Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Message to Musician's Friend!

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I've been playing electric bass professionally now for nearly a decade, so I already have a pretty damn good rig. I have two 4-string basses (both custom made by Fender), one fretted, one fretless. A 5-string tuned with a high C (instead of a low B), and an acoustic/electric 4-string. However, when I was doing some recordings last year, I realized just how convenient the 5-string was. It's a Schecter and it has 24 frets, a huge cutaway for easy access to the upper register and a versatile tone that rivals Fender with the additional advantage of active pickups (which make a punchier sound). Hearing the results, and just the ease and versatility the instrument offers, I had to have a fretless version.

So, I traded in an electric upright bass I had had for 3 years to Musician's Friend. This thing was unplayable from day one thanks to a damaged fingerboard and an unmovable truss rod. The D and G strings never once could produce anything but buzzing no matter how many times it was repaired. Now, I had also purchased this instrument from the Friend, so I was wary, but I could get a lot more back by taking store credit than I could a check, so I took the credit to put towards my new fretless 5-string. This gave me over a 60% discount on a bass that normally went for $800. That is one great deal! Then Musician's Friend threw me to ground, pried open my mouth and took the greatest dump in recorded history right into it.

They flat out refused to ship my order. At first there was an honest reason. It was backordered for a few days. They guaranteed me it would ship March 5. No problem. That date rolls around, and they change it to March 21, again guaranteeing me a shipment. Then the date was changed to April 4, to March 21, then April 18, then May 4 then finally April 21.

I called to ask about this lunacy and why I was repeatedly told that my order was guaranteed to ship on one date, and have it changed the next. Their reasoning: trace amounts of radiation from the nuclear disaster in Japan was forcing all of their orders to stop for health reasons.

This is complete BS for two reasons. 1, the spike in background radiation detected from the meltdown was not enough to cause alarm in the US. 2, there was absolutely no freeze of shipping from the west coast as a result of this. This was flat out lie.

To add to it, I contacted Schecter directly, and they said that they had delivered all orders to Musician's Friend. IN THE FIRST WEEK OF MARCH! When I told Musician's Friend this, they claimed that no deliveries had been made by Schecter, that they were still awaiting a shipment and, once again, they tossed in the radiation fears. For good measure I'm sure. You know, just in case my bullshit detector was getting rusty.

I got fed up and contacted the BBB. They demanded that my order be shipped. Musician's Friend failed to respond until the last minute and very politely said "no". This waltz of stupidity went on for a month before they finally shipped my bass. Thank God! It arrived April 28, exactly two months after I ordered it. The reason for this delay? Musician's Friend was only taking into account their stock in 1 of their 7 warehouses. My bass was in their Missouri warehouse, not California, so they had no idea it was even there until they ran their inventory. Idiots.

Then the mess started. After opening the box, I found my bass staring right back at me. That's right. They included no proper packaging, no protection like a smaller box inside, or bubble wrap or anything. This instrument had just spent the past week in transit at the mercy of bumpy roads, weather/temperature and Cthulhu.

Playing it for the first time, despite having the low B that I would later replace, was also disappointing. The fingerboard was very obviously uneven and the strings would buzz like mad in the mid to upper register. Setup to play? Yeah, setup to play some diarrhea! Since it had no case (which I was told was included), I had to order one with expedited shipping (boosting the cost), just so I COULD send it to the shop.

I had already planned on sending it out for a setup; changing the tuning would mean it had to be intonated again, and the thinner C string meant the neck had to be adjusted and there was a possibility the nut needed to be raised (it didn't in the end). While this was going on, the fingerboard was leveled out eliminating most of the buzzing. Apparently, exposing a delicate, wooden instrument to the elements by failing to pack it safely can cause it to warp. Imagine that. 

Then my C and D flatwound strings both snapped. This is the first time I have ever broken a bass string but I didn't think much of it. So I got home and put on a set of roundwounds I had. This made it unplayable. The roundwounds were .05 thinner than the flats I had originally used and they were kissing the fingerboard. I sent it back out to be setup, and even more issues with the neck were found and subsequently fixed.

Let's recap a bit. I wait two months to even get this thing, then it has to spend another month in the repair shop to fix the damages caused by negligence on Musician's Friend's part. By mid June, I finally am able to get it and bring it home.

But wait, it's not over yet! I had been aware of a little defect with the inlay at the 10th fret area. It is very clearly broken into three pieces and you can physically feel a dip in the fingerboard. This wasn't much of a problem, especially after the repairs. Well, a tiny piece of this decided to fall out and make the entire A string unusable past the 10th inlay.

Now, I'd normally just send this back out, but the woman who does my repairs has told me that there's not much she can do. Because Schecter builds their instruments with longer necks, and that is wider due to the extra string, my only option is to have them build me a new inlay from scratch. I don't even want to think about what that would cost! So, I filed another complaint through the BBB and demanded Musician's Friend replace the instrument. They replied again at the last minute and agreed. Now I have to wait anywhere between one and seven months to receive it!

Musician's Friend absolutely screwed me. They refused to ship my order, and when they finally did, they didn't properly pack it, and the instrument they shipped me was severely defective. But that's not all! While at the shop, it was starting to become more and more obvious that this instrument had had a LOT of previous use. That's right, Musician's Friend sent me a USED bass when I very clearly ordered NEW! I had my suspicions from the beginning. There was no warranty card or any other card from the manufacturer included, like there should have been. Now, this gets even more fun because I  have to pay a 15% restocking fee to receive my replacement, just because those cards are missing!

That is bullshit! I have to pay the price for Musician's Friend's mistake, and they have the audacity to even consider restocking this pile of shit!

I will never use this company again and neither should you. There are plenty of other great dealers out there such as SweetWater, Zzounds, or AMS. Musician's Friend is repeatedly scraping at the bottom of the barrel to get you what they quite appropriately call "Stupid Deals". All you're going to get is a turd covered in some more shit.