what to do: luthier takes deposit ... update

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
kfisherx

Post by kfisherx » Fri May 18, 2007 4:19 pm

musicalhair wrote:....I can assure everyone of you luthiers in this thread that the most important thing about builiding the guitar is not the finish or the wood or the skill, but keeping the client informed of what is going on-- especially of delays-- and keeping the client feeling respected. All of you have day jobs, and if you get sick you call in-- right? If you're going to miss a deadline you tell someone in advance in the day job right? And if you fail in that in your day job, worse than the delay and cost of that buisness is the loss of trust and confidence it causes and that will lead to dismissal or lost promotions and oppurtunities.

When I see that guitar: I'm going to see the work of a guy that thought my "word of mouth" is meaningless to him, I'm going to see something slapped together to get rid of me. Everyone here wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt is missing the point: there should be no doubt about any of this. Keep the client informed, this is true in every business.
Well, for me personally the most important thing is the end product. I understand how you feel but it is a hard cold fact that many luthiers are simply NOT good business people. In fact artists in general are business flakes from my experience. I have learned to let go of my business paradigms in order to hang out with the ones that I consider my friends. I get the point that you are making and even emphasize but I am realistic about changing people and their paradigms. I know if I was to order a guitar that this sort of delay is possible and with some of them even probable. I am sure you can cancel your order if it is this much of a heartache to you. No respectable luthier would deny you this.

jab1123

Re: what to do: luthier takes deposit money & - blows me o

Post by jab1123 » Fri May 18, 2007 4:51 pm

musicalhair wrote:Should I get a lawyer to negotiate on my behalf to just get out of this deal with him, either getting the deposit back plus some interest, ask for one of his guitars that he has right there instead, or something else. I play lefty (all the lefty "haters" out there, save it for a different discussion) and he was supposed to be building me a "cross-over" guitar with a cut-away and internal mic.
Unfortunately your time to negotiate was probably before you put up a deposit. I think that Pepe's comment about how he learned along the way of what he could deliver and when is very important to your case. As a lefty, you may be asking for a tricky process (I'm not a luthier) and it make take a bit of this guy getting over the activation energy to make jigs etc required if he has not made lefty instruments before. I would advise negotiating a delivery time at the time of order and deposit with some provision for exiting if both you and he are unsatisfied.

As an alternative - since you are going to amplify it anyway, would it be simpler to purchase one with everything you are looking for (except unamplified concert quality)? And then maybe purchase your concert quality guitar separately? I ask this only because I do a fair number of live shows and the acoustic guitar I use is of marginal quality, but sounds really good through the theaters sound system which are usually permanent installations. It certainly is no Martin, but does not have to be for it's purpose. I played a cutaway amplified classical guitar in a store the other day and it sounded terrible until it was amplifed - played well and the intonation seemed good.
Wish you good luck!
jb

Brent

Post by Brent » Fri May 18, 2007 5:04 pm

musicalhair wrote:Still my greatest fear is that he's slapping something together to get rid of me without having to return the deposit-

When I see that guitar: I'm going to see the work of a guy that thought my "word of mouth" is meaningless to him, I'm going to see something slapped together to get rid of me. Everyone here wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt is missing the point: there should be no doubt about any of this.
You seem to have already made up your mind that you're not going to like it. You have already had such a bad experience that you'll never be able to love this guitar without remembering the bad experience.

I don't think we missed the point here. I think you did.

No doubt he should keep you informed. No doubt communication is important.
musicalhair wrote:I can assure everyone of you luthiers in this thread that the most important thing about builiding the guitar is not the finish or the wood or the skill, but keeping the client informed of what is going on...
Wow. I really can't relate to this statement at all.

You said "He has a reputation in a big city where some of his guitars are for sale in the classical guitar store..." Did you talk to anyone who has commissioned guitars from him before? If his communication is really so important to you, that should have been one of the most important steps you go through, along with playing some of his guitars, before you ever considered ordering a custom instrument.

If I were your luthier, I'd give you your money back and advise you to go find an instrument at Guitar Center or Guitar Salon International or someplace that keeps instruments on hand. You also might consider bigger houses like Ramirez, for example, who have a small staff of hand-builders. They make hundreds of guitars in a year, and there is an office staff to keep clients informed of progress and dates. Their guitars range from okay to excellent.

I think that you're not the best candidate for a luthier-built guitar.

Brent

Sasquatch51

Post by Sasquatch51 » Fri May 18, 2007 8:30 pm

Karla is right. Luthiers typically are not the best businessmen in the world. They tend to work on their own schedules and get things done at their own pace. Brent is also right. If you can't deal with the idiosyncracies of a luthier and the almost inevitable delays, then having a Luthier build a guitar for you is probably not the best move you can make. You would likely be better off buying something off the shelf. If you can deal with it and not get so tied up over it, it is well worth the wait.

