San Francisco Guitar Works

★★☆☆☆
Monday-Friday, 12-6 Saturday, 11-5

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I have put three guitars through this shop in the last month, so I have a pretty good sense of how they go about things.

First the good:

I brought my Tele to SF Guitarworks to have it set up, since I wanted it set up right and quickly. They were very efficient and professional from first to last on this job. They even give you a little checklist with your measurements so the setup is repeatable. Classy! And it plays amazing!

So, I took my new Martin acoustic in to get it set up. They had it back to me in two days. Then they waited about a week to give me a chance to play it, and called me up to see how things were going. Can you really get any better than that?

But then the bad:

Having been really satisfied with the first two jobs they did for me, I brought another guitar to them for a little bit of complex, but not terribly so, wiring. Basically, the guitar uses push-pull pots to give a few different sound options. The breakdown for the work was quoted on a per-procedure basis: $40 for each of three pots, $40 for each of three pickups, and $40 for the three-way switch, for a flat-rate grand total of $280. That's a generous per-procedure fee rate, by the way. In fact, when he did the estimate, Geoff said they would try to do it for less, charging me $100 an hour for labor and speccing it at 2 hours. Instead, the day the guitar was due back, I got a call from them asking me to authorize an extra $150 in charges because they'd hit some snags, for a total of $430. That's more than the whole guitar cost new.

Specifically, they claimed the wiring diagram I gave them didn't work-- that it was "inside out and backward"-- despite the fact that it came from a very actively trafficked fan site where lots of folks have used it successfully, and that I have wired the guitar myself twice using that same diagram. They also claimed two of my pickups didn't work; when I got them back, I tested them, and one works fine, although in taking it out of the guitar they cut the leads off so short that it is now unusable, and the other one doesn't work because they broke the base plate off.

I told them when they called that I wasn't interested in paying $430 for, again, a not overwhelmingly complex job, and that I wanted to pull the plug on the project. They told me that I could pick my guitar up as is, with none of the pickups working, but that I would still have to pay them $300 for the time they put in. Since I really had no choice at that point, I authorized the additional work to complete the project and paid them. But gouging me was kind of short sighted, since I have several other guitars lined up for work, and they will be going elsewhere.

What this basically comes down to is that the tech who worked on my guitar, Aaron, is very good at general luthery and setups, but hasn't a clue when it comes to wiring, and I had to pay him to learn on the job.

To make matters worse, as soon as I got the guitar home, the center pickup came loose and fell into the body. When I took it back to the shop a week later, Benjamin, the tech at the front desk, was snippy and told me "All you have to do is put in bigger screws", to which my response was basically "No, All _YOU_ have to do is put in the right screws; I just paid you guys $430 for a crappy job!" Meantime, Aaron is walking back and forth through the shop ignoring me, as though it's not an issue that the guitar came back after a week because his work broke.

Where I have a serious problem with these folks is that they did not contact me to make the decision on spending more money when they first started to bog down, and give me the opportunity to make an actual, free, genuine choice. Instead, they charged me $300 for time they spent just spinning their wheels and getting nothing done, and then, when they had reached the limit of the budget, they called me to increase it, or pay them $300 for nothing. That's called extortion.

I make my living as a freelancer, and am used to bidding jobs. There is no way in hell I can come in with an invoice at 150% of my bid with no prior notice and expect to get paid. If the scope of a project expands, or if there are unforeseen issues, I contact my client right away to let them know and let them make a decision to allocate more time and funds. Or not to. And if I am on a project and have unproductive time figuring stuff out, I eat that cost. I am paid to be productive.

SF Guitarworks does excellent work. There's no question about that. But they also have no problem gouging you by essentially billing you twice for the same work, as both a per-procedure cost and an hourly bench fee. If you take your guitar there, they will do a good job. But get an estimate in writing, and make sure they understand that it is binding and you need to be contacted in due time for any increases. Otherwise, you will end up in the same place as I did, having them extort more money from you against your better judgement.

2
★★☆☆☆

I have put three guitars through this shop in the last month, so I have a pretty good sense of how they go about things.

First the good:

I brought my Tele to SF Guitarworks to have it set up, since I wanted it set up right and quickly. They were very efficient and professional from first to last on this job. They even give you a little checklist with your measurements so the setup is repeatable. Classy! And it plays amazing!

So, I took my new Martin acoustic in to get it set up. They had it back to me in two days. Then they waited about a week to give me a chance to play it, and called me up to see how things were going. Can you really get any better than that?

