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Thread: Ibanez Buyer beware

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    Default Ibanez Buyer beware

    about 7 months ago I purchased my 1st Mandolin, an Ibanez M522SDVS F-Style Mandolin from an authorized dealer, <Removed by Moderator>. 3 weeks ago the top split exactly down the center from the tail to just before the bridge. I'm in SC, so humidity (dry) is not an issue.
    The advertisement states solid Spruce Top. I pulled out my loupe to inspect closely. The top is a 2pc butt joint, not a single piece solid top. The Bridge and frets were horrible.. frets were 0.020 MAX height to the fret board. The bridge had to be completely reshaped and reworked - Can't be OEM. - I was able to a repair.Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Feb-07-2020 at 1:02pm. Reason: Posting Guidelines

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Unfortunately for us there isn't a well regulated list of terms for describing instruments. Most manufacturers use the phrase 'solid spruce' to differentiate from laminate tops rather than to indicate that an instrument has a one-piece top plate.

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Yes, "solid top" means non-laminate, not one-piece. Almost all carved tops are two-piece, even $20K Gilchrists.
    Mitch Russell

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    Registered User Denman John's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Check your humidity levels ... cracks usually happen when the air is too dry.
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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    FWIW, "bookmatched" (split, spread, & edge-glued) wood tends to provide a more symmetrical & attractive pattern than a single piece of wood does. Guessing there might also be sonic benefits to having a symmetrical vibration pattern. (Yes, I realize that softwood/spruce tops tend to show less grain pattern than the hardwood used for back & sides do, but still...) As noted above, 2-piece solid (non-laminated) tops are sort of the gold standard.

    Glad you were able to repair!
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Quote Originally Posted by ButchD View Post
    ..I'm in SC, so humidity (dry) is not an issue...
    Well, not so much. If you have any form of central or area heating operating -- and I'll bet you do in February, SC or not -- you're drying out the air inside your house, raising the temp so that the relative humidity decreases. It may not take much to trigger a top separation; all the wood has to do is shrink by a small percentage.

    Check the room's humidity with a hygrometer. And realize that at ±$300 you're not dealing with a hand-crafted instrument lovingly built by a master luthier. You've got an Asian factory instrument turned out for export, and "it is what it is."

    Doesn't mean you shouldn't expect decent quality, and a solid wood top at that price is a plus, but it's heat-pressed and not carved, and the rest of the mandolin is laminated. You found deficiencies in the frets and the bridge; an F-model mandolin at that price is going to include some quality compromises, IMHO.
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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Quote Originally Posted by ButchD View Post
    ...Can't be OEM....
    I'm sure it was the way it came from the factory as very very few mandolins have a single piece top. You also might want to take a look at the Posting guidelines. Heck of a first post by the way.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Just as an observation, I often wonder why some builders give their instruments model numbers like “M522SDVS”? (Takamine guitars have some model numbers twice that long.) Who can keep up? Maybe I’m an oddball, but stuff like that often makes me lose interest in an instrument.
    ...

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    yes, it should be a 2 piece solid wood top.

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    Just as an observation, I often wonder why some builders give their instruments model numbers like “M522SDVS”? (Takamine guitars have some model numbers twice that long.) Who can keep up? Maybe I’m an oddball, but stuff like that often makes me lose interest in an instrument.
    I can't tell you why specifically to this company but after spending a few years in manufacturing and distribution in my past life I've found that long numbers can usually be broken up my the person in the know to identify a ton of information such as the type of instrument, the factory it came out of, the color, etc. Someone at the company can probably look at that and trace it back to who designed it without looking at a book or computer screen.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    My new favorite description is Taylor Guitars' "layered backs and sides". Reassuring to see that the backs and sides aren't mere laminate.

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Just curious, but if it was bought from an authorized dealer seven months ago wasn’t it still under warranty?

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    "My new favorite description is Taylor Guitars' "layered backs and sides". Reassuring to see that the backs and sides aren't mere laminate."

    Weasel words.

    Reassuring to see the backs aren't plywood.

    How about Solid 3 piece backs. (stacked)


    As to the crack down the middle..

    Proof that at least they bookmatched (hopefully) the top and proof it is a solid top.
    Though it might be pressed not carved.

    I would contact the selling dealer.

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    How about "genuine solid wood assembled in a structurally superior layered and crack resistant arrangement". I love marketing. In the case of the Ibanez mandolin with solid top, I tried one out at the name not mentioned music store and the construction was very poor and the set up even worse. They should not attempt to sell an "F" model with a steam pressed almost flat top and a totally flat scroll. Glad you could repair it yourself. Hope you get it set up well enough to learn on it.

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Allen is right, running a furnace can dry things out causing (lack of) humidity cracks and seam separation. A room humidifier or an in-case humidifier (damp sponge in a plastic baggie) can prevent most of this.

