Did my guitar just get screwed?

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by Dudley, Jun 9, 2017.

  1. Dudley

    Dudley SS.org Regular

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    Hey everyone,

    After some general opinions from more knowledgable folk than myself. Apologies if it turns in to a bit of an essay, but I always think more info is better than not enough.

    A few weeks ago I took a 'brand new' guitar (ESP Horizon NT-II that's barely been used, no issues at all and only ever had 2 sets of strings on it) in for a set up. I was wanting to go from 10s in standard to 12-54 in C# standard, roughly equivalent tension, and I like high action, so didn't expect it to be much of a big deal, but I didn't want to file the nut myself as I've never done it and could easily see it going wrong.

    Yesterday I get a call saying the guitar is ready but he's had to level the frets (straight away a bit puzzled as they're brand spanking new, like less than 20 hours of play time and no wear at all) to get rid of a lot of "an absolute load of fret buzz". Then he asks what I wanted it tuning to as he couldn't remember.

    Is it just me, and it's totally fine if it is just me as I fully admit I'm no luthier, but surely you'd have to tune the guitar to the desired pitch (C#) rather than standard to decide that it was in need of a fret levelling? Would the buzz not potentially have gone if tuned to the desired pitch? This seems like an unnecessary and irreversible bit of work being done prematurely.

    I picked it up today and the first fret is flatter than a fashion models chest. Total right-angles (will upload pictures tomorrow when the light is better) as in it rises up, turns 90 degrees for the length of the fret then drops back down again, and the intonation at the first fret is off by a mile. It also feels like the neck is bowed like crazy and playability is far worse than before.

    Has my first fret (and the 2nd and 3rd for that matter) just been screwed for no good reason? Do I need a re-fret? For those who know ESP Standard Series guitars I don't need to tell you that the fret work is a thing of beauty and really playable, but it now feels decidedly more 'vintage' and it's hard to get to grips with the frets, much less make them sound decent (power chords on the first fret just sound 'off').
     
  2. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    IMO regardless of the rest of your questions on the matter, if you bring something to a tech and it's worse for you than before, then that tech did a bad job. The point of going to a tech is to make the guitar play as well as it can *for you*, so I'd call that a fail either way.

    I agree though, I think any judgement made about what needs to be done should be made while strung up with the strings, gauges and tuning that you plan to use.
     
    tedtan likes this.
  3. Dudley

    Dudley SS.org Regular

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    Totally agree with you in principle. There's just no real choice around here... this guy is the nearest at 20+ miles away and the only other tech that I'm aware of refuses to do anything but slap a set of strings on, make no adjustments and charge 20 quid. Things are grim up north, as they say...

    Just compared it with the first fret of my 9 year old ESP Eclipse and the entire fret on the Horizon is worse-looking and flatter than the worst part of my old, played-to-shit Eclipse :S

    Not sure what to do really as, with what I've just mentioned in mind, it'd be a long long way to go to find someone who'd be willing to do a re-fret let alone do it well :(
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2017
  4. TheTrooper

    TheTrooper SS.org Regular

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    Had a worse problem with a "pro" tech/luthier regarding frets too, except mine was a re-fret.
    Luckily I have my tech that could fix most of it, but yeah, morons are morons (doesn't matter were they are).
    You need someone You can trust to do this type of jobs, that's how it is.
    Try to look around, someone good will show up.
     
  5. dxjxrose

    dxjxrose SS.org Regular

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    Feel ur pain man i brought a one day old guitar in for a setup and when i got it back the "PRO" didnt like that the nut was like a c@nt Hair to narrow and he scraped the binding on one side to make it blend but now u can see and feel a drop right ar the nut pissed me of so bad i almost beat him with the guitar
     
  6. elkoki

    elkoki SS.org Regular

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    You need to call him up and tell him he didn't do a good job... sorry this happened to you bro. I feel bad for ya.

    My first and only experience with a tech was when I took my schecter for a setup . it came back with a chip behind tremolo, and the action was sky high . WORST $50 I ever spent . so many so called luthiers out there that don't know shit .
     
  7. elkoki

    elkoki SS.org Regular

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    You need to call him up and tell him he didn't do a good job... sorry this happened to you bro. I feel bad for ya.

