#1
I'm trying to figure out how to find a good local luthier (in or near the concord/pleasant hill area of the SF bay area, CA, if that helps) to set up my guitar, and am wondering if anybody has any suggestions as to how to locate one who really knows what they're doing, other than just checking the phone book/calling up guitar stores and asking them who they would recommend, which is my fall back plan (but which leaves me with very little impression as to the quality of the recommendation). Is there any reason to go with a smaller operation versus a store that mainly sells instruments, but also does setup and repairs? (such as http://www.guitarheaven.com/).

I've tried asking a couple friends who I thought might have some experience with this, but nobody had any recommendations.

The only other question that comes to mind is whether there are any specific questions that are likely to be asked about what I want done (a general set-up, specifically including intonation on the low E, which gets sharp as I go up frets), so that I have some idea of how I want to respond ahead of time?

Thanks!
Last edited by LuckyLefty01 at Sep 8, 2006,
#2
Check the websites of some quality guitar manufacturers (such as Martin or Gibson) to see who their authorized repair stations are. These guys should know their stuff.
Beyond that, be specific about what your concerns are and what you want done. Make SURE he writes it on the ticket. Don't try to nail him down on a cost, but ask for approx and set that as a limit that you want to be notified before going over in cost.
And last but not least, CHECK THE GUITAR TO BE SURE YOU ARE SATISFIED BEFORE PAYING.
Last edited by EL Conquestidor at Sep 8, 2006,
#3
Well, I'd look in the phone book for luthiers and workshops, BUT take it a step further, meet them in person, ask them questions, ask to see work they've done, etc.
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#4
Another good place is guitar shows. Local luthiers will often have examples of their work. And this should be especially good if you live in a large metropolitan area.
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#5
The west coast USA is the best place in the world to find good luthiers. I know a bunch of them but they tend to have either high prices or long waiting lists. How soon are you looking to have your guitar? How much are you willing to spend? If your prices and time requirments are right, then I might be able to make some recomendations as to what luthiers to check out.

Questings I ask people
What scale do you want?
What materials do you want for the top, back, sides, fretboard, and bridge?
what shape do you want?
what style of music do you plan on playing?
Try to describe the tone you want from this instrument?
Set neck or bolt on?


There are a lot of other questions I ask that nobody else does because I give more options with soundhole placement and bracing than most luthiers.
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#6
Quote by EL Conquestidor
CHECK THE GUITAR TO BE SURE YOU ARE SATISFIED BEFORE PAYING.



Not going to happen. Luthiers always take a nonrefundable downpayment for custom guitars. It the Luthier he goes to is local then he will be able to play the guitar befor he makes the final payment but usually the luthier isn't local in which case the luthier takes full payment and then ships the guitar. If the customer doesn't like the guitar then they can send it back for a refund but you only get a full refund if the guitar is defective. If you don't like the tone of the instrument then a good luthier should be able to modify the guitar to alter the tone and make it something you do like. If you insist on a refund for a guitar that is not defective then you do not get the deposit back and you do not get the money for shipping back.

That is the world wide standard for payment to luthiers.

I have never seen luthiers get guitars back for modifications but I've never seen a luthier get a guitar back with the demand of a refund. The thing about getting a custom guitar is that the luthier can go back and modify the thing so that you will like it. Even if it wasn't what you wanted it to be to begin with, the luthier can play with it untill it is what you want.
Not taking any online orders.
#7
He didn't say he wanted a guitar built. He said he wanted to get a SET UP and some ADJUSTMENTS performed on the guitar he already owns.
I added that part about checking the guitar due to some sad experiences in the past. Not all Luthiers are honest.
I took a Takamine (that I had bought used elsewhere) into an authorized Tak shop in hopes of fixing some fret buzz. Guy assured me it was no problem. 2 weeks later he says it's done and I go pick it up. He gives me the bill and I pay. THEN he gives me the guitar w/fret buzz STILL there.
When I complained he said he COULD fix the buzz, but it cost me another $75. IMO all this SOB did was change my strings (which I can do myself) and charge me $75. If I ever see that asshole on the street, I'm gonna give him a $75. ass whoopin.
#8
Thanks guys. Yes, I am just looking to have it set up properly (with a couple of specific small things (that should be included in that set up AFAICT) fixed), not looking to have a custom guitar made.

I added that part about checking the guitar due to some sad experiences in the past. Not all Luthiers are honest.


That's exactly what I'm hoping to avoid. Your earlier advice sounds solid, too.

Well, I'd look in the phone book for luthiers and workshops, BUT take it a step further, meet them in person, ask them questions, ask to see work they've done, etc.


Another good place is guitar shows. Local luthiers will often have examples of their work. And this should be especially good if you live in a large metropolitan area.


More good ideas. I think I'll get in contact with some of the ones I've found, and see what I think.
#9
Sorry, I didn't read the 1st post well enough this morning, I had just woken up.

Anyway, Your best bet is to ask them for contact info for some of his other customers. Usualy if a luthier did some work for somebody and they were happy then the customer will be more than happy to recomend the luthier to you.

Another good way to tell what they can do is to see a guitar they have made. Also find out how long they have been in business. If they have been a business for a couple years they are most likely more than qualified to do a setup. If they have been in business for less than a year then you should either see their guitars or talk to their customers.
Not taking any online orders.