I have had my Ray4 with the SIMs pickups in it at my Luthier for him to put a real, custom pickguard on it for over 3 months.
Every couple weeks I check in and get some excuse or another … got slammed, screwed up template, etc. I actually do not mind if things take long if there is communication along the way.
I do understand as actual musicians started playing again they all found luthiers to get their gear in order and he did get slammed. I do understand that ‘emergency repairs’ for gigging folks tend to rise to the top of the list over things that ‘can’ sit. But I also expect a reasonable amount of time to fix something, and, if not, communication and then prioritization when the time has gotten out of hand.
Last week before I went on my trip for work, he said it would be done last week and he would let me know when it could be picked up…heard nothing. He is a really great luthier, and I had plans of starting to spend some serious money with him, but deprioritizing me into oblivion loses me as a client. I had tried out a very popular sax tech in NYC who did the same thing, and, I truly believe if I didn’t go to the shop and sit there while he finished the work that he would have never gotten to my horn. He not only lost my business but also got very bad reviews online from me too.
So with the above issues I decided to try out another guy who is based in a very famous shop here (that has one in NYC and one by me in Westchester). I brought my semi-hollow Fender to him for some piezo balancing (something I haven’t messed with and figured would be better for a tech to do since it might need a new piezo and finding the proper one seemed difficult. After two days he called and said it was ready. When I went to pick it up, no sound from the G string…seriously…none. He said “well it worked when I called you”. He then determined he needed to reshape the bone saddle for more even pressure and would be done in a week, that was 3 weeks ago.
In the land of saxophones, I have spent a great deal of time finding good techs. My horns are all 90-100+ years old and are very specialized. I have found there are less than 5 people in the entire country that really know what they are doing with saxophones. The rest is very hit and miss.
NYC and the tri-state area is a very odd market, in that there are so many people/musicians and so few repair places for all instruments. Even fewer worth a damn.
So when I read about @Wombat-metal’s woes with the luthier, I get it. Sometimes finding the good ones can take years.
So now, today, i have to start the incessant calling/texting bothering to become the squeaky wheel they just want to go away so they will fix my gear and get it back to me. Shame really, cause it will lose them business.
Wow I have spent a lot of time in NYC and you’d think there would be a bunch of luthiers to choose from especially with the music scene that floods the city.
I believe the situation is even harder here (Eastern Southern Ontario). I had to travel pretty far to find someone I was willing to spend money on and even he is met with much scrutiny in many forums. There are plenty of people that advertise that they are luthiers or something of the sort but the reviews will keep most at bay.
@John_E The one thing I can not agree with is being pushed to the back of the line just because you are not a pro. You are a paying customer (a repeat one at that) and except for maybe the occasional emergency you deserve the luthiers time as much as anyone.
As a native Brooklynite, I take issue with your “Ugh”!
Of course, I haven’t lived in that borough since I was two years old, and it wasn’t really so great when I visited my relatives living there in the 1960s. But, nonetheless, I think it has some nice areas (even where I lived as a baby), and I just have to Brooklyn. Everybody’s gotta be born somewhere!
More on topic, I hope you find satisfaction in your luthier search. Who knows, maybe the one you seek may even be in Brooklyn.
I am so sorry to hear about your issues with finding a good luthier but everything you said is so true.
Fortunately I have a very good friend that makes primarily violins, fiddles, and even the odd stand up Bass, from scratch, so I am set. He also runs free old time fiddle jam sessions every week in his workshop, or did before Covid.
Just keep the faith and you will find a luthier that you are happy with sooner or later.
The ONLY tricky thing with soldering is doing back of pots due to the giant heat sink that they are. I still suck at it but is good enough (says the EE). One of these days I’m going to sit down and get it perfect just because.
Unfortunately you are not a priority to them.
Unless you want to wait and feel ok being at the bottom of their barrel, I would suggest picking up your stuff and going elsewhere.
I hate being treated like that. That is why I do research, buy the tools, and do everything myself (with limitation of course). Plus that way instead of giving my money to some schmuck, I’d rather spend the money on tools.
I agree and am in the same camp when it comes to buying tools. Gotta slowly learn somehow. The real benefit the pros have is learning via volumes of work. An average guy like me will never setup enough instruments to match the experience of someone who gets paid to do it, even if I setup stuff for other people I know.
Ray4 SIMs bass - I text the guy and told him I was picking the bass up on Friday at 11:30. He said ok. I actually tried this tactic with the deadbeat sax repair tech and found that the work miraculously got done when I gave a deadline. Hopefully, he did a good job on the pickguard. So Friday we will see.
Fender HMT piezo problem - I called them today to check status. The luthier got on the phone and told me he just made the new saddle because it just got to him a few days ago (a lie, it got to him a two weeks ago) but the problem is still persisting (the problem he created, not the initial problem mind you) and he is sending it down to their NYC SoHo store tomorrow (amazing how things are moving at the exact same time you call to check up on things) so their lead tech who has more experiece could finish the job. I would honestly take the bass back if the problem he created wasn’t worse than when he started, but at this point I have to let them see it through otherwise I get a bass back in worse shape than when I dropped it off. I intend to call their ‘lead tech’ guy tomorrow and give him my side of the story so he isn’t confused by the other luthier’s idiocy in the matter.
I feel you @John_E, fortunately I found mine my usual service time is 2 weeks one week out for an appointment and another to get it done. It’s so far from me it’s near @T_dub, but it’s a surest thing and they are quite simply put, awesome.
Swear to god, if I already know how to use the CNC machine I’d get right on your design right away. Im gonna try to put up the machine this weekend and who knows may be it’s not as complicated as I fear.
Only problem is very few proclaimed luthiers have formal basic training, so a bunch of them keep doing the same shoddy work. This is when you start hearing all the excuses and lies that unfortunately @John_E has been encountering.
I think most people here can and should do this. Only reason I brought one of my basses to someone is cause most luthiers would have said it needs a new neck. Dave the luthier had a very specialized piece of equipment (heat press) that most don’t and I am not investing in one of those.
I have done a pretty good job on complete setups, fret work, nut work, bridge work, a bunch of electronic repairs and replacements and more. I am by no means a skilled tradesman. I have a bunch of tools that didn’t break the bank and the rest is watch, learn and repeat. I know you can all do it too.