My point... they said everything was perfect on the intonation and that they hadn't done anything to it aside from replacing the 9's with the 10's. They had very obviously made adjustments because they flipped the bridge saddles around. Not only did they flip them around, by doing so they limited the adjustment where they couldn't make it perfect.

Lessons learned I guess; I mostly wanted to vent to people that would understand my frustration.
 

jb_abides

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 6, 2005
Messages
5,575
Capability and competence are dwindling everywhere; yet there is a pervasive attitude of 'I'm a professional, so I must be right' and the customer is always wrong.

I mean, it's everywhere. In all walks of life and enterprise, I've found. We are up to our necks in it!

It used to be an intentional strategy of 'deny, deny, deny' with no shame; however, more and more I am witnessing what I'd characterize as 'delusion by default' almost a narcissistic manner. Unaware, but proper up by their own self-image.

Sorry this had to happen but don't think poorly upon your comments. Invest in more self-learning and tools, and search for competence and vet professionals for the big jobs.
 
Last edited:

metropolis

Active member
Joined
Sep 14, 2018
Messages
444
Sorry to hear of your issues but I just wanted to say I think you handled it really well and I'm pleased you got a refund at the end of it. That sounds like a very strange operation who are very set in their ways and yet don't communicate that to customers. I've had a guitar technician have a funny attitude towards radius of tune-o-matic bridges but the string gauge thing was ludicrous. Hope you manage to get the guitar to where it should be in terms of playability!
 

GlassSnuff

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Messages
3,695
Sorry to hear of your issues but I just wanted to say I think you handled it really well and I'm pleased you got a refund at the end of it. That sounds like a very strange operation who are very set in their ways and yet don't communicate that to customers. I've had a guitar technician have a funny attitude towards radius of tune-o-matic bridges but the string gauge thing was ludicrous. Hope you manage to get the guitar to where it should be in terms of playability!
As a (retired) shopkeeper, I also want to applaud the way you approached this. I'm quite certain your calm and reasonable demeanor is why you got a refund.
 

Schumijr

New member
Joined
Apr 23, 2024
Messages
15
Thanks for the responses all.

I was really really leary of approaching them on the whole thing. I'm not one to shy away from something/someone taking advantage of me. But, this one was different for whatever reason to me. It's why I reached out to you all to get input in the beginning. With the one clerk and I going back close to 20yrs, the whole thing just made me uncomfortable as I'm sure it did him too. It's reassuring to know by your comments the right thing was done.

Thank you again.
 
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