I can assure you that no luthier is going to "just throw something together" to get you out of his hair. Luthiers take a lot of pride in what they do and they are not likely to put their label on something they aren't proud of having built. That's just not the way it works. When you get this guitar, I'd bet that it will be everything you hoped it would be. However....you can allow your impatience and irritation ruin the whole experience for you.

Dan Kellaway

Post by Dan Kellaway » Sat May 19, 2007 12:17 am

The only guitar I've ever refunded the money on was a purpose built left hander. Unfortunately the guy bought it through a dealer who diddled him on the case and sent him off with the new guitar in his old and battered case. This case then put marks all over the neck by the time he got home with it. He then asserted that those marks had been there when I gave it to him.
To make him happy I refinished that neck for nothing but he had expected a whole new guitar so I gave him his money back and sold it that day to someone else.
What I'm saying is that once a customer gets unhappy it's often impossible to ever satisfy them again and the best thing for all concerned is to exit that situation.

Have you contacted this luthier yet mate?

You have not replied to this question yet to my knowledge.

If not then as far as I'm concerned you are shaping up to be the worst kind of customer that we all like to avoid like the plague.

If so I apologize but tell us what's happening.

We've gone this far with you on this and it's an important subject that will be educational for some to see the final conclusion.

chimera

hehe

Post by chimera » Sat May 19, 2007 2:56 am

Pres and I are recent receivers of a luthier made instrument. I know how you feel but I must say I agree with everyone else. My guitar was waaaaaaay over schedule and I was getting more and more excited. But as others have said, it is well worth the wait. I think you are focusing on the wrong thing. I agree with the lack of communication can be daunting but I highly doubt you are getting ripped off. I have noticed my luthier took his time creating my guitar. Each month he said "another month and it should be ready" this went on quite a number of times. All I can say is, the end product outweighed whatever negative thoughts I may have felt. In the end I just forgot about it, treated like I never even ordered a guitar in the first place, didn't even put a dime out and went on with my life. Then when the day came, it just hit me.

If you can't get your mind off this whole scenario, then I too must say, maybe you aren't ready for a custom luthier made instrument. Think of it as a child.........if you and your partner are having a child and you are eager.......i'll be damned if you can hurry that along.

musicalhair

Post by musicalhair » Sat May 19, 2007 6:32 am

Wow, this is amazing.

I'm told an instrument will be ready for me to see in late November and ready for final pick up late December or January, and I'm "the worst kind of customer" because in May I think there is something wrong.

I get no contact from the guy at all, but I'm supposed feel good when I ask for an update and all I get is he's behind schedule that he'll contact me when he has something for me to look at-- which he never does contact me. Finally he says in FEBUARY that it will be done around EASTER, and I'm the "worst kind of customer" for waiting till the middle of may to deal with the guitar. Did I hear from him around Easter? No.

But to hear it from you guys, I'm wrong to expect to hear from him.

Let's see: luthiers can't be expected to be good businessmen, that's a quote from one of you guys, right? All guitars go way over schedule-- which I'm OK with in spite of being the worst kind of customer-- but I'm outta line for expecting to be kept apprised with the progress or the delays. Are you guys talking about luthiers or crackheads? I'd give luthiers more of the benefit of the doubt than you're giving them.

To recap this thread, I checked in here because I was getting worried about the guitar and wanted to know how to proceed because I got nothing in the way of answers or honesty up till this point. "January", "soon" "soon" Easter", and all only after I contacted him, and after I repeatedly asked to be kept informed of delays or progress.

So, I'm not ready for the instrument because I don't like being messed around? You guys are giving good luthiers a bad name. You guys might also projecting way more into my contacts with him than there was. All I did was ask for an update on progress. If you can't handle that kind of pressure, don't offer your services.

Luckily, early on in this thread I did get good advice, before the "bad luthier co-dependent support team" checked in blaming me for the delays and the bad predictions of completion and the lack of any concern for client relations. So, asking if I did make contact again: yes I did, following the good advice I got early on and now he's saying he'll have something for me to see May 26th. If I hadn't asked to see something or for a refund I'd probably get nothing. You probably missed my post because it is lost between all the people assuming I'm a bad guy hassling one of their own. I think they're projecting their own bad habits onto this situation and defending that instead of reading what I posted.

Oh and poster in Oregon, of course I talked to people that play his guitars. I'm not going to post his name to satisfy you're curiosity or to confirm what I'm saying-- that would be class-less, wouldn't it? I love the subtext in your post though: like I should have know he'd be unpredictable and unreliable: he's a luthier. Nonsense. He's been inconsiderate, and none of you guys can see than in any business transaction the client is number one, the service is second and the "vendor", which is "luthier" in this case for you guys that need scorecards, is last.

