Ordering without trying?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by R.J.H., Oct 22, 2008.

  1. R.J.H.

    R.J.H. Silver Supporting Member

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    Hey there. I have a question for those of you who order and play guitars made by the small luthiers. I've been considering ordering a tele from a company such as Danocaster, K-line, or the like, but am curious if you guys just go ahead and order and trust that the guitar you buy will play and sound to your liking, or do you try to find and play an example of the luthier's work before you order?

    Call me crazy but I'm having a hard time ordering an expensive guitar without knowing if I'll like the outcome. What's your take on it?

    Thanks very much, Ryan.
     
  2. shally

    shally Member

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    i ordered 4 tom andersons over the years and was happy with every one of them. ordered a john levoi custom django and it might be the best guitar i own

    there are people here who speak glowingly about the above builders.. as long as you know what you want or can communicate what you are looking for, i dont see how you can go wrong with righteous people like you mention
     
  3. fusgtr

    fusgtr Member

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    Hi guys, new to the forum (actually older member but my pc is new and i lost all data, passwords etc)
    Well, i've been playing for 25 years, and i have to say that i had had a lot of guitars.
    If you konw the quality of this small luthier, then go for it.
    I mean, i play mostly Tom Andersons and as the other friend states i would buy with"close eyes".
    Also Suhr guitars has the same standard quality

    thnx
     
  4. jads57

    jads57 Supporting Member

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    Most reputable stores have a 48 hour return policy, and I think small luthiers are the same.
     
  5. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    I've done it dozens of times, and with a very high satisfaction rate.

    A caveat is that I've done it primarily with used instruments, so that if I decide that it's not for me, I won't take a huge depreciation hit. I can usually turn around and sell it for what I paid for it.

    If I had NOT been willing to buy sight unseen (so to speak), I would have missed out on a tone of really fine instruments.

    Do your homework first, and you should be in good shape!
     
  6. Droptop

    Droptop Supporting Member

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    Some reputable builders like Sadowsky give you a 7 day trial period. If at all possible see if someone is carrying the guitar that you are after. Often times they too will give you a 24-48 hour inspection period (Wildwood Guitars and Wildwest Guitars come to mind). When custom ordering be careful, the craftsmanship may be there but the tone may not. Often times we will order premium tops, with all the rarest of woods and special pickups, only to discover we don't like the overall tone. Years ago I custom ordered an Anderson with all the bells and whistles. The guitar was beautiful and I waited 7 months for it to arrive. When I plugged it in I was disappointed to find that it sounded as sterile as an operating table. No knock on Anderson, I've played some of their great sounding guitars. If at all possible play a sample guitar with the characteristics you are looking for and order based on that...and if you can find one used for less all the better.
     
  7. enharmonic

    enharmonic Old Growth Gold Supporting Member

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    I purchased/ordered my McInturff's and MotorAve's without trying. The key to success here is

    1. Knowing exactly what works best for you...tone woods, neck size, scale length, radius, fret size...all the way down to volume and tone control knobs if need be.

    and

    2. Working with a luthier who understands what you need and knows how to achieve the desired outcome.

    If you know exactly what you need out of an instrument to be "home" mechanically, any number of luthiers here at TGP or elsewhere can get you there. :)
     
  8. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    I would not buy ANY musical instrument without playing and hearing it first.
    I have in the past and no matter who is building it the final tone and resonance is down to wood and too many variables to get closer than "it SHOULD sound great"
    as long as wood is used they will differ from magic to "it plays great but."
     
  9. imissmj

    imissmj Member

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    I say it all the time but there is a much greater chance you don't know what you actually want than there is a builder can't build what you ask for. Get the details right and it increases exponentially the chance you'll like the guitar.
     
  10. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Your right ,but to me that makes it more important to play an existing instrument than try to compile a possibly misinformed wish list .
    you only have to look at the customer gallery at Warmoth to see this in its' full horror.:eek:
     
  11. Seegs

    Seegs Member

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    my main amp I ordered without trying...Fargen Dual Classic...going on 7 years

    everything on my pedalboard I ordered without trying...