    My first and only experience with a tech was when I took my schecter for a setup . it came back with a chip behind tremolo, and the action was sky high . WORST $50 I ever spent . so many so called luthiers out there that don't know shit .
     
  8. marcwormjim

    marcwormjim SS.org Regular

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    You can say that again.
     
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  9. dpm

    dpm Oni Guitars Contributor

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    I can't really comment on what's been done by this tech (maybe with pics) but I can clarify a few things.

    It's entirely possible that frets won't be level on a 'new' guitar, in fact it's extremely common. Wood settles and moves, frets are often not leveled accurately at the factory, and often not secured properly (glued).

    It's also absolutely possible to assess frets without attempting to set up the guitar with the desired tuning and strings. First step is to adjust the neck relief, then you check how level they are. It doesn't matter how it's tuned.

    If you like a high action slightly uneven frets can be OK. The lower the action the more precise the fret leveling has to be.

    From what you've said so far it seems that the 1st fret was high, possibly loose and popped up in the middle, and it has been roughly leveled but not recrowned. That in itself is weird because it doesn't really matter too much if the 1st is a little higher than the 2nd (unless it's absurdly high), you'll get fret buzz from a low fret before a high fret (eg. 3rd fret low, 4th fret high, 5th fret low would mean the 3rd buzzes but the 4th is OK).
     
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  10. Leviathus

    Leviathus Psychotic Monster

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    I just can't believe the dude would start filing your frets without your consent first, doesnt seem like a "standard setup" thing to do.
     
  11. downburst82

    downburst82 SS.org Regular

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    This, Ive never had a luthier do work beyond what was originally agreed without contacting me to discuss it first.

    Thats like shady mechanic kinda stuff...

    "So while I was changing your oil I noticed your engine needed to be replaced and went ahead and took care of that for you as well..."
     
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  12. Dudley

    Dudley SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the info. If this is the case though regarding not needing to be tuned to the right pitch etc., and if the fret was high, would it not have manifested in buzzing when tuned to standard? The guitar played absolutely perfectly before, in fact the best of any of my other ESP's/Mayones, and didn't have any buzz anywhere on the neck at all. What makes me think this could've been avoided was him tuning it to standard with the 12-54's, adjusting the truss a lot (his words again) and saying it buzzed, then tuning it down to the desired pitch at the last minute before me picking it up. Dropping those 12's a step and a half would surely negate a lot of the truss adjustments he'd made.

    After spending a bit more time with it I've noticed that would be the G string in standard tuning frets out everywhere from the 12th fret to the 24th, slips out of tuning constantly, there's buzz on every string and the intonation of the whole guitar is whack. Not really sure what to do as I don't think complaining would do too much good and I'd be loathe to hand the guitar back to him for fear of him doing more work without consulting me first and it potentially coming back even worse.
     
  13. 7 Strings of Hate

    7 Strings of Hate Mid-Level Asshole Contributor

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    It sounds like at the very least you need recrowned. If the break point is at the top(headstock side) of the fret, its going to sound fucked up because the break point is supposed to be at the center of the fret, hence crowning(shaving off the shoulders from flattening it essentially).

    I would have some words with they guy. But at the end of the day, this is why I advise everyone to work on their own guitars(as far as setups). You don't have to rely on anyone else, you get to know what you like and how to do it, and no one else can mess up your shit.
     
  14. Humbuck

    Humbuck Can't stop, won't stop

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    An ESP Horizon should need no fretwork at all...they come from the factory better than some custom shops. This guys screwed things up big time.
     
  15. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I've only ever worked with one tech, but he *did* do a bit of extra stuff that hadn't been quite spelled out from the beginning, but nothing that struck me as a "you should have contacted me first". The biggest surprise was the trem had been taken apart, cleaned, and reassembled. I certainly wasn't going to complain that the bridge wasn't a big ugly mess anymore. :lol:
     
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  16. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    It seems to me he adjusted the truss rod for 12-54 in E std, then dropped it to C# after the fact, and never bothered to intonate the guitar. You couldn't do worse then him, so grab your wrench and add some relief to your neck and watch a quick video about intonation if you can't figure it out. It's way easier than you probably think.
     
  17. capac

    capac SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, just try to adjust the intonation and check the relief (and adjust the truss rod since the relief is off).

    I try to do all my setup myself. I can't really do a fret job, but guitars I play most have SS frets and were done right at the factory.
     

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