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Looking for great luthier in NorCal area to do setup for special guitar

Jazzandmore

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
12,580
Gents,

Which luthier in the NorCal area would you all recommend without hesitation to do a setup on a great S type guitar? I am in Marin County, but could travel into the city if needed. Don't want to go too far south of SF if I don't have too.

Thanks for any help!
 

somecafone

Member
Messages
4,648
The obvious suspects are Gary Brawer in SF.
Also, SF Guitarworks.

I dig Stephen White in Berkeley.

Maybe reach out to Bananas or even Eric Schoenberg in Tiburon (even though the shop is acoustic-focused).

Neil Young’s “guy” does stuff.
Don’t have contact info.
 

Jazzandmore

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
12,580
The obvious suspects are Gary Brawer in SF.
Also, SF Guitarworks.

I dig Stephen White in Berkeley.

Maybe reach out to Bananas or even Eric Schoenberg in Tiburon (even though the shop is acoustic-focused).

Neil Young’s “guy” does stuff.
Don’t have contact info.
Thanks! SF Guitarworks has a shop in Petaluma, which would be very easy for me. Much appreciated!
 

justonwo

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,942
I would take it to Wood Street in Oakland. Not only do they have a Plek, but they are extraordinarily detail-oriented. Lewis Santer, who is one of the founding luthiers there, used to run Ervin Somogyi’s shop and apprenticed under TJ Thompson. None better.

And they are Plek veterans and know all the nuances. Lewis has been doing my repair for for many years.

Gary Brawer’s shop is great but wait times are usually quite long. He used to do my repair work 15-20 years ago.
 

Jazzandmore

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
12,580
I would take it to Wood Street in Oakland. Not only do they have a Plek, but they are extraordinarily detail-oriented. Lewis Santer, who is one of the founding luthiers there, used to run Ervin Somogyi’s shop and apprenticed under TJ Thompson. None better.

And they are Plek veterans and know all the nuances. Lewis has been doing my repair for for many years.

Gary Brawer’s shop is great but wait times are usually quite long. He used to do my repair work 15-20 years ago.
Thanks for the info, much appreciated. To have run Somogyi's shop is quite the resume for sure!
 

bluejaybill

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,099
Thanks! SF Guitarworks has a shop in Petaluma, which would be very easy for me. Much appreciated!
Yes, one of the owners, Geoff, lives in Petaluma and you can have him evaluate it and, if needed, he will bring it into SF to his shop (for a Plek etc).

They did a great job on an old R8 for me, involved loosening the fingerboard to fix a warp. Came out great. Plus an excellent setup on an old strat.

Bananas, the last time I spoke to them he said they sent guitars to someone in Oakland, don't know who but someone hard to get in to see apparently.
 

Jazzandmore

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
12,580
Yes, one of the owners, Geoff, lives in Petaluma and you can have him evaluate it and, if needed, he will bring it into SF to his shop (for a Plek etc).

They did a great job on an old R8 for me, involved loosening the fingerboard to fix a warp. Came out great. Plus an excellent setup on an old strat.

Bananas, the last time I spoke to them he said they sent guitars to someone in Oakland, don't know who but someone hard to get in to see apparently.
Thanks! Yeah it will just be a setup on a great Strat, so likely something he can do there in Petaluma.
 

dougk

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,126
Regarding the Plek I found it an expensive crown and polish and had to have the guitar refretted.
Then it either:

Needed to refretted before Plek'ing anyways and running it thru the Plek only fixed what was left

and/or

Had such a bad fretboard that they had to remove a lot of fret in areas to get it correct

or

Really bad person behind the keyboard

We can remove so little material with the plek, it's way less than 1 swipe from a leveling beam. It's pretty amazing.
 
Last edited:

justonwo

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,942
The guys at SF Guitar Works are highly experienced with Plek and know all the nuances. Plek does the best fret job known to man. I have a number of luthier-built acoustics that were built with non-adjustable truss rods; those have all been Pleked to achieve the proper relief and fall away. Lewis Santer used to do work there and operated their Plek.

Now Lewis purchased and operates his own Plek at Wood Street.

It’s not necessary for a basic setup, but if your frets need work it’s hard to beat.
 

Matt Sarad

Member
Messages
1,000
Be that as it may, the refret was far better than what the Plek had done.
The Plek was done without my knowledge or consent. The frets were so low the guitar was literally unplayable. Imagine my shock when all I ordered was a clear pickguard and drop fill for some gouges and I discovered the surreptitious Plek.
The bill was $450.
The refret was free and the guitar plays perfectly.
 

big mike

Cathode biased
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
13,967
The guys at SF Guitar Works are highly experienced with Plek and know all the nuances. Plek does the best fret job known to man. I have a number of luthier-built acoustics that were built with non-adjustable truss rods; those have all been Pleked to achieve the proper relief and fall away. Lewis Santer used to do work there and operated their Plek.

Now Lewis purchased and operates his own Plek at Wood Street.

It’s not necessary for a basic setup, but if your frets need work it’s hard to beat.
Pleks don’t install frets.
 

justonwo

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,942
Your comment was ‘plek does the best fret job known to man’

It takes a qualified luthier to install new. The plek is a highly accurate level and crowning tool.
Don’t think the OP is talking about replacing frets.
 

justonwo

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,942
I don’t either, that’s how your comment read to me.
<shrug>
Plek doesn’t do fret jobs. It does level and crown
I don’t think anyone is debating you and not sure why you’re making the distinction. He asked for a setup guy. I gave him one. In addition to this guy’s comprehensive capabilities as a luthier building and repairing instruments, he has a Plek. Should it be decided over the course of the setup that the frets need touch up or leveling, Lewis has a Plek, which is his preferred way of leveling and crowning.

I think the OP understood that but perhaps not. I hope there is no longer ambiguity.
 

Jazzandmore

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
12,580
I don’t think anyone is debating you and not sure why you’re making the distinction. He asked for a setup guy. I gave him one. In addition to this guy’s comprehensive capabilities as a luthier building and repairing instruments, he has a Plek. Should it be decided over the course of the setup that the frets need touch up or leveling, Lewis has a Plek, which is his preferred way of leveling and crowning.

I think the OP understood that but perhaps not. I hope there is no longer ambiguity.
Yep I understood what you were getting at and appreciated the info.
 




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