The guitar that really pushed me to start taking lessons was my Rickenbacker 330. I’ve wanted this guitar for a while but I honestly hadn’t even thought about it in a long time and I certainly don’t have a need for a new guitar (I think one is enough for most beginners). But, I love guitars and if I could, I’d have a room full of them. Combine that with a history of impulse buying and I quickly became the owner of a new Rickenbacker 330.
I called all the local shops to see if they had one in stock.Only Haight Ashbury Music Center had one, so I headed over to check it out. It was beautiful. I knew once I saw the Fireglow 330 I would be buying it (like I said, impulse buyer). It felt great to play as well, so I bought it.
A couple months after buying it I thought about taking it in to get setup at San Francisco Guitarworks. I had been reading that typically all guitars need a good setup. My initial thought was to not take the Rickenbacker in. After all, they are hand made and inspected before they leave the factory. I would assume that means it should have a pretty good setup already. But, I decided to take it in to anyway at the same time I took in my Gretsch 5120 (which I expected would really need a good setup since it’s a less expensive guitar).
A few days later I head back to San Francisco Guitarworks to pick up my guitars and I’m told “we’ve got some bad news for you, we weren’t able to setup the Rickenbacker.” He then went on to explain that the neck on the Rickenbacker was beyond repair. Apparently Rickenbackers have two truss rods (one on the high E side and one on the low E side) and one of them was damaged which meant they couldn’t get the neck straight. I don’t recall the exact explanation, but I believe he said that he couldn’t get the relief the same on both sides of the neck.
At this point I’m pretty upset because the guitar is only a couple months old. When I bought it I specifically asked if it needed setting up. They sales guy knew I was a beginner and that I likely didn’t know much about guitars. He looked down the neck for about 2 seconds and said “no, it looks great.” Even at the time I thought that can’t be an accurate assessment of the setup, but I wanted to get the guitar home and play it so I figured he knew what he was talking about and left.
Like I said, the guitar is only a couple months old and in that time it sat on a stand and was gently played (I’m not a gigging musician after all). It’s not like there could have been any neck damage in the short time I had the guitar. The guitar was likely in bad shape when I bought it. When I brought it back in to Haight Ashbury Music Center to have it sent back to the factory for warranty repair, I talked to the manager about it and the fact that it was a defective guitar when I bought it. He of course claimed that all guitars are inspected before they go on the wall and that the neck warping likely happened because of environmental conditions.
I didn’t really buy that excuse. I understand wood warps over time and is sensitive to environmental conditions, but a guitar on a stand for a couple months in moderate San Francisco weather isn’t going to warp much. But, since Rickenbacker was taking care of everything under warranty I didn’t feel like pushing the matter.
A few days after the guitar was sent off I got a call from Rickenbacker. They determined the neck was too much trouble to repair and they would be sending me a new 330. I was actually happy about that because I don’t like the idea of having a “repaired” guitar. The only bad news was that since Rickenbackers are hand made it would be a couple months before I would get my new 330.
I’m still waiting, but should have it any day now.
The moral of the story… have your guitars checked out by a tech. From now on I’ll be taking any guitars I buy to SF Guitarworks the day I get them. And if a store doesn’t have a return policy I’ll insist on a “24 hour return policy only for defective gear” deal which any reputable dealer would agree to.