My Echopark Guitars Nightmare

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by Crshngdstryr, Apr 30, 2019.

  1. Crshngdstryr

    Crshngdstryr Member

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    Ordered a custom Echopark J direct from Echopark last year. Gabriel promised me 6 months, but took 2 years. The guitar was horrible in my opinion (https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/echopark-j-in-depth-review.2001007/) but I just wanted to sum up the guitar in case anyone is thinking of ordering from them:

    • Promised me 6 months, took 2 years
    • Gabriel made the wrong profile/size neck twice. I had originally ordered a medium profile, then we had many emails in which I upgraded to a large profile. After another 1.5 years of waiting, he sent me an invoice that included a medium sized neck profile. When I mentioned it to him , he said that I never told him that (to which I sent him email proof) and that he needed a few more months to make the change.
    • The finish on the guitar was horrendous. There were swirl marks EVERYWHERE from whatever buffer pad he used. There were gouges, pieces of paint missing, and the finish on the matching headstock was different than the finish on the body.
    • After 1.5 years, he emailed to tell me that the finish on my guitar had begun cracking and that he needed another 3-4 months to refinish the body.
    • When the guitar was finally ready, he sent it to the WRONG ADDRESS. I had to leave work to drive around the city knocking on doors to find it.
    • When I first plugged it in, the neck pickup was dead.
    • The bridge pickup died a week later.
    • My tech was horrified by the mess he saw under the pickguard (which had already begun warping by that point). He said it was by far the worst wiring he's ever seen on ANY guitar, including Squiers and Mexican Fenders.
    • The second try on my neck profile was totally wrong. I asked him for a Large C-V profile. He sent me a guitar that was 1" at the nut, and tapered to a slim D at the 12th fret. Seriously, one of the most uncomfortable, awkward neck profiles I've ever played. Gabe offered to redo it but told me I'd have to send the guitar back to him. Yeah....not doing that.
    • The bridge couldn't be intonated, which even Gabe implied he had a lot of trouble setting up.
    • About 1/3 of the frets were not seated straight in the fretboard.
    • I ended up selling the guitar after a month at a $2,000 loss. Took it to a guitar show, showed it to about 30 dealers....Not a single person wanted it. Ended up trading it locally for a much cheaper guitar.
    On top whats described above, dealing with Gabe wasn't always easy. He responded to all my emails and calls, but when I started to get impatient with the endless delays and excuses, he started getting nasty. I asked for a refund a few times, which he rejected. But then after he saw a comment I posted on a forum detailing what a piece of garbage the guitar was, he told me "I should have never taken a dime of your money." Yes...I know.....that's why I tried to get my money back from you. He is also a friend of a friend, so he kept doing this thing of trying to pit me against my friend whenever I started complaining.

    I was really bummed about this whole ordeal until many other users came out and shared very similar stories (@LenPort @JPH118 @Hexum @Mooster @FiestaRed among many others) (which have since been deleted by the owner of the previous thread). There were also some great builders in that thread that provided some really valuable info (I won't entangle them unwillingly into this thread...they can opine again if they'd like). As long as I have the say...I will never delete this thread.

    And just to get this formality out of the way...Do I think all EP guitars are bad? Probably not. But I can definitively tell you that dealing with EP was a hellish experience for me and many others. When you play an Echopark, you are in my opinion implicitly or explicitly endorsing a builder who does not give a f*ck about you (unless your name is Joe, Josh or Troy). Buyer beware.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  2. Crshngdstryr

    Crshngdstryr Member

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    Some other people's guitars

     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  3. lifeson1

    lifeson1 Supporting Member

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    Sorry about this. Thanks for sharing to let folks know what to expect.
     
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  4. JPH118

    JPH118 Member

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    It’s also worth noting that before @Crshngdstryr received his order, Gabe himself chimed in on the original (now deleted) thread and made multiple promises to correct the issues with past orders and forge a new path going forward. Then, even more horror stories came to light, and now the evidence has been conveniently erased.
     
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  5. cosmic_ape

    cosmic_ape Supporting Member

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    Dude, those are appalling.

    Wow...
     
  6. shallbe

    shallbe Deputy Plankspanker Gold Supporting Member

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    In spite of the thread deletion, Gabe and Echopark are done. Sloppy work and horrible customer relations and service are now well known. His guitars are sitting and I bet dealers are no longer ordering.
     
