Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Shoddy Work On My Precious Guitar And Banjo

If you look at the first five frets (starting at the top), when you get to the sixth, you can see the difference in size - the sixth and all the rest after are much narrower.
The biggest gouge in the binding (the white stuff) is under the second fret.  It's hard to see the others, but they are all gouged and/or chipped.
My Telecaster - homemade - bought the parts from Warmoth, hardware from various dealers, and put it all together, about $1000+ worth - it's beautiful.  I also have a Wildwood Artist 5 string banjo - made by Mark Platin, handmade, it is easily the best sounding, best feeling, and best looking banjo I've ever seen or heard, I paid $1600 new - from one of Wildwood's dealers, these banjos now go for about $2600.  A couple of months ago, I took these two precious instruments to Terry Scott's All String Repair for partial refrets - needing the first five frets replaced.

First let me tell you what he did to my guitar.  Besides replacing the first five frets, which actually wasn't too bad, he decided he needed to "shim" the string nut - meaning he put what appears to be a vinyl strip under it.  It looks like he cut the string grooves with a chainsaw - it looked ridiculous, and the B string groove was at the wrong angle, so I had to take my fish hook file and fix it.  You do NOT shim a nut as a permanent fix, you might do that to get through a night, but you do not do that as a permanent fix, you replace it.  I later replaced the string nut, and now it's fine.

Now, the banjo:  When I first took it in, I asked him straight, "Do you have the proper fret wire for this banjo, because the last refret I got (on a different banjo), the guy put on bigger frets, and I don't want that, I want the same sized frets that are on there".  He replied, "Oh yeah, I do banjos all the time".  So, three weeks later, I go to pick up my instruments.  I notice the guitar nut looks nasty, but I didn't say anything.  When I took the banjo out of the case, the first thing I noticed was the huge frets.  I said, "Why are there big frets on here?".  He replied, "Oh, I did that on purpose", and proceeded to give a big, long, cockamamie explanation about why he did that.  I happen to know a little about fretted instruments, setup, etc., and let me tell you, his explanation was pure bullshit.  I took the banjo home, and it sat in the case for the past 3 weeks or so, I haven't been able to even look at it, let alone, think about playing it.  Well, today I took it to a luthier to see how much it would cost to fix the mess that Mr. Scott made of my precious banjo.  He looked it over, saw the horrid work, and then pointed out that the binding on the underside of the fingerboard had been badly gouged and chipped - something I didn't notice before.  I also could then see that the frets were not flush in the slots, and not cut to the same length.  He said he could do a complete refret, and make the binding look better than it is - for $500 or so.  He recommended, though, that I send it back to the original luthier to get the neck replaced.  I've decided that I will do that - send it to Mark Platin in Bend, Oregon to have the neck replaced - a $900 job.  I of course, don't have that kind of money right now, so it's gonna have to wait.  After I left the shop of the second luthier today, I went straight to Mr. Scott's shop to show him his shitty work, and to tell him what I thought of it.  As expected, he tried to make excuses, tried to give me his dumbass explanations, but I stopped him and told him not to insult me with any of it.  He said, "I'm sorry, let me fix it, let me make it right".  I replied, "Think about it, if you took your precious guitar to a guy, and he did THIS (pointing to the gouged binding and messed up fret job), would YOU put it back in the hands of that guy???".  He kept insisting that I leave it with him so he could "make it right", but I told him there was no way in hell I was leaving ANY of my instruments with somebody who would do THAT (again pointing to the gouges and the screwed up frets) to an instrument.  He didn't offer to pay, or even help pay for the damage he did.  I reported this numbskull to the Better Business Bureau - for all the good that will do, and if I can find the receipts, I'll be taking him to Small Claims Court.  As if the previously mentioned damage wasn't enough, he had also cranked the thumbscrew on the Keith tuners so tight (with a screwdriver, when you are only supposed to lightly tighten them with your fingers), that if I would have tried to use them, they would have likely been broken - and these are $300 Bill Keith banjo tuners.  Yes, there's more.  The fifth string nut - the little bone peg with the slot in it for the fifth string - he broke it and glued it back together - so I'll also have to replace that.

Before all of this, my plan was to continue practicing on the banjo, to get my playing back up to par, so I could get started recording my bluegrass/folk CD as soon as possible, but thanks, Universe, for once again screwing things up for me.  And, the first son of a bitch who says this is somehow MY fault gets the ass whipping of his goddam life.

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1 comment:

  1. Well, after a few months of going back & forth through the Better Business Bureau, Mr. Scott finally agreed to pay to get a new neck made and installed on my banjo. I got it back around February, 2013, in perfect condition. I tell you, Mark Platin's work is immaculate.