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Thread: Warped Neck?

  1. #1

    Default Warped Neck?

    I just sold a mandolin I built in 2005 on ebay. I have never had any problems with it and I thought the set up was fine.
    The purchaser emailed me today to say it has a buzz and he took it to a local shop and was told the mandolin has a warped neck and cannot be fixed by the luthier there.
    I have told him to ship it back for a full refund of the purchase price so I am not asking what to do regarding the sale. Even without any problems I gave him an approval period and he contacted me within that time frame.
    I am posting because I am a bit puzzled by all of this. If the mandolin has never had any issues in 7 years before what is the likelihood that it would develop them while in transit.
    I essentially built a case for it out of carboard and blue foamboard to ship it in. The shipping case I built supported the instrument body and neck better than my Gator or Access hard shell cases do. I removed the bridge and built a little compartment in the shipping case for it so there was no string tension.
    It was shipped FedEx home delivery from central Texas to Lakeville, MN. Temperature here the day I shipped it was in the low 80's. Temperature there on the day it was received was in the low 50's.
    I guess I just want to know if this has happened to anyone else when they have shipped an instrument. I have already decided that I don't think I will ship another instrument. This happening and the fact that it took me about four hours to package it are too much.
    Bill Snyder
    Vintage Tools, etc

  2. #2
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    Sorry to hear about the problems you've had, and you're right that packing for transit is real chore: it does get slightly easier with practice though. Wait till you get it back before judging the problem - if he took it to a guitar tech unfamiliar with mandolin adjustments they could well have made incorrect assumptions about possible causes - or the buyer could have just misunderstood and/or got cold feet when he discovered that any adjustment at all was required. Keep us posted on how it turns out,

    John.

  3. #3
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    My first suspicion is over-reaction on the part of the buyer and incompetence on the part of the "luthier" at the local shop.
    OK, probably the neck isn't perfect, they never really are, and we tend to learn to live with their imperfections. Perhaps you've done that in your playing and the new owner does something different when playing that causes a buzz that you didn't get, but "warped"? Not likely. A neck that has been stable for 7 years just doesn't warp irreparably on it's way from Texas to MN. Not impossible, but not likely.

    Every so often there is a thread here with someone complaining that their new instrument arrived poorly set up, complaining that he/she had to get a new instrument set up locally and somewhat indignantly asking why manufacturers can't send instruments already set up to the buyers preferences. Well, here's the reason. I hope that some of those people read this and start to realize that the OP shipped one instrument and is faced with taking it back because of a buzz. Imagine how many instruments a manufacturer must ship and how many of those will be returned if there is a buzz. How much easier it is to just leave the action high to avoid buzzes and returned merchandise!

  4. #4
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    ...
    Last edited by sunburst; Apr-14-2012 at 10:02am. Reason: duplicate post

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    Registered User Lefty Luthier's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    Strange how problems run in groups. I just had an similar problem. Several weeks ago I delivered a mandolin to a young man who had insisted on a very light instrument, wanted a Virzi and insisted on a Gibson-style sheet metal tailpiece. Before delivery, I and several very talented players checked this instrument out thouroughly and found it to be perfect in every way. I shipped it in a very rugged flight rated case by UPS. Two days after receiving the mandolin, the customer calls and complains that it is buzzing on all strings and the strings are slipping on the tuner posts. He takes to a local luthier who informs him that the Virzi has come loose and that half of the frets are loose. I found out that he had removed the J62 strings, put on a set of J75s, improperly replaced the tail cover, cranked the tension up so high that the bridge sank and the prongs of the tailpiece had bent. You can't fix stupid.
    Byron Spain, Builder
    www.theleftyluthier.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    I suspect over caution, or "buyers remorse", on receiving it. We all know that wood is subject to environmental conditions and can change overnight. Buzzing shouldn't be a deal killer.... He should just correct it if he likes the instrument. Something else is probably the problem. Like he simply changed his mind and is looking for an excuse. Anyway, you'll find out when you receive it back. I keep some of my instruments within a pretty narrow range of tolerance and occasionally weather can effect them overnight. I do not have air conditioning so have no control over humidity. Have a musician friend evaluate it.... Maybe the buyer was right and you were simply used to it. Of course that kind of problem goes along with mail order buying and selling. Normally when I buy sight unseen I expect there to be problems and can usually fix them without sending the instument back.
    Bart McNeil

  7. #7
    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    I'm not sure there is a problem considering that you gave him an approval period and he's returning it within that timeframe. He just doesn't like the tone, otherwise if he did, a "warped" neck would be an easy fix.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    Frustration all around. A few years ago a previous customer came to the house for a visit and to try out a mandolin I had thought was right for him. While he and his brothers were picking around,he got ahold of another one that I had strung up 6 or 7 months earlier and had been pecking around on myself. I was surprised that it was working really well for him as I had never heard anyone else play it and was not surprised when he decided, then, he wanted that one. So,in short, I made the deal and he packed it off to central Illinois. Couple days later a panicky email. Strings fouling like crazy,had the bridge cranked up to max,truss rod tightened and retightened...a mess. I emailed back telling him to back the rod off by a quarter turn,drop the bridge to normal and let me know what happened..just guessing at it,you know,expecting a lot of back and forth and a probable return later. But no...next email,"It's OK now. I guess I don't really know anything about these things". I don't know what happened. A couple of years later he was still using as his main axe. All this was late December/early January.