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  7. Hexum

    Hexum Member

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    My original post from 10.04.2018:
    "Hey, all, it's been a little over a year now since I first posted in this thread. If you don't remember me, I came to this thread because I was awaiting an Echopark build and I was feeling very anxious, unsure, and even a little frustrated with the whole process. All that aside, I still had a lot of faith in Gabe Currie, and I still gave him the benefit of the doubt. I wasn't blind to the problems that were starting to be pointed out in this thread, but I still gave Gabe my patience and my trust, not because he had earned it, but maybe because I simply had a lot riding on it. Still, because of giving him the benefit of the doubt, I was called a shill, a fanboy, a kiss-a$$, and probably a few other things I've forgotten. I'm not bitter by any means, but I feel the need to illustrate this so that one may better understand the context of what I'm about to say. I discovered Echopark guitars. I fell in love. I gave Gabriel my hard-earned cash because I believed in him. I was on his side; some thought it was to a fault. Long story short, I left this thread because it just became too stressing and it was causing toxicity that I just don't need in my life. But... I also said that I would be back with a review when the time finally came; not just of the guitar, but also of the Echopark experience.
    March 3, 2016, I called Gabe to discuss the build. He promised it would be ready in 10 months. Within 3 weeks, I had my 50% down payment mailed. I and a lot of others have covered a lot of the communication problems and other things that would ensue for me (like others), and I'll answer questions if anyone has them, but let's skip ahead.
    January 29, 2018, I look on Gabe's Instagram and I see that my guitar is finally being painted... the wrong colors. I had originally asked for black and white, but after a maddening wait time, I changed my mind (long before my guitar was ever started) to grey and black. This body was black and white. Even though it was wrong, I loved how it turned out. I told Gabe I was cool with it and attached the updated spec sheet. He seemed cool with it, even though there was this very slight passive-aggressive tone when he mentioned "all the many changes and updates" and how he "didn't remember to look at the many emails". Ugh. Oh, well. I'm one to roll with the punches and, hey, I sincerely thought it looked great. I was over-the-moon with it; maybe because I was just so excited for it to be done at last. But it still happened.
    February 27, Gabe's Instagram informs me that a guitar from the batch mine was painted in is starting to get its hardware and neck, etc.
    March 5, several others follow suit. Two days later, the first guitar from a week ago, is completely assembled and ready to ship. The next day, another one is "Done and goin home.."
    March 20, a photo of my unassembled guitar pops up on Instagram. Wrong pickguard, wrong knobs, wrong neck. I email Gabe. He tells me the neck is obviously not mine, but it's done. He emails me the next day. He informs me that he was hit with a cold snap. My guitar has cold-checked and there are two remedies. He also tells me that the funny thing is, he used to charge for this, referring to to the damage done. I'm sure he didn't mean much by it, but at the same time, it's like, oh, should I be thanking you for this? At the end of the email, he slides in, "to be honest... I think the maple neck is kinda more awesome than the rosewood." I kinda felt like he was just trying to get me out the door. I didn't even acknowledge the comment. But then he sends me a second email simply thanking me for being so great. And I feel like he was being very sincere. I really appreciated that Gabe recognized how cool I was about the whole thing, because I know a lot of people who wouldn't have handled it as well. But I was also hoping that my patience and good nature would manifest in the form of a great guitar.
    March 23, I get an email from Gabe informing me that Woody (from Mastery) doesn't make lefty bridges. And "Frankly speaking..." Gabe doesn't like his bridges and stopped using them awhile back because they defeat the benefit of the original design. That's funny, because between the time my guitar was painted and that particular email, I had seen no less than 3 freshly finished Echoparks that all sported a Mastery bridge. Also funny, that since that email, I've seen countless lefty Masterys on many Collings guitars. But imagine that the guy who's building you a guitar, sells you on one thing, and then later, says it's worthless. Would you continue to put stock in his opinion? He says he'll have to look to Callaham or Glendale for a suitable replacement. We agree upon Callaham. I roll with the punches. (Side note: when I actually got the guitar, to my surprise, it had like a Glendale or something. I don't think I've ever seen one of those go for much more than $100. I paid $180 for the Mastery. You think Gabe refunded the $80 bucks? Nope.)
    Throughout the next week or so, Gabe tells me the 2 remedies to the cold-checking are trying to sand off the top coats to see if he can save it or "Re do the whole thing (BUMMER)".
