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Really disappointed - calling all Legends owners


maninblack

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To reward myself for moving out several cherised guitars in recent weeks I took the plunge and bought a new (2007) J-45 Legend. I have been wanting one since they were introduced and was so excited to get it. I bought it from an actual brick and mortar, independent dealer but I bought it over the phone. I did not hand select it. The shop down in Tennessee which I have actually visited in the past, is about 6 hours from my house. The owner has always been very cool whenever I've stopped by.

 

So I get it yesterday, but wait until this morning to open it so that it can adjust to being indoors. My first concern is how loosely the Gibson box was fastened. The staples just popped right open. My next concern was how inadequately it was packed. I've seen $200 guitars packed better. Only two foam pieces at the top and bottom of the case. Once out of the box I notice that this is not the Gelb Red Line case it is supposed to come with. Just a standard blue lined case. When I open the case my eye immediately goes to the pickguard which is lifting at the bottom and curling up. There appears to be a layer of cardboard or something directly beneath the pickguard. Upon closer inspection it looks like somebody has taken an exacto knife and cut an outline around the pickguard into the wood. Not sure why. Have any Legends owners seen this? Do you think this is a corrective pickguard from the first "under the finish" prototypes? If so, that should be disclosed to a buyer right?

 

Anyway, when I pull the guitar out of the case and I hear a terrible rattle. Naturally I fear some wood broke off during shipping. I look inside to find several bits of what appears to be red plastic just knocking around inside the guitar. The headstock also has some weird chalky gunk on it. A little fingernail has taken most of it off, but what is up with that? Lastly, the check sheet calls this a "J-45 Historic" and the serials match. This would appear to clearly be a Legend, so I can't figure out that model designation.

 

It sounds good and plays nicely enough, but I have to return this, right? These are legitimate concerns, correct? I've sent an email to the owner asking for return/refund instructions. So far, no response. I want to do as much of this in writing as possible (I'm a lawyer - its my nature). The guys I ordered it from were morons. (one called it a Martin J-45. the other kept promising to call me right back with information and never would) so I'm a little gun shy to deal with anyone but the owner.

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I was just going to alert you to a legend that came on ebay. Looks like I am too late.

 

I would definently get the very cool red line case.

 

Don't know what to say about the other issues. Is there finish under the pickguard? Not sure how they made these.

 

Does it have the fit, finish, tone you were hoping for?

 

Terry

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I'd return it' date=' regardless of how it sounds and plays. I'd pack a lunch and a thermos of coffee and take that six hour road trip. That pickguard business would be more than enough right there, let alone the case switcheroo.[/quote']

 

I agree 100%. For the mula that you just laid down, I would expect satisfaction. If nothing else, to go and get the case that was supposed to come with it. Maybe kick a little ***, too! (that's just the southern-boy coming out in me!)

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Once out of the box I notice that this is not the Gelb Red Line case it is supposed to come with. Just a standard blue lined case. When I open the case my eye immediately goes to the pickguard which is lifting at the bottom and curling up. There appears to be a layer of cardboard or something directly beneath the pickguard. Upon closer inspection it looks like somebody has taken an exacto knife and cut an outline around the pickguard into the wood. Not sure why. Have any Legends owners seen this?

 

Sounds like this is one of the "prototypes". (They weren't actually prototypes -- those came earlier -- but were from an initial production phase' date=' which is done with some new models to test novel production processes prior to the official introduction of the model. In this case, one of the things being tested was the historically accurate under-the-finish pickguard.) The curling pickguard, standard blue-lined case, and label that says "Historic" rather than "Legend" all suggest this. (The term "Legend" wasn't introduced until the official introduction at NAMM.)

 

When the under-finish pickguard curls, you get a nice sharp line in the finish and see some residual gunk (glue) on the unfinished wood under the edges. There'd be no need to excise around the pickguard to replace it if it were curling -- at least, on mine, the curl goes all the way around -- and, if it had been replaced, there'd be finished wood under the pickguard. Plus, it wouldn't be curling. So I really doubt it's a replacement (especially since Gibson didn't do pickguard replacements on these -- owners who made warranty claims got replacement guitars). While it's certainly possible that somebody at the shop unsuccessfully attempted to "fix" the pickguard by sticking some more glue in and clamping a caul over it, that seems pretty unlikely too -- it's not a pro-quality repair technique.

