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Ever Feel Like a Guitar is Jinxed? Warranty Issues and a Rant.....


thegreatgumbino
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Sorry for the rant, but I need to vent. This guitar is driving me nuts. It's a long story, but there are a couple interesting twists along the way.

 

I purchased a new 2015 Gibson Sheryl Crow Southern Jumbo Supreme in June 2016 from an online dealer. I sold three guitars to be able to afford it. It was the most money I'd ever spent on a guitar and was my first Gibson. I was ecstatic to find this as I was unaware of the 2015 model and had been searching for a used 2012 version. It arrived and was everything I'd hoped for with the exception of the following which I contacted the seller within in a week of receipt via email with pictures and followed up via phone:

 

 


  1.  
  2. Fret buzz up the neck on the bass strings. Most notable when using a capo and during single note runs as it gets lost when strumming. I assumed this was due to climate variations coming from Arizona to Houston and figured it needed a setup. The dealer did not recall this issue when he packaged up the guitar.
     
  3. An approximately 1/16" wide by 5/16" long bubble in the soundboard finish where elbow rests when playing. The bubble "gives" when pressed. I tried to capture it in a pic, but it was difficult due to the burst finish and lighting. Again, the dealer didn't recall seeing anything when reviewing/packaging.
     
  4. Orange peel in the soundboard finish in the curve of the slope shoulder nearest the pick guard is 3 1/2" long by 1/2" at it's widest. It stops in an almost straight line 1/2" away from the shoulder. This was my first Gibson, and I was unaware of the regularity of their quirky finish inconsistency issues like this at the time. He didn't recall seeing this either.

 

The dealer assured me any issues that may arise out of item #2 and 3 would be covered by warranty. He went so far as to say if the bubble developed into an issue that wasn't covered by warranty, he would take care of the repairs in his shop. I decided to keep it, somewhat reluctantly.

 

A couple months later, I took it to be setup by my usual tech. Specifically, I asked him to check the buzz and try to figure out why several of the Waverly tuners were so hard to turn. Went back 2 weeks later to pick it up and while better, it still had the buzz and the tuners were the same. He said he couldn’t hear the buzz or do anything with the tuners and that was that. Last time I used him. I was becaming increasingly concerned with bubble at this point and researched John Pearse arm rests to proactively prevent any abrasion opening the bubble up and causing the finish to flake. I found mostly glowing reviews on AGF and decided to install one. Installed in September 2016.

 

As I played the guitar over the next year, the buzz would increase and decrease and drove me nuts. It got to the point where I didn't enjoy playing the guitar. In October 2017, I called Fuller's hoping Yano was in and I could drop by they would be able to figure out the issue. Unfortunately, Yano was not in, but the guy I spoke with encouraged me to bring it in and was confident he could find it. Low and behold, he didn't hear it either and acted like I was insane. Strike two. At this point, I'm about ready to sell the guitar and move on.

 

In November 2017, I realized the JP armrest was not for me. I again researched removing it and proceeded to do so. Darn the luck, but the 3M adhesive used on the armrest reacted with the nitro finish and left an impression/indentation on the soundboard. I was mortified when I saw it because I never read a single comment about this happening when searching about them on the AGF. Of course after further research on the AGF, a few folks posted about having the same results upon removal. I contacted Breezy Ridge Instruments via email to express my concern, not expecting anything to come of it. Ended up having a great conversation with the owner, Mary Faith. She was very understanding and said she'd research the pics with a luthier friend and get back to me.

 

Shortly thereafter, I was at my wits end with the buzz and took it to the only Gibson warranty shop in town. He leveled the frets (covered under warranty), cleaned up the nut, lubed the Waverlies and checked it over including checking the Trance Audio pickup to see if something was loose. Picked it up a week later and didn't hear the buzz in the shop and the Waverlies were much smoother. Got it home and it still had a buzz. Pulled the strings off and started investigating the interior. Found that the preamp installed on the bass strings was installed too close to the bridge pins and the ball end of one string was resting against the preamp. Called Trance Audio and spoke with Gary Hull about it and he was tremendously helpful and kind. He walked me through how to remove and reinstall the preamp and sent me new adhesive and one of their jigs to reinstall the preamp. He was particularly interested in helping as he has the same guitar given to him as a gift by his wife after he drooled over one on a Gibson Montana tour.

 

Mary Faith called me back after the holidays and said her friend, Ren Ferguson, would be contacting me to discuss the issue. [blink] No joke. I got a call from a Montana number and it was Ren Ferguson. I was quite shocked to speak with him. He was very friendly, informative and helpful. He is confident 75-90% of indention can be buffed out and said he would do it himself, but he doesn't like shipping guitars since it can introduce accidents/damage. Instead he suggested having the tech at the local Gibson warranty shop call or email him and he would walk him through how to approach it. Wow. That's pretty amazing.

