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Proof of New Gibson Shoddy Workmanship


adamjs69
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So I bought a brand new Southern Jumbo back in January and absolutely love the guitar. However, the more I played it the less "right" that it felt. It didn't really bother me because I knew after I had my regular luthier "tweak" it a little to my specs that it'd be one that I'd probably never let go of. So, I finally get around to taking it in and tell him to "make it right" and explain to him that the action is a little high for me and that the guitar doesn't seem to meet the specs, even with just a visual inspection, listed on the accompanying paperwork of 6/64" (according to the paperwork, the guitar was thoroughly inspected and setup at the factory...what a laugh). He looks at the neck and determines that it is straight and then looks at the saddle and says, "found your problem!"... He asks me immediately if I had changed the saddle from the original, which I had not. Not only was the saddle about 1/8" too high (which I understand is normal so it can be setup for the individual), but it didn't even fit in the bridge! The tension of the strings was causing the saddle to lean about 15 degrees toward the neck because of the large gap in the bridge. While I can understand this kind of crap workmanship on a $300 guitar, there is simply no excuse for it in a guitar that has a list of better than $3300. I don't know if Gibson would have taken this in as warranty work but with shipping both ways and god knows how long it would be gone, I just had him do the repairs himself and do it right.

 

I didn't want to believe the criticism that the new stuff from Gibson gets so often, but now I think I'm a believer... To say I'm disappointed would be an understatement.

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So I bought a brand new Southern Jumbo back in January and absolutely love the guitar. However, the more I played it the less "right" that it felt. It didn't really bother me because I knew after I had my regular luthier "tweak" it a little to my specs that it'd be one that I'd probably never let go of. So, I finally get around to taking it in and tell him to "make it right" and explain to him that the action is a little high for me and that the guitar doesn't seem to meet the specs, even with just a visual inspection, listed on the accompanying paperwork of 6/64" (according to the paperwork, the guitar was thoroughly inspected and setup at the factory...what a laugh). He looks at the neck and determines that it is straight and then looks at the saddle and says, "found your problem!"... He asks me immediately if I had changed the saddle from the original, which I had not. Not only was the saddle about 1/8" too high (which I understand is normal so it can be setup for the individual), but it didn't even fit in the bridge! The tension of the strings was causing the saddle to lean about 15 degrees toward the neck because of the large gap in the bridge. While I can understand this kind of crap workmanship on a $300 guitar, there is simply no excuse for it in a guitar that has a list of better than $3300. I don't know if Gibson would have taken this in as warranty work but with shipping both ways and god knows how long it would be gone, I just had him do the repairs himself and do it right.

 

I didn't want to believe the criticism that the new stuff from Gibson gets so often, but now I think I'm a believer... To say I'm disappointed would be an understatement.

 

 

You've never made a mistake? I build VERY complex vehicles, (more so that you would believe), and we are the largest manufacturer in the US in our industry.

 

The QA Manager reports to me.

 

I feel we build the best vehicle in the industry, hand down.

 

Do some of our new vehicles get out of here with defects? Yes.

 

I feel a company's reputation shouldn't be judged on a few mistakes people find, but what they do about it.

 

I have every acoustic guitar I own set up by my luthier. It's cheap and he knows how I like 'em.

 

I just bought a new H'Bird, (built April, 2011), and the guitar is virtually perfect.

 

I haven't had it to my luthier's shop yet..... doesn't need it.

 

Doesn't mean Gibson people don't make mistakes, but does mean making a blanket statement that their quality is crap is unfair.

 

(JUST my humble opinion)

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I didn't want to believe the criticism that the new stuff from Gibson gets so often, but now I think I'm a believer... To say I'm disappointed would be an understatement.

 

There's no real excuse for this, but on the plus side, it was a relatively simple fix. Count your blessings. I would have taken pcitures and sent them to Gibson, along with a quote from my tech for fixing it. In any case, it wasn't worth the risk and aggro to send it back.

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Wow! I am sorry that you were disappointed in the action on the guitar, It seems as though it was right at first and became a little less so as time went on. There are several things that can cause this to happen. When the guitar is in the factory it in a controled environment. When the guitargets to it's new home it does adapt to the environment it lives in, if its dry it will likely need some humidity and the action will actually get a bit lower and possibly cause some buzzing. If there is too much humidity the guitar will puff up and cause the action too rise even a full 1/8 inch higher than it was when it has left the factory. I suggest to people to get their guitar settup every 6 months as it will continue to change and it is a great idea to have a saddle for the Summer and another for the Winter this way it is easy to adjust to seasonal changes. As for the saddle having a little bit of room that is what Baggs suggest for the best possible contact with the baggs element. Hopefully your SJ is playing great again.