    I tell him that "Frankly speaking, for the amount of money I paid combined with the amount of faith I've put in (him), anything less than pristine condition and I'd feel like a sucker." I tell him that it's a bummer for him, but it's a bummer for me as well. He's totally cool and on board with it.
    April 16, an IG photo of my guitar body that reads "Assembly".
    May 23, an IG photo of my still unassembled guitar with the correct rosewood neck, but still the wrong pickguard. I drop another friendly reminder of what the accoutrements are with the attached updated spec sheet. I hope this guitar is gonna rip. He promises me this guitar will more than rip.
    May 30, an IG photo pops up of a guitar being painted. I find out a little bit later, that this guitar belongs to someone with a bit of notoriety. Not hugely famous, but someone with a reputation. Let's call him Bob for sake of conversation.
    June 5, Bob's guitar is on the drying rack, complete with Victorian roses.
    June 14, Bob's guitar is 100% assembled and ready to go.
    June 20, an IG photo pops up of Gabe and Bob with guitar in hand. I mention this side business with Bob because it perfectly illustrates not only the Echopark ethos, but my whole experience with it as well; just constantly being pushed to the side for someone or something better. Do you know how many people I've come in contact with that ordered their guitar well after me, and received it before mine was even started? I think 4, maybe even 5. I know respectable builders like Doug Kauer and even Echopark's own Paul Slagle have posted in this thread about how Instagram should not be looked at as a definitive chronological timeline. And you know what? They're absolutely right... except in this instance. My instance. And largely, the instance of Echopark. I know because I lived it. My guitar had been painted since January and it still wasn't done, and I watched many others come and pass. Hell, if my guitar would've been completed with the others in its batch, it wouldn't have been around for the cold snap and never would have been damaged! And I was totally patient; I understand that things happen, the guitar needed to be repainted, etc. But do you know what it's like to watch guitar after guitar be finished, especially those completed in a tiny time frame because Gabe has something to gain from it, all the while you sit like patience on a monument? What kind of message would that send you?
    The next day, I get an email saying the guitar is done and he sends me pics. I'm elated! At least, partly. I inform Gabe that due to a crisis no one can control, I have to sell the guitar. It's a bittersweet moment, but hey, such is life. I take time to explain to him that it's due to a loved one. Guitars just don't compare to that. He says it's no problem; just give him a few days "to dial it in" and to "update the invoice so whomever doesn't get confused after all the changes that have been made." He can ship next week upon return from his cousin's funeral. I sent him condolences for his loss and hope for safe travels; nothing pertaining to the guitar. Later that night, I got a response that reads, "Sure wish I didn't have to refinish this one and go threw the whole thing just to see you sell it off... but i totally understand. Hope you got the most out of it..." I don't know if he meant anything by that. I mean, I'm really not sure how to take it. But honestly... I don't care. It's representative of my problems with this entire god-awful experience. Here I am, on the very brink of receiving my dream guitar and I come to the conclusion that I have to sacrifice that because I have a loved one who has tumors on their spine... which may be cancerous... who's out of work, dealing with constant uncertainty, and just needs help. But no, POOR YOU because you had to spend a few extra man-hours correcting a problem that YOU are solely responsible for.
    I wish for a lot of things, too. I sure wish I would have received my guitar within the 10 month time frame it was promised, instead of still waiting at well over 28 months. I wish this guy would have gave his customers a simple heads-up when he chose to uproot his business halfway across the country, inevitably causing more lengthy delays. I wish my guitar would've been the right color. I wish I didn't have to keep reminding him of what the pickguard material and accoutrements were, even though those tiny changes were made just days after ordering. I wish he would've taken the time to find out if a particular bridge was even available to me before I paid him for it, and I sure wish he would've refunded me for it. I sure wish he would have listened and gave me the V-D neck profile that I wanted. Hell, I wish he would've given that upgrade to me at no extra cost. "But why would he give you something like that for free" you ask. 'Cause. I figure this guy has been nothing but completely spoiled and entitled when it comes to my time and money, why shouldn't I treat him the same way? Yeah, I wish for a lot of things. Mostly, I wish I would've given my money and time and energy to Rhoney or Collings or Kauer or Koll or Jennings or Prisma or Frank Brothers or... Squier.
    Cont."
     
