Lead-Time For Guitar Repairs

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Steverz, Dec 5, 2019.

  1. Steverz

    Steverz New Member

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    I took several of my acoustic Gibson's to a Nationally Renowned Master Luthier in Ohio. This Luthier also has regular articles in most of the Guitar magazines and close ties to StewMac. He has many instructional video's on YouTube and is a consultant with the big manufacturers.

    The one guitar, he made a new bridge, added some glue to the inside supports, reset the neck, new fret wires and replaced the tuners with matching vintage ones. The other guitar he replaced the electronics and did a refret. He is famous for his outstanding craftsmanship. So, what could be the problem?

    He kept these two instruments nearly 14 months. Yes, over a year. The only reason my instruments are no longer with him is that I finally gave him a deadline. Of course, I had to extend this deadline twice. Had I not initiated a deadline than my instruments would still be with him heading into 1 1/2 years or longer. A friend of this Luthier said I was lucky or I must have said some magic words because his Gibson SJ had been in this same shop for 2 1/2 years and heading into three years.

    Now, when I left my guitars, I noticed that there were about ten guitars ahead of mine, but absolutely no more than ten.

    After watching about a hundred YouTube video's of professional Luthiers (no DIYers), I realized the work on my instruments should have been done in two weeks max. Keep in mind, if I would have sent these instruments to Gruhn or Gibson they may have taken six months, but, they have a 40 hour a week staff, so they are there working, With this famous Luthier, he is everywhere but working on his customers instruments while giving the excuse "some things can't be rushed". (That's true, glue needs overnight to dry.) He even built his own design guitar eating up almost an entire month over the summer while customer guitars sat in their cases.

    I think this Master Luthier, well known and respected for fifty years, simply never grasp the idea that he needs to understand the concept of time and the customer first.

    WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS? HOW LONG DO YOU THINK THIS WORK SHOULD HAVE TAKEN KEEPING IN MIND ONLY AROUND TEN GUITARS AHEAD OF MINE....and by the way, I DO own two Gibson SGs. One from the early 1970s and the other a 2009, just in case anyone was wondering.

    In closing, I did not mention his name but by the info I left, you should be able to figure out who I am referencing.

    Again, YOUR THOUGHTS. Thanks.
     
  2. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    I think he thinks he's so special. It's not rocket science, he's not the only one being excellent at what a luthier does.

    I think you should find another good luthier that respects his customers.
     
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  3. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    I have a favorite French restaurant that requires reservations about a year in advance.Price fixe @$325/person. In the meantime The Olive Garden is always available.
    I was recently given a wait time of 18 months and a price quote of $1000 on a simple headstock overlay replacement from Gibson. I am happy to live with the cosmetic damage.
    You saw ten ahead of yours or he told you there were ten ahead of yours? When I had my shop I kept longer term repairs in the back room most of the time and quick fixes up front. I can't believe that Dan Erlewine has only ten repairs going at a time. 14 months does not seem inordinately protracted especially when, as you note and so are aware that he "also has regular articles in most of the Guitar magazines and close ties to StewMac. He has many instructional video's on YouTube and is a consultant with the big manufacturers."
    (You don't suppose he has apprentices doing some of the work, do you?)
    What I'd really like to know is ,"How'd the repairs turn out? What is your level of satisfaction with the quality of the repairs? How about the cost?" Before and after photos would be great.
     
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  4. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    Nope, mostly geometry.
    We only heard one side of this. Dan's shop isn't Uncle Wally's Fixit Shoppe, so you won't get repairs while you get a haircut and shoe shine at Floyds.
    I had a customer who insisted that I repair a neck on an EB-O that could have been replaced much more easily. I warned that the reconstruction would take "as long as it takes and cost about $500." Some months later, I had it done, invisible repair and playing better than new. I announced the good news to the owner who then waited another 6 weeks to pick it up and to this day still never mentions the beauty or quality of the repair, only the cost and time it took.
     
  5. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    I'm only a luthier part time as a hobby, but I think I have a pretty good understanding of most materials, and since my day-to-day work life sees me dealing in micron-level accuracy I'm not phased by a guitar. I will usually only take in a guitar on the day I am able to start on it, and then I take my time from that point. Anything I glue stays in the clamps for three days at least. And I sand finish with foam pads up to 15,000 grit before I polish. So for me luthiery is a pleasure that I don't want to hurry.
     
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  6. Colnago

    Colnago Active Member

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    Did you ask him how long it would take before you left your guitars with him?
     
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  7. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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  8. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    I do repair/maintenance work for friends of mine, or by word of mouth through them. If it's a job I can not turn around in two weeks (even with me traveling for work), I will tell them up front and try to have them go to someone else. The longest I took was three weeks. He was good with it, and really wanted me to do it.
     
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  9. Silvertone

    Silvertone Active Member

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    Frankly I think the ones is on the owner of the guitar to ask regarding when the guitar will be ready. It is completely understandable that someone that is busy would not mind just keeping your guitar until they get around to working on it. This guarantees that they do the work and receive the $$$ as you cannot take it somewhere else. I'm not saying this is a good practice but I can see why people would do that.

    Cheers Peter.
     
  10. Chubbles

    Chubbles Well-Known Member

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    My problem is that if Slash, or 50 people of his stature, brought in their guitars, it would be an overnight rush job. No, I ain't Slash. I'm just a paying customer who has reasonable expectations. That tech is like a God to me. But I don't have the patience to wait a year even for a God.
     
  11. rotorhead

    rotorhead Well-Known Member

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    Isn't this kind of like bringing a couple of bikes into Orange County Choppers and hoping everything would be done in a few weeks?

    When you're dealing with someone of that stature and prominence within their respective field, you have to understand the possible issues surrounding a decision to bring them the work or not and deal with the ramifications.

    I used to travel the custom bike circuit years ago and asked one nationally known builder exactly how it goes when they decide which builds are next, etc. At that level, it's all about the cash and prominence of the customer involved.

    He's turned plenty of people away who had cash in hand, upward of the 300k-500k range, simply because the wait time was around three years or so.

    He did all of the work himself and used only one helper. He learned early on not to hire apprentices- mostly for two reasons: the customers wanted his hands on it and apprentices eventually learn their craft, steal his ideas and open up their own shops lol.

    He also had to balance time and money with appearances on tv shows and live bike shows, etc.

    Anyway, this situation seems pretty similar to me.
     
  12. GrumpyOldDBA

    GrumpyOldDBA Well-Known Member

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    Some people are in a special category. Dan is not young anymore and has thousands of lifetime friends and musicians that probably get to the front of the line.

    Cleveland has a couple really good guys that also have extended wait times.

    There is no good answer here ...
     

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