 

Took the guitar back to the Gibson warranty shop and had him remove/relocate the preamp in hopes that it would fix the buzz (covered under warranty). Initially it was greatly improved, but after a couple weeks the buzz returned with a vengeance. It's now present on all six strings. Took it back to the warranty shop for the third time and he's had it for three weeks. Pulled all the electronics to confirm it's structural and ran through the guitar again. No luck. He kicked it back to Gibson and they said send it to us. Best the tech and I can figure is it's a problem with the truss rod that has been there since it was built. I've read about some fixes where you can drill into the truss rod cavity through a removed fret marker or a fret and insert a filler (wax, silicone, wood) to prevent the truss rod from vibrating when played.

 

No word yet where they want it shipped, but I'd assume it will be Montana. I'll be interested to see what they find. I'm particularly curious to see what their thoughts are on the bubble in the soundboard finish. IMO, this is a warranty issue and I'm hoping they will take care of it accordingly. Then there's the coincidence that Ren also lives in Bozeman. Maybe there's a way to get him to fix the mar from the adhesive while it's in his neighborhood?

 

Hoping for the best out of all this, but I'm still about ready to get rid of this guitar. I feel like it's jinxed. On the other hand, if they can get everything worked out, it's a fantastic sounding guitar and will have more of a story after it's all finished. An interesting side note, the dealer I purchased it from is no longer a Gibson dealer. Not sure if this happened before or after I purchased the guitar, but it may explain their lack of care with my initial concerns. Talking with the Gibson authorized warranty shop owner who is also a dealer, he expressed these concerns should have been addressed when purchased and in his opinion the guitar should have been sent back to Gibson.

 

Does anyone have similar experience with Gibson warranty support where you've had to send it back to them instead of using a local authorized warranty shop? This is a new situation for the authorized Gibson tech too. Does Gibson cover shipping both ways? Were you able to correspond directly with Gibson or did you have to go through your warranty shop?

 

Thanks for letting me vent....

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I only know that they do not, well, have not in the past at least, warrant the paint in any way for anything. Your discussions with qualified and certified repair people should have included that bit. Further, putting the armrest on there and taking it off probably won't go well either.

 

It sounds like a tough situation, brace for the worst. I wish you luck with it. I've danced with them on paint and got my toes very smushed.

 

rct

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Thanks for the feedback. My dealer originally told me the same about the paint. After he and I have gotten to know each other over the course of the last couple months and he heard the full story, he said if he’d received the guitar from Gibson with the finish bubble, he’d have sent it back to them. The fact that I have the email documentation of the issues being present at purchase should help my case. *fingers crossed*

 

I fully own the armrest fubar, and don’t expect Gibson to fix it for me. But on the other hand, if the bubble was a warranty issue from the start, how would they fix it? Ren said the nitro they use makes repairs very difficult to match the nitro and it is always noticeable.

 

I’ve expressed my discontent with folks on AGF who tout the benefits of the armrest without adding the caveat that this damage can occur to the finish. They talk about putting them on and taking them off with zero issues ever. Ren said it’s the nitro formula Gibson uses, so maybe the key is don’t ever expect to remove one from a Gibson.

 

Curious to see what their fix for the truss (if it is that) entails. Surely they wouldn’t remove the fretboard and binding to address it, and if they do, will the finish look as good as original? I suppose so, but can’t expect it to not be.

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No hearing aids, Dave. I’d never have thought about that. Did Gibson cover shipping the guitars or were you on the hook for that? At least I will get the advantage of using the dealer’s discounted rates if I do have to pay for shipping it there.

 

I think initially the warranty guy thought I was a little nuts too, but he definitely hears it now that it’s across all six strings. It’s louder now than it has ever been.

Edited by thegreatgumbino
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I was the original owner of a Gibson that, after a few years, the finish "blistered" in front of the bridge. I couldn't figure out what could have caused it. I thought maybe over-humidification on my part. So, I called Bozeman just to get their thoughts. This was years ago and I forgot who I spoke to, but he told me he was most likely the person who sprayed the finish on my guitar. He had no ideas on the cause and shot down my humidity theory. Then he offered to refinish the top for me even though it wasn't covered under the warranty. So, you might get lucky. BTW, I didn't take him up on his offer.

Edited by gearbasher
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I am sorry you had trouble with the Southern Jumbo.

Sometimes Guitars can be be damaged while in transit.

Or can react to certain environments adversly.

If the guy you purchased it from did not notice it while packing or inspecting the guitar ...This might be the case.

When my Sj 200 TV was brand new I wore a red shirt the first few days after I got it and after I noticed one of the back bindings had absorbed some of the red tint.

