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Sometimes It Takes Long Until It's All Good


capmaster

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This is a true story spanning over more than three months until finally it's all good.

 

About a year after buying this guitar, the A5th piezo saddle of a Fender Nashville Power Telecaster went bad. Soft notes came as always but it dramatically lacked dynamic response. When plucking chords louder, the A5th nearly disappeared and slowly became audible again during decay. :(

 

Two weeks after contacting Thomann where I had bought the guitar, the Fender Service Center sent them a single piezo saddle. However, the Master Luthier shared my opinion that matching the other saddles would have to be a lucky accident. Due to manufacturing tolerances, the performance ratings of piezo transducers are varying fairly, about +50/-30% equivalent to a 6.7 dB range. Therefore it's standard that manufacturers use calibrated sets for mounting bridges, or selling them as spare parts. For adapting to different sensitivities and to different magnetic pickup levels, active electronics provide a piezo gain adjustment range of typically 18 to 20 dB. There usually is one trim pot in common for all saddles.

 

It came as it had to: The new sensor didn't match. It had significantly higher sensitivity and therefore was louder than the other five. [thumbdn]

 

Then the Master Luthier contacted Fender again and asked for sending them either a calibrated set of saddles or a complete bridge assembly. Fender denied and wanted Thomann to send them the guitar, and they did. Four weeks later, Fender sent it back. The report said that the strings had been the culprit. After restringing with Fender strings of same gauge everything was OK they said. Anyway, it was not. The difference in performance was just as before.

 

Then the Master Luthier e-mailed to Fender saying he insisted on getting a new piezo bridge assembly. After another denial of Fender, he wrote to the head of the German Fender Service Center who also denied. Then the Master Luthier replied that Thomann still insists on getting a new bridge but would accept to be charged for the spare part. He added that this was his last concession, and that otherwise he would pass handling this affair to the shop owner, Hans Thomann himself.

 

Guess what happened: Thomann finally received a new piezo bridge assembly, they weren't charged for that, and after replacement everything's fine, even with the strings of my choice. B) [biggrin]

 

The Master Luthier told me on the phone that Fender commented it had been their last one in stock... This made me smile, and I asked him that if he e-mailed again to the Fender Service Head, he may tell him that the customer is fine with it. [smile]

 

However, the Fishman AST (American Standard Tele) piezo retrofit bridge is a direct drop-in, just missing the Fender name on it. The Master Luthier had told me before that if it came to that they would use one of these without charging me, too. [thumbup]

 

All the transports were also paid by Thomann. They had e-mailed me a return form with all the barcode stuff on it for printout and use as an adhesive label. [thumbup]

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A perfect example of one reason among many why I don't deal with Fender warranty anymore. I used to do warranty for them and many others, but have dropped it down to pretty much just Martin and Taylor today. The rest have just shifted to involve too much burocracy and hassle over the last 20 years, and too few resolutions.

 

I'm glad it worked out for you. If these happen to fail again though, the Fishman's are better (or at least more reliable). I've dealt with this issue on customer guitars before, and had some discussions about it with engineers at Fishman. They actually manufactured the saddles for Fender, but in spite of their objections that the Fender design would leave them more prone to failure and stress-cracked transducers, Fender insisted on keeping their aesthetic. So they made them how Fender wanted, and they commonly fail as the engineers warned. If these happen to fail again and you do have to replace them with Fishman, they should last a lot more reliable.

 

Actually, the last time I had a failed Fender saddle come in, I called Fishman directly and they just sent me out a full set of their own at no charge. Amazing really, as they were under no obligation whatsoever to do so (should have been a Fender warranty, but they denied), but they did it anyway because that's the kind of company they are. Not saying they're guaranteed to be this generous every time, but it says a lot for how they stand behind their products. I've actually had several occasions where they've extended warranty coverage to things they completely didn't have to (second owners, past warranty period, etc), but they've done it anyway because they don't want anything associated with their name to be out there not working as it should. I wish more companies worked this way...

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...

I'm glad it worked out for you. If these happen to fail again though, the Fishman's are better (or at least more reliable). I've dealt with this issue on customer guitars before, and had some discussions about it with engineers at Fishman. They actually manufactured the saddles for Fender, but in spite of their objections that the Fender design would leave them more prone to failure and stress-cracked transducers, Fender insisted on keeping their aesthetic. So they made them how Fender wanted, and they commonly fail as the engineers warned. If these happen to fail again and you do have to replace them with Fishman, they should last a lot more reliable.

...

Your assumption meets what Thomann's Master Luthier said. The dynamic behaviour made him think that the crystal had cracked.

 

Good to know about the differences between the makes of Fishman and Fender saddles, thank you for posting. [thumbup] So now I know that Fishman design properties are rather based on technical reasons than on looks.

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Your assumption meets what Thomann's Master Luthier said. The dynamic behaviour made him think that the crystal had cracked.

 

Good to know about the differences between the makes of Fishman and Fender saddles, thank you for posting. [thumbup] So now I know that Fishman design properties are rather based on technical reasons than on looks.

 

And their service is outstanding. On the rare occasion I've encountered problems with Fishman products, the interaction with customer service has typically included three sentences.

 

1) What's your problem?

2) What's your address?

3) It's in the mail.

 

Hard to say enough good things about a company that works like that.

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And their service is outstanding. On the rare occasion I've encountered problems with Fishman products, the interaction with customer service has typically included three sentences.

 

1) What's your problem?

2) What's your address?

3) It's in the mail.

 

Hard to say enough good things about a company that works like that.

[thumbup] This is what I call a reputable and reliable brand.

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