    Jim

  9. #9
    Mandolin & Mandola maker
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    Sounds familiar. I have had a couple of panicked emails from old customers, "The neck has warped". Fortunately both were local so I could easily get it back. Real problem was a loose nut in both cases. 10 min fix.
    Peter Coombe - mandolins, mandolas and guitars
    http://www.petercoombe.com

  10. #10
    Registered User Rob Grant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    Hence the reason I only sell from my workshop. Of course this concept only works a real treat, commercially, if you produce a product that people are willing to "beat a path to your doorway" to obtain. I'm definitely no Gilchrist, Wise, Duff or Coombe, but I always manage to eventually sell the small number of instruments I produce each year. Building and repair is still a fun "hobby" with me that pays for itself. I don't want to get into the position that I need to do this to put food on the table and clothes on my back. I don't want the hassle of dealing with a customer that I can't personally meet, jam with and leave one of my "children" happily in his or her hands.
    Last edited by Rob Grant; Apr-14-2012 at 8:33pm. Reason: Grammer
    Rob Grant
    FarOutNorthQueensland,Oz
    http://www.grantmandolins.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    When I first became interested in mandolins I went through that period of panic as a new instrument owner... I was looking so hard for problems that I found them and then probably did more damage than good by trying to correct them without really knowing if there was any real problem and without knowing what I was doing. I was wise enough to eventually take it to a luthier who told me it was a fine instrument and he simple put it back the way it was supposed to be.
    Bart McNeil

  12. #12
    gary nava; luthier GarY Nava's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    I sold a guitar that I built awhile back on eBay, it was a good 18months old and had been used as a demonstration model. The guys who played it went on to order instruments from me so I knew that it was 100%.
    The guy who bought it on eBay complained about the action being far too high and I suspect that he wanted his money back, simply because it wasn’t the guitar for him. I told him how to lower the action by sanding some material off the bottom of the saddle. A week later the guitar was back on eBay- its new buyer was delighted and telephoned to ask me how to raise the action!
    If you look at the eBay feedback on some of these guys you can see that they buy and sell some instruments within weeks. Draw your own conclusions!
    Cheers Gary

  13. #13
    Robert Fear Folkmusician.com's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    I don't get that many returns and surprisingly few problems considering the volume of mandolins we ship out. The majority of issues that come up are simple things and nine times out of ten, I can resolve it over the phone or via email. There are the occasional "real" problems such as shipping damage, but most of the instruments that I have to call tag back are a result of the customer being paranoid that there "may" be something wrong. I have had mandolins returned because an E string broke, or because the action was higher at the bridge than at the nut (a few times!). Because the strings are sitting on top of the bridge and nut and not down in it, G strings are higher on the nut than the E strings, the bridge is not perfectly aligned with the F holes, etc. I love it when Professional luthiers get involved and confirm these things are issues and there must be some sort of a problem! hehe
    Robert Fear
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  14. #14
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    Just from my own limited experience, I would bet that there are more guitaristas than mandolinners, that do their own set ups. Setting aside if you are competant at it or not, being able to do your own set up means that you can get in there and adjust things when ever you want without additional cost. I've known guitar players who spend almost as much time adjusting and tweaking as they do playing. There is just no incentive to figure out what good enough means and to recognise it when it happens.

    As I said, fewer mandolinners are this way in my experience (and the couple I know are new to the mandolin, coming from tons of experience guitar playing.)

    All that to see this. If someone used to constant tweaking on a guitar buys a first mandolin expecting to jump in and applies the same lack of a criteria for completion, there is a good chance they will get into deep water and claim the instrument had problems from the get go.
    As much as I post, I pick a whole lot more. Just sayin'
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  15. #15

    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    He shipped it back UPS ground so I should have it back by the end of the week. I guess I will find out if anything is wrong with it then. I hope not. I did not really want to sell it but money is tight and every little bit helps right now. If it is good to go I may have to turn around and try to sell it again. This time I think I will try to stick with a local sale so that whoever gets it can play before they pay and hopefully that will head of any more returns.
    Bill Snyder
    Vintage Tools, etc

  16. #16

    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    FWIW, I received the mandolin back on Thursday. Neck is straight as it can be. It certainly is not warped, bowed, twisted or anything else. If anything it might be a little too straight and could use a bit of relief.
    There was a slight bit of buzz on the 7th-11th frets on the a strings. It was minor enough that if I was careful I could play it without the buzz and I I am no great player. I think someone might have lowered the bridge a bit. I raised it a touch and that took care of the buzz. I think a different luthier than the one he took it to could have had him fixed up in 5 minutes or less.
    Bill Snyder
    Vintage Tools, etc

  17. #17
    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Warped Neck?

    Like I said, he just didn't like the sound, and made up an excuse as to why he didn't want it. Had it been a tone he liked, he would have had that "warped" neck fixed.

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