I'll cede that delays should be expected. But if you guys don't want to beleive that I've been dealt with in an inconsiderate manner, prompting me to start this thread, then you guys might have you're own issues to deal with along these lines. If you hate it when you don't keep a client informed of delays in the produection and the then get all worried and suspect of what you're doing, don't keep clients in the dark.

I'll try to keep an open mind when I look at the guitar, but there will obviously be tension in the room because I feel like the guy would rather wished I had gone away than actually build the damn guitar.

Dan Kellaway

Post by Dan Kellaway » Sat May 19, 2007 10:53 am

hey Musicalhair,
I said IF you hadn't made contact.....
So I unreservedly apologize for the 'worst kind of customer' comment as I said I would.
It's just that this has now been going on since I first joined this forum ,a week ago which seems like a long time.
Anyway you've done the right thing and I hope things resolve in a good way for you.
From my limited understanding last night I thought that the complaining was continuing without apropriate action and in the mean time we're all getting more upset about it on behalf of both sides of the argument.
But as there is movement I have a feeling that a solution is near.
I totally agree with you about the order of priority of customer/product/maker. That's life, business and consideration for others.
Which is why I suggested at the outset that you make contact and lay your cards on the table.
If he doesn't satisfy you then you will most definitely be entitled to a full refund of your deposit and as I said before I am very sad when these situations arise for whatever reason.
The very best of luck with this mate .
Let us know what happens.

Sasquatch51

Post by Sasquatch51 » Sat May 19, 2007 12:43 pm

musicalhair wrote:Wow, this is amazing.

I'm told an instrument will be ready for me to see in late November and ready for final pick up late December or January, and I'm "the worst kind of customer" because in May I think there is something wrong.

I get no contact from the guy at all, but I'm supposed feel good when I ask for an update and all I get is he's behind schedule that he'll contact me when he has something for me to look at-- which he never does contact me. Finally he says in FEBUARY that it will be done around EASTER, and I'm the "worst kind of customer" for waiting till the middle of may to deal with the guitar. Did I hear from him around Easter? No.

But to hear it from you guys, I'm wrong to expect to hear from him.

Let's see: luthiers can't be expected to be good businessmen, that's a quote from one of you guys, right? All guitars go way over schedule-- which I'm OK with in spite of being the worst kind of customer-- but I'm outta line for expecting to be kept apprised with the progress or the delays. Are you guys talking about luthiers or crackheads? I'd give luthiers more of the benefit of the doubt than you're giving them.

To recap this thread, I checked in here because I was getting worried about the guitar and wanted to know how to proceed because I got nothing in the way of answers or honesty up till this point. "January", "soon" "soon" Easter", and all only after I contacted him, and after I repeatedly asked to be kept informed of delays or progress.

So, I'm not ready for the instrument because I don't like being messed around? You guys are giving good luthiers a bad name. You guys might also projecting way more into my contacts with him than there was. All I did was ask for an update on progress. If you can't handle that kind of pressure, don't offer your services.

Luckily, early on in this thread I did get good advice, before the "bad luthier co-dependent support team" checked in blaming me for the delays and the bad predictions of completion and the lack of any concern for client relations. So, asking if I did make contact again: yes I did, following the good advice I got early on and now he's saying he'll have something for me to see May 26th. If I hadn't asked to see something or for a refund I'd probably get nothing. You probably missed my post because it is lost between all the people assuming I'm a bad guy hassling one of their own. I think they're projecting their own bad habits onto this situation and defending that instead of reading what I posted.

Oh and poster in Oregon, of course I talked to people that play his guitars. I'm not going to post his name to satisfy you're curiosity or to confirm what I'm saying-- that would be class-less, wouldn't it? I love the subtext in your post though: like I should have know he'd be unpredictable and unreliable: he's a luthier. Nonsense. He's been inconsiderate, and none of you guys can see than in any business transaction the client is number one, the service is second and the "vendor", which is "luthier" in this case for you guys that need scorecards, is last.

I'll cede that delays should be expected. But if you guys don't want to beleive that I've been dealt with in an inconsiderate manner, prompting me to start this thread, then you guys might have you're own issues to deal with along these lines. If you hate it when you don't keep a client informed of delays in the produection and the then get all worried and suspect of what you're doing, don't keep clients in the dark.

I'll try to keep an open mind when I look at the guitar, but there will obviously be tension in the room because I feel like the guy would rather wished I had gone away than actually build the damn guitar.
MH,
I understand your frustration. And, technically you are correct. Luthiers should communicate better and they should be better businessmen. However, the fact that they should be doesn't alter the fact that they typically aren't. Delays shouldn't be a fact of life when dealing with Luthiers. That doesn't alter the fact that delays are the rule rather than the exception. I think a lot of that problem is that it's easy to be optimistic when first estimating the build time...then you have trouble marching to that. It's frustrating, but it's the way it is. And, if it makes you feel better, the delays you've experienced are not unusual at all...maybe even less than typical.

