What's the most you've ever been charged for a setup?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by ChopItUpBuryIt, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. ChopItUpBuryIt

    ChopItUpBuryIt Active Member

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    ...cause methinks I have you beat. Fun little story...

    Ok, so I have this EJ strat that I wanted to have the frets leveled, crowned, and a setup done. I was thinking of taking it to Phil Jacoby, a renowned luthier, of Philtone Guitars but being as he's about 2 hrs away, I decided to look up local luthiers in Delaware instead since it's not a terribly major job. So I find this local guy. A self-professed guru of all things guitar repair and this guy loves to talk about himself (in the highest regard). I mean, smug as shiiiiiiiib. He goes on about how the guitar's too dried out and he has to put it in a special humidity room to re-hydrate the wood or whatever, how his setups are the best bar-none, bla bla bla. Ok whatever, the guy obviously knows his sh#% so by all means work your magic sir. He never mentions a price and my dumb@ss doesn't bother to ask, but I figure a setup, fret-level, crown, and polish, maybe $80, $120 TOPS (because I'm picking up that this guy really fancies himself an artist nonpareil).

    After a week he calls me, says the guitar is back to having the right amount of moisture or whatever in the wood, but doesn't feel comfortable using the supplied strings I wanted for the setup. My EJ strat has the same issue a LOT of them have in that it's fairly stiff playing, 10's really feel like 11's on this guitar, so I use a custom 9.5 gauge set (9.5-12-16-24-34-44) to ameliorate the problem somewhat. But no, he doesn't feel comfortable using such a set: "...it feels very unprofessional."

    I explain the issue of stiffness and he says "well after I'm done with it there will be no stiffness whatsoever, let's go with 10's" Alright then, you're the professional, do 10's then...

    So just as I'm heading into work today about to start my shift, he calls, "the guitar's ready." "Ok, I'll be there first thing tomorrow to pick it up, what's the damage?" Wait for it...

    "It'll be $315" I was so completely and thoroughly nonplussed, words failed to come out of my mouth. Shock and horror began to set in. WTF!?!?! For a setup!?!? ...what? Surely, he's joking. Nope, this old sob's serious and that's with him including some discount evidently (which he mentioned like he's cutting me some big break...). I wanted to reach through the phone and choke the little life that's left in his old @ss bones right out of him. For about $100 more I could of had it REFRETTED by Phil Jacoby with highly preferable taller frets and a PLEK setup done!!

    I mean, I'm a young guy and $300 for a setup is a LOT of money to me. I guess I sorta get it. I think restoration work on vintage guitars is his main focus and passion and so this kind of setup stuff he probably finds menial and doesn't want to be inundated with, so maybe he charges obscene prices to dissuade such potential jobs, but DUDE, come on, you could of told me up front that you charge crazy money.

    Please excuse my whining here guys, but I'm still shocked at this. I don't even know what I'm gonna say to this guy tomorrow, I might really go at this smug old bastard and catch a court case, I'm that peeved. This guitar better play better than any strat that I've ever played in my life or so help me god....

    Anyone else ever heard of such rates for a fret-level and setup? Am I being taken here?
     
  2. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

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    Yeah, sounds way excessive. Sounds like he set it up from the start though with all of his talk about hydration, etc. Should have stuck with Phil.
     
  3. Jonny Hotnuts

    Jonny Hotnuts Member

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    Really you should always ask upfront however it seems heavy to me if it was just a setup and pack of strings.
    Its interesting he says the neck needed to be rehydro'ed, was there fret poke?

    I would sure ask how the breakdown in cost went.

    Good luck, your going to need it.

    ~JH
     
  4. drpoyer

    drpoyer Member

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    depends on the work... but for a basic setup the price is nuts. 120 was the most I have paid and that included a level and dress, attention to the nut and a good setup. he also used a scope on the pickups to set the balance as well as could be done; and that was more than I could do at home. This was for a Suhr Classic S.
     
  5. modernp

    modernp Member

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    People charge what the area will bare. On the east side of madison which is a working side of town they get $120.00 or so, on the west side they charge $225.00 or more which is the wealthier part of town.
     
  6. ChopItUpBuryIt

    ChopItUpBuryIt Active Member

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    Honestly, yes, there was a bit of fret poke. But it comes and goes with the seasons (and the relative humidity I guess). So I guess I've really neglected the issue of keeping my guitars in properly humidified environments. Hey, I'm one those guys, I just play the damn things, I don't know what makes 'em go lol.