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  8. Hexum

    Hexum Member

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    "July 6, 2018... after almost 2 and a half years... well over the quoted wait time... the guitar finally arrived. You know that feeling where you pick up a guitar and everything is just magic? Where you pick it up and everything falls into place? The sort of sexy beast that's just so pure and perfect, it beckons you from across the room to come pick it up, only to put it back down hours later after a vigorous and seemingly infinitely-inspiring play session?
    Yeah, this was not that f/ucking guitar.
    Firstly, it had fret buzz all over the lower 4 strings of the guitar. It sounded atrocious. Guess what? It played in a similar manner. The finish, after all the fuss about redoing it, looked pretty bad in quite a few spots. I don't know if it's because Nitro is so thin, but it looks like the first finish was bleeding through in certain areas. It just looked like garbage close up, especially with the style of what the finish was. I find it unbelievable that he actually sent it out. If it were me, I just would've started over. The pickups were kinda bad, at least the silver coil in the neck was; kinda sounded like it was dying. The volume and tone pots were actually the worst I've ever seen with all the (minimal) range being between 8.5-10. I found out later that this was partly due to him using right-handed electronics. The neck was off, not just the profile, but the feel of the frets on the edges. It's hard to articulate because my guitar knowledge pales in comparison to most of you, but it just felt half-finished. It certainly didn't feel good. All in all, the guitar just felt cheap, and honestly... especially when you factor in what went into it... the money... the time... the energy... it's the worst guitar I've ever played. Easily. I've played $500 Korean-made guitars that play better, sound better, and are infinitely more fun and inspiring. I don't know what else to say about it. It was a turd. I took it into my luthier and after I embarrassingly told him how much I paid for it, he just laughed at me. I don't blame him. He then pointed out there were also fret markers placed on the underside of the neck. Also, this guitar looked like it was shipped without a care. No wrap; no anything. No spec sheet. Not even a serial number on the headstock. Just came with a CoA and one of those hype-books that list all the great players that play Echoparks. One gentleman's name was severely misspelled. Anyway, I know there's a lifetime warranty and even Gabe came to this very thread and said he'd fix all these little problems that a lot of our guitars have had, but if I can't trust the guy to do it right when I'm paying him $4,500, how could I trust him when he's doing it for free?
    I don't like saying all this. I'm having the hardest time actually posting it. I kinda hate myself for it actually. But you know what? I feel like I have a responsibility to my fellow buyers out there; to anyone like me who simply doesn't have a lot of cash and is looking for that once-in-a-lifetime Holy-grail guitar. I owe it to those who find this thread, so that they may make a more informed choice than I did back in 2016. It is easily worst financial choice I've ever made, and one of the most regretful choices I've made period. Sad thing is, I would have forgotten all of this if I had just received a great guitar; if he had just kept up his end of the bargain. And there's stuff I left out. But I want to say thank you to those who showed me support.
    Gabe, I'm sure you'll probably read this eventually, and if at any time you've felt letdown, or upset, or just disappointed... well, that's pretty much how I felt when I pulled my Echopark from its case and hit a few chords on it for the first time.
    Tl;dr: If you're thinking about buying an Echopark, play it first. If you're thinking about custom ordering an Echopark, there's just one word I have for you:"
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Hexum

    Hexum Member

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    Hey, I just want to give a thanks to @Crshngdstryr for starting this new thread. I figured out immediately that the thread had disappeared and I'm glad somebody started a new one.
    And a big thanks to @pmjgear for alerting me that my original posts detailing my experience were archived. I never would have known and you've made this part a lot easier for me!
     
  10. shdwy_mn_shdwy_plnt

    shdwy_mn_shdwy_plnt Member

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  11. NewLeaf09

    NewLeaf09 Supporting Member

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    You will never know how many direct sales there are but of the eight US dealers listed on the Echopark site, five had one EP guitar in stock, one had two in stock, and two had none. I also saw two EP amps on those sites. Looks like Tradarama is cornering the market on ready-made and used.

    A look at the new EP guitars on Reverb shows some of the same ones I saw on dealers' pages but mostly Tradarama's listings. One new one was listed by a dealer that was not on the EP list of dealers - Distortion Bros.

    I forget what the wild 10 fold sales target datguygabe pulled out of his back pocket, but I think it was that revenue would increase 10x in 5 years - bad thing about killing the thread @datguytim - these priceless little tidbits get lost. It will be interesting to see whether EP still exists at the end of that time-frame. Or if datguytim still has the EP for which he paid so dearly.