But then the bad:

Having been really satisfied with the first two jobs they did for me, I brought another guitar to them for a little bit of complex, but not terribly so, wiring. Basically, the guitar uses push-pull pots to give a few different sound options. The breakdown for the work was quoted on a per-procedure basis: $40 for each of three pots, $40 for each of three pickups, and $40 for the three-way switch, for a flat-rate grand total of $280. That's a generous per-procedure fee rate, by the way. In fact, when he did the estimate, Geoff said they would try to do it for less, charging me $100 an hour for labor and speccing it at 2 hours. Instead, the day the guitar was due back, I got a call from them asking me to authorize an extra $150 in charges because they'd hit some snags, for a total of $430. That's more than the whole guitar cost new.

Specifically, they claimed the wiring diagram I gave them didn't work-- that it was "inside out and backward"-- despite the fact that it came from a very actively trafficked fan site where lots of folks have used it successfully, and that I have wired the guitar myself twice using that same diagram. They also claimed two of my pickups didn't work; when I got them back, I tested them, and one works fine, although in taking it out of the guitar they cut the leads off so short that it is now unusable, and the other one doesn't work because they broke the base plate off.

I told them when they called that I wasn't interested in paying $430 for, again, a not overwhelmingly complex job, and that I wanted to pull the plug on the project. They told me that I could pick my guitar up as is, with none of the pickups working, but that I would still have to pay them $300 for the time they put in. Since I really had no choice at that point, I authorized the additional work to complete the project and paid them. But gouging me was kind of short sighted, since I have several other guitars lined up for work, and they will be going elsewhere.

What this basically comes down to is that the tech who worked on my guitar, Aaron, is very good at general luthery and setups, but hasn't a clue when it comes to wiring, and I had to pay him to learn on the job.

To make matters worse, as soon as I got the guitar home, the center pickup came loose and fell into the body. When I took it back to the shop a week later, Benjamin, the tech at the front desk, was snippy and told me "All you have to do is put in bigger screws", to which my response was basically "No, All _YOU_ have to do is put in the right screws; I just paid you guys $430 for a crappy job!" Meantime, Aaron is walking back and forth through the shop ignoring me, as though it's not an issue that the guitar came back after a week because his work broke.

Where I have a serious problem with these folks is that they did not contact me to make the decision on spending more money when they first started to bog down, and give me the opportunity to make an actual, free, genuine choice. Instead, they charged me $300 for time they spent just spinning their wheels and getting nothing done, and then, when they had reached the limit of the budget, they called me to increase it, or pay them $300 for nothing. That's called extortion.

I make my living as a freelancer, and am used to bidding jobs. There is no way in hell I can come in with an invoice at 150% of my bid with no prior notice and expect to get paid. If the scope of a project expands, or if there are unforeseen issues, I contact my client right away to let them know and let them make a decision to allocate more time and funds. Or not to. And if I am on a project and have unproductive time figuring stuff out, I eat that cost. I am paid to be productive.

SF Guitarworks does excellent work. There's no question about that. But they also have no problem gouging you by essentially billing you twice for the same work, as both a per-procedure cost and an hourly bench fee. If you take your guitar there, they will do a good job. But get an estimate in writing, and make sure they understand that it is binding and you need to be contacted in due time for any increases. Otherwise, you will end up in the same place as I did, having them extort more money from you against your better judgement.

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I brought in a guitar to see if they had a part I was looking for and to get some strings. They were fairly helpful, but they cashier vaguely chastised me a couple times for things that were none of his business, and was condescending (my perception of course, but this is a review) when I wasn't sure what weight strings I wanted. I suppose business must be pretty good if they can afford to be rude to customers. It's unfortunate because that they are the closest guitar shop to my house, but I won't be going back due to the surly service.

2
★★☆☆☆

I brought in a guitar to see if they had a part I was looking for and to get some strings. They were fairly helpful, but they cashier vaguely chastised me a couple times for things that were none of his business, and was condescending (my perception of course, but this is a review) when I wasn't sure what weight strings I wanted. I suppose business must be pretty good if they can afford to be rude to customers. It's unfortunate because that they are the closest guitar shop to my house, but I won't be going back due to the surly service.

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0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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Almost a year ago I brought in a 30+ year old guitar that broke at the top of the backing. I gave these guys took it for a week and breathed new life into it. It sounds better and plays better than any guitar I've ever played.

1
★☆☆☆☆

Almost a year ago I brought in a 30+ year old guitar that broke at the top of the backing. I gave these guys took it for a week and breathed new life into it. It sounds better and plays better than any guitar I've ever played.

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1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

 

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