    I will say, I'm 99% certain even if the neck was somewhat dried out, there wasn't like any kind of twist or serious warp in it, and he never mentioned having to correct such an issue.
     
  7. ChopItUpBuryIt

    ChopItUpBuryIt Active Member

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    True that man. And I've heard Phil's setups are magical. That's what I get for being too lazy to make the drive.
     
  8. Coldacre

    Coldacre Supporting Member

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    yeah that's pricey!

    I went to the best guy in Melbourne for a setup, intonation, fret level and to lower the top hats on my Les Paul. $220. but the guitar came back immaculate. still, in Australia we pay up to 40% more for everything, so I wasn't surprised.

    $300 is crazy
     
  9. Noise Under The Floor

    Noise Under The Floor Supporting Member

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    Good grief! That's robbery. $80 tops is the most I've paid on a good set up, including a fret level and some minor electronics work. I don't mean to bust your chops, but yeah...get a price up front. First thing I ask and I want a written estimate if possible, even on a set up, unless I know the person well. You would've been farther ahead to drive down here to MD and gone to Phil, gas is cheap now...and like you said, that's freakin' full refret price. Sorry that happened to you man.

    That part I highlighted/bold: Those two things, uh-uh, no. I don't want to hear a bunch of someone's hot air about themselves or their special snake oil approach. After those two things...his attitude and quackery, he would've never touched my guitar. That crack about the strings, I don't even know what to say. Dude sounds like a total ass IMO.
     
  10. 73Fender

    73Fender Member

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    Wonder what he would have quoted you if you had asked for a price up front? Good luck, hope it is a wonderful set up at least.

    Most I have ever paid was a little over $100 by one of the top guys in NJ. I had to wait a long time too..he is super busy. But to this day (it was done several years ago) it plays great, fantastic low action etc.

    There are down and dirty guys local to me who will do it in a day for less then half but no where near as well. I can get them pretty good on my own now.

    I've heard about Jacoby as well, supposed to be great.
     
  11. XKnight

    XKnight Member

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    Lesson learned! Always ask for a price upfront.
     
  12. MrX

    MrX Member

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    Bingo!
     
  13. SG_Seth

    SG_Seth Member

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    Don't pay him. Ask for a full breakdown of the work performed and pricing for each service. Obtain setup pricing information from every local luthier you can find. Try to find a good one who will write an opinion letter as to the reasonable and customary price of the services this quack performed. Confront said quack. If he won't work with you file in small claims.

    The contract for services lacked mutual assent. Having objective evidence of usual and customary costs will help your case immensely.
     
  14. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    I've only had one setup in my life. It was free with the purchase of the guitar. But it was so bad that I've done all of my own setups since. Charge? Free. :)
     
  15. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    yeah, $300 for a "setup" is bizarre; that's what refrets cost.

    a fret leveling with setup might be half that, and an actual setup (where i'm working over the whole guitar but not filing frets) is half that again.

    also, i hope he filed the sharp fret ends before he "rehydrated" the guitar, or they'll just poke back out come next winter.
     
  16. 56Tweed

    56Tweed Sub-Octave Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Tough lesson, but you need to ask for the price up front and then also set a threshold for any overages. Most of the guys I work with are good about asking before they go over. In some cases, I give them a range I'm comfortable with for the given repairs.

    I once had a surprise where I brought a guitar in for a setup and fret leveling, and the guy was pretty backed up. When he finally got to it he called me to say that he was having a problem and that he needed to think it through. Worst case it would need a refret. A few days later I asked for an update and he had it back in the queue for a refret, and thought he had approval for that but didn't. It was a mess. I think he has the guitar like 3 months, and it ended up costing me about $350. He cut me a little bit of a break, but I still was a bit upset since it was just an occasional player.
     
  17. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    hahahaha:rotflmao:rotflmao:rotflmao


    Hire a lawyer

    JK, You got beat but the lesson learned could be worth thousands later in life. I hope your guitar plays awesome.
     
  18. mute

    mute Member

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    Apart for the obvious "always ask what it will cost" lesson, the other lesson I have learned is simply to stay away from people who brag and talk a lot about themselves, and/or are overtly opinionated.
     
  19. vortexxxx

    vortexxxx Member

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    This is the first time that I've heard of using a scope for pickup balance. I'm pretty sure I would prefer the results of pickup height using my ears.
     
  20. ChopItUpBuryIt

    ChopItUpBuryIt Active Member

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    Heard that, they're the worst. And they always seem so completely oblivious to how utterly insufferable they truly are.
     

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