    I ordered two K-lines without trying them...going on 2 years

    I got my 335 without trying it...

    not too mention speakers and pickups...to many to mention...

    my main axe I picked out of a field of 7 and same goes for my acoustic...

    everything else was sight unseen...

    Chow,
    Seegs

    Chow,
    Seegs
     
  12. Marty s Horne

    Marty s Horne Member

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    If you know the specs that work for you, and are familiar with the builder's work and reputation, I'd go for it. I bought my 2 McNaughts sight unseen (one was built to my specs) and they are my 2 all time favorite guitars. There are no McNaught dealers near me so I would have missed out big time if I had not taken the chance.
     
  13. Brian Porter

    Brian Porter Member

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    Some of my first guitars were bought that way. Ordered a Schecter from the USA custom shop about 10 years ago becuase I saw a bass they custom made for someone and it was amazing. This was before they had millions of overseas guitars out there. Very happy with that guitar.

    As others have said, If the person has a good name and reputation, I think it's worth taking a shot at.

    If i were in the market for a guitar, i'd get one from Terry McInturff or Jack Briggs. They have been helpful to me as I get my own guitar making business started, and everything I see of their guitars screams high quality.
     
  14. "Cousin Dupree"

    "Cousin Dupree" Member

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    I agree 100%
     
  15. ben_allison

    ben_allison Member

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    With pedals, I've gotten what I expected 100%. All the discussion online has given me, most times, a clear idea of what something will actually sound like.

    Guitars... a bit more dicey. One fret could be 1/64th out of place... then what? Dead zone on the neck... then what?

    I wouldn't be worried about tone, but the little details that might make it annoying to play.

    But, buying used, at least you can sell it and get your money back. I got a Franken-tele from here on TGP, and I love it, so so far: 100% success rate!
     
  16. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Yes BUT
    High quality build even near as damm it perfect dose not guarantee tone of the same caliber nothing can ,until it is built and heard.
    I'm not saying you can't predicate it to a large degree but if you want that magic extra 5% your going to have to play existing instruments.
    As beautiful as Jack Briggs Guitars are I'm sure he will admit some sound better than others in a way that could not be 100% quantified at the start. Why Gamble ?
     
  17. Brian Porter

    Brian Porter Member

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    I think if the builder knows what he's doing and you know what you want, chances are you are going to get a great guitar. It still may be worth playing for some out there, but many of us can't get ahold of a small builders guitar to try out before hand.

    I do agree about looking for the "Magic" guitar, but for some it's not too easy to find one to try in person. I guess that's the challenge. To figure out where you can play one, once you think you've found a good builder.

    Some builders have a demo guitar as well. I think it's a good idea.
     
  18. Terry McInturff

    Terry McInturff 40th Anniversary of guitar building! Gold Supporting Member

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    Why not take advantage of many dealer's 48 hour...or so...return policy?

    Simply plan to recieve your guitar at a time that you know that you'll have that amount of time to check it out. Most folks can make a firm and lasting judgement in that amount of time. Schedule a band rehearsal as well as quiet personal time for you and your new guitar. I am sure that the vast majority of us can make a firm judgement regarding any guitar within two solid days!
     
  19. mslugano

    mslugano Supporting Member

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    As someone else said, you can buy an Anderson or Suhr with your eyes closed and you will be thrilled! They both have an amazing attention to detail and are completely consistent in my experience whether bought new or used. I believe that both John and Tom will not ship a guitar that does not play and sound perfect and will ensure this perfection by consistently choosing the best wood, matching different woods (for body and neck for instance) in a manner that enhances each individual tonal qualities and using best quality hardware and electric bits.

    I should probably add Juha at Ruokangas to that small list too. His guitars are amazing and every one I have seen or played has been consistently beautiful in appearance and playability.
     
  20. Zhurh

    Zhurh Member

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    I've only bought 2 boutiques. The first from a small local guy who hadn't built all that many I think, paint job was great, but guitar had all kinds of probs; had to take it to another luthier to get it playable. Price was close to the same as the most well known luthiers.

    Second one was a Kirn and I was blown away, what a nice playing guitar. I'm going to get another Kirn but I'd like to try a Suhr and Lentz too eventually.

    The guys I bought my Bruno from once told me that all builders have good and bad results. I'm sure there's some truth to that too.
     

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