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$47.50 Gibson or Sweetwater who owes?

Scott Lee

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Not a rant against Gibson, or their quality. I’m also not knocking Sweetwater. Just want to here others thoughts. That’s what a forums about!

I received a Midtown Standard w/ Bigsby from my wife for Christmas. (Yes I am lucky to have my wife). I really like the instrument and appreciate the beauty and sound.

It works and sounds fabulous, I would rate the quality as good 1 to 10 a nine.

My wife wanting to surprise me made the order on the I-net via Sweetwater.

This is my second Gibson also have a 1995 Studio another great instrument. No complaints.


I played the Midtown everyday since received. About two weeks ago grabbed the Studio and immediately noticed the different setup. Strings on the Midtown are higher.

OK so I thought lets go to my local certified Gibson dealer and get a setup done…new strings and watch an expert re-string a Bigsby. The experience was good I learned the tricks with the Bigsby.


So my tech is finished restrung lowered the action did a great job. So he plugs in and plays a bit then hands to me for a try and yeah baby I’m in business…except

I just remember and explain to the tech I think there is more hum thru my (tube) amp with the Midtown then my Studio. I’m dialing it out with my amp gain and tone on the guitar, and it definitely goes silent when my hand touches either the jack or the Bigsby.


Crap he says…why didn’t you say that before we restrung…I dono I was excited to watch you work…all the guitars hanging around distracted me…I a dumba**.


He pops the plate off the back look in a pulls the ground wire that supposed to be connected to the bridge out. The end is a nice square cut hooked to nothing.

Now he remedied the situation I don’t know how. Called it a temporary fix but soldered something together. Said bring it back when it’s time to do the next string change and he would fix it right.


He charged me $47.30 stings and labor…it’s going to cost me that again to get the ground fixed proper.


My question – I can afford the $47.30 it sucks but I can scrounge it up, but should I be the responsible person in this situation?

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$47.30 for strings and a setup is a reasonable price, and an expected expense for any new guitar. This service is sometimes offered free from the local dealer when you buy it from them. This is just another hidden cost of cutting out your local dealer to save a few bucks, and making sight unseen purchases, although the ground wire issue should be covered under warranty.


But... there are a couple of business practice issues at work here. First, you did not buy the guitar from the Gibson "Certified" dealer. Since they did not make the profit on the sale, they will be less accommodating when it comes to "service after the (non)sale". It's easier for them to get you to pay cash for it than it is to file the paperwork and fight Gibson for payment.


The other thing is just because the store is a Gibson dealer doesn't mean their tech is Gibson certified/authorized for warranty work.


Your $47.30 setup should have also included checking the truss rod adjustment and intonation, which you don't mention in your narrative. This puts the "tech" in suspect in my view.

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I did not ask the tech to produce credentials…but the service included truss rod and intonation adjustment.

He actually made the service a learning experience for me…

Really felt he did a great job. Not one bit suspect about the service he provided

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My question – I can afford the $47.30 it sucks but I can scrounge it up, but should I be the responsible person in this situation?


For the setup, yes absolutely.


That is all yours. Sounds like the ground issue was pretty much No Charge....


Restringing a bigsby is not a major issue, one thing that really helps is to make a "stopper" that will keep the string on the post on the bigsby.


take a cork from a wine bottle, and cut off the round edges so your left with a "flat" piece of cork about 1/4" thick. Now cut that into a wedge (something that resembles a miniature slice of pie.) about 3/4 inch long is all you need.


As you secure each string to the post on the Bigsby, bend the ball end of the string (where the string wraps around the ball) so that it's curved, with the "hole" facing up, and it will look a bit like a fish hook.


Get the string ball on the post, and now with the cork "wedge" on it's side, that up against the string post that you are working on. this will keep the string ball from slipping off the post as you tighten the string and bring it up to pitch.


First time you do it, you'll drop a few fbombs, but after a while, you will see it's reall a piece of cake..


The cork wedge saves you from exhausting your fbomb quota for the day!

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I think there are a couple different avenues you could take:


You can find out who the authorized Gibson service center is who is close to you, and take it there and expect it to be fixed for free.


You can send the guitar back to Sweetwater, and get a replacement.


Or, you could try asking Sweetwater to refund you the cost (or a reasonable cost) from the sale of the purchase. It doesn't hurt to ask.


L5LARRY makes some good points, in that you are taking the guitar to a competing dealer, when you bought the guitar from someone else, especially an online dealer. It's kinda unfair to ask them to be your agent for a purchase they enjoyed no profits from. It's something worth considering when buying in the future for your own sake, as having a local dealer you do business with gives you a lot more service than you can get when mail is involved.


Also, while the "tech" at the store might have been competent in doing what he did, (and maybe he is a "real" tech), finding out who is your local repair guy could have it's own advantages for you, for all your guitars and the future. Even if the guy at the shop is qualified to do a basic set-up, a good luthier or tech could do you more than that. Besides being able to easily take it to someone in the event something goes wrong, wear and tear items like fretwork and set-ups increase the usefullness of your guitars. And, that also applies to knowing someone to work on your amps. It's just good to know if and where these guys are near you.


As for Sweetwater, I would give them a call and see what they will do. As far as online dealers go, I hear they are one of the best.

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