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Have you ever shipped your LP to Gibson for a pro setup?


Big Red One

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I bought a used 2001 LP Standard. Love the guitar but can't get it to play in tune at the first fret. I had setups done by two different local luthiers (Dallas, TX) and it's still not in tune at the first fret (and other frets here and there). I suspect it may need fret or nut work. I'm so frustrated with these local techs that I'm ready to ship it to Gibson for a "pro setup". I figure if there's something amiss, they can fix it. I even e-mailed them and recieved back the authorization # and instructions to ship it to Nashville.

 

Have you ever done this with your Gibson? Did it really make it play better or more in tune? I'm wrestling with this because it may cost me $100-$200 depending on what's needed (I can handle that but still....) and my brain is telling me it's a bit like shipped my Ford to Dearborn, MI for a tune up.

 

If you've done this I would like to hear your thoughts.

 

Thanks.

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You need to sit down with one of those local guys, who already worked on your guitar, and explain your concerns. The guitar is 11 years old, right, and you don't know what it's been through. It may need fretwork that would be more than a simple set-up would cover. I would expect that it may approach $200, but it will really make a difference. The teck might even find some hidden problem with the neck, tuners, bridge, etc.

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Guitar techs and luthiers are like dentists: some are good, some are bad. Some hurt your guitar, and some are painless! I would suggest you keep looking until you find one you can trust to do the right job and reward them handsomely! I researched them by starting with the Gibson Authorized Service center list (for my area):

 

http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Support/WarrantyServiceInformation/Default.aspx

 

In my area, the one in San Francisco (Gary Brawer) is famous and fantastic. The one in Redwood City (name witheld) was terrible - he dinged my LP. I ended up finding one more good one by sheer luck and networking. Like I said........

 

So don't give up looking - in the end having someone nearby is far better than sending your guitar back to Gibson (which could still be a last resort).

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Do the same guys who setup new guitars also do their "pro setups"? If so, they barely get it right the first time. Why would you want to pay those guys?

 

If you've already paid someone to do this work you should have taken it back to them since it seems they didn't do a good job in the first place.

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I would be more inclined to put the effort in seeking locally. Not so much for cost, but rather having SUPPORT for your gear makes them more valuable. Especially tube amps.

 

And it isn't just a matter of not being able to do it yourself, but the ability to drop something off and pick it up, not waiting for parts, etc., can actually make life different in how you use your stuff and how well it sounds on the whole, rather than relying on free time or the whole of your own knowledge.

 

I think rather than a bump in the road, it might be an opportunity to find out who are then men and who are the boys. Especially if you are planning on living in the area a long while.

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Gibson uses the PLEK machine for final setups on a lot of their guitars, but other shops use it as well. The PLEK machine cuts the nut and levels the frets, among other things, to provide what is supposed to be a superior setup. Look into the PLEK setup and if interested find a vendor near you who can do it, or you'll have to ship it out to get plek'ed.

 

Info below:

 

http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Lifestyle/Features/Built%20by%20Humans,%20Perfected%20by/

 

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If you're paying for a set-up, your luthier should really be sitting down with you first.

He'll check out your playing style and consider that when setting your guitar up.

Gibson will do a general set-up to make the guitar playable enough for someone to buy.

But, at this stage, it should be set up specifically for you.

Having said that, I had three set-up's on my first LP to get the intonation right up and down the neck.

I check my other guitars but don't have enough faith in my meagre skills to do this one.

It's been great since but I'm scared to have anything else done in case it knocks it out.

 

First luthier I took it to gave it back to me with two marks.

The guitar had been upright on a stand and he'd managed to dribble something down the back of the neck and the front of the body which ate right through the finish.

Completely unapologetic and even tried to blame me for it (I had taken photo's for insurance and just stopped short of shoving them and the guitar up his....).

Luckily, I met one of Patrick Eggle's old luthiers who had just started working for Palm Bay Guitars (they were about five minutes walk away from me).

He had a quick look at it and fixed it up in two minutes on a buffer wheel, literally moving the finish over the marks.

It's undetectable now, even after close inspection.

 

I relay this tale as an example to show luthiers come from both ends of the talent spectrum.

You may want to ask around and find one from recommendation.

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Factory setups can vary wildly! Some guitars come out of the box ready to go, some do not. I doubt Gibson has the time to set up your guitar, even if you could afford it. They would just give it the standard treatment like it recieved when it left the factory. If everything was within their specs, they may not even touch it! Find a better, LOCAL repairman and have him cut your nut slots deeper so you don't fret sharp on the first fret :P Simple as that. Probably less than $20 to boot!

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Wile we're on the subject does anyone have the specs for their factory setups. I would imagine in most cases their standard factory setup is adequate for most peoples styles? Assuming of course that it hasn't been knocked out during shipment or changed before being displayed at the dealer.

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Personally what I've done is asked a few professional musicians (check out the club and bar scene in your area) where they take their instruments. In my own area there were only a couple names that popped up as being really good. The catch with your issue is knowing what is really going on. This could require more than a general tweaking of a truss rod or intonation adjustment. Whoever does this, they should be willing to do it in front of you, showing you what is happening (knowledge is power). Once you get the idea of what is really gong on, then you can approach who's the best person/company to do the work.

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This does raise an interesting connundrm. Whenever there's a complaint about an instrument coming from the factory poorly set-up, the general response on the board is that it is normal to have to take a factory instrument to a luthier for a set up. Now ,if the factory set-up usually requires a second re-working by a luthier, why should anyone send the guitar back to Gibson for a factory set-up?

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I would not want to ship an instrument to have a set-up down. Check locally to see of guitar players in your area can recommend a good local tech. Personally, I would rather drive an hour or so to take it directly to the tech rather than trusting a shipper to get it back to me in one piece.

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