My main point in my reply to you was to try to allay your fears that the guitar was going to be something less than you expected because the luthier was going to "rush" something out just to get you off his back. You need to understand that any luthier that has a reputation as a builder of fine guitars is going to do his best to protect that reputation. What people think about his workmanship and the quality and sound of his product is the most important thing to him. He is not going to send out a sub-standard guitar with his label on it. So, relax and take delivery with an open mind. Try to just forget about the delays and other frustrations. That's over and done with. Concentrate your energy on enjoying your new guitar. I'm sure you will be very happy with it.

musicalhair

Post by musicalhair » Sat May 19, 2007 2:29 pm

Hey Sasq,

I do appreciate your insight here, and you're a main source of any new confidence I have in the outcome. I should point out that I initially thought this would take six months, as most guitars seem to take that long. I didn't come up with these times tables, he did and I figured he knew better than I. My issue is not with the time but the lack of communication, and that which I didn't bring up too much here but what appear to be the lameness of his excuses and lack of interest in keeping me informed. I'm "invested" in this idea of a client/vendor relationship as I've seen in in other arenas and never thought this would be more like the relationships between "flighty" musicians, which to me are not the majority of busy musicians anyway.

Hey Hemiola,

I didn't mean to be aiming my rant directly at you with the "worst customer" thing if it is a misunderstanding on my part of what you were saying. I did get a real kick out of that idea though as to me it seems to assume a lot into my actions and seems to lift any responsibility from the builder. I'm sheduled to see him on the 26th, I'll post something that night or the next night as I'm kind of booked heavy that weekend.

I'm trying to be cool here, and I was seeking guidance. But I am a little surprised to see just how many "luthiers" seem to be admitting they feel no need to stick to a schedule, nor to keep clients informed as to what's going on.

Azalais

Post by Azalais » Sat May 19, 2007 4:30 pm

One thing that might be interesting to discuss among the luthiers who are now invested in this discussion is the number of "unpredictable" issues that go into the guestimate of a delivery date... urgent requests for emergency repairs... operations that take longer than you thought they would, (and who hasn't "damaged" something like a tool or a piece of wood, or themselves right in the middle of a project), materials that you need that may get delayed... weather issues that cause finishes to take longer than usual to harden... dogs eating homework, etc... not to mention personal issues that come up... You also mentioned that this was a lefty guitar, which may have meant virtually starting from scratch with all sorts of things...

(share your pain?? :wink: )

musicalhair

Post by musicalhair » Sat May 19, 2007 6:18 pm

hey Azalias: that is a great idea; and it will take this thread in a more positive direction as well.

Along similar lines it might in interesting to see which factors became eaiser to predict over time with experience and if other items have not become easier to predict.

I guess another item of interest might be the variations in client reactions, because I half suspect that if there is a tendency to avoid keeping the client up to date, it might be equally due to the nuisance of it (for the sincere lack of a better phrase to describe it), as much as the unpredictability of the client's reaction.

Azalais

Post by Azalais » Sat May 19, 2007 9:39 pm

I think that it's probably just perpetual optimism... with a bit of perfectionism thrown in the mix... not wanting to part with your latest "baby" may also figure into it too... :wink:

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James Lister
Luthier
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Post by James Lister » Sat May 19, 2007 10:17 pm

Just a few points:

In general, luthiers may not be the most reliable businessmen (and women), and there are often valid reasons for time delays, but there really is no excuse for poor communication, especially when things are not going to plan (or schedule). Personally, I always allow a reasonable amount of extra time for the sort of unforeseen events Azalias has mentioned. I also like where possible to keep the guitar for a week or two so that I have more time to evaluate it. So far, I don't think I've been more than a week late on my quoted completion date.

Musicalhair: I hope you are able to keep an open mind when you see your guitar. Although I agree that you have had a bad experience in terms of delays and communication, this does not necessarily mean that any less care has been taken over the building of your guitar. Most of the lutheirs I know want to make every guitar the best they have ever made, no matter who it's for.

Hope all goes well for you on the 26th.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

Sasquatch51

Post by Sasquatch51 » Sat May 19, 2007 10:38 pm

Azalais wrote:One thing that might be interesting to discuss among the luthiers who are now invested in this discussion is the number of "unpredictable" issues that go into the guestimate of a delivery date... urgent requests for emergency repairs... operations that take longer than you thought they would, (and who hasn't "damaged" something like a tool or a piece of wood, or themselves right in the middle of a project), materials that you need that may get delayed... weather issues that cause finishes to take longer than usual to harden... dogs eating homework, etc... not to mention personal issues that come up... You also mentioned that this was a lefty guitar, which may have meant virtually starting from scratch with all sorts of things...

(share your pain?? :wink: )
Yeah, a push-awl through the hand slows progress down a bit.....

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