 

Anyway, if you post some pictures, it should be pretty evident what's going on. The pickguards on the "prototypes" look quite different from the pickguards on the later runs.

 

-- Bob R

 

(Later edited to make it clear that warranty claimants got replacement [i']guitars[/i], not replacement pickguards.)

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DOn't try to bond with it, don't play it,- pack it up a lettle better than the seller did and send it right back.

I guess you might have to call and tell them thay are getting it back, but if they give you any grief call the credit card co- if you bought it on a card- and tell them the payment is disputed, hold it back.

Chalk it up as a brief bad experience, get rid of it and forget it.

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DOn't try to bond with it' date=' don't play it,- pack it up a lettle better than the seller did and send it right back.

I guess you might have to call and tell them thay are getting it back, but if they give you any grief call the credit card co- if you bought it on a card- and tell them the payment is disputed, hold it back.

Chalk it up as a brief bad experience, get rid of it and forget it.[/quote']

This!

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That sucks. Especially for a guitar at that price. I'd return it. I would not recommend buying a guitar sight unseen and unplayed. That goes double for Gibson acoustics at any price. Although Bozeman is making some fabulous guitars, the quality control is spotty and ratio of dogs to sweet guitars is high for the price point IMO.

 

 

I played a Legend at a local guitar shop just yesterday. I get my hair cut at this place right next to Guitarworks so when I have to wait a half hour or so, I'll go next door and play guitars for a while.

 

I first picked up a J200 and noodled on it for a while. Haven't found one yet that has grabbed me for sound. In fact, my Songwriter is the only Gibson I've played that has really grabbed me.... until this J45 Legend. It was something like $4000 but I played it anyway. Wow! Sweet guitar! A salesperson next to me was helping a woman buy her boyfriend a $300 guitar for Christmas but he kept hearing me play the Gibson and spent more time commenting on the guitar, its sound and trying to sell me than paying attention to her. I guess the commission on $4000 is a little better than that $300 Yamaha huh?

 

I don't think I'd ever pay $4000 for an acoustic but this J45 came close to getting me! I don't even like J45's!

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Especially for a guitar at that price...

 

That remark reminded me of something. For people who don't know, the MSRP of the "prototypes" was under $6000. The list price of guitars from later production runs was over $8000. Now, they're over $9000. So you can save something like $1500-$2000 dollars if you're willing to live with a curling pickguard (just like a real '42!) and cheaper case. Or you can have the pickguard replaced by a Greven with a much nicer (and more historically accurate) firestripe, buy a Calton case, and still have a nice chunk of change left over. Personally, I think the "prototypes" were an amazingly good deal, despite the pickguard issue.

 

Oh, and as for the red line cases, we got one with Anne's L-00 Legend and it was so hard to open and close that she couldn't use it. (Fortunately, she had a very nice Geib-style that came with her Collings C-10 that fits the Legend too.) The red line offers great protection -- as good as plywood case I've ever seen -- but it took three people and a pocket knife to get the latch open the first time she took it to a gig and learned her lesson. I started using it for my HG-22 and it's loosened up a little over the years -- the latch is less stiff and I can now get it closed without leaning hard on it while pushing in on the lower bout -- but it's not exactly my favorite case. We'd heard enough similar stories from other Legend owners that we knew it wasn't worth trying to get a replacement. Some are better than others, but none is good.

 

-- Bob R

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Thank you all for your input. Here is a little update.

First, RAR appears to have hit the nail on the head. This instrument is from the first run before they were dubbed "Legend". The dealer was oblvious as to the distinction but verified with Montana. He claims to have never even taken it out of its Gibson box in the last 3 years. He said he bought several and only ever opened and put one on the floor. He has offered to accept a return and to refund my money. I have to pay shipping and insurance. Not too bad. I am trying not to bond with it, but it does sound mighty fine. I have since learned that RAR is correct regarding the price. This one was sold to me at a substantial discount over the going rate for a new Legend (about $700 less than the lowest quote I've been given).

 

Now I'm wondering whether I should approach the dealer about a further discount for the pickguard and case issue and just keep the dang thing. Probably not, but the thought has certainly crossed my mind. It has nice tone.

 

Oy. Mo' guitars. Mo' problems.