    Yeah, found the article - revenue projected for the remainder of the article year $240,000. Datguygabe sez it will grow 10 times to $2,400,000 in five years. Not quite as fast as the beanstalk but in the same section of the library.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
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  12. JPH118

    JPH118 Member

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    As I said in the now-deleted original thread, he’s delusional if he thinks the boutique $5k+ guitar market will ever expand to that degree... if he honestly hit $240k with the help of possibly the greatest luck & timing ever (QOTSA’s biggest album + Iggy’s comeback tour + Aerosmith’s last-run nostalgia + Johnny Depp before he became a cartoon of himself), he should consider himself lucky and hope to sustain 50% of that consistently in the future. It literally took ALL of those factors to get him a few pages of positive press on TGP (which are gone now anyhow), and that perfect storm isnt likely to strike again.
     
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  13. NewLeaf09

    NewLeaf09 Supporting Member

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    No telling on the accuracy of the numbers provided but according to the article, the $240k is a major sag down from a claimed cool half mil for the previous year, probably as a result of the move to Detroit and lost productivity during the restart, the issue with subbing out the finishing, etc.

    What got me about the article was that it is in a business publication but there was not even the gentlest follow-up probing on how His Gabeness was going to accomplish such an extraordinary feat with just a new supply of waterlogged wood. That's the kind of chutzpah I guess you need.

    The bean counter in me says his production is still constrained by the seconds in a minute, his small staff, and the simple hand tools he claims to use to produce these hand-made guitars, amps, and pedals with all of the tiny bubbles and imperfections, little bits of sand, proof they were crafted by the honest, simple, hard-working indigenous aboriginal peoples of wherever. (Sorry, rip off of Fight Club.) Unless he's going to sub out production where wages are low and they happily use CNC all the live long day, or he tools up in Detroit in a massive way, I don't see how he could ramp up production enough to generate $2,400,000 in sales per year and retain any semblance of the identity which made his guitars attractive from the start. And yes, what's the market for that many guitars at the prices he likes to set?
     
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  14. cugel

    cugel Supporting Member

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    Meth's a hell of a drug man
     
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  15. cosmic_ape

    cosmic_ape Supporting Member

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    Ok, dude with seven posts, 4 of which are in Echopark threads.

    Also, there are these wonderful things. What do we call them? PARAGRAPHS!
     
  16. cugel

    cugel Supporting Member

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    I know what a shill, mods you can delete this but I call em likes I see em
     
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  17. JPH118

    JPH118 Member

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    Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but you didn’t pay $5k for it, and you only “couldn’t sleep for days”, not 4x’s the quoted estimate like Hexum. That’s a pretty different customer experience. Glad you like the guitar, honestly... but that doesn’t make your opinion “right” or Hexum’s “wrong” in any way, shape, or form.

    Also, weren’t you waiting for Gabe to build you that amp, only to discover he had actually loaned it to an artist to use in the studio while you were waiting? Now, for a fanboy, that might not be a big deal, but most customers would call that pretty scummy. I can honestly say I’d never do that to a customer, ever.
     
  18. RayRay

    RayRay Gold Supporting Member

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    Hi Gabe!
     
  19. Hexum

    Hexum Member

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    Alright, I'm going to ignore your close-minded condescension (a sure sign you're a fan boy) and indulge you for a moment. I don't live in Virginia. I didn't own a J Model. I'm even left-handed and J Model aside, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are not who wound up with my guitar. SO WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU GETTING ALL THIS FROM?!
    I'm sincerely happy for you, man. Everybody deserves the guitar of their dreams and I'm sure you are no exception. Please, don't let my bad experience affect your experience. But from the tone of your response, you certainly seem affected by something to give such a childish response. This isn't PlayStation vs. XBox. This has affected people's livelihoods. I'm not surprised that someone who swings so hard from Gabe's nuts could show such a lack of empathy and completely miss the bigger picture. Send me a postcard from Tone Heaven.
     
  20. Navyjon21

    Navyjon21 Member

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    I can only go by my experience and it has been nothing but first! If I was going to complain about
    Anything it would maybe be the business of rough around the edges. But I’m sure Gibson, Fender etc we’re rough around the edges for a few years when they got started. If you start something from nothing and build it to what it is like Echopark that’s pretty impressive. Fender, Gibson etc have huge marketing teams, accountants and budgets to make their operations as smooth as possible and Gibson nearly ran the company into oblivion.
     
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