    Overall I would say Ibanez instruments have made thousands of people happy over the years and represent a good value. Sure, once in a while something slips through. YMMV.

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I can't tell you why specifically to this company but after spending a few years in manufacturing and distribution in my past life I've found that long numbers can usually be broken up my the person in the know to identify a ton of information such as the type of instrument, the factory it came out of, the color, etc. Someone at the company can probably look at that and trace it back to who designed it without looking at a book or computer screen.
    These model numbers surely mean something to the manufacturer (I work in manufacturing and see it every day), but can look too complicated to the consumer. YMMV.


    As far as Taylor’s “layered” bit goes, they are marketing masters and understand the stigma attached to the term “laminate.” “Layered” doesn’t bother me at all, but paying so much money for a laminated guitar made in Mexico would.
    ...

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Allen is right, running a furnace can dry things out ...
    To expand on Allen's comment:
    Simply raising the air's temperature causes lowered relative humidity, because warmer air is capable of absorbing more moisture than colder air. That is, taking relatively dry winter air and raising it to room temperature, even with the same volume of moisture, makes it "relatively" even dryer than it had been (the same volume of moisture vs. the potentially higher total moisture of warmed air = lower relative humidity). Thus, our skin, our cuticles, and our instruments tend to crack in winter regardless of how close we might live to water.
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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Quote Originally Posted by Hudmister View Post
    How about "genuine solid wood assembled in a structurally superior layered and crack resistant arrangement". I love marketing...
    Some of C F Martin's "Little Martin" guitars are made of, basically, Formica; fiberboard and glue hot-pressed into a "board."

    Martin calls it HPL -- High-Pressure Laminate. Sounds better than "Formica," I guess.
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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Formica is a name brand, HPL is what the product actually is, regardless who produced it.
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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Quote Originally Posted by Hudmister View Post
    In the case of the Ibanez mandolin with solid top, I tried one out at the name not mentioned music store and the construction was very poor and the set up even worse. They should not attempt to sell an "F" model with a steam pressed almost flat top and a totally flat scroll. Glad you could repair it yourself. Hope you get it set up well enough to learn on it.
    Hudmaster has that right, two of the worst mandolins I have ever played in a store were an Ibaneze and a Washburn. Fit and finish were horrible but the Washburn actually sounded ok.
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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleE View Post
    Just curious, but if it was bought from an authorized dealer seven months ago wasn’t it still under warranty?
    Most manufacturers will not warranty a product that has humidity issues. I'm sure if you read the terms of the warranty it will address this.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    I lived in SC for 28 years. While it is indeed a humid place (especially in the summer, ugh) in the winter the humidity is much lower and therefore the relative humidity inside buildings with heat is really low. You want to keep your nice wooden instruments at 40% - 50% relative humidity, and your body would appreciate that range as well.

    Plus, if you burn wood to supplement your heat (heat pumps are frequently used instead of furnaces in the South) it's even worse, because you're taking already dry, heated air and drying it out further.

    I always kept my instruments in their cases with a supplemental humidifier to avoid drying them out too much. Keeping them in the case also protected them from my young boys.

    When we moved to Northern VA, one of the first things I did was install a whole house humidifier on our gas furnace. Not only are my instruments happy, so am I.
    Clark Beavans

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Most manufacturers will not warranty a product that has humidity issues. I'm sure if you read the terms of the warranty it will address this.
    I’m not familiar with the Ibanez warranty specifically, but I would agree that most don’t honor neglect as a valid claim. However, I don’t think anyone can say without any doubt that this is solely a humidity issue. Considering it split at the glue joint of the soundboard it could be a possible manufacturing defect.

    For me personally, I wouldn’t try to repair something if I didn’t know how it was built in the first place. No offense to the OP, but he didn’t know that a solid top is two pieces of wood.

    I realize Ibanez makes low end entry level mandolins, but you have to give them and the dealer a chance to make things right before you take things into your own hands.

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Most manufacturers will not warranty a product that has humidity issues. I'm sure if you read the terms of the warranty it will address this.
    My Larrivee guitar came with a whole little pamphlet in the case explaining proper humidity levels and how to keep the humidity there. Was pretty important to Larrivee.

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    Default Re: Ibanez Buyer beware

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleE View Post
    I’m not familiar with the Ibanez warranty specifically, but I would agree that most don’t honor neglect as a valid claim. However, I don’t think anyone can say without any doubt that this is solely a humidity issue. Considering it split at the glue joint of the soundboard it could be a possible manufacturing defect.

    For me personally, I wouldn’t try to repair something if I didn’t know how it was built in the first place. No offense to the OP, but he didn’t know that a solid top is two pieces of wood.

    I realize Ibanez makes low end entry level mandolins, but you have to give them and the dealer a chance to make things right before you take things into your own hands.

    You'd be hard pressed to prove that wasn't a humidity issue. I'm sure the OP talked to the dealer and was probably told the same thing.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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