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This may not be the source of the problem but:

 

The first time I changed the strings on my 'Bird I was all tuned up and ready to wail when I noticed the EXACT same saddle situation.

 

 

When I loosened the strings and looked I realized what happened...while I was changing the strings (and wiping it down thoroughly) the saddle had dropped out. I had stuck it back in and strung up. The piezo strip under the saddle had twisted a bit and shimmed the saddle up, the little amount of the saddle still in the slot caused it to go off kilter. My bad, with a Dumas award given!

 

 

Even if that weren't the case, it's a very small problem that Gibson would have no doubt remedied themselves if you had given them a chance. If your tech is Gibson certified he can get paid for the work by them. If he's NOT then it's your mistake there, should take it to the shop you got it at or contact Gibson. It would have been taken care of.

 

Gibsons of today are FAR from "shoddy workmanship" but, as was said above, mistakes DO happen. You should have given them the chance to take care of it before coming to public forums and making such statements. IMO anyway.

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While I agree that it's not fair to make a blanket statement about any product's quality, I certainly can sympathize and with this guy's plight. I know we are all Gibson fans here, but to drop that kind of coin on a guitar and have this kind of problem...Well, I'd be angry too.

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I've owned a number of flattop guitars & in my experience would be a bit surprised if a nice one didn't need a bit of action attention in the first year or so. New guitar, things settle in over time & sometimes sooner, sometimes later.

 

I'm talking nice Gibsons & others & to me it has nothing to do with 'shoddy' but a lot to do with 'owning an acoustic guitar'.

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I totally understand the disappointment that adam has. You have an expensive and very nice guitar that you are proud to own....then out-of-the-blue something appears to be not right, and it's not. However, as others have said, "mistakes happen," and they do. My 714ce had a cracked nut and I never knew it until I got it home. Talk about pissed...lol....Don't know if it was missed by taylor, happened after being shipped, etc., etc,........but they got me a new one very quickly...My advice: if you like the guitar and the problem is fixed......have a blast playing it....Besides, absolutly NOTHING made by human beings (expecially when a lot of it is made with their hands) is perfect.

 

Likewise, I've had the saddle slip out while I'm changing strings. You've GOT to put it back in just like it originally was......Also, I've NEVER done a setup every six months. Once I have a guitar setup, aside from something out of the Twilight Zone, that's how it stays. Don't change the saddle according to the season either. I hadn't heard of that before.

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I've long maintained that piece-to-piece quality is not one of Gibson's strong suits. For some reason they struggle when it comes to controlling variance on their own products. The OP's experience is just another anecdotal piece of evidence of such.

 

That said, my favorite "it will be buried with me" guitar is my J 45TV. Perfect workmanship. Now, it took me a year to find one that was up to my standard, but when I did, I thought I found a slice of heaven.

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I think a guitar set up is an ongoing process.

 

There is the major set up when you first get a new guitar and might have to give the truss rod a tweak, lower the saddle, try different strings etc ... but then its about maintainig your ideal guitar set up, which might involved truss rod tweaks mainly, but its sort of an ongoing process in my mind.

 

As for set up every six months that is something that I do as i can do it myself. I do it on all my guitars, not only my Gibsons.Some places go through more change thank others and it allows for me to keep tha action consistent. A newer guitar will also change alot more than an older one.

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I am not typically a defender of all things Gibson, but if the only issue with this instrument is a sloppy saddle, your reaction seems a bit over the top re "crap workmanship." Considering all the serious stuff that can go wrong, it sounds like you've got a very good one overall. Warranties are meant for such problems, and in all likelihood Gibson would have made it right if you'd gone to an authorized repair person. True, this may not always be convenient, but it would represent a rather small bump in the road for a guitar with keeper potential, imho.

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I am not typically a defender of all things Gibson ....

 

That's where I'm at. A situation like this isn't out of the realm of possibilities, but I have a question. In post #7 I asked "What's the date encoded in the guitar's serial number?" - I'm wondering how long it was sitting between serialization and sale. If it was in a shop or a system like Guitar Center, the longer it's on the shelf, the higher the probability of after factory monkeying around - like an improperly done string change, or an ill advised saddle change etc. I've seen Gibson guitars in shops that were more than one or two years old and still new stock. While a bad saddle installation can certainly occur, I find it very odd that the wrong sized saddle was installed at the Gibson Montana facility (although, that could have happened too). I'd like to see adamjs69 post back, but I understand if he doesn't.