The bit of pink binding has faded over the years and is barely noticeable now.

So I am thinking perhaps some packing material made it's way inside the case and may have reacted with the new finish.

 

Electronics in a guitar are always prone to augment rattaling inside the body.

Personally I have never liked them inside my guitars for this reason.

 

Bozeman's customer service is top notch.

I once had a guitar finished in the wrong color ... They had the dealer ship it back to Bozeman and refinished it correctly.

 

 

 

I hope you can get the help you need.

Again these are general ideas of what may have happened

 

 

Keep us in the loop.

 

JC

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  • 2 weeks later...

Anyone that has had experience with Gibson Montana and the RMA process that can shed some light or point me in the direction of who to speak to? The guitar delivered to Bozeman last Friday morning. I called the day before and asked the operator who I needed to speak to about the process. She said Ben Broyles handles all RMA's. I've left him two messages and sent him an email and haven't heard back. I would like to know how this process works, point out the items that I believe to be warranty issues, and get an estimate of how long the process will take. Is there anyone else to try calling? How long did your RMA experience take?

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One good thing that has come out of your ordeal is you have found a good and honest Gibson dealer.

Gibson Guitars are like potato chips. "You can't just have one"

Hope everything works out for you. I've wanted a Sheryl Crow Southern Jumbo ever since I played one about 5 years ago.

 

As for those armrests. There has been people on AGF the have had the same thing happen to their Martin Guitars with the

nitro finish. It's to bad that didn't come up when you where checking them out.

Edited by usernameinvalid
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Anyone that has had experience with Gibson Montana and the RMA process that can shed some light or point me in the direction of who to speak to? The guitar delivered to Bozeman last Friday morning. I called the day before and asked the operator who I needed to speak to about the process. She said Ben Broyles handles all RMA's. I've left him two messages and sent him an email and haven't heard back. I would like to know how this process works, point out the items that I believe to be warranty issues, and get an estimate of how long the process will take. Is there anyone else to try calling? How long did your RMA experience take?

Mine took about 6 weeks

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One good thing that has come out of your ordeal is you have found a good and honest Gibson dealer.

Gibson Guitars are like potato chips. "You can't just have one"

Hope everything works out for you. I've wanted a Sheryl Crow Southern Jumbo ever since I played one about 5 years ago.

 

As for those armrests. There has been people on AGF the have had the same thing happen to their Martin Guitars with the

nitro finish. It's to bad that didn't come up when you where checking them out.

 

 

Agreed. I want multiple Gibsons. Too bad the funding is not there. AGF search function is hit or miss sometimes. IIRC, I asked a few questions about it before installing and got nothing but good reviews.

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My RMA turnaround times have varied between a few weeks and a few months.

 

Generally I've been very satisfied with the service and the work, with the notable exception of a refin that was royally messed up by someone who is no longer with the company.

 

I'd be pretty confident that they will make it right.

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I had some issues with Martin's, a D-28 with a loose trussrod. It started buzzing about 2 weeks after I bought it, brought it back to the store and they asked me to pick out a new one. A few years later I bought a new limited edition HD-28 and a few month after playing it the finish on the neck started to bubble. The Martin Warranty center had to refinish the neck. It was never the same after the refinish, it felt different. Sold it shortly after. I should have sent it back to Martin. I had a Santa Cruz VA with issues, sent it back to SCGC they fixed it perfectly.

So, I guess these things happen from time to time not only to Gibson. However, I learned that as long as you have the warranty send it back to the factory. The guys in Montana are great!

Edited by J45fan
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  • 1 month later...

Update to share that my SCSJ Supreme is finally coming home. Last time I had the guitar in my hands was January 12th when I dropped it off to the local warranty shop. Five weeks at the shop and a day shy of six weeks in Bozeman. Can't wait to get it back. As previously mentioned, it was in and out of the warranty shop three different times, so I really haven't had it much since November.

 

Ben Broyles has been my point of contact through this process and has been greatly helpful and accommodating. Ben/Gibson is going above and beyond to overnight it so I can take delivery tomorrow before heading out of town for the Easter weekend.

 

According to Ben:

 

1) The fret buzz was eliminated after Plek'ing the instrument. This is curious to me as I called Bozeman before purchasing the guitar to verify that it had been Plek'd when built. Additionally, the authorized warranty shop leveled the frets as part of their discovery process to eliminate the buzz. Fingers crossed it's taken care of once and for all. I haven't played this guitar without a buzz since purchase, so I'm excited to really experience it for the first time.

 

2) The bubble in the finish is a pitch line that is not repairable without stripping the top and repainting/finishing. Ben said if the bubble ever fails, they will repair it under warranty. I'm disappointed to hear this isn't fixed, but am glad to know it will be covered in the event it fails.