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I'm wondering if the dealer even inspected the guitar before sending it to you. (aside from opening the case to verify that it was still in there!)

 

Given that no one is going to buy a guitar for that kind of money with a pickguard falling off, I'd definitely ask for a rebate of sorts. I would think that he'd be happy to give you a deal in order to get the sale completed. You could then get a custom guard made that would start the bonding process...

 

It all comes down to what kind of value are you getting for you money, doesn't it? I played a very nice '46 J45 in a store the other day. Had that great, wide open sound and beautiful bass. You could hear it all over the store, and heads turned when you hit a lick. And affordable, compared to the Legend.

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... Upon closer inspection it looks like somebody has taken an exacto knife and cut an outline around the pickguard into the wood. Not sure why...

 

This is the only issue I would have in keeping this guitar. It would help if you had photos of the damage. If an xacto knife has been scored through the finish into the wood, the repair on this would be very difficult and very expensive. If the issue is just replacing a pickguard, that is simple. The pickguard, the packaging, the case and the headstock cleaning are all issues that are resolvable with a discount from the dealer and the replacement of the guard. If the wood is damaged, I wouldn't keep the guitar.

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Now I'm wondering whether I should approach the dealer about a further discount for the pickguard and case issue and just keep the dang thing. Probably not' date=' but the thought has certainly crossed my mind. It has nice tone.

 

[/quote']

 

No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I know what it's like to want something even though you know there are serious flaws with it (like when I got married) but dont do it.

 

Guitars are like busses - another one will come along in 15 minutes.

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If the issue is just replacing a pickguard' date=' that is simple.[/quote']

 

Well, not so much in the case of an under-the-finish pickguard. First, you have to get it off without damage to the wood, which is a little more difficult than in the case of a standard modern pickguard. (Not very difficult, mind you, but you want someone with experience -- who can feel if he's working with or against the grain without digging in, etc. -- to do the job.) Then fill-in/finish the bare spot, matching the 'burst well enough that it will look okay through the light bits of the pickguard. Then the easy bit: stick on the new guard.

 

Here's Frank Ford on how to do it. The Gibson's 'burst complicates things. but the basic idea is the same.

 

So, conceptually simple, but quite possible to mess up if you don't know what you're doing.

 

If I were in MIBs place and the pickguard bothered me as much as it seems to bother him, I'd either send it back for a refund or pay the best repair guy I know to replace it with a Greven tor-tis firestripe out of the $700 I saved by buying one with a curling pickguard.

 

-- Bob R

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Well' date=' not so much in the case of an under-the-finish pickguard.

[/quote']

 

You're absolutely right Bob. I didn't notice that the pickguard was an under the finish type. I would definitely return this puppy if it had come to me like this.

 

It sorta begs the question... how much vintage do you want in your reissue? For me I'd like to see a vintage reissue have all the features and looks of the original without any of the old-world drawbacks like crumbling binding or curling cellulose pickguards. Give me modern materials and building techniques to protect my investment!

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This was such an unfortunate situation. I ended up sending it back last night, but while it was in my care I did sort of fall for it. Putting fresh strings on it was a huge mistake. The tone was good enough with 3 year old strings. It was quite remarkable with a new set. I a/b'd it against several modern mahogany guitars and a couple vintage. The tone was clearly in the second category. In fact, except for the stiffness of youth, it felt vintage. I also found another official Legend for sale semi-locally. The first one with the issues blows the other perfect one away in both tone and feel. The pickguard was nice and flat on the second one though. Everytime I started to think about keeping the first one my pinky finger would clip the curled edge of the guard and I'd reconsider.

 

I've written down the serial number and taken some pictures of this defective little tone machine just in case. I've got a couple other potential acquisitions I will be making on Thursday. If those don't scratch the itch and if after a few weeks I feel this could be "the one that got away" I might see what can be worked out with the dealer. I'm just too busy with selling and buying and the holidays. I didn't feel like I was in the right place to make a decision of this magnitude this week. (And I didn't want to run afoul of the dealers 48 hour return policy). After just unloading 5 really nice guitars I want to make sure every new instrument I bring in fills a void and is the best example of its kind available. I don't have space for anything less.

 

Thank you all for the wisdom and advice. I've read and appreciated every post.

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