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Interesting, Jeremy. I've never even considered that. Here in the Midwest USA the seasons are pretty steady. Very few drastic changes between seasons. It's all pretty gradual (usually). All I do is tweak the truss rod, try different strings, etc. If there's anything beyond that I send it out. Come to think of it, I file-down nut slots too if a guitar's intonation might be off, or if a string is ringing on and on...Maybe I've been doing for decades some of what you're talking about. Maybe I'm better at this than I give myself credit for because I really don't know what I'm doing........But trust me on this----you don't want me fixing your guitar.....lol.......Thanks, Jeremy, you got me thinking.

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I think I'm with Big Kahune on this one. I was almost completely turned off to the idea of buying a Gibson after seeing examples in Sam Ash and GC that had been sitting around for ages. I saw the same sort of loose-fitting saddle the OP described. I also saw saddles that had been sanded down to practically nothing in order to get acceptable action. I was encouraged by people who strongly urged me to think about those as issues originating with the dealerships and not the manufacturer. I finally went with a solid dealer (long distance) and got a guitar that didn't have the issues I'd seen at the big boxes. Not enough data to sort out all the facts but it fits the idea that some dealers may monkey around with instruments that have sat a long time unsold and have developed issues of various types as a result of shop wear, poor storage, or what have you.

 

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a new instrument with high action but a misfitting saddle just doesn't make much sense as an error that originated at the factory. On the other hand, it seems not terribly unlikely if a less-than-stellar store tech wanted to replace a factory saddle for some reason.

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I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a new instrument with high action but a misfitting saddle just doesn't make much sense as an error that originated at the factory. On the other hand, it seems not terribly unlikely if a less-than-stellar store tech wanted to replace a factory saddle for some reason.

 

 

Would not surprise me if while changing the strings a tech could have been rushed and had the saddle slip on him.

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I've long maintained that piece-to-piece quality is not one of Gibson's strong suits. For some reason they struggle when it comes to controlling variance on their own products. The OP's experience is just another anecdotal piece of evidence of such.

 

That said, my favorite "it will be buried with me" guitar is my J 45TV. Perfect workmanship. Now, it took me a year to find one that was up to my standard, but when I did, I thought I found a slice of heaven.

Just so you know. Gibson produces the bridge saddle slot on a CNC machine. There is no variance from bridge to bridge. The saddles are bought from a company that manufactures them for Gibson and they are very tightly controlled and there is no variance among them. If there was a bad fit it was because the original saddle was replaced with a non spec ill fitting replacement. Just so there is no confusion here all Gibson parts are produced on CNC machines and they are assembled by hand. There is no variance in the part sizes or fit. CNC machines are by their nature consistent.

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My Woody had high action when I received it, but it was playable. After letting it settle in for six months I finally took her in for a set up. The repairman, Gary Brawer in San Francisco, was amazed at how high it was. Hope to get it back soon.

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That's where I'm at. A situation like this isn't out of the realm of possibilities, but I have a question. In post #7 I asked "What's the date encoded in the guitar's serial number?" - I'm wondering how long it was sitting between serialization and sale. If it was in a shop or a system like Guitar Center, the longer it's on the shelf, the higher the probability of after factory monkeying around - like an improperly done string change, or an ill advised saddle change etc. I've seen Gibson guitars in shops that were more than one or two years old and still new stock. While a bad saddle installation can certainly occur, I find it very odd that the wrong sized saddle was installed at the Gibson Montana facility (although, that could have happened too). I'd like to see adamjs69 post back, but I understand if he doesn't.

 

 

Yes - in a perfect world we would all go to meet Ren or Mr Gibson to pick up our perfect prize,with love, but it's not how it happens! Things get shipped, get played, set up by experts and pretenders, lie around in hot and cold and humid and dry shops and warehouses, get shifted through docks, shops and warehouses by ship, airplane, dinghy, truck, towtruck, forklift, trolley, guitar lovers and guitar haters, large beefy men that carry 4 guitars in each hand, scrawny little person who has to drag the guitar along the floor, then it is sold through shop, trader, ebay, garage sale to the drooling fool who just wants to play blues, sorry getting steamed but you get the picture. One new guitar I bought (name withheld) and played happily for a number of weeks before taking to a guitar tech to setup properly to find that a1/8 inch shim was under the saddle, unlikely to come from the factory like that, but most probably by a guitar salesperson that thought he was a guitar tech who unfortunately had shaved a bit too much off the saddle and instead of getting a new one, decided to save a dollar and run with the dodgy one....

 

It is all a bit 'luck of the draw'.

 

BluesKing777

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