 

3) The orange peel in the finish was buffed out.

 

 

Additional items that Ben/Gibson went above and beyond on are:

 

4) The indentation from the John Pearse Armrest was filled and refinished in some manner. Should look like new.

 

5) I left a Snark tuner on the headstock for an extended period during home renovations and it left an indentation in the lacquer. it has been buffed out.

 

6) When the authorized warranty shop relocated the Trance preamp that was contacting the string ball, they did a pour job of moving it. They had a large portion hanging off the bridge plate with plenty of room to move closer to the bridge pins/string balls. Gibson removed the preamp and reinstalled it.

 

 

Can't wait to get it tomorrow and verify everything is as stated!

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  • 1 month later...

Got the guitar back on 3/30, and it still had the buzz, albeit less. I was doubtful when Montana said Plek'ing it took care of it, but they are the experts. I figured I would let it acclimate and see if the humidity/temp changes over a couple weeks did anything for it. It just got worse. [cursing]

 

Took my J50 in to a new to me local luthier for a setup on 4/23 and brought the SCSJ along to see if he heard the buzz (or if it's all in my mind). He played it for a good while and agreed it was present. He also plugged it in to an amp and confirmed it was amplified as well. His first thought was it's a fret issue. I mentioned the local warranty shop leveled the frets in January and Gibson Montana re-plek'd the guitar.

 

Called Gibson Montana on 4/23 to give them the bad news. Ben was stumped since it was verified by three separate Gibson techs prior to shipping it back to me, so I provided him the contact info for the luthier in order to verify my claims. I was told it would be prioritized and run up the flagpole. Hadn't been able to get ahold of them again till today. They want me to ship it back to them and are starting a new RMA. ](*,)

 

So as it stands now, the guitar has a buzz on the A,D and B strings between the 2nd and 7th fret. It is present when capo'd up the neck as well. I've had the guitar in my hands for 31 days in 2018 and total of 59 days since November 1st, 2017, otherwise it's been at the local authorized Gibson warranty shop or at Gibson Montana.

 

I really want this to end. [angry]

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Sorry to hear about all the aggravation. Hope it all works out.

 

Thanks for letting me vent.

 

I commend your patience! In my world, non-vintage "misbehavers" find new homes, and warranties are a waste of paper.

 

I’ve come close to selling it a couple times, but didn’t want to pass the problem onto someone else if Gibson can fix it under warranty. I’m at the point now that when it’s fixed it will more than likely find a new home, which is unfortunate because it has great tone.

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Sorry to hear you’re going through warranty hell, Gumb. Having had a dose of similar recently I feel your pain. Fingers crossed for you that it gets sorted. Personally I’d have the hots to rehome a guitar that I’d had that sort of persistent problem with, as OC said, but if it comes back sorted and you’re confident in it then that’ll be the best possible outcome.

 

It sounds like a mystifying problem, could it be a truss rod issue? Or perhaps a weird resonance issue between the nut and machineheads?

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Sorry to hear you’re going through warranty hell, Gumb. Having had a dose of similar recently I feel your pain. Fingers crossed for you that it gets sorted. Personally I’d have the hots to rehome a guitar that I’d had that sort of persistent problem with, as OC said, but if it comes back sorted and you’re confident in it then that’ll be the best possible outcome.

 

It sounds like a mystifying problem, could it be a truss rod issue? Or perhaps a weird resonance issue between the nut and machineheads?

 

I followed your fret issue, Jinder. My issue is just a nuisance in comparison to the fret problems and warranty pushback you had.

 

The tech at the warranty shop said he thinks it's the truss rod, it's just weird that it only appears on those three strings. The luthier last week said it screams fret issue, but the Plek'ing should have fixed that. It is definitely perplexing.

 

The warranty shop has leveled the frets, cleaned the nut slots, re-leveled the saddle, cleaned the slots/ramps in the bridge, verified no loose braces, took off the Waverly's and reinstalled them along with adding lubrication, and uninstalled/reinstalled the Trance Audio unit completely to eliminate it was the box or the wires.

 

I told my wife last night I really ****ing hate this guitar at the moment. So disappointing. I hate to 1) sell it with known issues and 2) take a hit on the resale price as a result. Hopefully they can fix it. Ben said if they can't isolate and resolve it this time it's time for "Plan B", which I'm assuming is building a new guitar?

 

The buzz isn't heard when strumming because it is drowned out (unless very soft and slowly strumming). It's primarily you play any single note lines or arpeggios that it's evident. It shows up most obviously when fretting a bar chord or when using a capo. Last night it was present all the way up to the 12th fret. [confused] You can make it go away by fretting harder and/or right on top of the fret, but this isn't realistic for all chord fingerings. Additionally, it pulls the notes sharp.

Edited by thegreatgumbino
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